Sunday, July 31, 2005

New (to me) Forum for Selling Used Homeschooling Books and Curriculum

You never know what the Google News Alert for keyword ‘homeschooling’ will come up with. Today this came through: a new (to me) online forum for selling used homeschooling books and materials based in the about.com website.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Photo of The Thinking Mother


Okay I figured out how to put a photo inside a blog post but I don't have the ability to put my photo in my profile yet. Here I am.

Sources of Used Books, Homeschooling Curriculum and Materials Online

Here are some great sources of living books, curriculum, and materials for homeschooling. In my quest to sell used or never-used books and curriculum this summer I have discovered some new sources. I also have discovered that many times items are less expensive at these sources when compared to EBay. Summer is the busiest time for people to resell their unused or used books, materials and curriculum.

Yahoo chat list for living books which also lists EBay auctions of living books (no curriculum)
Bookroom

Yahoo chat list just for people selling living books to each other (doesn’t list EBay auctions) (no curriculum)
Bookroom-FS

Yahoo chat list for people to sell living books to each other and Charlotte Mason method books, plus math curriculum, but no other subject area’s curriculum
CMCurricula

Yahoo chat list for people to sell and buy books from the Ambleside Online and House of Education booklists
AOandHEOcurricula

More information about Ambleside Online and House of Education
Ambleside Online

Yahoo chat list for people to sell Waldorf inspired books and Waldorf-inspired curriculum to each other
waldorfcurriculum-supplies

Used living books and curriculum (classical and oddly, also ‘not classical’ curriculum)
The Well Trained Mind website’s sale and swap board

Some like VegSource but I can’t stand it as they have banned all sbcglobal ISPs from posting replies to the boards! So I no longer refer people to VegSource! If you want to peruse VegSource, you’ll have to find the swap boards on your own!

Used book sites which show multiple booksellers, so you can compare prices and decide which book you want to buy from a list of books:

abebooks

Alibris

Addall

And there is always

EBay.

I once read an article by Mary Pride in which she pleaded that homeschoolers buy their books and curriculum NEW rather than used because it keeps the companies who publish the books and materials, and the authors, in business. I completely agree with this notion. Some of us do have to rely on used items in tight financial times. Other wonderful books are out of print and we have no choice but to purchase them used.

Newspaper Article About the 2005 Pequot Library Sale

Here is a great newspaper article written by Meg Barone, published on the Connecticut Post website on 7/23/05 at 4:21:01 a.m.
Book lovers converge at Pequot Library

Since I skipped the book sale, as did all my friends, I relied on this article to give me a peek of what I missed out on this year.

Introduced to a New Phrase: Book Debt

I learned a new phrase today: ‘book debt’, in a newspaper column published in the Connecticut Post on 7/27/05, written by Amanda Cuda.

Article Title:
She's literally in a bind over her book stash

I love this phrase and will begin using it to describe our family’s circumstance!

I will admit that I am the sole culprit of causing our book debt. I cannot blame anyone else in my family for our situation.

American History Book Sort Completed; I didn't attend the Pequot Library Sale

Last Friday was the double-price day at the gigantic Pequot Library Sale; I decided to do an American History book sort on that day. I was contemplating attending the sale that day. I came up with an idea that I thought may deter me from attending the sale: to get busy with a book sort of books that I already own!

For the last two years I have been purchasing books at library book sales. These sales have been my main source of books. In the beginning I was buying anything I thought looked good, for use now or some time in the future, anything that I thought was a living book, or any reference book that may be of use to our family in the future. I even bought some antique textbooks which I thought may serve as a useful spine of our studies, if not used for their actual content.

Other than small units around U.S. holidays, we have not studied American History yet. We are studying history in a chronological manner as recommended in “The Well-Trained Mind” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.

Because we live in America, we have access to a huge number of books on this topic. And library book sales are notoriously full of books about American History. The fact that public schools teach American history in the elementary years (usually in third grade); there are also a lot of picture books on this topic. So over these last couple of years every time I’d buy a book about American History, I’d label a box “U.S. History” and toss the book in the box. When the box got full, I put it in my son’s closet. The closet has been filling up and has been basically ignored except when the doors are opened to add another full box.

I was feeling a bit as though I didn’t really know what I owned. I have only been keeping track of certain books, such as series books such as Landmarks, Signatures, We Were There, etc. because they are hard to find and can be expensive and I didn’t want to buy duplicates in error.

Here are some reasons why I wanted to avoid attending the Pequot Library Sale:
1. I may go in search of Book A (out of print book) but will find 100 or more other books that I never knew existed to purchase instead. Then I go to another library sale still in search of Book A. I finally had an epiphany last summer that if I only wanted Book A I would have saved money if I had just bought it used, online, even if I had spent $10 on it!

2. It is chaotic at the sale, crowded and filled with crazed shoppers. I have actually been injured at library sales, when being hit hard by a full box of books being carried by rushed customers.

3. I didn’t want to overspend.

4. I am behind in book sorting and should dedicate time to that endeavor.

5. All the book shelves in the house are full as are 4 closets. When is enough enough?

Well the book sort was a blast for me. I started it in the early morning before everyone woke up (at 4:20 a.m.) and stopped to go to the beach with another family for the day. I then resumed it before dinner (while my husband cooked dinner) and continued until bedtime. The entire process took about 7 hours and was completely finished in this one day, which is a major accomplishment for me. The fact that my son needed to sleep in his bedroom and that I wanted the room back to normal before bedtime was the motivator!

Come to find out I had 15 copy paper boxes full of books. I opened each and sorted them in the following manner:

Series books grouped by each series
Picture books
Chapter books (middle school)
Oversized books
Very small books
Books by topic: Each holiday, The U.S. Flag, Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution

I then took a photo of all of these books stacked up on the floor.

As I went through the books I was amazed at the number of wonderful books that I had purchased. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was surprised at the sheer number of them. I was not feeling overwhelmed about it, I was feeling grateful and content that what we had was possibly all that we would need, for not only the elementary school years, but also for the middle school years. We also have a good start on books for the high school years!

Then I took my copy of “Who Shall We Then Read” by Jan Bloom and double checked that I had indeed marked down that we already owned each book that is mentioned in her book. To accomplish this task I enlisted the help of my older son. He read the title to me and packed the books back into boxes while I ticked the titles off in the book.

I learned the hard way that to not damage the books, they need to be stored flat, rather than “spine out”. I also found the way to make efficient use of storage space was to pack books with others of the same size. The books should reach the top of the box or else the box will crush under the weight of the other boxes. Books in the stack should also be level with the other books in that same box, lest the higher book end up getting crushed down, resulting in a broken binding.

I noted in a general category, which books are in which box. I labeled the boxes with codes “AH1”, etc. For example, I noted that pictures books were in box “AH1”, and that Signatures were in “AH2”, etc. I then took this paper list and entered the data in an Excel spreadsheet. I put one hard copy in the closet for quick reference.

I was surprised to find one full box of duplicates which were bought in error. I compared my copies and kept the best one. I will now offer these for resale to my local homeschooling friends first, and then later, I will list them on internet sites. I was disappointed that I had not begun keeping an inventory of my books from day one as it resulted in me buying these duplicates. I am inspired to finish cataloguing all of my books. So far I have 3300 in an Excel spreadsheet. I have no clue how many we actually own!

I counted the books as we put them away and we have 444 books in the closet! There are 30-50 books also on the shelf in our family’s library. I think we have enough books about American History!

I also realized just by reading the titles of these books that my public school education and my liberal arts college education have left huge GAPS in my knowledge of American History. It is pretty sad that I can learn a lot just by reading PICTURE books written for the elementary grades, to my children. One thing I enjoy about homeschooling my children is that while I am reading books aloud to my children I am also learning much of the material for the first time. Choosing great living books instead of using boring textbooks makes the learning interesting and engaging for me as well as my children. I can’t imagine what I will learn when we get to the middle school grades. (If I had more time I’d begin reading more of these books to myself right now.)

Here are some of the series books that we own incomplete sets of in the subject of American History:

Childhood of Famous Americans
Cornerstones of Freedom
Dover Coloring Books (and other brands)
First Book of…
If You Lived At The Time of…
Landmark
Messner Biographies
North Star
Signature
Troll picture book biographies
We Were There…

Books by Great Authors

Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
Genevieve Foster
Joy Hakim

So with this feeling of gratitude and feeling that we have all we need, I decided NOT to attend the Pequot Library Sale. I could have gone on Saturday afternoon (first day of full price sale), or on Sunday (second day of full price sale), but I didn’t, and I feel alright with it, rather than feeling cheated or that I was missing out on finding great books for our family.

But sometimes little thoughts about wondering what gems I may have missed do pop into my head…and I hope that they were discovered someone who will read and enjoy them.

Free HTML Tutorial Site

Just found this site and am using it to teach myself HTML. It is also inspiring me to start my own website (instead of using this blog as more of a website). If I ever do start a website I will let you know. This is a free text manual that teaches HTML in an easy to understand manner.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Added Links Section

I am too tapped out after a week of Cub Scout Day Camp volunteering to write tonight. As the boys were busy playing with toys they hadn’t had time to touch in days, I had some quiet time and used it to teach myself some HTML. Using Blogger’s ‘Help’ section, I was able to figure out how to add some links to my sidebar. (All this time I was under the impression I'd have to buy a book to get this information, but I was wrong!)

I have not yet figured out how to change the font and font size to make it more attractive, but at least some links are there. I added a short section of homeschooling curriculum I use and another with homeschooling reference books I use to help design our own studies (for learning we do without a packaged curriculum). So check them out!

Next in line to add is a list of my favorite homeschooling ‘how-to’ books and a list of books I am reading to myself, and the chapter book I am reading aloud to my children right now.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Schooling Does Not Ensure That Children Are Well Socialized

The number of my personal experiences of witnessing poor social skills of schooled children is getting larger and larger. I should write them all down and date them.

I’d like to share some on the blog but it may cause problems. Since some local people know who I am, it may cause problems in my own community if someone finds out I am writing about their (unnamed) children in my blog. I also can’t write about stories of my own family as some of them know about my blog, and others read it. I’d like to write some of my experiences in Cub Scouting but am afraid that if the organization finds out that I am writing negative things about Scouts personal lives that I may get into trouble. My role as a volunteer with the Cub Scouts is more important to me than is my writing about my experiences in this blog.

I think I’ll start writing them down and keep them to myself. Then when people start bugging me about their worries that homeschooled children are at risk for not developing good social skills, I can refer to my experiences for reassurance. I could also save these to read back on when my children are adults and I want to see how my own children turned out. I am guessing that all my hard work at parenting them and teaching them is going to help create responsible, decent, and friendly people.

In a nutshell what I am finding is that many schooled children (public, private, or parochial) are lacking in social skills. Some are also lacking in basic respect of authority figures (their own parents, other adults, their teachers, their Cub Scout Leaders, etc.). Other children probably have never been taught basic manners or social graces, such as saying hello to a person, introducing oneself, inviting a child to join them in a game they are playing, etc. I am not even talking here about the problem of meanness, bullying, or other more serious bad behaviors.

Just attending a preschool or a school, or Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, or being a Scout does not mean that a child is being taught social skills. Parents should not pass off the responsibility of teaching social skills to teachers or anyone else. Parents should teach their child social skills, even if they choose to hand over the academic education of their children to paid professionals.

I am a huge believer now that the social skills must be taught at home. Parents of homeschooled children are obviously the main teachers of their children’s social skills. This is not to say that every homeschooling parent is actually teaching their children social graces. I do know some homeschooled children lacking in social skills, obviously, because they have not been taught. However, parents of schooled children should not pass off this teaching to the schools because attendance in schools and lots of time around peers of the same age is NOT ENOUGH to teach good social skills. The proof of this is the large number of disrespectful children and also, adults who have never learned good social skills.

Other evidence of poor social skills can be viewed on reality television shows with adults (Big Brother 6), teenager reality shows (Made), court television shows (Judge Judy), and daytime talk television skills (Dr. Phil). I am convinced that most of society’s problems are caused by people not living out the Golden Rule. Basic disrespect of others, not respecting authority (or the law), and poor communication skills are the main culprits of problems in our society.

The lack of empathy is another huge problem. It also seems that many children, teenagers, and adults (by the way) don’t care about the consequences of their actions. Many people think only of themselves, doing what they think is right for themselves without a thought as to what the result (to others) will be.

Not Natalee’s Hair on Duct Tape

I have been following the Natalee Holloway story out of sheer curiosity. I am very interested in how this is being handled by the Aruban government and how it is meshing with Natalee’s family, U.S. Government, F.B.I., the American media, etc.

This just in: the hair on the duct tape was not Natalee’s. Here is the news story that came out an hour ago, based on F.B.I. test results.

I wonder how many American’s are following this story. I heard Bill O’Reilly say that some survey showed that many American women are following the story and that most are not watching entire news programs, but enter the room just to hear the Natalee segment, and then they stop watching the program. Interesting.

As a mother of young children I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in the situation that Natalee’s mother. I can’t imagine what it would be like if my child was missing like that. I just can’t fathom it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lemonade Stand/Tag Sale Story

So we did do the lemonade stand. The boys also wanted to sell homemade chocolate chip cookies. Due to a busy day at the beach the day before the sale, we weren't prepared. I had to get up at 6 a.m. in order to make the cookie dough (with both boys). I never get up that early! Anyway it also is a lot of work to prepare for such a sale.

I gathered their child-size table and chairs, two drink coolers, lemonade mix and iced tea mix. I took the cookie dough and baking pans with me to my parents house. I also packed the toy cash register and took $10 in quarters. The boys made signs for the drinks and cookies, with prices. I had packed ice but forgot to take it with us.

I grabbed the boxes of used books and curriculum that I am trying to sell. I posted notes to two local homeschool support group email lists giving the location of the neighborhood tag sale, in case they wanted to come and browse or buy the homeschooling materials. I also took a bunch of boxes of stuff that I had flagged for donating to charity tag sales or to Goodwill.

My mother and the kids baked the cookies while I set up the sale. The collectors were there 20 minutes before the sale (at 7:40 a.m.).

I had at least one child sitting at the table and had them announce what they were selling. My younger son was very shy about this. When he was staffing the table alone, I spoke up and announced what my CHILDREN were selling. My kids did all the work of collecting the money and pouring the drinks.

They collected $23.00. The cost of the chocolate chips was $6, butter $3, and lemonade mix was $4. All the other items we already had on hand. So their profit was $10.

I sold $9 worth of stuff. Boy are people cheap. I was only able to get 25 cents for a bunch of fiction novels that my husband had read. The woman refused to pay 50 cents!

My father put out a few things. I was only able to get $5 for a working color television. The woman said it was to donate to the mental health facility that she works at, for her patients, and she could only afford $5.

I was able to get $5 for a stroller. That was a steal for them.

Meanwhile our old infant car seat by Britax which sells for $170 could not fetch even $5. They thought that was too expensive. Excuse me?

I did check out the items that the neighbors were selling. My children and I were very excited to find two huge bins of LEGOs for $10 each. The cost of the bins was $9 each, per the price sticker that was still on each bin! After we opened them I found two complete sets of castles, which sell for $90 new. There were many LEGO people and many odd pieces. The kids are elated.

I also found a long Flexible Flyer sled for $7. They would not go lower on that. I had bought a smaller one, which was rusty though, at a Boy Scout tag sale last month for $1.50, just to compare.

I also bought 5 board games and a set of multiplication flash cards, all like new, for $5.

So participation in this tag sale/lemonade stand cost me $32. The boys donated their $10 in profits to the cost of their toys.

I also took the plunge and bought a brand new Color Game Boy with six games for $20. I thought this was a great deal. I actually walked away from it the first time I saw it, then went back. I have been feeling that perhaps I am being too strict about the 'no Game Boy' policy and am feeling very much like living in the alternative parenting arena is too draining. So little slips of mainstream parenting are beginning to creep in to our family.

I know my younger son really wanted one. He also keeps a lot of anger and resentment when I say 'no' to things. I try to only say 'no' to very important things lately as some days it seems all I say all day is 'no'. I came up with this idea that my parents should buy it and keep it at their house as a special thing for the kids to play with while they visit. They agreed. My older son tried it once and could have cared less about it. He went right back to playing with the LEGOs (during the sale). My younger son loved it and he cried when we went to go home. I felt guilty as he is not as excited about the LEGOs and he was kind of getting shafted by having his favorite new toy being left at his grandparents house, while my older son was looking forward to more LEGO play when we arrived back home. So we took the Game Boy home (after I reimubused my parents).

My husband came up with an idea, for every minute of reading, they get to play one minute of Game Boy. So far my older son has played it for 20 minutes, since getting it four days ago.

My brother came by with my nephews and they all played with the LEGOs. Also one homeschooler who I knew only from online chats came, and I got to talk to her for a long time and meet her youngest child. It is so interesting to meet people in person whom one knows only from online chatting!

It was hot during the tag sale, about 88 degrees and very humid, and we stayed outdoors for six hours (mostly in the shade). It is taxing to do, when one is used to living in air conditioned air. However, it did feel great to be outdoors. I also enjoyed talking to the neighbors who still live there since the time I was a child. I also slept like a rock that night and am forming a theory that perhaps breating outdoor air (with the proper/better oxygen level) is better for us than living indoors in the air conditioning. I will have to research this!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sporadic Posts This Week

My posts will be short and infrequent this week, as I am doing a volunteer job this week totaling 40 hours/8 hours per day. I am exhausted and barely able to check my emails. I will report more on this experience when the week is over.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

We Are Doing Harry Potter Now: Our Story

Okay some of you know that I have resisted Harry Potter for years. Here is the full story. I know that some of you really do want to hear all these details. If you don’t then don’t waste your time reading this!

My oldest child was just one year old when the first Harry Potter book was released (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling). I was aware, over time, of the popularity of the book as reported in the media. Since I have always loved books and was already reading books to my son (beginning when he was still in utero), I was already interested in the whole arena of children’s books.

When my oldest was two the fourth book was released. Now that I look back at the publishing dates I am surprised to see that the first four books were published within 23 months of each other. Publishing the sequels has significantly slowed down since then, I guess as the author is busy helping create the movies. Anyway, I was aware of the hoopla such as midnight book releases, children waiting hours in line at bookstores to get the book, etc. I was curious about all of it.

I was also hearing from friends, relatives, and from cyber friends on online chat lists, that some parents were reading these books aloud to their children aged 4 and up. I heard some precocious children were reading the books to themselves at age 5, 6, and 7. I heard wonderful things such as “this is the first real interest my child has taken to reading independently and he loves it” and “this is the first chapter book he has read”. Note I only heard this about boys, for whatever reason, but being the mother of a boy I was interested in this. I also was asking myself if my not reading this to my young child was somehow depriving him.

I began to wonder what these books were really about. Were they appropriate for children of those ages? Why were such young children reading such long chapter books? What is the quality of this children’s book? Is the story/book really that good or is this all hype?

I began to research this online. I realized that there was a whole group of people who intentionally refuse to let their children read these books. I set out to find out why. A group of them are proud to say they are Christian and they say they don’t allow their children to read any book (or be exposed to any other thing) that glorifies magic, and they are led to this by the Bible. Other parents felt the book was too scary for their sensitive children. Others felt they wanted to wait until their children were older to read long chapter books of scary content. I found many opinionated people who had never read the book and were going on the recommendation of others. (I later found out that some of these people based their opinion on false information. Moral: If I really wanted to know what the books were about I should read them myself and make my own determination.) I also spoke to some parents who allowed their children to read the books. I found out that the parents whose children were reading the books by themselves had not read the books, so the parent really had no idea what was in the book. I disagreed with this for two reasons:
1) They didn’t make an informed decision about whether the book was appropriate for their children who were as young as 5. As I have said before I feel that all decisions should be informed decisions.
2) They are missing out on a great opportunity to read the book aloud to their children, to share in the experience and build a “shared experience”.

So, off to the library I went, to get the books. I will say that I had been so turned off by the negative criticism of the books that I didn’t want to buy the book lest I help the author make profit on something that is bad for children. So I borrowed the first book and began reading. I was pregnant at the time and relaxed and read the books. I read them quickly and was hooked by them. I stayed up late reading them and couldn’t put them down. I wanted to see what happened, how the stories ended. I also liked the good characters and hated the bad characters. I thought the books were very good but not the best quality writing that I had read. (Although the more involved the stories get the more respect I do have for J.K. Rowling as it really is not easy to write books such as these! If you doubt this, just try writing even a short story. It is harder than most people realize.)

I really think that parents need to make their own decisions. If you are struggling about whether to expose your children to these books, I think you should read the book or listen to the high-quality audio books, narrated by Jim Dale. Read them to yourself and see what you think of them.

I read the books as the mother of a soon-to-be three year-old. I read the books at that time, through the filter of a mother looking for objectionable content.

As of right now I have read books 1-4. I have heard the audio books 1, 2, 4, and am almost done with book 5. I have seen the movies that correspond to books 1-3, multiple times. I have just begun reading aloud book 6 to my children. Now when I read or hear these books I am viewing them through the lens of an older son aged almost 8 and a younger son who can’t be excluded from the journey, who is 5.

Before I get into more detail I will say this. The movies do a wonderful job of putting the images onto the screen. The special effects are great. The movies are really a treat to the eye. They bring the books to life and I feel they enhance the enjoyment of the book. With that said I read the books first and had mental images of the characters and the movie characters are a bit different than I imagined. Now when I read the books I see the movie actors in my head.

Anyway the most important thing I want to say is that I felt that some of the darker parts of the books did NOT come through in the movie. These were actually the things that bothered me the most. The fact that they were not as clear in the movie is fine with me.
1. Harry Potter is a baby but is left overnight, all alone, on the front porch of his aunt and uncle. He is dropped off there to be turned over to them to be raised. I would have preferred that the aunt and uncle find him sooner. I guess this was my pregnant state’s influence.
2. The aunt and uncle are verbally abusive and cruel to Harry. They withhold food from him and in the books he is pale and thin. The movie character, in my opinion, is too healthy looking. The book-Harry, I felt was not as happy a person due to his horrible upbringing. I felt the movie-Harry was happier overall. Also in some points in the books, it mentions that they are semi-starving Harry. This is why he is so thin. I felt this was intense and was child abuse and didn’t want my children hearing any of that in what was supposed to be children’s entertainment. At the time I thought that perhaps 10 would be a good age for a child to learn that sometimes their caregiver-relatives would be neglectful and abusive. For example in some of the books he is living in a “cupboard” which is a closet under the stairway. He is kept locked in there, in the dark. He is punished by withholding food and being locked in the dark cupboard. His clothes don’t fit, and they are dirty. There is mention that HP does not always have good personal hygiene as the aunt and uncle don’t allow it. I wanted my children to not know about child abuse until about 10 years old. I felt very sorry for HP.
3. The cousin who Harry lives with is also abusive, physically and verbally, to Harry. The cousin is male and is a little older than Harry. I felt horrible about HP being victimized by his cousin while the aunt and uncle were aware of this, and allowed this to happen.
4. The bully Malfoy, at school, hates Harry and all non-pure wizards. This is very in keeping with the English class-ism. This is not something that most American children can relate to. I didn’t like to expose my children to this notion at a young age and it is not our American way of life. Malfoy is cruel to Hermione because her parents are both not wizards. I don’t feel that this theme comes out very much in the movies, except a tiny bit in Movie 3. This is a major thing from Book 1, though. I was annoyed with the school administrators for not cracking down on the bullying.
5. The bully Malfoy really hates Harry. Malfoy and his friends bully and torture Harry verbally and physically. I hate bullying and was sensitive to this in the books. This bullying is apparent from Book 1 and on. I felt these scenes in the books were a bit more than my young children needed to hear. I felt Harry was not being protected enough by the teachers at his boarding school. One can say this is “real life” to experience bullying as a child.
6. I hated the idea that the whole point of the book was that the “bad guy” Voldemort, who was the most evil character, a wizard gone bad (to the dark arts side: think Darth Vader), I felt that the very plot of this adult Voldemort was trying to kill Harry (a 10 year old boy) was sick. I didn’t want my kids thinking that an adult would ever want to kill a child. Over and over in the books, Harry is basically trying to protect his life and not be killed. Other adults who are Voldemort allies also are conspiring to harm and kill Harry. I felt this was too dark for my children until about age 10.
7. Harry goes to the boarding school during the school year. Summers are spent with his relatives. Each summer he is neglected and abused. I forget in which book they move him into a bedroom, but they put bars on the window and door. He is kept prisoner in the room, until he is broken out, at the beginning of Book/Movie 3, by his friends. My issue is that I am frustrated about why HP keeps getting returned to his abusive relatives. I felt that the school administrators should have acted more to protect his safety and if that meant he stayed with friends during the summer, so be it. I think it was in Book 3 or 4 that suddenly there was a mention that there is some special requirement that HP spend at least part of each year with his relatives and that he remain under their official guardianship. This is not explained well and I am not buying it at this time. I worried what my children would think about the wonderful Hogwart’s teachers that knew of his abuse at his aunt, uncle, and cousin’s hands yet kept delivering him back there each summer.
8. The idea that HP and his friends are solving issues that all the adults around them can’t solve gives the idea that adults are stupid and children are smarter. This is a notion that is pushed in children’s books, television shows, and movies. It is one that I dislike.
9. I was annoyed that whenever HP breaks a rule, he is forgiven the punishment. One could argue that this is a case where a child could learn that not all rule breaking has a consequence.
10. In Book Three a new character is introduced: Dobby, the house elf. House elves are slaves for wizards who own them. One gross aspect is they are not given clothes to wear, but wear scraps of rags. They are usually also dirty and unbathed. House elves supposedly love to serve their masters. They are treated poorly including verbal and physical abuse at the hands of their masters, which is deemed acceptable in the wizarding community. Dobby befriends Harry and during these interactions, when Dobby is mad at himself he physically harms himself as punishment, such as throwing himself against walls, bashing his head, etc. I thought everything about this was disgusting. The rule is that if the owner of the house elf gives the elf a piece of clothing then that has given them their freedom. But it is said that house elves love their enslavement so they don’t want their freedom. In the end of Book 3, Dobby is given his freedom by accident, as a trick perfumed by Harry on the Malfoy family. Dobby is happy. Update: In Book Four, Hermione starts the school year with a new advocacy group which calls for the freeing of the house elves. There is a lot of political type activism which Hermione holds to try and recruit members. A freed female slave is miserable with her freedom and wants to be a regular House Elf/slave again. Dobby returns and reports that no wizards will hire him as a paid employee as they can get other House Elves to do work for free. I didn’t care for this subplot at all.

So I read books 1-4 when my oldest was 2. I read them all in a row. I felt that Book 4 was very long and it dragged for me. I also began to get sick of the same thing over and over, Harry trying to be killed and him surviving.

My older son saw me reading the books and I explained they were Harry Potter books. He memorized the look of Harry from the front covers. Although he mistakenly called him “Peter Potter”, every time we saw an image of Harry Potter in a store he loudly proclaimed that “There is Peter Potter, from your favorite book”. I cringed as I didn’t want strangers to think that I was reading the books to my son. He did this for years and he was aged 2-7 when he was doing that and he had not been exposed to the books or movies.

A friend then gave me the hardback versions of books 1-4. I shelved them for later use.

I did note that after Book 4, that many toys and merchandise were being marketed to very young children. This was very annoying to me. I saw things such as picture books, pop-up books, toy figures, and even a toy castle/play house type thing that was only for children of a certain height. By the time they were approaching four they were already too tall for it. I know this as I bought one for my kids because I wanted this inexpensive play house thing and the best design looked like a castle (it was Hogwarts School) and I thought they’d not realize that it was a Harry Potter product. There was a tiny logo on it and they did know it was a Harry Potter item, though. Oh well.

In 2004 when Book 5 was released, I bought it as part of the preorder hoopla. I figured that I’d read it to my kids someday and I might as well buy it at a discount and read it myself, along with America.

Other notes about the movies:
1. Due to time constraints, they can’t show everything.
2. The abuse and neglect by Harry’s aunt and uncle is not very apparent.
3. The bullying by Harry’s cousin is not very apparent.
4. Why Malfoy hates Harry is not very clear.
5. The bullying by Malfoy and his friends is not well represented.
6. The class-ism issue is not really clear until Movie 3.
7. The music makes the movie intense. Some parents I know feel this is too much for their children, whilst the children are fine with the book being read aloud, reading it themselves, and hearing the audio book.
8. The scary scenes are quite intense and even make me jump and feel the suspense and thrill. This comes across in the movie much more intense than in the book. Some children may be more scared by seeing the movie than from the book. I found myself rushing through these scenes when reading as I wanted to quickly get to the conclusion.
9. All the characters are explained better and a connection is made better in the books. However this should come as no surprise to anyone.
10. The visuals in the movie are really special and are worth seeing.

If you are reading the books I would never recommend avoiding the movie unless you are trying to protect your child from the scary parts. Even with a fearful child, perhaps they could close their eyes at those scary parts of the movie. If you have gone down the Harry Potter book path, you might as well do the movies as well and enjoy the visual treat.

How we came to “do” Harry Potter

My children became used to the image of Harry Potter. Other homeschooled children were asking my children about Harry Potter. Ditto for schooled children we know. The children were trying to engage my children in conversation. We saw people dressed as characters from the books at every Halloween event we attended. Even our town’s book character parade was filled with characters from the book. My children recognized this. We saw marketing materials for HP in book stores. We saw lots of HP books at public libraries. We saw giant Harry Potter’s made out of LEGO while at the mall. We saw HP toys in department stores and toy stores. There is no escaping HP.

My older son kept asking to me to read aloud the HP books out of what I guess I will call “pressure from society”. I could also call it “media pressure” but that isn’t a good enough description, neither is “peer pressure”. I told him that they were scary books for older children. It was not long, however, before people we knew well were “doing” HP and they were the same age or younger than my children. Now my children were aware that I was sheltering them from this. Hey, that is my right as a parent. However they did begin to feel they were missing out on something. My internal thoughts about this were “tough luck”. Also I’ll add that my husband had no opinion on the sheltering other than that he was going along with my recommendation as he felt I was the decision maker of this. It is great to have support like that. If my own husband was exposing my kids to scary material at their young ages I’d be beside myself and losing sleep over it. I am grateful for his trust in my ability to make good decision for our family.

The First Exposure

Timeline: Children now aged 7 and 4.5

(Note: My 7 year old is the more sensitive child and the 4.5 year old child is the one who isn’t easily scared. My younger son actually handles things like movie suspense better than my older son.)

Eight months ago we were staying in a hotel while out of state to attend a relative’s wedding. After a long and intense day, it was time for bed, but the kids were all wound up. I turned on the hotel’s television to find that Movie 1 had just begun. I decided to let them watch the first hour of it. My original plan was that when we did HP we’d read the books first then do the movies.

They loved the part of the movie that they saw. They didn’t see the scary parts and the ending was not seen, so it was still a surprise.

The Second Exposure

Timeline: Children now aged 7.5 and 4 11/12

Four months ago we attended a birthday party for a homeschooled child who was turning 6. The theme was HP and it was a great party. My kids had a blast but were now more interested than ever in HP. They also saw the other children being into HP and I am sure the felt they were really missing out on something now. They both began asking to read the HP books and watch the HP movies. I resisted.

The Third Exposure

Timeline: Children aged 7.5 and 5

Three months ago we were staying in a hotel while out of state. My husband was interviewing for a job. We put on the television to view a bit before going to bed and what was just starting, but Movie 1. We watched the first hour again. We all enjoyed it. I began seriously considering reading the books to them.

The Fourth Exposure

Shortly after the third exposure, while setting TiVo to record a show, I saw that HP was going to be on television. I set it to record it. I told my kids we’d watch it together. I then realized that it was Movie 2, not Movie 1. Despite not having seen all of Movie 1, we did watch Movie 2. They loved it. They were not traumatized or scared by the intensity of the movie. I realized I was doing this out of order—meaning my plan to read the book first did not happen. I broke a cardinal rule of mine, read the book first, then watch the movie, because the book is always better than the movie. However I liked that the worst parts of the book were not well represented in the movie.

Now that they watched Movie 2 it was time to do it right. Off to the library we went and in one week we had watched Movies 1-3. We discussed the parts that were scary or problematic. We discussed over and over what was right or what was wrong in the stories. We discussed bullying, class-ism, etc. I underscored this was fiction. Our faith in God and believers in Christ was not swayed by watching a movie that featured witchcraft. We discussed witchcraft a bit, mostly focusing on the fact that we don’t believe in it.

My children began memorizing the movie characters and some of the spells. They are having fun trying to properly pronounce the Latin words. We don’t yet study Latin in our homeschool so this is their first exposure.

My children now talk with other kids about HP. If the child doesn’t “do HP” then they drop the subject and don’t pursue it. When the other child(ren) know about HP, all the kids glow up and begin discussing the story and characters. They also sometimes do pretend play, acting out the roles of the characters, the wand usage and say the spells. It is interesting to see young children interacting with each other about a shared thing. I had not seen too much of this in the past.

I did note at this time that before I felt I was weird and non-mainstream for avoiding HP. However now that I was in the mainstream I was made to feel weird and wrong by those who are avoiding HP. This underscores the issue that no matter what a person does, someone will think they are right or noble and others will think they are wrong or stupid or have bad judgment. Sigh.

The Fifth Exposure:

My son received the Movies 1-3 in DVD format as birthday gifts. They have seen the movies a few times. As always I am trying to limit screen time. If I allowed it they’d watch these movies every day (or Star Wars).

Tuned in to Marketing

Last month my kids began noticing marketing materials in bookstores and in other stores such as Wal Mart, promoting Book 6. Somehow we saw a commercial for Movie 4 which has not yet been released and they can’t wait for that to come out.

Other movie notes:
Sometimes the movies reveal or hint at things earlier than they occur in the book. For example, in Movie 3 there are hints that Ron may have a crush on Hermione. I didn’t pick this up until Book 4 or was it Book 5? I also saw an interview with J.K. Rowling and the Screenwriter. They were saying that indeed on some character development and character relationship issues, the movies touched on the subjects earlier than in the books (not in proper sequence). Also due to the original casting of the actors, the actors are hitting puberty sooner than the characters in the books. This leads the movie characters appearing older than they actually are. I guess one way this helps things is the children appear to be experiencing the scary things at an older age.

Audio books

While on long trips last month, we listened to the unabridged Audio books 1, 2, and 4 in their entirety. We are at the end of Book 5 right now. Due to the timing of our lives, what this means is that I haven’t read aloud from the books.

Book 6

I preordered Book 6 so I could get it at a discount. I also got free shipping (it doesn’t get more convenient than that). My kids heard the hoopla over the release of the book from the media and their friends. We began reading the book earlier this week but I’ve been too busy to do this daily. I’d really like to finish Audio book 5 first. So the plan is to finish Audio book 5 or finish it by reading it aloud from the Book 5. Then we will push forward with Book 6.

Listening to the stories the second time around, and with older children, I am not as sensitive as I was in the past. I also now know how my children are at this age, rather than thinking of how my oldest son was at age 2 and wondering what age was best for him to read the books.

I think that any child in school would be ready for these stories sooner than a child who is homeschooled from birth. I say this because I know bullying goes on in preschool and in Kindergarten. Bad stuff goes on, on the school bus as well. If a child is 6 or 7 and has been in preschool and school, they probably have experienced already or have witnessed others experiencing bullying.

I am finding that the parts that I disliked and worried about are not a focus for my children. It is interesting to see how they latch onto the good parts of the stories and they don’t focus on the bad parts such as the abuse by the aunt and uncle. They love the stories and they love the whole idea that this is a new and so very different world than the world we live in. It is a fantasy world that they can submerge into. I am surprised at how they are memorizing names, places, etc. They are noticing and remembering facts about the stories that I didn’t even memorize. They are having a lot of fun with this. They are not idolizing witchcraft. They are not abandoning Christianity. They have not learned anything negative from these stories. They are very aware that this is a fictional story. Oh, and they love the Quidditch game as viewed in the movies. When I read the book or listen to the audio book I have trouble following the Quittich game’s action. The special effects in the movies of the Quidditch games are fantastic and the game is brought to life. Also seeing the magical creatures such as the unicorn are more spectacular for me, in the movies. Flying scenes on the backs of creatures or on the broomsticks are fantastic and also not paralleled in the books.

So far they are not asking for lots of toys and merchandise. I found a couple of jigsaw puzzles and two board games at tag sales, and bought them for dirt cheap prices. They do the puzzles. They have not played the games much. They are asking to buy or make pretend wands that look realistic.

They can’t wait to hear Book 6 read aloud. They can’t wait for Movie 4.

I am glad we are “doing” Harry Potter.

I don’t advise at all that a child reads these books by themselves, especially if they are under the age of 9. I feel strongly that children under age 9 should at least have a parent who has read the books and can discuss it with them. Ideally the books would be read aloud by the parent. Due to the intense nature of the movies, children should have a parent view the movies with them. The movies are exciting and high quality and I guarantee you won’t be bored watching them.

P.S. In case you are wondering about romance…
There is nothing about romance or crushes in Books 1-3. In Book 4 there is a special occasion, a wizard school tournament that happens about every 100 years. At this event there is always a formal ball. Two other schools are visiting Hogwarts. The attendees of the ball must have a date. This is the impetus for students to deal with the issue of asking people to the ball, whether their dates are from the other schools or Hogwarts varies. HP is not too interested in girls but has one girl who he is most interested in, if he is forced to go with a girl. In fact, he asks if he can go solo. HP doesn’t want to take a girl to the ball at all, but since he has to, he waits until the last minute to invite his girl of choice, but she is already going with his rival in the tournament. There seems to be a little jealousy there. Some of the characters must dance, and both HP and Ron hate the idea of dancing with girls. It also is hinted that Ron’s little sister either has a crush on HP or perhaps she just idolizes HP. Nothing comes of it and HP is ignorant about the whole thing as he is not good at figuring out body language and such to indicate when girls have crushes on boys.

In Book 5, one girl has a crush on HP. HP is still not very romantically inclined but does like her. In Book 5 it seems that Ron is envious when other boys show an interest in Hermione. However it is not “out of the bag yet” that Ron really does have a crush on Hermione. Perhaps he doesn’t quite know it yet. The point I am making is that romance is not an issue at all until Book 4 and then it is not much of anything. In Book 5, the girl who has a crush on HP invites him on a date to a coffee shop. In the shop are other couples from school and it is said they are kissing, the shop is decorated romantically for Valentine’s Day. That is the first real romantic scene. HP doesn’t take part in it at all, gets into a tiff with the girl, and she leaves in a huff.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lemonade Stand or Attend the Huge Library Sale—Which Should I Do?

The largest library sale in New England is happening right now at the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut.

The first day is double price day (today). Tomorrow and Sunday are regular price day. Monday is half price day, and Tuesday is free day. The books are individually marked as to the price.

This library sale is THE library sale to go to. This is a major event. Book dealers come from all over, some traveling 1500 miles just to attend this sale, to buy inventory for their used book stores.

I have attended at the opening time on Saturday (full price day) for the last two years in a row. I am considering skipping this year’s sale.

First of all there are about 5000 children’s books. It is not easy to shop for them. The books are stacked spine-out on the table-top. There are two rows on each side of the table. On the ground under the table, are two more rows, all spine-out. The tables are so close together that if someone is behind you, you will touch buttocks. While holding books in your arms, it is hard to look at the title of a book unless it is a hardback. The books are not sorted by category, it is a mish-mosh. There is not enough room to use a backpack. Dealers walk around with boxes in front of their bodies and bang against people, with no apologies given.

There is no good place to store the books that you have selected. The dealers line up their boxes on the inside aisle of the tent and throw a sheet over it with a sign with their name and “sold” written on it.

The lines to pay are long. It is not uncommon to stand for 20 minutes or more to pay.

It is difficult to find parking that is close by. I usually have to walk 1/4 mile. This is not easy with books in arms. I don't own a hand truck.

The books can be expensive. I did figure out their system last year, though, for children’s books:

Hardback, like new, $3
Hardback, used condition, or written in (such as gift inscription) $2
Hardback, fair condition $1
Hardback, poor condition (rare to find these) $0.50
Paperback, like new $2 or $1
Paperback, used, $1 or $0.50
Paperback, poor condition $0.50

Sometimes if they realize that the book is worth more, they may charge more. For example, a like-new Seymour Simon book “The Solar System” was $10 and Landmarks are sometimes $5 or $6.

You can see that going on double price day can be expensive. I am tempted to go tonight, even though it is double price, because the crowd will be smaller.

I also found last year, that some dealers go on double price day, search out their picks and stash them in the wrong category sections, on the ground, to hide them until regular price day. I find that offensive, unethical and rude. I found a whole box of Hardy Boys books this way, when I was walking outside the tent, to leave, and spotted the whole box stashed in the adult science books section, which was on the edge of the tent. I pointed this out to a volunteer, then took my pick of the crop, and we returned the rest to the children’s section. It is too bad that two mothers had asked me earlier if I had seen any Hardy Boys books lately.

I am trying to resist going tonight. I am knee deep in reorganizing our history books which were stashed in a closet and in our library. I am feeling pretty good right now about what we already own.

I was planning to go to the sale tomorrow, but now a lemonade stand opportunity has presented itself. My parents phoned to say that for the first time, the residents of their street are having a neighborhood tag sale. They thought I may want to sell some things. Too bad I have been giving everything away to friends, family, Goodwill and Freecyclers. However I had an idea that this was a great opportunity for my children to have a lemonade stand (which they have wanted to do). I figured there would be traffic there (versus the scarcity of customers if we did it in our own front yard). The location is convenient. The boys also asked if they could sell homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I am thinking that the lemonade stand is more important than me attending this gigantic book sale.

So I had my husband run to the store to get some lemonade mix, two bags of chips and a dozen eggs. We are making the cookies tonight. We’ll use our 2 gallon beverage dispensing coolers to hold the drinks in. I have some iced tea mix on hand that we may use, also. My friend was trying to convince me to sell iced coffee for $1 per cup. I was doing the math and was thinking that with the Starbucks coffee beans I have on hand, and the high cost of Half and Half, that this would not be very profitable. We have a lot of drink cups on hand. I am going to keep track of the expenses and have the boys figure the math to determine costs and profits made.

I was also then, trying to figure out if I could squeeze in the Pequot Library Sale after the tag sale. This is not so easy as the two events are about 80 or 85 minutes’ drive apart from each other. I just may do it, though.

Oh, and the excitement in the air. Some don't believe in this, but I do. I can feel the emotion in the air. The emotion in the air at this event (and some other library sales) is highly charged. People are excited and tense and just throwing off some kind of vibes. I also have felt this at musical concerts and political rallies. The opposite vibe is that vibe that you could "cut the air with a knife". I have definately felt the negative vibes while working in my past career, as well as at some stressful events and even at family holiday parties. Trust me. The vibe is highly charged at this library sale!!

I am not sure if my husband will be open to me attending this library sale as I began the history book sort this morning at 4:00am. I had a terrible nightmare and could not fall back asleep. I was very well rested, so got up and got busy sorting books. I began sorting through what was in our library then moved to my son’s closet to take the books out and resort them. If you are wondering where our son was, when I awoke at 4:00am I found him asleep in the bed with us. He had crept in so silently that I never knew he had joined us. This was the first time that this ever happened. Usually it wakes me up and I get annoyed that he is not staying in his bed all night. My husband also didn’t know he was there until he woke up. And when my son woke up he asked me how he got into our room!

So anyway my husband saw me sorting the books in my son’s room and asked, “WHAT IS GOING ON?”. I don’t think he knew we owned so many history books. I explained I was sorting history books. I may take a photo of the room in this state. I have never laid all the books out in one place before. I am putting all the series books together and also trying to sort by category such as picture book vs. middle school books vs. high school or adult level book. I will label the boxes then put them back in the closet when done.

Wish me luck. I will report on the lemonade stand event as well as whether I did attend the Pequot Library Sale.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thinking of the Next Academic Homeschooling Year

Despite loving the Charlotte Mason method and the Classical style of homeschooling, I am having the typical homeschooling Mom’s summertime second-thoughts.

It started because my end of the year ended with a bit of burnout and boredom on my part. The boys were also kind of unenthusiastic about homeschooling by the end of the academic year. I started wondering if I could change something for next year to spice things up. I am sure if I deviate from Charlotte Mason’s method she won’t turn over in her grave. Also Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise will not know I’ve made changes and although they are alive and well, I am sure they have better things to do than come knocking on my door to say I am not following their plan 100%. Actually to be fair, they both make it clear in “The Well Trained Mind” that each family has to do what is right and best for their children and that their recommendations are not set in stone.

I was a bit bored with our spelling program (Natural Speller) by Kathryn Stout, and got to worrying that perhaps it was not challenging enough. Reports of homeschoolers’ success in spelling bees had me wondering if my children were learning enough to participate in such an event. I keep hearing how so many people love Spelling Power so decided to buy it, but only if I could find it for $35 or less (full retail is $50). I was disappointed that I didn’t find it at the MassHope used curriculum sale but I did find it the week after, through The Well Trained Mind Sale and Swap Board for $25, so I bought it. Now I need to make the time to read this and decide if it is right for us for this upcoming year. The program can be started as early as third grade, which is the grade my older son is entering.

I then got to wondering if I should do more teaching about character traits, specifically to my younger son. He is going through the typical 5 year-old power struggle, the “resist authority of the parents stage”, which usually passes quickly if it is dealt with properly. I am waist-deep in dealing with it right now. The idea that maybe buying the “right” homeschooling curriculum might end this phase and fix this issue is so tempting. Too bad that it is a myth: that the “right” curriculum can do the parenting for us. However, I was tempted by the idea of character-centered unit studies a la Konos. Volume One sells for $95 new and I decided if I could find it for $35 or less I’d buy it to investigate thoroughly. If it is not right for us, I’d resell it. I did find it at MassHope for $20. So now it is sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to read it.

I also tried to tell myself that character traits are covered in the Five in a Row unit studies that I plan to do with my younger son, but that wasn't consoling enough. It is the illusion that the thing we don't own is the better thing that is the problem. I thought I had already learned that lesson but apparently I didn not learn it 100%.

I then got to worrying that perhaps my older son was not doing enough writing composition. I found used copy of Writing Strands 2 on Ebay for a good price. I also wanted the Reading Strands book and the Evaluating Writing book that the National Writing Institute publishes but they were lower priorities. Imagine my glee (!) at finding those two books for low prices at MassHope’s sale. You can see that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I used to be excited to buy the latest faddish clothes on sale but now I get psyched for good prices on homeschooling curriculum and books. I don’t know if I will actually need these items this year but if not, I have them here waiting.

For Geography we really need a globe. The 50 cent blow up ball-globe is not working out. The kids keep using it to play with. Imagine that. I would like a proper globe but due to the tight budget, it is not happening. I also would like a talking globe, such as the Leap Frog Odyseey III globe, but at $175, that is not on the shopping list. Maybe I should see if I can find one on EBay or maybe even on Freecycle. Anyway, this is the first year that my older son could participate in the National Geographic Geography Bee but I am feeling guilty that we don’t study geography in the way that would yield success in the Bee. We are studying geography along with our World History program.

I was thinking how fun it would be for the kids to have a real microscope. My older son was actually given three toy microscopes for Christmas one year. Unfortunately they are so horrible in quality that both kids were disappointed and their interest was actually squelched for a bit. They beg for a microscope. I feel guilty that we can’t afford one right now. I was reading the Tobin’s Lab catalog and they actually recommend a microscope that is good enough even for high school studies and it costs $239. But to make one purchase of $239, in a chunk like that, seems too extravagant for our family right now.

Further exacerbating my second thoughts is the arrival of so many homeschooling catalogues in the mail recently. It is so tempting to read them but whenever I do, the “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome occurs.

Another issue is that I am spending time trying to sell my used books and curriculum, and some for a friend, and this has me on the boards and sites where I can see other things for sale and I am finding things to buy! This is not good! I need to resist the temptations to buy things when my purpose for being on the site is to sell things!

If money were a non-issue then I could over-spend on books and curriculum and not worry about it. It would actually be fun to do. I know, because I have done it in the past. But now that finances are super-tight, spending is no longer fun, it is guilt-inducing. And it kills me to feel inhibited about spending money on things we want and need to educate our children.

What I really need to do is sit down again and flesh out why we are homeschooling, what our goals are, and how happy we are doing things the way we are doing them.

Once I write up what our general goals are for this upcoming academic year I can see if what we own is good enough. If there are gaps that reveal what I need to purchase then I can go and buy just those things that we need.

Focus, focus, focus.

Evaluating Whether an Article is Credible or Not

Whenever you read something, check to see who the author is. What are their credentials? Who do they work for? Where was the piece published? Answers to these questions may reveal the author’s personal bias or the organization or publisher’s bias. The answers may also help you determine how credible what the author says is.

If you read an article published by a baby formula company, for example, that stated that refrigerated expressed human milk must be discarded after 48 hours, would you believe it? Was a study cited? On many occasions I have received infant feeding information from a certain formula company. One piece did recommend to discard the expressed human milk after 48 hours. There was no citation of a study or medical reference to back up this statement. I then called the formula’s customer service question and answer hot line and asked what the reference for that piece of information was. The phone representative could not tell me.

Interestingly enough, the answer to that same question with the citation of a study, published by La Leche League, states that this milk is good for seven days! What does the formula company gain if a mother discards her expressed milk before it truly expires? Perhaps she’d then have to buy this company’s formula to use in place of the discarded human milk. Hmmm. The fact that it is unethical to intentionally mislead customers so that they may purchase more of their product is also an issue!

Would it surprise you to know that the NEA would publish a negative article about homeschooling on their website? Well, they did, and I unintentionally stumbled upon something else. I was visiting the NEA site to find their statement on homeschooling, which I had read there, about a year ago. But I was sidetracked when I found this article.

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs

Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds

By Dave Arnold


Here is the abstact:

There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education.


When I read the article, I was a bit surprised at the harsh statements as it seems that usually writers can make a point without being so harsh.

Then I saw the author’s bio.

Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.


How much of an expert is the “head custodian” of an elementary school on the subject of homeschooling? You decide. How much does he know of the problems of institutional schooling or of the education reform movement (created by educators themselves)? I don't know.

He is neither a professional teacher nor is he a homeschooling parent. His very job depends on public school’s existence. He works for educators. There is a bias-creator if I ever did see one.

So I am not going to get too upset about this article.

However, I do wonder what motivation the NEA has to put this article on their website? Can’t they come up with any other article which does a better job of slamming the homeschoolers? Or at least one written by a professional educator?

Then they try to protect themselves by putting this statement at the bottom of the article:

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.


The fact that this article appears on their website is an endorsement of the content in and of itself, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.

Note: If you are looking for homeschooling articles on their website, you need to search using the keyword “home schooling” not using the keyword “homeschooling”. I didn’t find the statement, but this article popped up. It is an article which is rather pointed and takes jabs at parents ability to teach their child at home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Unschooling Blogs Webring

If you are looking to read some unschooling blogs, a list is here.

If you write an unschooling blog, you can become a member of this webring (for free). Information on how to participate is here.

Webrings are a way to loop together blogs. I belong to a homeschooling webring and a webring for stay at home mothers. If you want to read other blogs by people in either of these categories, click on the symbols near the webring that you are interested in reading.

What is the Purpose of School? Academics? Socialization? Babysitting? All of the Above? Which is Most Important?

I always thought the reason for sending a child to school was to get an education, that is, to be taught things. That is the goal. Period. When considering homeschooling my number one concern was academics. Could homeschooling be good enough, academically? My answer was not only could it be good enough, but it may also be better. It could also be worse, but that is not acceptable in our family, and if my children were getting an inferior education at home, I’d send them to school!

According to the NEA, another goal of schooling is socialization of children. The NEA statement on homeschooling states that they don’t feel that homeschooling can give children enough academics or socialization to equal public schooling and therefore they don’t support homeschooling.

I am now realizing, through conversations with five homeschooling families which have taken place over the last two years, that some parents also consider socialization not only a main goal of public or private schooling but these families consider it a HIGHER priority than the academics. All five families stated that they feel the academics at public school is lacking (and inferior to the homeschooling job that they were doing). Some plan to “after school” their children, that is, the parent will teach the child more academic information after the child comes home from school. In these five families, eight previously-homeschooled children are now going to public school or private school. The families have different situations, some children went to school and took the children out to homeschool, and now are putting them back, while others homeschooled from birth but now are sending the child to school for the first time.

I am intrigued with the idea that a parent would put socialization before academics. The thought just never crossed my mind. I am not judging them. Each family has to make the decision that is best for each of their children. If that means that some children in the family are homeschooled and others go to school, or if all of the children in the family go to school, then so be it.

The only thing I wonder about, when a homeschooling parent says their child is not getting enough socialization is how hard did the parent try to achieve socialization? It takes work on the part of the homeschooling parent to get their children around other children. There are many ways, community sports, scouts, neighborhood children, other children in paid classes, homeschooling co-op’s, homeschooling park days, and private play dates with other children (with either homeschooled or schooled children). The organization of the social life of a child takes time and energy, and is not always fun. It is also certainly not as convenient as putting them on the school bus and considering that time in school as being the socialization time. One mother told me that she doesn’t like to coordinate playdates; she doesn’t like attending playdates or park days, and she likes to be at home. So she now sends them to school for their socialization. When the children are home from school, they stay at home with her for quality family time.

I have heard some stories, though, about how some homeschooling parents have gone to great lengths to have their children make friends with other children to no avail. Parents say the other children are too busy or are over-scheduled. If the children go to school, they are busy with school, extracurricular activities, homework and family time. If the child is homeschooled they may be over-scheduled with the homeschooling lessons at home, paid classes or sports, various homeschooling activities and clubs, travel, family time and playdates with other children. Some of the families also complain that although other homeschoolers generally have a more open schedule for playdates that their children don’t like the other close-by homeschooling children that are most convenient for them to see on a regular basis. I hope our family never experiences this.

I have privately been told by some homeschooling parents that they don’t want their children around certain other children due to undesirable behavior on the part of the other child (i.e. rudeness, bullying). As with parents of schooled children, some homeschooling parents don’t want to deal with the issue and be honest with the other parent, so they decline invitations with the explanation (excuse) that their own child is too busy.

Of course the other thing that some parents love about school is the babysitting function. I have heard lots of comments from parents of children in school, complaining about vacation time, summer vacation, half days, etc. They complain of having to find things for their children to do when school is not in session. I overheard two stay at home mothers complaining the other day that the town’s summer camp program only ran from 9:00am to 12:30pm. They said they felt it should be the same exact hours of public school (earlier start and later dismissal). They felt that 3.5 hours was too short. They also complained it was a drop-off camp, which was being held at the various schools in town. They wished that bus service ran so they wouldn’t have to drive them to and from camp (at the school). One mother also complained that her middle school aged child’s camp required face to face pick-up of the child (for safety’s sake/avoidance of abductions). She said she told them it should be like at school, where the child is let to go play in the playground until the mother arrives to get him. She was complaining of having to be at the camp at an exact time rather than “about 12:30pm”.

Working mothers and fathers have bigger challenges for school vacations and half days. I can completely understand and empathize with this. Most companies feel that the number one priority is the employee being at work at certain hours. There is no consideration or flexibility in most jobs, for working parents to be able to handle half days and summer vacation. Most employers don’t allow children to come to work with their parents, so the parent must either stay at home with the child or make babysitting arrangements. I guess this is what prompted the creation of so many full-day summer camp programs and also full-day camps during school vacation week (such as at the aquarium and children’s museums).

While most parents won’t say the main goal of sending their child to school is for free babysitting, it is a by-product that most like and that some rely on. As more American families rely on a dual income, or if they choose to be a dual-income family, the reliance on schools and paid caregivers to raise their children becomes more of an issue.

Free Deer Tick Testing for Lyme Disease, in Connecticut

If you live in Connecticut and find a deer tick, you can take it to your local public health department for free Lyme Disease testing. The office for my town is in the Town Hall.

First, the public health department collects these ticks and identifies them to make sure the insect is truly a deer tick. Last year I turned in the smallest tick I have ever seen and was contacted by the public health department to notify me it was a wood tick. They track the number of deer ticks turned in, and what town the people live in, to get an idea if certain areas of Connecticut are more highly populated with deer ticks, I guess.

If it is a deer tick, they attempt to test it to see if the tick was carrying Lyme Disease. This testing is free. The goal of the state, to do the testing is for the state to track the percentage of deer ticks which are carrying Lyme Disease. This is an important statistic to know. Participating in this helps the public health department. Your participation in this is not a purely selfish matter.

The other obvious reason which benefits the person who was bitten by the tick, is to find out if the tick was carrying Lyme Disease or not. Obviously if the tick was negative for Lyme Disease then you can put your mind to rest that the bite from that tick won’t infect you. From what I understand if the tick is positive for Lyme Disease, the person who was bitten may or may not contract the disease.

To me this is a no-brainer. If you find a deer tick on someone in your family, drop it off for free testing. If the tick tests negative, you can then forget about worrying about it!

Some ticks are not able to be tested. If this is the case, they phone you to notify you that they were not able to test it. They also, of course, phone you to notify you if the test came out negative or positive. The testing period can take 3-5 weeks.

Last week, in a total of 9 days, I pulled 6 tiny ticks off of my two boys. I am bringing them for testing today.

How to prepare for the testing and what information to provide:
Put the tick, alive or dead, inside of a small container which it cannot crawl out of, such as an old food container, small jar, etc. Put the lid on it!
If the tick is alive, leave it alive and don’t kill it. It will die on its own.
When you turn in the tick the following information will be asked:
Name, address, phone number, date of birth, and parent name (if person is a minor) of the person who the tick was found on.
Was the tick walking on the person or attached?
Body part where the tick was found.
Date the tick was removed.

Wish us luck! I am hoping for negative results.

Everyone should do daily tick checks, even when they simply walked through a yard or grassy area.

Information about Lyme Disease can be found here.

Teacher’s materials (online and free) from the University of Connecticut’s Lyme Disease Education Department, to teach children about Lyme Disease can be found here.

If you have questions about Lyme Disease, ask your physician. I am not a physician or a licensed medical professional and this blog entry is not to be taken as medical advice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beating Ourselves Up for Getting Behind in History

Anxiety brews in the minds of some homeschooling parents who are following the history outline in The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, their recommendation of a chronological history sweep, split into four years. I don’t know anyone who can actually do the entire plan (in The Well Trained Mind) in one academic year. I know people doing it on their own and others using the Story of the World (story book) and others also using the Story of the World Activity Book. It seems that each “year” takes more like 1.5 academic years to complete.

The funny thing is that people I know used to keep this a secret and think to themselves, that they were somehow failing. It has come out at several homeschool support group meetings that a bunch of us can’t do it in one year. It always starts like this, “I feel so terrible! We really did poorly as we didn’t finish all the history we had planned to finish.” Then others chime in that they couldn’t do it either. Then we all laugh and feel better.

I think it is kind of funny that some of us feel pressured to live up to the outline and recommendation in The Well Trained Mind. It all sounds so great and neat and clean, to cover all of history in four academic years.

I am no longer beating myself up about this. I did that last year.

I wonder if there are others out there who are experiencing this or is it just the homeschoolers living in my area?

EBay Top Searches

Today EBay sent me an email and I actually read some of it and clicked over to EBay’s site. I saw a link for the Top EBay searches and was curious enough to view it.

What does this say about our society? I will ponder this while writing this. So here is a stream-of-consciousness type blog entry.

Perhaps this is an indication of hot trends and pop culture? These are the things that Americans are buying or want the most? Or are these overpriced things that consumers are trying to find at a discount rather than buy them full price at a retail store? Or can they not afford them for full price but really want them?

Here are the top 10 searches on EBay as of today.

1. lightsaber
2. psp (play station)
3. star wars
4. ipod
5. louis vuitton
6. ipod mini
7. prada
8. xbox
9. coach
10. boats

Here is what I glean from this.

Parents are buying Star Wars stuff for their kids and looking for discounted prices. Or adults are buying Star Wars stuff for their own collections. These items could be vintage items or new toys, we don’t know from this data. Adults are buying video games for either their children or for their own use. Ipod’s are popular but people want them at a discount. Women are looking to buy (expensive) Prada and Louis Vuitton clothing, shoes or accessories at a discount; and (expensive) Coach handbags.

The only non-trendy thing on the list is #10, boats. I never knew that people were buying boats on EBay. Given that this is summer, it is not surprising that boats are being purchased. However, I am surprised it is #10, which is pretty high! Perhaps what could be gleaned from this is that the economy must be doing well if people are buying boats which are a fun/luxury item that can be quite costly.

And in general all ten of these things are entertainment related. Two are movie-themed toys or products, two are video game-themed, and two are music-related—these are all entertainment/things to do items. Three are designer clothing/accessory items which to me are entertainment/things to wear, and one is an expensive hobby/entertainment item (boats)/something to do.

What does this say about America? I think it says we are an entertainment-obsessed nation. Or at least we spend a lot of money on entertainment! Entertainment is our nation’s priority, apparently.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Women’s Ways of Knowing

Four years ago I attended a La Leche League International conference. One of the speakers which I unfortunately did not hear lecture was one of the authors of the book “Women’s Ways of Knowing”. The book has multiple authors: Mary Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, and Jill Tarule and I don’t remember which was speaking at the conference.

The authors have created categories which people fall into, having to do with which way they like to take in their information. I used to be under the impression that we all like to take information into our brains, in the same manner. However the more I worked with women in my volunteer work with La Leche League, the more I realized this is not true. For example, I like to read books and take a lot of information in, digest it, and form my own opinions. I have a friend who prefers to hear “what the experts say”, even if that is just one expert such as her pediatrician. It doesn’t matter if her child’s pediatrician says something that goes against the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement or goes against what many books say, or published studies, or what a parenting magazine article says. She takes that one doctor’s statement and that is final. Other people take what their friends say and make decisions based on just what they have said.

The more I work and talk with people, the more I think these authors are on to something real! I don’t know what the authors say about men but it seems to me that men are in this same category.

I stumbled upon the book at a library sale for 50 cents and bought it. I have not dedicated time to reading it yet, though.

I was inspired to share this as I am continually surprised by how much certain people I know, and me, love to read books and other printed materials then meld it together to figure out what seems right (as not everything in print is correct and many times authors and experts contradict each other).

I cannot at all understand people who take the word of a friend or relative and never investigate things farther than that. They could care less what books say and would never dream of reading a book, such as a nonfiction book on a certain specialized topic. I just can’t relate!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Place to Buy and Sell Used Waldorf Curriculum and Books

Someone sent me this online networking source to buy and sell used Waldorf books and curriculum, in case anyone else is interested. It is not always easy to find a resource to buy used books about the Waldorf method!

The Waldorf and Charlotte Mason method have a good number of similarities especially regarding how children spend their early childhood (age 0-6). One major difference is Christianity vs. Anthrosophy, though. Once formal schooling begins there begin to be more and more differences in the methods.

New Charlotte Mason Method Magazine

I just learned about a new magazine which is about homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method. It is called The Home Educator’s Tutor.

I have not seen it yet. There is a link on the site to request a free trial issue. I can’t wait to see my free trial issue!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter #6 Book Arrived

Yes, we are doing Harry Potter. I caved in and in April we joined the millions who are reading and listening and watching Harry Potter books, audiobooks, and movies. I gave in to the peer pressure. I held off on this for years, but now we are part of the mainstream (on this one thing, at least). Why I held off and why I caved in is a story for another day. The only thing I will say is that while my kids have something else to connect with their peers about, we all still have to contend with those who abstain from HP and now I get negative vibes from the parents who choose to continue abstaining from HP. So while it is easy to be doing something mainstream, it does not mean 100% acceptance from everyone. Nothing in life is that perfect, I guess. No matter what someone does there will be someone unhappy with it or someone will criticize it!

Just wanted to quickly post that today when we got home we found that my pre-ordered book from Amazon had arrived with our regular mail from the USPS. I am going to begin reading it aloud, in a few minutes. I had been confused as Amazon said UPS was shipping it, but I knew they don’t work on Saturdays, yet the delivery was supposed to be guaranteed to be delivered today (Saturday, the day of release). I am glad to have it today.

We are about ¾ done with Book 5 which we are listening to while in the car. The audiobook is 27 hours long! The kids don’t want to finish Book 5 before delving into Book 6.

Perhaps for Book 7 we will do the bookstore party/wait in line for hours to buy the book at full price at midnight thing, just because it may be fun and it will be the last chance we have to do it. For this year, pre-ordering the book and paying 40% with zero work from me was so convenient that I could not resist.

Homeschool Conference Lecture Recordings

I get a lot of support and encouragement from recordings of homeschool conference lectures. Back in 2000, I was on Ebay and found two auctions for homeschool tapes. One was a bunch of tapes from Kathryn Stout of Design-a-Study. These are lectures on cassette that she sells on her website. I bought them all for $3 (a huge bargain). I have enjoyed all of her tapes and still listen to them, at least once every six months. The second auction that I won was a set of 12 conference tapes from a homeschooling conference in Florida. I won that auction for $5.

I listen to the tapes when driving in the car, while alone, such as to and from homeschooling meetings for adults or when going back and forth to the gym. I also listen to them in my kitchen while I mop the floor or do a major kitchen cleaning project. (One of the things I dislike the most about cleaning the house is feeling lonely or having a bored mind. I find that I can tune in to listening to these lectures and get a lot of cleaning done and the time flies by!

I passed the tapes that didn’t appeal to me on to other local homeschoolers (for free).

Last year when I attended the MassHope conference I attended some sessions that didn’t really appeal to me. At the end of the conference there was a huge line to get the tapes and I didn’t want to wait in it. I bought two tapes from vendors, which were the same topics as they gave live at that conference but which were taped in the past.

Because I didn’t attend a large homeschooling conference this spring I was really missing the type of inspiration and information that I glean from listening to lectures given by experienced homeschoolers. I was thinking that I’d like to buy some tapes of lectures about the Charlotte Mason method and also classical education lectures given by Jessie Wise or Susan Wise Bauer.

When, at the last minute, I decided to attend last week’s used curriculum and book sale given by MassHope (in Massachusetts), one thing I was really hoping for was finding some homeschool lecture tapes. I hit the jackpot and found three sets. One was a set of tapes from the 1996 MassHope conference (hey, these topics are mostly timeless so the date is irrelevant). This set was 11 tapes for $11 (regular price is $10 per tape)! I found a set with a Konos book which I picked up as I am curious about the Konos unit studies. I also found a set about children and writing (composition). I was so happy to start listening to these on the drive home from the conference.

If you are unable to attend a homeschooling conference but feel you want some support in a certain area, and then see if you can buy the tape (or CD) instead. Some of the taping companies sell all their recordings on the internet and you can buy them directly from them. Some that I saw online were selling tapes from past years.

The good thing about a helpful conference lecture tape is that you can listen to it over and over again, when you need it!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Feeling Unproductive

Feeling unproductive is one of the worst feelings for me to experience. It is a downer for me. To me, feeling unproductive happens when I have a lot to do but just can’t seem to get even one task 100% finished. I hate this feeling and am experiencing it right now.

My most productive feeling times are when I work on one project at a time. I may have ten non-urgent projects to do, but I focus on one and do that in all the possible spare time I have. I also make plans and appointments around finishing up those projects, putting the project as a priority. Then when the one project is done, I feel a little sense of accomplishment and move on to the next. I say I feel only a little sense of accomplishment because I have that perfectionist voice nagging at me, “well you did one thing but still there are nine things waiting, that you weren’t able to do”.

Other than a great day at the amusement park with my children, this has been an unproductive week. The downer about feeling this way is that when I look around all I see is the undone things. I find it hard to appreciate the things that are good. For example right now I feel like my bedroom has become clutterville and am frustrated with that but am not thinking any positive thoughts at all about the wonderful looking and clutter-free family room (since we cleaned that up yesterday).

I have learned in the past that gratitude is an attitude booster and a producer of good feelings. I need to get back on the track of feeling grateful for what I have and what is done and good and not to focus too much on the undone and what we don’t have.

As a homeschooling mother and a mother-at-home with two active young children, there is always a lot to do and a lot to clean up and the “to do” list is never ending. It is important for all mothers and all homeschooling mothers to cut themselves some slack, not be too hard on themselves, and to try not to sweat the small stuff. I am writing this in an attempt to get my own thinking back on that track!

Review: Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, Connecticut


Quassy Amusement Park
is located on Lake Quassapoig in Middlebury, Connecticut. I recently took my children to Quassy for the first time. We went with another family. All the children had a lot of fun (ages 5 to 7.5).

There are many pricing options for different services, and it may be confusing when you first look at them. Not everyone who enters the amusement park (rides) section has to buy a ticket. Therefore parents, grandparents, or anyone not riding rides can enter the park for free. Single ride tickets can be purchased for $2, if you think you may want to go on one or two rides; this may be a good option for you.

There is a separate fee to enter the lake’s sand beach swimming area (with lounge chairs on the beach and float to swim out to).

The regular fee for an all day pass for unlimited rides, the lake and Saturation Station is $17.95 for adults (bargain Monday and Wednesday, adults $14.95, Tuesday and Thursday, bring a canned food item and adult gets in for $14.95), hours are 10am to 8pm. Check the website for pricing before you go as things may change. The children’s entry price is $14.95 which is for kids under the height of 45”' it is not determined by age.

There is also Saturation Station, which is a small water park (see photograph). I believe that every person entering these areas must pay to enter. If you buy only a swim/SS pass, it is $6, for the entire day. The Saturation Station is a lot of fun and includes many water stations for playing with water and being doused with water. There is a 300 gallon bucket that pours its’ full load onto everyone every five minutes or so (as soon as it is full). There are stations for shooting water at other people, a rope climbing section (which is good exercise) and two different water slides. Everyone asks me about the surface on the ground so I will explain here also, it is painted white and seems to be concrete and has a non-slip type texture to it. The Station itself has many different textures. There is a lot of water and common sense is to walk not run (although most kids were running). I went through the whole thing and down the slides and it is fun, even for an adult, although I was the oldest one on The Station! They provide lounge chairs to sit in and it was fun to just sit and watch everyone. Everyone was screaming with laughter and having a blast. I think this was the first time in my life I saw a large group of children all behaving well, laughing, having fun, no bullying, and no one was injured or unhappy in any way!

The day we went was overcast and in the low 70s. This was perfect for walking around and going on rides. I estimated that my children went on about 30 rides, if not 35. The kids had fun in Saturation Station; although the younger kids got cold quickly (the water is not heated). I imagine on a hot day, humid, and/or sunny, the Saturation Station is perfect as the water would be cool enough to cool everyone down when they got too hot in the sun. The kids who are wet the entire time may not feel hot at all!

The park is small and very manageable for parents of young children and/or toddlers and babies in tow. There were plenty of benches to sit and rest on, or to sit and nurse a child. Some were in the shade.

There was a small playground area with ball pit only for children under 45” tall. This was in the shade.

The rides were in a few categories. First there were rides for children aged 2-6 which are the very tame kiddie type rides that you have probably seen at carnivals or fairs, such as boats in water that go in a circle. There is a very tame roller coaster as well, for kiddies. Then there are rides which are modified versions of larger amusement park rides. These are alright for children also aged 2 and up, such as a ride similar to the Viking Ship or Dragon ride, and another similar to the “Tower of Terror” but is a frog hop ride which is very gentle. Then there are the typical carnival type rides that even adults like, such as the Tubant and the Music Express and the Tilt a Wheel. There are a couple of rides in which children less than 45” high must be accompanied by an adult, such as a decent sized (not tiny, not huge) metal roller coaster. There are two rides in which children less than 45” are not allowed on at all, one is the bumper car ride and the other is a water float ride which goes down a tube and gets you all wet (and is in the rides section of the park).

I was thinking that teenagers perhaps would think this is a boring place (not enough thrill rides), especially if a teenager is used to going to a place such as Six Flags. This is perfect for children over 45” who are not yet ready for the super fast rides at a large place such as Six Flags.

We went on a bargain day, on a weekday. The park opens at 11am and we were there at that time. The place had lots of summer camp program kids there. We tried to avoid going to rides in which these camp groups were, as there could be a group of 30 kids in front of you in line. Other rides had no campers and the wait was under 1 minute. The longest wait was for a Titanic slide ride (about 43” height required minimum), because a camp group was in front of us. The camp groups began leaving at 1:30pm and by 2:30pm the last camp group was gone. From that point until we left at 5:30pm, the place was deserted. Many rides were not moving at all due to not having any passengers! This was a great time as the kids were able to ride some rides back to back a few times.

There are a bunch of different options for eating. There is the typical carnival food at the stands, and ice cream and (chemical/sugar) fruit slush drinks. They also allow food to be brought into the park, beach, and picnic areas. They have grills at the picnic area right next to Saturation Station. If you want to grill or have a big tailgate type party, park in the corner of the parking lot right next to that picnic area. There will be just a short walk to the picnic area. A chain link fence divides this area and Saturation Station, so some in your family may want to hang out at the picnic area, in the shade, while others are in Saturation Station.

Parking Fee

Except for carload night, it costs $5 to park you vehicle.

Bargain Nights

There are also bargain nights. Friday night, 5pm to 10pm, is quarter night with rides, popcorn, and soda for a quarter each. Hot dogs are 2 quarters. I was told by a staffer the place is a zoo and she is so harried that she cries each Friday night. I plan to avoid this.

Saturday night is carload night. For $15 (parking included), a carload of people gets admission to unlimited rides (water fee extra) from 5pm to 10pm. This is good for up to 15 people in the carload.

Sunday night is Throwback night for $3 admission, $1 soda, $1 popcorn and $1 fried dough (which is gigantic), for 5pm to 8pm. This is for unlimited rides and does not include admission for the water area.

We had a great time. The kids loved the rides and the Saturation Station. It was much more affordable than going to a carnival and paying $1.75 per ride. The lines, even with campers, were much shorter than any carnival, fair, or amusement park that I have ever been to. The small size of the park was very do-able for young children and for parents as well. There were so many rides for young children! You don’t have to walk a mile to get to the next ride, as with other amusement park rides.

The park was clean. The staff was friendly and spoke clear English. It seemed like a very safe park. At no time did I feel in danger of being pick-pocketed (as I have felt at other amusement parks). I also felt the children were very safe there.

Check a map, you may see that Quassy is closer to you than you realized.

Comparing to Other Area Amusement Parks

In chatting with other parents, they put Lake Compounce on a higher level, having more extreme rides and being larger. After that, for bigger thrills, a larger park, and much more money, is Six Flags, just over the state line, in Massachusetts.

Comparison to Story Land in New Hampshire

I would put Story Land in New Hampshire on a higher level as they had more original/custom created rides and they had a theme. The admission price is larger there as well. Story Land is fantastic for young children; if you can afford to take a trip to New Hampshire and stay overnight (we can’t make it a day trip from Connecticut). Story Land was also gorgeously landscaped and was a wonderful place.