==================================================================== Assessed by Michael Leppert
Kathi Kerr, owner of Melody Music Studios and author of a complete line of instruction books, brings her wealth of knowledge to anyone interested in learning and developing keyboard skills in a fun and relaxed way. These books are excellent resources for developing any desired level of competence from a living room Lizt to a full-fledged professional.
The first volume shown above, is the launching pad for little students to become acclimated to the world of the piano and experience the pleasure of accomplishing skill development. As the title states, Kathi incorporates coloring the keys of drawings of white piano keyboards in the book, into the process of becoming familiar with the keyboard. Part of the coloring process is learning the names of the keys being colored. (This is a brilliant application of the scientific fact that information taught through play only requires 10-12 repetitions to imprint the brain vs. 400 repetitions by rote.) Ms. Kerr continues to present more musical information such as rhythm, note and rest values, pitch values and applying these values to playing familiar simple songs.
The second volume addresses, in great detail, development of the all-important skill called sight-reading. This is the ability to sit down to a never-before-seen piece of music and within 5-8 minutes of preparation, being able to play it virtually correctly. Professional recording musicians and orchestral players have to possess as strong a sight-reading ability as text reading to an editor or writer. In my opinion, these two volumes should follow sequentially.
Third in Ms. Kerr’s line of excellent instruction books, addresses playing chords and improvising on the piano. These two skills follow those developed in the above two books. Chords are like the scaffolding that melodies are hung upon and learning to play them is built upon the initial note-reading skills and expands one’s sight-reading ability. Songwriters and composers know that our Western ears hear chords progress in a certain pleasing or (intentionally) displeasing manner, called “chord progressions”. After some initial discussions of music theory (the facts of music), Kathi teaches the concept of progressions and provides actual examples that are immediately familiar from hearing decades of popular songs use them. Finally, she teaches chord inversions. Space does not allow for a discussion of this part of theory, but a deep knowledge of using inversions is absolutely necessary for the professional or semi-pro musician and to a purely amateur player who wishes to enjoy playing comfortably without anxiety.
The last volume in Melody Music’s line teaches the ability to use Fake Books, which are typically, very large volumes of just the melodies of popular songs and a chord shorthand allowing pro musicians, such as piano bar pianists, to take requests at large. This edition is invaluable for an aspiring performer who envisions playing weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events that require a fluid knowledge of hundreds of songs, appealing to multiple generations of listeners and dancers.
If your child – or yourself – desires to develop keyboard confidence enough to play for others with joy and ease, possibly even to make a living, please visit Melody Music Studios website and see Kathi Kerr’s excellent line of instruction books. MjL
By Joan A. Cotter, Ph.D.
Measurement is an application of math that is an important part of everyday life. We measure length, area, volume, mass (weight), temperature, time, angles, and many other attributes. For more than simple comparisons, we need numbers and a basic unit. Sometimes, two or more units are combined. For example, we speak about speed as miles per hour, fuel economy as miles per gallon, pressure as pounds per square inch, and grain yields as bushels per acre.
The very young child is interested in which of two items is bigger. RightStart introduces measuring length in the first year. The child is asked to determine the length of an object by finding how many 1-in. tiles it takes to equal the length. A little later the child is asked to repeat the activity measuring with an edge of a centimeter cube.
Doing this exercise with two different tools highlights a situation unique to U.S. children. They need to become “bimeasural,” that is, proficient in two systems, US customary and metric. It is estimated that half a school year is devoted to making students proficient in both measuring systems. President Thomas Jefferson suggested the fledging nation go metric, but to no avail. Even though science, medicine, and the military have all adopted the metric system, the United States officially still uses the US customary system. However, I like to say, “We are going metric inch by inch.”
Although Canada officially converted to metric in 1975, thirty years later, in 2005, teachers began teaching the rudiments of the US customary to their students to enable them to work in industries that didn’t entirely change over.
The Basics of the US Customary System
Length is measured in increasingly larger units. Periods are optional for abbreviations except for in. (inches) where it is needed to avoid confusion with in the word. Inches are divided into fractions: halves, quarters, eighths, and so forth. Larger units are shown below.
1 ft (foot) equals 12 in.
1 yd (yard) equals 3 ft
5280 ft (feet) equals 1 mile
Area in the US customary system uses squares formed by the same linear units. Thus, a square inch is a square that is 1 in. on the sides. Also, there are 620 acres in a square mile. Likewise, volume is measured with cubes made from the same linear units.
Capacity is the amount that a container can hold. Gallon is the basic unit, which is divided into half-gallons and quarts. Quart gets its name from quarter of a gallon. Further divisions include pints, cups, fluid ounces, tablespoons, and teaspoons.
Mass, often thought of as weight, measures the quantity of physical matter. Usual units are pounds (lb) and avoirdupois ounces (av oz) with 1 lb equal to 16 oz. Also a ton equals 2000 lb.
Some people find it surprising to learn that there are two types of ounces. To tell them apart, “fl” is often written before the fluid ounces, although the “av” is usually omitted before the ounces measuring weight. Eight fluid ounces of water weigh 8 ounces, but 8 fluid ounces of honey weigh 12 ounces. Ice cream is sold by volume, so the more air whipped into it, the less the carton will weigh.
The Basics of the Metric System
About two hundred years ago, French scientists devised a new simpler system of measurements, known as the International System of Units (SI), or the metric system. Multiples and divisions of the basic unit are always based on tens, not fractions, and indicated by appropriate prefixes. For example, the basic linear unit is the meter, which is a little over 3 ft; other linear measurements include:
1 m (meter) equals 100 cm (centimeter)
1 m equals 1000 mm (millimeter)
1 km (kilometer) equals 1000 m
Note that the prefix centi means one-hundredth just as one cent is one-hundredth of a dollar. The prefix milli is related to the millipede with its somewhat exaggerated thousand feet. A kilometer is about 0.6 of a mile, so 10 km is about 6 miles.
Another basic metric unit is the liter, pronounced leader. Its abbreviation L is usually capitalized. A liter is the size of a cube 10 cm on an edge and holds a little more than a quart. Another basic unit is the gram, the unit of mass. A kilogram (kg) is 1000 g and is 2.2 pounds.
Measurement in the RightStart Math Curriculum
Measuring in both the US customary and metric system is taught in all levels of RightStart Mathematics. Measurement is an application of math that is concrete rather than abstract; relevant to everyday life; necessary for other subjects, especially science; and leads to more advanced math concepts, such as exponents.
Because of its importance, measurement needs to be incorporated into math instruction at all levels. Occasionally, instruction on telling time and calendar activities is found in social studies texts and instruction on the metric system is found in science texts. They belong in the math class.
One misstep that some older textbooks advocate is having the child learn to measure starting with paper clips. The justification was that the children would come to realize the need for a standard unit. That concept is lost on the primary child. Instead, they need to become very familiar with inches, feet, and centimeters.
Measuring manipulatives used in RightStart for teaching measurements include geared clock, 1-in. tiles, cubic centimeters which weigh 1 g, AL Abacus where each bead is 1 cm in width, 4-in-1 ruler, folding meter stick with a yard on the reverse side, math balance adapted for measuring weight, and goniometer for finding angles.
To be proficient in measurement, you need to know how to convert to other measurements. RightStart teaches changing units within the same system in Level E. Converting between the US customary and the SI systems is taught in Level F. A process called dimensional analysis makes the task straightforward.
Measurement will continue to be part of mathematics, part of a good math curriculum, and an increasing part of everyday life. Ω
As a young child, I was exposed to the daily routine of adults working from home, so I would imitate what they did as if it were a game. What I remember most from these days was the adrenaline rush that came with the successful completion of a bright idea.
Playing “pretend” for me was drawing up a new business logo for my imaginary company or turning my bedroom into a studio apartment. On the weekends, my neighbor friends and I would use our play cash register to sell lemonade on the corner of the block, then we would come back to my house and divide up the profits. This was also the ’90’s, so I could pretend my bicycle was a motorcycle and be on my way, as long as I was home before the porch light came on.
My days were filled with dance classes, language lessons, rock climbing competitions, nature walks and adventure camps. I learned lessons, such as self-confidence, empowerment, commitment and responsibility — tools to maneuver through my life independently. I
knew that the world was just a yellow-page phone call away. I was taught that if I wanted dance lessons, I could call around town and compare rates. We would go to different studios to see which teacher was the best fit and I could make the final decision. I gained a sense of empowerment, knowing that I was capable of doing all the research. There was also the weight of accountability on my shoulders because I knew that once I committed to a studio, we were paying for ten lessons, which I had to attend, regardless of my mood that day.
On the flip side, some of my friends in the neighborhood went to public school and I was curious about what I might be missing out on. I would meet them at the bus stop and walk with them back to each of our houses to hear all of their stories. Sometimes I wondered why my parents hadn’t chosen to send me to that school as well, but then the thought of waking up at 5:00 a.m. during Colorado winters quickly made me feel better about their decision. As we approached middle school, many of our parents were getting divorced or moving away, and our childhood clan slowly ripped apart.
It was at this point, at ten years old, when I realized that I was ready for something new. I was approaching an age where the unschooling options were limited in my community and it was inevitable that I was going to have to make new friends. So I chose to move to a boarding school — for fun — just because it was the polar opposite of anything I had ever known. There was a girls’ dorm and a boys’ dorm and we would all walk to the main building for school. Over time, the campus became my home and I had all of my friends with me. It surprisingly felt similar to homeschooling, except that I shared the experience with seventy other kids. I learned to go to class and do the homework, but my real education was learning to negotiate the jungle called “school”.
During this time, I observed that I still had a curiosity for learning and my peers did not. They were trained to do exercises 10 – 20 in their textbooks as fast as possible, rather than absorb the content that was being presented. On the other hand, they learned skills, such as time management, because they managed to get the assignment done in five minutes in order to have another ten minutes of fun time. They learned how to check all the boxes on the teachers' list as fast as possible so that they could maximize their time that actually stimulated their hearts and minds.
I continued to attend school until I was fifteen and I started catching myself in class staring out the window, thinking about the variety of things I could be doing if I went back to unschooling. I had been to my share of school dances, sports events, and other typical school activities that always looked so appealing in the movies. Yet I didn’t feel that the time I spent inside the classroom outweighed the social experiences that people will tell you is only possible by “going to school”.
In a nutshell, I started feeling like the grass is always greener on the other side.
In the blink of an eye I evolved from a curious, adventurous child to a confident yet confused teenager. I could feel the essence of who I was slowly be molded by the encroaching expectations of society. My mom pulled me aside after making some questionable
decisions (as most teenagers do) and she asked me, “If you had a million dollars, to be anywhere or following any dream, what would you be doing?” — this is the unschooling mindset that she raised me with. Growing up in a multi-cultural household with multilingual parents, I had always envisioned myself traveling and experiencing other cultures as I got older. Her question prompted me to bring out my old foreign language workbooks, read about art history and study the world maps.
As I researched the various countries and cultures that I was most drawn to, it was fulfilling to channel my creative energy in a positive direction. After discussing many options with my family, we decided on an international school in Costa Rica that my sisters had also attended as teenagers. Preparing and planning for the trip was an empowering learning experience and I reaped the rewards when I arrived in Costa Rica. I loved the challenge and satisfaction that came with breaking language barriers as my knowledge increased. I engaged in the cultural customs by learning about cuisine, fashion, and the various perspectives regarding the countries’ history. Being fully immersed in another culture was exhilarating and traveling became my passion.
Through these experiences, I understood the value of unschooling on a profound level; it gave me the freedom to create myself and supported my innate abilities. It also gave me many opportunities to learn resourcefulness, gain confidence, and the ability to know that my options are limitless. I was able to experience the feeling of excitement and confidence that came with figuring things out for myself, as well as the trepidations that come with not knowing if your decision will end up being the best one. It’s the price unschoolers pay for the freedom to direct their education. I want my kids — and all kids — to know they have the freedom of choice, that they are never locked into just one method of growing up.
11 Morgan Horse Titles, in all, softcover, each over 220 pages
the Donkey Donk series
Author: Ellen Feld, two-time winner of the Children’s Choices Award
Age range: 9 to 13+
By Emerson Sandow
To say that Ellen Feld is completely obsessed with Morgan horses is an understatement, but words cannot convey her passion and absorption any better.Besides Ms. Feld’s laser-like focus on this particular breed of horse, she also has an enviable skill as a writer. She is able to write in a clear manner, providing descriptions and details without making one’s eyes glaze over! Once a person begins reading one of Ellen’s books, it is very difficult to stop. She is able to make a young girl’s simple sneaking out in the middle of the night to visit a neighboring horse barn attention-grabbing – and I am not a tweenage reader! I had to keep reading to find out if she made it without being discovered!
Ellen’s books are not only entertaining, but educational as well, delving into the world of Morgan horses and their various skills in human activities –drawing carts, barrel racing, roping, dressage and virtually any other function for a horse-human partnership. The Morgan is one of the earliest breeds developed in the United States and were even used as cavalry steeds by both sides of the Civil War. To keep her books anchored in fact, Ellen bases all of her fiction on actual animals and their experiences. The star of the Blackjack series is areal horse, as is Frosty and even the lovable Donkey Donk is a real being,living in Massachusetts with his more graceful-looking four-legged friends. You can see photos of all of these animals at the Willowbend website, shown above.
If you know a young person who is interested in horses in the slightest, you can bring him/her many hours of reading pleasure and expansion of horse knowledge with some or all of Ellen’s reasonably-priced books. Please visit the website for complete information. E.S.
By Joan A. Cotter, Ph.D., http://www.alabacus.com
Multiplication has been the mathematical downfall of many children, not so much because of the algorithms, but memorizing the 100 facts. Before expecting the child to learn the facts, we need to teach the meaning of multiplication. Describing it as repeated addition is a limited view, which doesn’t work well for multiplying fractions or decimals.
Since the primary application of multiplication is finding areas, an array, an arrangement of objects in rows and columns, makes a better model. A row with six objects repeated three times is 6 multiplied by 3, or as Montessorians say “Six taken three times.” This array produces a product of 18.
There are different interpretations about the meaning of 6 × 3. Sometimes 6 × 3 is thought of as 6 groups of 3, rather than 6 repeated 3 times. Compare the meaning to other arithmetic operations. When we add 6 + 3, we start with 6 and transform it by adding 3 to it. When we subtract 6 – 3, we start with 6 and transform it by decreasing 3. When we divide 6 ÷ 3, we start with 6 and transform it by dividing it into either 3 groups or groups of 3. To be consistent, when we multiply 6 × 3, we start with 6 and transform it by duplicating it 3 times.
Note how this interpretation also corresponds to the Cartesian coordinate system. Representing the array arrangement of 6 across in 3 rows with the expression 6 × 3 is similar to finding a point (6, 3) on a grid. The first number, 6, indicates the horizontal number and the 3, the vertical number.
Some Missteps in Teaching the Facts
All too often the multiplication facts are taught by rote, an overwhelming task, especially when 6 and 3 was previously learned as 9, but now it’s 18. Some programs increase the burden by extending the number of facts to be learned from 10 × 10 to 12 × 12. The 11s and 12s are not basic facts and increase the amount to be memorized by 44%. The 11s and 12s can easily be figured out as a sum of 10 times the factor times plus 1 or 2 times the factor. For example, 12 × 3 is 10 × 3 plus 2 × 3, or 30 + 6 = 36.
Sometimes children learn songs or rhymes for the facts. One drawback is that the child needs to sing the song until the desired fact is reached. A second drawback is the additional time the brain needs to transfer the information from the language section of the brain to the mathematics section.
Another faulty approach to learning the facts incorporates pictures, one for each fact. For instance, to remember 4 × 4, one image shows a 4-wheel drive truck with the caption that the driver needs to be 16 to drive it. When I first saw this, the legal age to drive in North Dakota was 14. Does that mean 4 × 4 might be equal to 14? Seriously, these types of pictures do cause a delay in fact retrieval caused by translating unrelated pictures into mathematical concepts.
The belief that the product obtained by multiplication is always greater than either factor is a common misconception. Think about 7 × 1: the product, 7, is equal to, not greater than the factor, 7. Again, look at what happens when multiplying by zero: 257 × 0 is 0, certainly not greater than 257. And multiplying proper fractions always results in a product less than either fraction.
What about using skip counting for teaching the facts? It seems to make sense to teach the facts through skip counting. However, children often resort to counting on their fingers to find the desired fact. I saw this in a school in England where the children were becoming fast counters, but were not mastering the facts. This simply becomes another rote procedure.
Learning the Facts through Visualization
For learning the multiplication facts, there is nothing like the commutative property to simplify the task. I still it’s amazing that 6 × 4 is equal to 4 × 6. That alone reduces the number of facts to be learned in a 10 by 10 table from 100 to 55.
Learning the 1s facts is easy: 1 × 8 means 1 repeated 8 times which is 8 and 8 × 1 means 8 taken 1 time, which also is 8. The 2s are already known from the addition facts and the 10s are known from place-value work. Now we’re down to 28 facts to learn.
The AL Abacus provides great visualizable strategies. For example, enter 6 × 4, shown below in a rough sketch.
o o o o o q o o o o o q o o o o o q o o o o o q
See the two groups of 10 and the four ones, which makes 6 × 4 = 10 × 2 + 4 = 24.
The fact 9 × 3 can be seen as 10 × 3 – 3 to give 27.
One last example is 7 × 7. See below.
o o o o o q q
o o o o o q q
o o o o o q q
o o o o o q q
o o o o o q q
q q q q q o o
q q q q q o o
Here you can see the five rows of five o’s that make 25. Also see a 10 along the right two columns and another 10 in the bottom two rows. The lower right corner has the leftover 4. It takes less than 2 or 3 seconds to summon the visual image and find the product by thinking 25 + 10 + 10 + 4 = 49. Remember a child knows a fact when they can answer in 2 or 3 seconds.
Each of the multiplication facts can be found on the AL Abacus by looking for similar patterns.
Except possibly for historical purposes, I do not see any reason to teach lattice multiplication. The lattice procedure is time-consuming, does not aid in understanding, and does not naturally lead to the traditional algorithm. The standard multiplication algorithm is fairly easy to teach with understanding. JC
by Philip Neal
The diligent study of the Scriptures is a vital part of the Christian’s life. Indeed, having one’s mind in the Word of God is one of the key defenses Christians have in this troublesome world. Notice what Paul has to say about the profound value of studying the Scriptures: “And that from a child you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:15-17).
Yet many Christians do not realize that their study of the Scriptures is often hampered by failing to follow basic “rules” of Bible study. To be sure, there are definite spiritual keys to understanding the Bible. The primary key is continually being in a loving, faithful, and obedient relationship with God. Do you want understanding? In the Psalms we find that those who keep the commandments of God will be given understanding: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments (Psa. 111:8). This is the foundation of understanding the Word of God.
A second key is to realize that no biblical subject is covered in just one area of the Bible. Rather, relevant passages will be found scattered throughout the Bible, and we must pull them all together to get a clear picture. This is what the prophet Isaiah meant when he wrote: “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Those weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts [that is, fully grounded in the basics of the Word of God]. For precept must be upon precept … line upon line … here a little, there a little” (Isa. 28:9-10). That is exactly how we need to study any scriptural question—look at all relevant passages on any given subject. The New Testament confirms this approach. Paul instructed Timothy: “Diligently study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman [in the Word of God] who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing [precept upon precept, and line upon line] the word of the truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
We must also seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul taught that spiritual truths can only be discerned and understood through the Spirit of God: “But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things—even the deep things of God. For who among men understands the things of man except by the spirit of man which is in him? In the same way also, the things of God no one understands except by the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God, so that we might know the things graciously given to us by God; which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit in order to communicate spiritual things by spiritual means. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:10-14).
The following “Seven Rules for Bible Study” outline how to “rightly divide” the Word of God.
1) With any given subject, begin with Scriptures that are easy to understand. Put them first, not the complex or difficult passages. Then, once the easy passages are clearly understood, see how the more difficult passages might fit it.
2) Do not allow personal assumptions or preconceived ideas to influence your conclusions. Rather, let the Bible interpret and prove the Bible. Don’t look for what you want to prove, look for what the Bible actually says. Harboring preconceived ideas or “having an axe to grind” will only cause one to misapply the Scriptures.
3) Context, context, context. Consider the verses before and after the passage in question—and the chapters before and after. Does your understanding of a particular verse harmonize with the greater context of the rest of the Bible? Also consider the historical context in which a biblical book was written.
4) The best way to understand a passage (or a particular word in a passage) is to see how several different translations render the verse. Never depend on just one translation—use several and compare.
5) When necessary, look up the meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek words used in a passage. However, one should never base doctrine solely on commentaries or other such “Bible helps.”
6) Ask these key questions: What does the passage actually say? What does the passage not say? Who was the book written to? Who wrote it? Who said it?
7) Do not form conclusions based on partial facts, insufficient information, or the opinions and speculations of others. Moreover, doctrine must never be based on church tradition—regardless of how authoritative it may appear. Scripture alone must be your standard and guide.
For more information on Bible study and other subjects pertaining to Christian growth, please visit www.churchathome.org. Philip Neal
Have you been searching for a curriculum that teaches kids to explore the world around them, spark a love for learning, and develop authentic critical thinking skills? Look no further! The Bridgeway Academy’s All in One Grade Level Curriculum Kits have been designed to make homeschooling easier for parents, while tailoring curriculum to each individual student’s learning style and needs. Parents are given the tools they need to ensure their students gain confidence through fun, engaging activities and a high-quality curriculum tailored to their individual learning needs. Each Grade Level Kit includes engaging games, educator resources, learning guides, hands on activities and so much more – all to guarantee that parents have the tools they need to take their students’ learning beyond an meaningless letter grade. Parents can receive everything they need for a successful year from Bridgeway Academy – from a full line of online live online classes, to courses for students with learning challenges, to individual courses. And now you can discover more about your students’ learning styles and purchase these brand new All in One Grade Level Curriculum Kits now! #homeschool #educators #handsonlearning #bridgewayacademy #curriculum
Pull Your Kids Out of School — Now!#pullthemoutnow
By Michael and Mary Leppert
I, Mary, was recently reading the Washington (DC) Examiner and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the following which is a result of the recent child abuse case in the Turpin family:
“California Is Seeking To Treat Homeschool Families As Presumptive Child-Abusers
Lawmakers in that state have indicated plans to categorically require homeschool parents to prove – through home visits, interviews and other government oversight – that indeed, the parent is not abusive if they choose to exercise a legally-protected and valid option for school choice. This measure would shift the burden to the parent to prove to the government’s satisfaction his or her parental fitness. This is absurdly unconstitutional.”
We are appalled that any politician would even dream of considering such government interference over a media mistake of labeling the Turpin family as “homeschoolers”! Suggesting such government interference is outrageous, particularly in light of the number of public school shootings and other school-related scandals constantly in the news:
Child Suicides caused by bullying
Sexual intimidation and harassment
Bullying and non-gun violence – possibly still fatal
Students demonstrating no respect for teachers
Academic disasters and drop-out rates
Let’s set the record straight: The case of the Turpin family’s 13 imprisoned children is not a “homeschooling” case — it is a child-abuse case! This is not the first time the media has had a knee-jerk reaction, erroneously labeling child-abusers as “homeschoolers” without any research or facts to verify the claim.
If you don’t feed your children and chain them to the bed and never let them leave the house, what on earth does that have to do with “homeschooling”? Such parents certainly do not care if the same children can read, write or do simple math! None of the Turpin children possess more than a scant academic knowledge and do not have worldly awareness or knowledge. Homeschoolers are not hermits – especially those who live in urban areas. We take our children into the real world regularly and they interact with others daily in stores, at dance classes, music classes, choir practices, gymnastics classes, martial arts classes, at Park Days, etc. Contrary to the urban legend, perpetrated by the mistaken media, homeschooling children are very well socialized.
Actual homeschooling parents are dedicated people who sacrifice much to guarantee that their children are safe from the unnecessary dangers and academic distractions that exist in public schools and that they receive proper academic and personal human attention. The average homeschooling parents spends 1800 more hours a year with their children than the average school parent, based on the number of hours the child is in school and away from home. As an example of academic excellence, according to the SAT, homeschoolers score 15% higher on the test than non-homeschoolers.
California politicians think that homeschoolers are a soft target, so instead of pursuing solutions to school violence, mayhem, and academic failings, which will cost them votes no matter which side they take, they try to make political hay by suggesting unconstitutional actions against us.
We know there are a great many dedicated teachers out there in the system who do want only the best for their students. We also know that there are many loving and dedicated parents who do send their children to school. However, we feel it is time to come right out and tell those parents THAT THE SYSTEM OF INSTITUTIONALIZING CHILDREN DOES NOT WORK! It is time to turn the tables on the institutionalization of children in public schools. Let’s talk about the proliferation of antisocial behavior that is created in schools.
There has been a school shooting at least once a week for all of 2018 to date (Feb 18); the worst occurred as we began to write this editorial.
No one ever cites the school administration or the parents as having culpability in these violent acts.
There is obviously something wrong with the system if it produces such heinous behavior so regularly.
The failure of the school systems and parents in their responsibility to society should be stopped cold. THIS is what politicians should be addressing.One of the few websites that has tracked school shooting statistics and the aftermath is EveryTownResearch, https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/, which states that
“From 2013-15 . . . 107 of the identified [school] shootings took place at K-12 schools. In 95 incidents, the perpetrators intentionally injured or killed at least one other person with a gun. School shooting-homicides cause a drop in standardized test scores, reduced enrollment at the subject school, particularly in 9th grade and create a general atmosphere of dis-ease for up to 3 years after the incident.” (See http://every.tw/1S4KInT to verify these statements.)
Rather than trying to threaten the freedom of homeschoolers, the school officials and parents could learn from us.
Calls for gun control and restriction are not the only issue here. There are an increasing number of violent school-site incidents involving knives, machetes and other non-gun weapons. The weapon of choice is a significant point, but even more of a major issue is: What about socialization? Why are so many public school students so extremely anti-social and violent? What is going on with our youth? Yes we need to protect students in schools — and the public in general — from massive violence, but let’s go deeper and get to the bottom of WHY this is happening! What is going on with the young people that is making them so violent?!
Is the structure of our current mainstream society designed to create violent, unhappy lives for many of our young people? Are we putting them on a linear train to personal and social disaster? Are the majority of young people putting up with violence, bullying, ridicule and intense peer pressure?
We feel unabashedly urgent in saying to all parents who send their kids to the institution, PULL YOUR KIDS OUT NOW! Take away the $3500 to $4500 Daily Attendance money that the system is getting from your children’s presence in any public institution. Our children are pawns in the scheme of big business and politics! Get them out now and change the structure of things. If you cannot homeschool, then please spend time with your kids! Homeschooling is 100% parental involvement. It is no mystery why homeschoolers are very often so different from many public school students. We were very saddened at the breaking news about the shootings in Florida. When Columbine happened, our first book about homeschooling had just been published and we hoped there would be a spike in public school parents and students becoming homeschoolers and spreading the values of full parenting to communities around the nation. This would have been a re-birth of humanity and positive child-rearing. But such a spike never occurred and now, 20 years later, the negative conditions in public schools are worse; these institutions are like festering boils waiting to explode.
It would be healthy if school parents could learn from homeschoolers how to raise their children in a healthier environment. Here is what they would learn if they observed average homeschooling behaviors:
Get children off of drugs – ADHD, ADD, etc. are not issues for families, they are issues for classroom behavior control.
Get children off of video games – especially violent games.
Control T.V. and Internet access and use (yes, control, as a parent should do).
Get off of your cellphone and pay attention to your child – the time with him/her will fly by and be gone.
Nothing you can do is more important than properly raising another human being and citizen.
Shut off all electronics and have old-fashioned sitting-around-talking become a regular thing that goes on in your home.
Really know your child. Understand what s/he thinks about life, the world, herself/himself.
A homeschool parent spends approximately 1800 hours per year more with his/her child than a public school parent, based on the number of hours per day that a child is in school and away from home. So begin by spending more time with your children.
Whether you believe in God or Nature, humans are mammals and are intended to raise their young until the young can successfully fend for themselves – probably about 18 to 22 years old. You are intended to govern your child’s activities and life, just as surely as a lion, bear or elephant does. If these mammals ignore their responsibility, the offspring usually dies at the hands of a predator.
Unlike other mammals, human children may not experience outright death, but they may experience a variety of deaths within, that turn an individual into a mass person, following the herd without active thought. Leadership and Life guidance should come from parents and other family members – not the school system, other children or the media/video games.
Children should be raised to live as adults in the real world – which does not involve daily unresolved bullying, intimidation, harassment, external pressures and constant comparisons with others in academic and/or sports venues. Public school is NOT the real world, but a synthetic realm where same-aged people are thrown together in an unnatural atmosphere of danger and discomfort.
We still have hope that public school parents will see that homeschooling is a better way to educate and raise children and their renewed dedication to their responsibilities will help heal this open wound of school violence and ineffectiveness. Far too many families have suffered anguish as a result of the system’s failures and politicians’ negligence and inactivity. Mary & Michael
Ed Note: I, Mary, invite any family who wants to homeschool and needs help to personally call me. Here is my phone number: 805-844-8917. I also invite any school official who wants to know more about the values and deep philosophical actions behind the idea of homeschooling to call me. I truly believe that homeschooling ideas could help calm the system.
By Joan A. Cotter, Ph.D.
Are manipulatives necessary for teaching math? What is their purpose? Are some manipulatives better than others? These are important questions to consider when teaching math to a child.
A concrete manipulative is a physical object that a child handles in order to learn mathematics. Some math programs use no concrete manipulatives. Others use them only as a last resort when a child has difficulty understanding a concept. Still others, like RightStart Mathematics, use manipulatives as a teaching tool.
A good concrete manipulative is one that a child will internalize, so that it becomes available for the child to use in her imagination. RightStart manipulatives include the AL Abacus, overlapping place-value cards, fraction charts, base-10 picture cards, and centimeter cubes. Research shows that it takes at least a year for a child to obtain the full benefit of a manipulative.
Some of the materials children use during math class such as rulers, geoboards, calculators, and goniometers (angle measurers), are not actually manipulatives, but are math tools. Still other items are applications of math, including clocks, coins, and games.
In the nineteenth century, many American schools had some beautiful geometric models, in both two and three dimensions. The teacher usually used these for demonstrations or as a prop during explanations. Montessori preschool classrooms have a set of geometry solids for the children to handle. RightStart includes a geometric set that the children use to explore properties, master the names, make comparisons, find their weights, and calculate their surface areas and volumes.
According to researchers, two important outcomes of using manipulatives are that children learn more mathematics and have a more positive attitude towards it. To obtain this effect, there should be no distinction between “real” math and “fun” math. Manipulatives need to be incorporated into the lesson and not used as a reward.
Some might argue that ordinary objects found around the home can adequately serve as manipulatives. They suggest that using familiar objects makes math seem more real. This might be true for some simple concepts. However, using raisins or other goodies makes it hard for a child to think about math topics and not the tempting treat. Keep in mind that one purpose of education is to expand the child’s horizons beyond their familiar environment. This makes it necessary to use specially designed materials, such as a fraction chart that includes all fractions from halves to tenths. The field of mathematics is doubling every seven years. Therefore, it is impossible to find everyday objects to explore these more advanced concepts.
One common manipulative are colored rods that vary in length, usually from 1 cm to 10 cm with each length having a specific color. When I first saw some colored rods, I found them fascinating. Now I realize I understood the mathematics before I saw the rods. Their very attractiveness makes them less desirable as a math tool–they’re fun to build with.
To use colored rods mathematically, you must first memorize the color for each of the ten numbers. Then to add 4 + 3, you need to find the 4-rod and the 3-rod. Lay them end-to-end and find their sum by locating the third rod that matches the length of the two rods and translating that color into a number. Also note that the colors are a problem for 8% of boys who are color deficient.
A serious drawback of colored rods longer than five is that they are not visualizable. No one can see a quantity of eight mentally and be confident it is eight. This makes it impossible to work with colored rods mentally. Curricula using colored rods usually rely on flash cards to ensure that children learn the facts.
Rather than colored rods, RightStart uses the AL Abacus. This abacus has rows of 1-cm beads grouped in fives to make the quantities visualizable. To add 4 + 3, 4 beads are entered followed by 3 beads. The sum is seen immediately as 5 and 2, or 7, and that is visualizable.
Another common manipulative are sets of base-10 blocks, which is comprised of single cubes for 1s, ten cubes arranged as bars for 10s, ten bars arranged as squares for 100s, and stacks of ten squares arranged as large cubes for 1000s. With this material, it is possible to represent any whole number from 1 to 9999.
To understand how the base-10 blocks represents our number system, children must recognize a ten, a hundred, and a thousand each as new units. Failure to recognize ten as a new unit is thought to be the result of too much counting, especially beyond ten.
Working with manipulatives does not guarantee understanding the mathematical concept. The teacher must ensure that the child understands the mathematics embedded in the materials.
Manipulatives are needed, but they must be chosen carefully. They must be more than simple counting items. Teachers need to guide the children toward understanding and making the concepts visualizable.
Published by: Create Presswww.createpress.com
P.O. Box 2785
Carlsbad, CA 92018-2785
$44.95 plus S&H
Online Teachers Manual available at website
Ages 5-99 (adult assistance is required for younger children)
Can be up to 6 individuals or up to 6 groups of 2-4 players
By Joseph Grayhaim
Create Press has developed an ingenious approach to teaching creative writing and guiding students to work the imagination in an enjoyable and non-self-conscious way: A writing board game called Create-a-Story.
To begin my description at the end, a parent or teacher scores each written work at game’s end, following a scoring guideline in the instructions. For instance: “10 points if the story included the topic sentence; 5 points each for including good guys and bad guys in the story.” The winner is s/he with the most points, following the scoring scheme. But the point is made that every player is a winner, by virtue of having completed a story in the process of having fun.
Create-a-Story is played on a large, colorful game board composed of a path of squares that wends its way over the board. The squares are named for story elements, such as “Description”, “Dialogue”, “Setting”, “Plot” “Resolution” and other elements of story construction that correspond to decks of game cards divided by the same categories. There is also a pad of Outline Sheets and here is how these pieces come together:
Each writer must choose a Topic Sentence card from the deck of such cards. This card must be used in the story, as close to the opening as possible and reasonable. (Remember, the player receives 10 points for using the Topic Sentence.)
Beginning at “Start!”, each player rolls the die and moves along the game board as indicated. The player takes a story element card each time s/he lands on one, but only one Setting card. Play continues until all players have completed the board path and reached the ending or “Write!” By this time, each player must have at least 5 description cards; if not, s/he chooses from the deck until 5 have been taken.
The writers take an Outline Sheet and fill in each section of the Outline from the element card information – Topic Sentence, Plot, Setting, Characters, Resolution, etc. There are a number of potentially conflicting elements, so the writer must choose the element most useful to the rest of the information. Therefore, the writing actually begins in the making of these choices, which ultimately provides a solid foundation in the writing process and making a habit of it.
Once the Outline Sheets are completed, the writers begin to write their stories, filling in the necessary details from the Outlines. This process typically requires assistance and guidance from an adult – parent or teacher – as it is the true imaginative work . . . developing interesting story details from the element cards that have been collected randomly.
The guiding adult will score the finished stories and then has the opportunity to review the story with each writer, discussing areas where more work will be helpful and how to make it so.
The fact that the game can be played with teams makes it valuable in practicing team work and group brainstorming, also.
Many writers of various forms use “Storyboards” to outline their stories. Create-a-Story provides insight into a similar process for young writers that can serve them throughout their lives. If, as an adult, one such student is someday required to present a lengthy speech, the habits of outlining and then filling in details, using colorful descriptions, having the presentation follow a logical flow . . . all of the skills developed while playing this fascinating game, will serve him/her well. Even attorneys who can present the facts of their case in a logical, clear, unfolding “storyline” will find success in their communications. The final utilitarian value of learning creative writing in this way is for the SAT essay section and other applications. Years of practice forming one’s thoughts into clear form and then putting them on paper will make such test-taking a breeze.
Create Press offers an Online Teachers Manual, another writing game and other excellent materials to help each child become comfortable with creative writing. J.G.