Competition – Healthy or Harmful?

runMost of us are probably wondering the same thing… where does the idea of competition come from? and is it healthy for our children?

Competition is definitely not a contemporary idea. In fact, the downplay of competition in schools across America is rising. Many educators believe that competition is harmful and damaging to the young psyche. Let’s take a look at history…

As long as can be remembered competition has been a part of our society and our world. True competition in the historical sense is partnering with our competitors and pursuing excellence all while realizing that the experience gained in the pursuit is worth more than the outcome. This is where things get derailed. The importance of the “pursuit of excellence” is the key to competition. Not the base desire to just win. Take for example the Olympic Creed, “The most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”

Taking it back even further into history, the Word of God instructs us to “run the race”, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Tim. 4:7, and Heb. 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The idea here is not to win, but to run with patience… to acquire the lessons and experience and goals that the race brings with it.

Even the Latin roots of the word competition show us this – petere means to strive and the prefix com  means with. Thus denoting the idea that competition is to strive along side WITH not against! This is the pure form of competition, and thus one that is healthy and contributes to growth in our children. However, after the fall of man sin corrupted everything and thus competition became corrupted and degraded to the singular goal of winning joined by arrogance and disrespect.

The corrupted version of competition is the reason why so many people have shied away from incorporating competition at all. However, the pure form of striving together with someone toward a goal – all while pursuing excellence is meaningful and definitely motivating. Remove competition completely and students stagnate… everyone wins a blue ribbon for art – why try harder? Everyone gets a reward for the foot race – why give my best?

Keeping competition pure – is key to using it as a healthy motivator. Philippians 1:27, “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  This verse in Philippians is talking about staying true to the Lord, however the idea of striving together for a common goal is fundamental. Notice that the verse talks of one spirit and one mind – again this idea of healthy competition doesn’t accept degrading one another – nor being lifted up in pride but having the same mindset – and the same GOAL. True competition will enable us grow and learn from the journey!

I Cor. 14:12 “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”

National Young Reader’s Week

Did you know that this week is National Young Reader’s Week? It sure is- and it’s a great time to focus your homeschooling on your young readers. In honor of that – the Pizza Hut Book It program has been posting free books for your kiddos to read. Here is today’s Book IT story.book it

Using the Video Project in Homeschooling

filmingVideo projects can be a huge way to cultivate an interest in the arts for your child. There are lots of reasons to try video projects in the homeschool.

1) This is a creative endeavor and your child will have to reach deep for ideas

2) Students spend so much time on electronic media each day – this is an opportunity for that time to be spent producing something meaningful.

3) Video projects can also teach students how to use language and film elements to influence people’s lives

I can imagine hearing most parents say, “But HOW?” It’s true most of us have no clue as to how to create a film, but with the extensive resources on the web… we can be fearless! But we need a few things…

1) Planning – as the guide for this instruction we will need to plan the project and set some goals. A three to seven minute video is probably a great start for Middle School to High School

2) Plan the content – You may want to use web sites that introduce the basics of filmmaking.

3) Determine the type of project such as a demonstration, narrative, public service announcement, or research.

4) Plan how the student will be graded on the project. Creating a rubric for this will definitely make it easier for both the teacher/parent and the student.

Once you’ve made your plans… it’s time to get started. However, that begins with you!

1) Introduce the concept to your student.

2) Teach them the basic premises of videography. Use a variety of methods, and make sure that they understand the process and the method of taking video, editing video, and exporting the video. You may have to have a video editing software.

Once you’ve passed along the information – it’s time for the students to begin!

1) Planning is always the first step in any great project! Plan the general concept and then share their idea so that parent/teacher can give guidance.

2) Scripting/Story boarding is the next crucial phase in creating a video project! The more organized and planned a project is – the better it will flow!

3) Film!!! This is the fun part… if your students have done all of their previous homework – this part should be easy. If your student is using a phone or ipad/ipod sound may be an issue – you may want to suggest a limited amount of dialogue. If this is the case the student will need to get their message across through the film alone.

4) Editing – this takes much longer than the actual filming. You may want your student to download a free video editing software. This article shares several of the best.

5) Submit!! Don’t let your students create a project that goes unnoticed. Help them find a way to publish their work. Easy places include Youtube, Schooltube, and even Godtube as well as Facebook – or even a video contest. Make the most of their accomplishment!

Homeschool Achievement Testing

For years, testing has been a great concern for many homeschoolers. In our state, Georgia, standardized testing is required every three years. If you are not part of a co-op that gives these tests, then you are faced with finding an organization or school that will let you test with them. Sometimes that is a pain!

I’ve recently discovered test point. This is an online testing service that makes it easy for homeschoolers to take their standardized tests. I would look into it if you are required to have a standardized test this year. I think that you have to register your own “home” school. However after that you can buy the number of licenses that you need and go from there.

I am not an affiliate nor am I receiving remuneration for this informational post…

Carnival of Homeschool – The Ages and Stages Edition

Homeschooling Elementary

These are the magic years…everything is new and exciting. Making the most of creativity and firsts… it’s an amazing part of life that is the foundation for lifelong learning.

Introducing our youngest children to learning in a way that is fun and exciting gives them a beginning we will never regret. With that said, let’s join Monique over at Living Life and Learning to get 5 Days of Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers.

The Journey and Destination blog shares that it’s best to start homeschooling our children from the beginning. Her post about Large Family Homeschooling really points out the benefits.

Adventure Hollow lets us see just how much fun a typical home schooling day can be. In her post Back to School Smarty Pants she shares how much fun their first day of school was for them.

Life With Tourette’s is a post that exposes us to what it must be like to find out your child has a disability.

Why Homeschool leaves us with another great post for Elementary age homeschoolers. The post entitled Public School Would have Ruined Another Kid is encouragement to stick with what you value.

Homeschooling Middle School

This level of homeschooling has it’s own individual characteristics and definitely challenges. Middle School is the time when your child is changing and growing into the adult they will one day become. Teaching character, having fun, and beginning in depth study are all just part of the Middle School process.

My Own Mind shares how she educates her Middle School Son (13) using creative and alternative methods. Check out her post entitled Live Today: Inhabit this Moment.

At Home & School gives us an encouraging post for when we encounter the negativity of non-homeschoolers. Her post 9 Ways to Defend Homeschooling without Joining a Homeschool Organization has a lot of great ideas!

In this post post entitled, But… I HOMESCHOOLED You! Kelly talks about the struggles associated with a homeschooled child that isn’t making the right decisions in life. As we reach the Middle School years with our children this becomes more of a reality.

Online Education for Kids gives us some great ideas on how to teach Middle School Language Arts. The post, Tips for Teaching Middle School English is a can’t miss!

Homeschooling HIgh School

These years are often by far the most challenging for homeschool parents. They require us to dig deeper. Finding ways to inspire and encourage our young adults to figure out how they want to prepare for the future is one of the largest challenges. Couple that with keeping detailed transcripts and finding courses that match their career needs.

Let’s start this off right with a post from Letter’s From Nebby. School Plans 2014-15: The High Schooler shares with us just what Nebby and her homeschooling family plan to do this year for High School.

Laura Grace Weldon shares with us an amazing post. Successful Teen Homeschooling: Two Vital Factors lets us have a peek at what an experienced homeschool parent has done to educate her teenagers.

Dewey’s Tree House is back with another amazing thought provoking post. In When Just Playing Around is Not Enough we find out that math manipulative use doesn’t always “add up!” (Dewey’s pun…)

Here’s a great idea for your high school science course! Electric Conductive Paint Projects and Ideas gives us an inspiring post on how to use paint that conducts electricity.

Not trying to be self serving, but I feel like this article could be helpful to someone who is trying to graduate their first homeschooler! In the momSCHOOL article Tips for Graduating Your High Schooler you can find practical points that we followed in order to prepare our daughter  graduation and for college.

Here is an article that really gives you the “insider track.” You’ll find curriculum guides with free resources for creating your very own highschool homeschool courses for free. Don’t miss the Let’s Homeschool Highschool Curriculum Guides.


I’d like to thank each of you that submitted a post to this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling. I really enjoyed reading all of the amazing homeschool insight in each article. Don’t miss the next carnival you can find out where it will be hosted at Why Homeschool. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Homeschool Housewives With Attitude?

arguingIt’s typically that time of year when many homeschoolers start rethinking and reviewing their homeschool experiences and begin planning the new homeschool year. I typically try to turn a critical eye on all that transpired in the last year. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it isn’t. It seems like there is always something that needs to be changed with our curriculum, how we worked, or our schedule. …And that’s ok… this isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually pretty great. You’re wondering how making mistakes can be great? Well, it isn’t so much the mistakes as it is the correcting of (ahem) said mistakes. That is moving forward… getting better… learning from those mistakes.

Which brings me to my recent observation… there are many times that I meet a homeschooling mom and we begin the typical homeschool “chatter.” You know how it goes… you’ve been there. It’s all pleasantries at first, but then… the first blow is struck when one misguided mother degrades another because of what curriculum they use, or what schedule or method. It isn’t blatant… at least not usually. It’s kind of that… “Oh… you use that curriculum.” “Well, we use such and such. We think it’s the best.”

You’ve been there, and you have walked away wondering if you are a fit parent or why you ever started homeschooling in the first place!  Maybe I’m over sensitive, but those conversations used to really knock the wind out of me!  Why -when we are all aiming for the same common goal – can’t we congratulate and encourage each other? It isn’t difficult to say something positive to another parent when you see/hear that they are doing something very different than you. Isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? People who believe that they can make a difference? People who want to do things “differently?”

Let’s just remember how incredibly deep our words can pierce and take time to 1) encourage those homeschool families around us (you never know who is struggling today) 2) Don’t expect everyone to be just like you – different is GOOD! 3) Be yourself to others – don’t try to be perfect – sometimes the best thing that we can do to encourage ourselves and others is to talk about our own struggles 4) Pray for those who homeschool along side of you… we have so many things in common that our differences are often minute! 5) Always think about what you say before you say it. Run your words through the filter of God’s love!

Homeschool moms we have one of the greatest opportunities…we educate our own children. We can teach them about God’s love in the best way possible… through example. Together – if we stop being petty – we can have a huge impact on America for good! Yet, not without showing each other support and kindness… it really is that simple. Who can you make a difference with today?

Common Core – The Truth from a Homeschool Perspective

I recently read the article The Truth about Common Core in the Guardian. I loved the fact that they presented several different views of the common core. However, since I homeschool the one on homeschooling really seemed to stand out to me. What is your opinion about the Common Core?

The view from home-school

By Nicole Reuter, home-schooling parent in upstate New York ( quoted from the article The Truth about Common Core – in The Guardian.com)

One of the things that shapes the typical home-schooling parent’s mentality about education is the ability to teach my kids what I want, when I want – as well as the freedom to move at a pace that’s appropriate for each child and to teach them in a way that is best suited to their learning style.

My biggest concern about the Common Core State Standards is how long we’ll be able to maintain our freedom to educate our children in the way that works best for us. There are no federal home-schooling standards but, in New York State, we already agree to cover certain specific subjects, report grades to our school district, and track our children’s progress with standardized tests (like IOWA or CAT tests) or written end-of-year evaluations. National standards, both directly and indirectly, could be devastating to home-schoolers by forcing us to abandon the very reason many of us chose home-schooling in the first place: flexibility.

Even if we maintain the legal right to be free of Common Core, we might well still have to cope with its effects. Some educational companies that market to the home-school community have already begun altering their curriculum in alignment with Common Core. Worse yet, we are told that college entrance exams are likely to change to reflect the new Common Core standards, rather than being tests of general knowledge. If that happens, home-schooled students would be disadvantaged in their pursuit of higher education unless they adhere to the standards, regardless of what they actually know or what skill sets they posses.

I also worry that politicians could just decide that home-schooling parents need to comply with all of the picayune standards of Common Core, full stop. At that point, I would lose the freedom to decide on behalf of my children – my students – how to help them grasp certain concepts, and instead be beholden to teaching them certain things at certain times as determined by the government. How much does it matter if a student masters fractions in the fourth grade or the fifth grade?

My husband was a public high school teacher at the time we chose to home-school our oldest two children, so he’s seen the educational system from both sides and knew this would be a good choice for us. Common Core standards want to make cookie-cutter students that get a one-size-fits-all kind of education. I know that’s not what’s best for my children, and I don’t think it’s what’s really best for any child.

 

The ADD/ADHD Epidemic

Photo: It's time to #wakeup

One of my friends posted this graphic on facebook this morning. While I know we see these things all the time, something about it really triggered my thinking. Could it be true? and if it was that would mean – yet again – that money speaks louder than anything else. Sad… very sad…

As my brain was running through these wild and depressing thoughts, I began to click on a new tab and google it. (Well, isn’t that the answer for anything we don’t know these days?  ) What I found was that apparently it is true. In 1991 legislation was passed that included ADD/ADHD in the funding for special education. Of course, the more special education children you have in your school the more special funding your school receives, in addition to any grant money. Though, from what I understand over the years the government has become more particular about what that money is spent on. I believe that it has to be spent on the special education department, so at least the money stays in the correct department. (I’m not sure if that is any consolation, though.) Anyway, this occurred in 1991, the numbers for ADD/ADHD rose dramatically since then. We aren’t talking hundred of thousands, we are talking millions! So, of course, I began to google to find out just how high the cases of ADD/ADHD have risen since this legislation was passed. …And for your viewing convenience here is a neat little graphic that sums it all up!

Jamie Turner Gaddy's photo.

So, yes… I would say that the numbers have drastically risen since that legislation was passed. So, the evidence is in… however, I have to admit I don’t think it is all “filthy lucre’s” fault in this case. You see, I believe that there are two issues at play here. Yes, the misdiagnosis of many children across the U.S., but also the rise in use of technology. Don’t get me wrong… I love technology (as I sit here on my laptop with my ipad and phone beside me…) I just believe that our children are suffering the effects of sitting too long in front of the television and playing too long with video games. Teachers just can’t compete with the amazing graphics, interesting plots, and super sound that comes with all that technology. So, in all honesty I believe that there are two evils at play here.

1) Money – I think every American would admit that most American public schools are often more concerned with the budget than with the individual child.

2) Abuse of technology – I believe that there is a right way to use technology. That is for educational purposes and as tools for productivity. Letting television and video games babysit our children is a big mistake and we (our children) our beginning to pay for it!

Making the Most of a Busy Time

photo (6)I must apologize… it has been quite awhile since I’ve posted some good material! It’s been pretty crazy around here for the last couple  months. My grandfather passed away from a stroke back in March, and my grandmother has been having some issues. Grandpa was 84 and grandma is 82, and both were/are amazing people! Anyway, I’ve flown/driven back and forth from Ohio three times now in the last few months. Needless to say, we’ve been doing the best we can with homeschooling. Sometimes life is just like that. God’s grace is sufficient, even in these times.  I must say, I’m so proud of my kids. They really did much better than I thought they would on their schoolwork while I was gone.

There are still some gaps in the big picture and some things that need a bit more work in order for them to be where they need to be – but all in all – we are getting there. We will probably do a bit of summer school focusing on the subjects that they just didn’t get this year, and of course – having some summer fun with a new pool. AND… maybe a mix of the two!

When life throws curve balls… what do you do?

Proverbs 3:5-6

        Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.