Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Is The Role of a Mother?

I find it very interesting that I get so many hits to my blog for people looking for a list of things that a mother is supposed to do or to define the role of a mother.

For the record I have never compiled a list.

Why does not everyone in our society have a base understanding of what a mother should do and indeed does do?

Do we really need lists on the Internet to tell us what the traditional role of a mother is?

I keep pondering why this is a frequent Internet search. And I am left baffled.

To meet this obvious demand for unfound and unknown information should I actually compile a list and blog it? Would I be doing the public a service by listing my definition of what a the role of a mother is? (Do you really need ME to do that for you?)

Why is there a knowledge gap in this area? I’m still miffed.

I just had to share that thought with you.

(Now I’m going back to tending to my sick child, that would be one item for the list.)

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Links About Child Molestation Allegation Story on Dr. Phil (Kaylee, Jeremy, Krista and Bonii)

I don’t have time to write a long summary about this as I must tend to a sick child this morning.

Since I am getting so many hits on my blog I want to point you to a few websites to get more information.

The names of the people in this story are:

Biological Father, accused of sexually molesting his daughter: Jeremy Park (presently married to someone not related to the alleged victim)

Jeremy's present wife, pregnant right now, I don't know her name (sorry)

Biological Mother: Krista (not married to, was never married to Jeremy Park)

Biological Grandmother: Bonii (pronounced just like the name "Bonnie")

The Child, the alleged victim, Kaylee (presently age three)

Here is a new website started by Bonii, with additional information than what was provided on the Dr. Phil show.

Dr. Phil’s site for part four, title of episode “Jeremy Returns” which originally aired on November 28, 2006---the summary can be read here.

As promised by Dr. Phil, here is his list of free online resources to help educate yourself about child sexual abuse, signs and symptoms.

Thank you Dr. Phil for placing that information on your site for all to see.

If you want to join the Dr. Phil message board discussion on this topic, here, you must first register for a free account then you can chat about it. (I am not posting comments on those boards, just don’t have time for it.)

This is the “He touched my pee pee” accusation story.

You would not believe how many hits I am getting on my blog from people looking for information about this story. I hope that these links help you.

I blogged about the first three parts of this series in more detail earlier this month.

My purpose for blogging about this is to raise awareness of stories in the media about child sexual molestation accusations and child sexual abuse. I feel that it is time for our society to wake up, to stop pretending that there is child sex abuse in our country and to do something to work harder at preventing it and to do more to punish those who commit the crimes, and to get the victims the help and treatment they need so they can hopefully not be too badly scarred for life from the experience.

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A Justice Issue: Update on Dog the Bounty Hunter

Last night I was thinking about Dog Chapman (“Dog the Bounty Hunter”) and wondering if he was sitting in a Mexican jail or not.

Here is a story dated today from Canada.com which brings us quickly up to date.

In this article I learned that it was the catch of the convicted Andrew Luster that put Duane “Dog” Chapman into the spotlight which then led to him having a reality show based on his career.

Here is a quote from the Canada.com article:

"It's very ironic, isn't it?" said his wife, Beth Chapman. "He may go to jail for catching a rapist. We're in trouble because we caught America's escaped prisoner."
Chapman's capture of Luster catapulted the Honolulu-based bounty hunter to fame and led to the A&E reality series "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
Luster jumped a $1 million bond and disappeared during his trial in California's Ventura County on charges that he drugged and raped three women. The disappearance set off a national and international manhunt by police, FBI and bounty hunters trying to recoup some of the bond money. Luster is now serving a 124-year prison term.

This is a question of justice.

I am bothered by the fact that Mexico seems willing to be a haven for convicts from other countries attempting to hide away to avoid serving their jail time.

I began watching this reality TV series in May when I happened upon it when channel surfing at a relative’s house. (See what I stumble upon when I am away from my home and my TiVo unit?)

My children have watched many of these shows with my husband and me. It has led to discussions of U.S. laws, rules, drug use and abuse, criminals, jail bonds, bail, bail jumping, issues about what is right and wrong, and justice. This was the first time my children saw video footage of people high on drugs (ice aka crystal meth).

I hope the impressions they now have about criminals, a life of crime, forgiveness, serving time, and making good with ones’ life are good lessons for them. (Duane Chapman is a former criminal who now is living a more typical American way of life, working and supporting his family.)

Another interesting twist on this show is the parts when Christianity is demonstrated through prayer and through attempting to help steer the bond jumpers to start making the right choices from that point forward.

My prayers are with the Chapman family. I hope that Dog does not serve jail time for successfully capturing a wanted criminal and brining him to justice for multiple rapes of American women.

Update 12/15/06: I found out that the A&E television channel has the most up to date news about the status of the situation. You can see the website's page for the Dog the Bounty Hunter updates, here.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Are More Upset About Lock Picking Instructions Than Grooming Pedophiles to Sexually Molest Children, Being Published On The Internet?

I was contacted last month by an individual who I don’t know, by email, who found me through my blog. He is upset about information on the Internet which provides information to adults/people about how to groom a child so that they can be sexually molested. There are specific tactics that adults use to seduce a child into being sexually molested and some bloggers are sharing these with others on their blogs.

This person alerted me to quite a long list of blogs which are hosted by Blogger (Blogspot). In other words these people are not hosing their own site on their own equipment but they use free services of Blogger (or they may pay for premium services, I don’t know). This person who contacted me felt that Blogger (who is owned by Google) should not allow people to post content that is of such immoral content as well as borderline illegal content (the teaching of someone to commit a crime is not illegal, only doing the crime itself is illegal). This person told me that it is not against Blogger’s rules to post information about molesting children, even if the information is helping a person commit what actually is against the law (besides the fact it is unethical).

It seemed hard to believe, so I then checked Blogger’s rules and the only rule I saw was for commercial pornography sites that cannot post a blog on Blogger. Even pornography can be posted by individual people, so long as they are not running a business using the Blogger site as the host of the commercial venture. The rules specifically said that these rules were in place to protect the First Amendment and the right to free speech.

He asked that as an active blogger using Blogger/Blogspot.com, that I contact Blogger and ask them to reconsider their rules and to state my dissatisfaction with their policies.

I really had a hard time thinking about the ethics of this issue. I have been thinking about the ethical and moral issues as they relate to free speech and also to policies of companies that host websites and blogs. I was trying to sort out what is legal vs. ethical and what free speech has to do with rules versus laws. I also was trying to figure out how a balance can be struck between the right to free speech versus the allowance of information whose purpose is to physically harm other people, especially minor-aged children to whom the adults in our society must rely on for their protection. I was grappling with this issue not just as a parent of minor aged children who I don’t want sexually molested or seduced by adults but also as just a citizen of the United States of America.

What do you think? Take a minute to ponder it then, please, continue reading.

The person who contacted me gave me a list of blog URLs that have what the person considered to be offensive material. I did not know what to expect to see on those blogs. I looked at a few blogs. Frankly I got sick to my stomach, literally, and could not look at any more of them. I read them in order to “flag” them as in appropriate content as per Blogger’s rules. Although after reading the rules of what being “flagged” means, it doesn’t mean much, it doesn’t have much effect nor does it get the blog closed down or banned from being published or viewed.

What upset me most that I had not realized was that the writers of these blogs claim that in their opinion, sexual relations with INFANTS, young children, pre-pubescent children, and still minor aged peoples who have gone through puberty, although illegal in the USA, is considered right and good by those who practice it. Some of the bloggers said their mission was to expand public awareness of the presence of this type of relationship in an attempt to normalize it. Some said they hoped it would be accepted by more people and perhaps some day it would be legal and also not frowned upon by others. These bloggers also had special terms to identify themselves into categories by the age of the child they prefer to have sex with in addition to whether these men liked girls or boys. Some were adamant that all the sexual relations were consensual and that it is our ‘bad’ society which tries to deny the child the joy of such relations with adults. Can you see why I was sickened?

I am so upset about this topic that I have avoided blogging about it. I just was speechless, for quite some time.


I should also mention that some of those bloggers stated they were members or supporters of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) which is an organization which is legal to exist in the USA even though the actions they support are against the law. Did you know that the ACLU stood up for them in court with free legal services to fight for NAMBLAs right to exist as a non-profit organization? Ugh. This has been discussed many times by FoxNews talk show host and radio host, Bill O’Reilly (even if you don't like him or agree with his politics you may appreciate his attention to this matter of standing up to try to address the issue of child predators and child sexual abuse issues). Earlier this fall, Oprah discussed this as well on one of her shows about pedophiles and Internet predators of minors.

The reason I finally am writing about this today is that I just heard a news report on FoxNews about men outraged that YouTube.com is broadcasting free videos that teach people how to pick locks and how to do other burglary techniques. Some men who were interviewed were irate to a point of raising their voices. They want the videos taken down from the YouTube site. (On YouTube, anyone with Internet access can upload video footage that they recorded, for hosting on the YouTube site and for free viewing by anyone on the YouTube site.) Yesterday I blogged about videos on YouTube showing illegal activities of children physically beating up other children in bullying activities, some in the schoolyard.

So I am outraged that some men can be so upset that videos teaching how to pick a lock is so outrageous when also on the Internet on the hosted site, Blogger/Blogspot.com are sits that teach anyone how to groom, prepare, seduce minor-aged children into being sexually molested. Why are people not outraged about that?

Yes, the bloggers with the child molestation/child seduction information are using the written word on the Internet and the lock pickers are using video but is there really a big difference? The content is equally disturbing. One could argue that the video demonstration of the lock picking is more effective than a textual write-up of the same directions. But I will argue that a long textual discussion of how to seduce children or even writing of how some feel that having sex with children is good or right is more effective than a video showing it. In any event I think the fact that we are dealing with Internet communications of data, whether it is in words or in videos, is all the same issue.

So the question is should private companies who let people upload content, whether it be text based or video clip based, have rules for content? Note that Google owns both YouTube and Blogger. What would be wrong with some rules of ethics and morals? For example some companies do have rules such as some free statistics counter programs won’t let you use their program on your blog or website if your website contains certain offensive or pornographic materials. Some sites that host websites for free won’t allow pornographic content. So can we and should we have rules for allowing content to be posted on how to trick a child into being sexually molested? Should there be rules to not allow directions for training people to commit crimes like stealing?

Some may suggest that a Federal law is in order to ban this. I don’t think that would ever happen due to the First Amendment. However decency rules and codes of ethical conduct could very easily be put into effect for websites which allow individuals to upload content which is hosted on THEIR equipment. The issue of what is posted on a privately owned website is and can be different than what a corporation allows people to host on their site, especially if it is a free service to individuals offered by the company.

I don’t quite know what I am accomplishing by blogging about this tonight.

I guess I hope to raise awareness of this problem of free information on the Internet that helps people learn information to commit crimes. I am not as upset at the idea of teaching someone how to pick a lock. No, I don’t want to be robbed, nor do I want anyone else to be robbed. However I think the issue of allowing the publication of information to teach, instruct and to attempt to normalize something like child sexual molestation is a bigger problem and I wish that more of our society knew about the existence of this problem and that something could be done about it, from a moral and ethical standpoint. As members of a civilized society here in the United States of America we should not enable or provide free platforms for people who seek to commit sexual crimes against our nation’s children.

Period.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling Week 48 Has Been Published

The Carnival of Homeschooling Week 48 was published at The Common Room today. There over 20 entries this week which will keep you very busy reading.

I have an entry in this Carnival.

If you have a blog or a website and write about homeschooling I encourage you to consider submitting an entry to this weekly blog Carnival. For information on how to make a submission, see here.

Enjoy!

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Cyber-Bullying Taken To a New (Low) Level: Home Entertainment—Bullying Voyeurism?

I never would have imagined it but it is happening.

We have never had a reality television show professionally produced for television like this before (and I don’t think we ever will).

Media took a new turn with YouTube which basically put the power of video publishing into the hands of amateurs. After a first stint with silly home video, then bootleg showings of television shows and clips. Now the amateurs are producing their own unique videos and publishing them—inventing their own new form of video entertaining that stoops even lower than what Hollywood produces.

Schoolyard bullies have existed for centuries that is nothing new. Bullies are not only beating up their victims physically but some are videotaping it and publishing the video footage online on YouTube.com for the public to see, for entertainment value. No this is not an undercover effort by concerned parents or the media to expose the fact that bullying in school is real. Nah, bullying doesn’t get that much media coverage or overall attention (even by parents and schools). But now the bullies are using technology to entertain each other, or perhaps they are entertaining bully wanna-be’s or crime voyeurs?

It is one thing to have a show about crime produced by Hollywood and shown on TV for entertainment (that is bad enough). It is another thing altogether to commit a violent crime against a person, to record it and then to publish it for entertainment of others. I don’t know whether the tail is wagging the dog or not but it may not be long until that happens. I can imagine that if a competitive air develops the bullies may actually intentionally beat up others in an effort to capture the event on video with the publishing goal in mind.

What is next, rape on video?

What is this world coming to?

Some days I feel that our civilized status as a nation is slipping down to become less and less civilized.

The New York Post reports this seems to have first started in the UK in 2003 and has spread to the United States in 2006.

Here are some articles on the Internet about this issue.

New York Post article dated 11/26/06

Gothamist article dated 11/27/06

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He’s Back: Part Four of Dr. Phil’s Child Molestation Allegation of Father Named Jeremy to Air Today

I thought that Dr. Phil’s coverage of this one family’s story was over, at least for the short term. I thought perhaps we’d hear, next season, how things turned out for the family (as is typical for the show’s format). However, part four airs TODAY.

For anyone following this family on the Dr. Phil show, or for anyone who is interested in hearing how the media portrays child molestation allegations, I wanted to let you know about this show so you can watch it later today if you want.

Earlier in November Dr. Phil had a three part show about one family’s allegation that the birth father was molesting his daughter from the age of two to her present age of 3.5. I blogged about the first two shows here and the third show here.

This upcoming Tuesday, November 28, 2006, the accused father named Jeremy is back on the Dr. Phil show. The Dr. Phil site states this:

"Tuesday
Jeremy Returns
Dr. Phil follows up with Krista and Bonii's quest for the truth, to find out if 3-year-old Kaylee is being molested by her father, Jeremy. Jeremy maintains his innocence even after a polygraph test showed him to be lying. He took another lie detector test at his hometown police department, and brought the results for Dr. Phil to review. What does an independent polygrapher say about this second test? Then, Jeremy asked to undergo hypnosis as another means of getting closer to the truth. Were there any new revelations? And, Jeremy had agreed to supervised visits with Kaylee, but when he got home, he changed his mind, so Krista denied him visitation. They end up facing off in front of a judge. Did Krista serve jail time or let Jeremy see Kaylee? Is Jeremy being falsely accused, or is this little girl still in harm's way?"


So head’s up if you are interested in following this story into a fourth installment.

Note that the show’s teaser seems to imply that the polygraph test taken by the local police department did not show that the father is being deceptive. This should be interesting since so much weight seems to be put on the lie detector tests, especially when the victim is very young and even when the young victim tells other adults verbally what has happened, that if true, would be considered sexual abuse (of a minor aged child). Anyway it makes you wonder about polygraph tests and their accuracy, doesn’t it?

I don’t have any answers. I am not judging anyone. I am watching and thinking about this little girl and her family, though.

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Connecticut Stock Market Simulation Competition: What Is The Goal of Participation?

This year for the first time my older son is participating in the Connecticut stock market simulation competition.

This is open to children in 4th grade through 12th grade. It was intended to be taught by school teachers for schooled children. My husband is volunteering his time and energy to teach a group of homeschooled students about the stock market and to help them participate in this contest.

The rules stated there must be at least two teams competing. The divisions of the groupings were by grades 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12. Since some of our friends had children in multiple grade groupings, after double checking the rules it seemed we could have a multi-age class so long as we have at least two teams from each grouping working together.

The competition is ten weeks long. We decided to meet six times total, including the time frame before the competition and a wrap-up session at the end. We do not have the same advantage of a school teacher who will see those children each school day for all those weeks. Our homeschooled children will rely less on the teacher and more on independent work or working a little with their own parents, such as if they review the newspaper together to find relevant current news articles. The rules stated a team must have at least one student on it. For our purposes it made the most sense to just have each team be one child. If we were to have teams of multiple children then we’d have to meet much more often to give them an opportunity to discuss and negotiate and to do strategy planning.

In total we have five homeschooled children in grades 4-6, two in grades 7-8 and two in grades 9-12. At first my husband worried about how he could teach the same material to children ranging in age from 9 to 16 but he actually found that it worked to their benefit. They seem to learn more when the other students are talking. It seemed to be good when an older student was discussing something on a higher level and some of the younger ones picked up and did understand what was being said. Also some of the questions that the youngest students asked were also helpful for the older ones to hear.

When I realized that my husband did not include the word homeschool in the official school’s name I was disappointed. He called the school what our family’s homeschool name is. I would have liked for everyone to see that we were homeschoolers, if any of them made the highest rankings. Each day’s rankings are on the Internet and visible for only other teachers and individual players to see (not for the general public). My husband didn’t want to call attention to the fact that we were homeschoolers. We did verify with the rules beforehand, which did not state that homeschoolers could not participate.

It is very interesting watching how my own son picks stocks. He chose all companies whose products or services we use. One exception was that based on all the energy and oil talk that goes on in our household he said he wanted a gasoline company or an oil company. After a discussion of what was better he decided on an oil service company and my husband prompted him with a company name. Every other stock my son entirely chose on his own even though my husband thought some were losers. Actually two of the stocks which my husband would have told him not to invest in have soared in value so it is good that my son was allowed by my husband to make his own choices. It is already being suggested by some others on the team that my husband is controlling and choosing my sons’ stocks which is not true.

For the competition the students are each given $100K to invest (all pretend, of course). My husband read the rules but did not notice one important thing until much later. My husband told the team they each could spend this $100K. He then noted that some students enrolled in some high schools were having gigantic gains in one day yet falling completely off the top 50 chart the next day. We both decided they must have put all their eggs in one basket or something like that. But six weeks into the competition he realized that those students had invested $200K by borrowing $100K on margin. My husband didn’t realize that was an allowed thing to do for the competition. He notified the parents of this and left it up to them as to whether they would want to invest in that risky method.

This got both of us to thinking about what the goal of the competition is. If the goal is to teach a bit about the stock market and about investing in a more moderate and less risky way, then no one would or should be borrowing up to 100% of their money on margin. However if a person, team, teacher, or a school takes this challenge to be about winning a short term competition then it may be worth the risk to invest in that way. The whole borrowing on margin thing is more of an advanced investing strategy which is a little overkill for the elementary and possibly even the middle school students. It seems to me that first and foremost they should learn normal investing of money.

Due to this risky investing and borrowing on margin, some teams may have an advantage if they used that method from day one, especially if they are competing against others who are only investing half the amount of money, and if they had gains, of course. My husband and I don’t feel that the winning of the short term competition is the most important thing to be gleaned by this group of homeschooled students. Our goals and reason for participating in this was for a learning experience, a fun, hands on type of class using the contest as the excuse and as the framework to hold the class right now. (If not for deadlines and timeframes we may have pushed this off until some future ‘less busy’ period—even if that time never did come as it seems everyone is always so busy.)

There would be a more even playing field if the competition ran on two levels, those who invest $100K of their own money versus those who invest $100K of their own money plus have the ability to play around with an additional $100K borrowed on margin. The reason I feel this would be a more fair competition is that what is taught about investing and the goals of investing can be very different from those two very different types of investing with two different amounts of money.

Something else that my friend brought up also was that the investing strategy could also be different if they are investing with a long-term strategy, versus teaching them to invest in a way that would maximize the earning potential of a very short term time frame. In the most simple manner some of the stocks the students suggested were not good picks for exactly right now but they would be better picks to buy and hold for the long-term (for multiple years). One example is that investing in certain airlines may be good as the contest was held over the busy air travel time of Thanksgiving holiday and going into the busy Christmas holiday season.

I don’t know if anyone from our team will make the top spots especially if the highest earners in the contest are the risky gambling margin-borrowers.

Perhaps on the list of things to talk about at the next meeting will be to discuss the goals for the contest and how the students should not feel badly if they are the winners.

By the way most of the teams, it seems, are high school students. We see a few middle schools in the contest. From what we can tell there is just one other elementary school participating in our area of the state. The numbers of students in each grouping of course alters the odds of ranking high or low and that is something else my husband should explain to them.

And in case you are wondering we are not making this very competitive between each student/each team in our “school”. For example my husband is not sharing the current status of each student on the team; he sees no need to do that. He worries that it will come off as bragging or boastful for those who are in the top rankings.

Who Else Competes?
I saw a listing that a class is being run for teens to participate in this contest, through the Wilton (Connecticut) Library. I had assumed that only schools and homeschools could participate. I guess they assume that also private groups of students could participate. I assumed that children would have to do this through their school. This is why schooled siblings of the homeschoolers in our homeschool class were not allowed to participate. We were afraid that if we registered as a homeschool class but had some students on our teams who officially went to a public school that we’d be violating a rule.

My School Memories
I will close with adding that my first and only time to participate in this competition myself was in eighth grade in public school. We barely learned anything in class. I remember it being more of a social time. We were given the daily newspaper and we had to look up our team’s stocks to see what they were valued at. During that time we sat in groups and got to talk to the other teammates (mostly about stuff that had nothing to do with this project.) We had to compute our own earnings, that is what I remember. I don’t at all remember it being a very collaborative team effort. I never did learn to work well as a team in school. Also my parents didn’t help me with this at home at all and so I relied only on my teacher to do all the teaching. It seemed to me that the teacher liked doing this competition as it meant he didn’t have to do the usual math teaching and because we got to ditch the regular math textbook (boring routine) work for a while. To have maximum learning on this endeavor I think the school should have repeated the competition in every single grade, starting at the earliest grade they allowed and going until the highest grade. Also more should have been done to teach about the stock market in general and about investing in general. I didn’t learn much by doing that in eighth grade except how to look up a stock in the newspaper.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worked On My First Traveling Journal



Last week I finished working on a traveling art journal which I signed up for on the 1001Journals.com site. This was the first time I worked on a traveling journal.



We could do up to ten pages in this very small journal.



The style and assignment of this art journal was to journal in the style of Danny Gregory such as he did in his published book “Everyday Matters”. He further talks about how to teach yourself to draw with pen in “The Creative License”.



I wrote and sketched everyday objects and things around me, in pen. I also added some partially finished artist trading cards which just ended up looking like collaged items in the book. I added some photographs. Some of what I added was the proof strips that the film developing place gives you when they print up the photographs. They were fun for adding to a journal.



I also did an evidence page a la the artwork of Candy Jernigan. There was one day that my two sons and I experimented with polymer clay. I used aluminum foil to line the pans with when the pieces were baking. Later I crumpled them up so they could be recycled. One day my older son took the meat tenderizing mallet to it and squished it down and put all kinds of patterns into it. A large amount of aluminum foil was compacted into a flattened sphere. I adhered that to a page in the journal and labeled it as evidence of a day of making polymer clay pieces. That day was the first time I actually used polymer clay and my sons and I were teaching ourselves what we could do with it.



I am looking forward to doing another traveling journal one day.

One thing I’d like is a journal with a deadline. This one had no deadline and I ended up keeping it for a full month to work on then was delayed with Thanksgiving prep and didn’t get it in the mail for one fuller week. I usually don’t drag my feet, but sometimes I do need a deadline to make myself finish something, even an art project!

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Amazon Associates Reminder: Please Consider Linking Through From My Blog

If something I have blogged about has inspired or helped you in any way I would ask that if you plan to make any purchases on Amazon.com you consider navigating to the Amazon site by clicking on the Amazon box in my left sidebar, right there near the top of my blog.

After you click through anything you can add anything you want to your shopping cart and finalize the order within 24 hours will earn me a small commission.

I am what is called an “Amazon Associate”. The Amazon Associate program also added a new twist for this season, from now through 12/31/06 gift certificates purchased through Associate links will also earn a commission. Therefore if you buy a gift certificate through my blog link I’ll earn a commission then later if you spend it through my blog link I will earn yet another commission on the items you purchase.

Some people I was speaking with were confused and though I must mention a specific item on my blog in order to earn a commission on the sale of it—THAT IS NOT TRUE.

Or if in the past I mentioned a book or an item, you don’t need to go back through my blog archives to find that old link. You just use that little white and black Amazon ad in my sidebar to navigate to Amazon.com.

Indeed if I feature a product on my blog and you buy it through that link I will earn the commission. But if you want to order anything else such as clothing, shoes, music, whatever else they sell that I didn’t put a direct link to, I will still earn a commission on it. In this way one time I earned a commission when someone purchased a vacuum cleaner through my blog.

Your purchases are confidential. I am told only what was purchased, what price was paid and the date. Amazon keeps all the rest of your personal information confidential.

So please consider linking through my blog over to Amazon if you are going to shop at Amazon this holiday season (or any time next year for that matter!).

I thank you in advance for doing this.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!


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My Thoughts About What Homeschooling Parents Do, Opinions of Others, Finding Support and Friendships

The original title for this blog entry was "What My Relatives and Friends Know And Don’t Know About Our Family’s Homeschooling Experience". By the time I was finished writing it I knew I needed a more descriptive title. I am not sure this title is great but it does tell what I am writing about today.

I have been thinking lately about what people think about homeschooling, those who don’t homeschool. I have been thinking about how they form their opinions.

I then realized that first they know what they observe. If a person doesn’t know anyone who homeschools they have no basis at all to start the foundation of their opinions.

Then if they know someone who homeschools, they may base their entire opinion on what they know of that family, which can be good or bad. No one family represents all homeschooling families. And even with my own situation, what my relatives and real-life friends (not my cyber friends or blog readers) know of what we do is minimal.

I realized that of our non-homeschooling friends and relatives really don’t know much about our homeschooling, such as why we are doing it, how we do it, how much we are at home vs. out in the community, what my kids actually learn from other adults in classes, how much my children are around other children, and the heavier subjects such as our academic (and other) long-term goals.

As to what I know as a homeschooling mother, they know even less. Most of our relatives don’t know how much time I have spent educating myself on topics such as:

Childhood development

Brain development

Developmental stages of children

Learning styles

History of institutional education in America

History of institutional education in other countries

Alternative education methods, pedagogy, private school types and methods, and why they do it that way

What American public education consists of

Problems in American education

American education reform issues

“Scope and sequences”, what is typically taught in American Schools? Do we want to match that exactly or do something different, something more rigorous, perhaps?

Different ways to homeschool, different methods

What homeschooling curriculums are available

What ‘regular’ children’s books are available on the market to use in homeschooling

What out of print and/or antique books are wonderful for children

Book hunting: time spent finding and locating these wonderful books

Attending homeschooling conferences to listen to lectures

Listening to recordings of conference lectures which I didn’t personally attend

Attending lectures in my local area on topics of how to teach, how to educate, how to homeschool

Attending adult support group meetings to network; form a community of homeschoolers; find social connections for my children, finding academic classes for my children and other homeschooling information from fellow homeschooling parents

Researching outside classes and events that my children may or do end up participating in

Participation in homeschooling co-op’s

Me and/or my husband running free classes for our kids and other homeschooling children to do as a group class

Reading online discussion groups about homeschooling topics, spending time answering questions that other have (not just lurking)

Online networking with other homeschoolers to discuss issues and questions (local and national and sometimes, worldwide)

My role as a homeschool support group leader, volunteering my time, working on running the group, hosting meetings, leading meetings. Providing email and phone help and support for those curious about homeschooling or for homeschoolers

Helping other local homeschool groups

Preparing speeches and giving free lectures about homeschooling at state homeschool conferences

Staying on top of state legislation issues regarding homeschooling. This includes reading local email discussion groups in a timeley manner.

If state homeschooling bills are proposed, spending lots of time researching the issue. Then spending time spreading the word within the homeschooling network. Lastly, voicing my concerns to state legislators. Attending and speaking at public hearings at the Legislature. Attending homeschooling rallies.

Attending social events with other homeschoolers, playdates, park days with large groups of kids

Attending social events with non-homeschooled children

Spending time with (schooled) friends in the neighborhood

Attendance at non-homeschooler summer camps

Cub Scout activities attended, learning there, social connections made there

Taking sports lessons, classes, teams played on

Other pursuits (chess classes, etc.)

Academic goals and achievements of my children (yes, we have goals, deadlines, etc.)

The bottom line is that even very close relatives and friends of mine don’t discuss these things with me. We live around extended family on both sides of the family. I have two grandparents still alive, and both my husband and my parents are both still alive (and happily married). We have brothers and their wives, our nieces and nephews. My husband has a large family all living around here, over 150 extended family members, some of which we see on a regular basis, first cousins once removed, second cousins, and all types of different distant relatives.

We just don’t discuss homeschooling much with our friends and relatives. I can only take their non-communication of these topics as lack of interest. It would not be polite for me to sit and list out all these things every time that I see various relatives. It would be in poor taste for me to just start talking, which to me would seem like bragging, to say things like, “Oh our older son is advancing quite well in Cub Scouts, and he has earned four awards toward his Webelos rank and seems to have a natural talent for topics about nature.” I know some relatives would bristle to hear things like “Our Kindergarten aged child tested at reading at a fifth grade reading level.” So we just don’t say things like that. (Meanwhile some don’t even know the Kindergartener is reading already let alone fluent and many grade levels above.)

I attend conferences out of state, overnight trips, and some relatives and friends don’t even know this. I go away for trips and some close relatives assume I am home twiddling my thumbs. For all I know they imagine me sitting at home in front of the TV set like a zombie when in reality I am sitting here researching how a child’s brain learns to spell, at what age should spelling lessons begin (or should spelling not be taught at all?) and I am analyzing and evaluating different spelling curriculums, trying to match them with my children’s learning style test results to make a good match. Hey I actually think that process is fun, it is entertaining and interesting for me to do things like that. This is part of how I use my brain in an intellectually stimulating way since I am no longer climbing the corporate ladder in the paid workforce.

Some of the most outspoken non-homeschoolers, on the topic of homeschooling are my teacher friends and relatives. Yet they are the ones who least want to discuss anything having to do with teaching my children, homeschooling, etc. They don’t find it interesting to talk about what is taught in X grade in math and how the new policies are dumbing down the old standards. I hear that same information by way of their praise for making what they have to teach easier, such as the relative who proclaimed the seventh graders were now using calculators for all math and were no longer doing long division by hand, nor multiplication by two digit decimals (“it is no longer used in our modern day society”, she said). I then had to listen to a bunch of bragging of the in-services she had to take to learn to use the new math curriculum. The attitudes are a combination of “I am so informed now, so educated in how to teach math with this curriculum” and “This is such a bore, to have to do this stuff.” It is hard to explain, but the teaching for them is more of a job to make money not a passion and a pure interest in mathematics or actually teaching children. Those teacher-relatives don’t care or ask how I teach math to my children and why I chose that approach, why that curriculum, what the method is, etc. They do talk behind my back to slam homeschooling and my ability to homeschool my child with success, though, from what I am told by others.

The reality is that the most outspoken critics and judges of homeschooling know little about it. I guess this should not surprise me as it seems in general that the more ignorant a person is on a subject the more likely they are to judge it or to try to put that person or thing as “inferior” to what they are doing, or “stupid”, or “worthless”. Closed minded people or those who don’t care about a topic don’t want to know more about it and they don’t want to be more informed about it---but that doesn’t stop some people from doing things to verbally judge or talk negatively about the same subject. In reality they are speaking from a place of ignorance. And this is why we homeschoolers should not care so much what others think about what we are doing, in the big picture.

On the one hand dispelling myths and seeking to enlighten others, we think, will benefit us in the long run, so all homeschooling parents, on some level, are always trying to promote it or to enlighten others about it, even if it is a small way, or a very short conversation about it (15 seconds, for example). For example, if some realize how well homeschooling works perhaps they’d stop trying to over-legislate the monitoring of homeschooling—that is what we think.

Again, my own family and friends hardly know a thing that goes on in our lives about what we do, why we do it, how we spend our time on homeschooling pursuits, and all I do to educate myself about how to teach children and what to teach children. I still cannot think of a way to keep everyone informed of what we do without it coming off as sounding like bragging. I wait for people to ask me questions then I answer them. However most don’t ask the questions, so I don’t talk about it much with them.

My blog readers know much more about our homeschooling lifestyle than our own friends and relatives do. Think about that for a minute, pure strangers to me that live in other places and don’t even know my true identity may know more about me and my family, and may respect me while my own friends and relatives may not hold me in as high regard.

Friends for Homeschooling Moms
The friends I am closest to in my life right now are my homeschooling mother friends. There are certain topics that can only be understood by someone else who is walking in the same shoes as I am. I have learned that the hard way. My non-homeschooling mom friends still “don’t get it” and they probably never will.

I have heard some male (religious) conference lecturers say that the homeschooling community should support the homeschooling part of one’s life but to not look to the homeschooling community to make it the source of the social connections/friendships for mom or the children, nor to find within the homeschooling community, the source of spiritual/religious connections. Okay, I understand the religious part. But one problem with that recommendation for friendship for the mother is often like-minded-ness and kinship is hard to find in a non-homeschooling friend. To constantly work against judgment and negativity or even simple doubts in a close friend just prevents the friendship bond from being as close as it could be. More importantly, the homeschooling mother lacks validation for her (sometimes difficult) choice to homeschool. Even worse is if the homeschooling mother feels judged or is the recipient of negative statements about her choices---one does not need that hardship and challenge in a friendship.

Perhaps this entire notion is a ‘woman to woman thing’ that men can never understand so won’t recommend. Men and women treat friendships very differently. The friendship component and necessity in a woman’s life for other female companionship is one of those things that make women different than men (and perhaps some men don’t understand that, as they don’t feel the same drive for connections with others).

I highly recommend that all homeschooling mothers make at least one close friend within the local homeschooling community.

Note: Some people would perceive a homeschooling mother’s role to do some or all of the things on my list (above) as a homeschooling con, a downside to homeschooling. It is true that homeschooling can be a lot of work. Homeschooling is a big responsibility. A homeschooling parent can choose to off-load some of the duties I listed above, such as to pay for a ‘school in a box’ curriculum and just use that instead of researching other options. A homeschooling parent can choose to never learn about other educational methods, or about problems with public schooling, or issues in education reform. The homeschooling parent just may not ever feel the need to attend homeschool support group meetings or homeschooling conferences. Each person is different.

I am listing this blog entry under the category of ‘homeschooling con’s’ because I think that some people would perceive all the work that I do as a ‘con’, an undesirable or a too-difficult or an uninteresting thing to do.

To deal with the criticism of homeschooling from the public, from the media (i.e. the Dr. Phil show), from friends and from relatives can also be considered a ‘homeschooling con’.

A homeschooling mother will be happiest if she is living not in a defense mode. Life will be happier if the homeschooling family surrounds themselves with others who are like-minded and who are supportive of this weighty, responsibility-loaded lifestyle choice. A homeschooling mother who feels validated or feels kinship with others who have made the same choice will feel better about herself and her choices. While I believe that we should first seek the approval of God, I think that to only have God on our side could be a problem (and that does not apply to non-religious people). I highly recommend that homeschooling families work to find friendship and acquaintances within their local homeschooling community as it is helpful that at least sometimes in our lives we are not outsiders. When in a room of other homeschoolers a person could perceive themselves as mainstream and normal, right?

If you are having trouble making a meaningful connection with other homeschoolers in your area I urge you to try other support groups, spread out and travel a bit to see if you can find a group of friends or at least one friend. If you didn’t make connections at one group’s meeting, try another of that same group, as the people who attend can be different from month to month. Try not to judge others on first impressions, sometimes after being around a person for a little while I have realized we have more in common than I originally thought.

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Children’s Book List Categorized By Values and Character Traits (and Links To Other Book Lists Online)

While trying to research something online I stumbled upon this great book list on librarian Nancy Keane’s website. This is just one of the lists on the site, it has a big list of children’s books sorted by character traits and/or values and/or issues.

Some of the categories are:

Acceptance
Characters who change
Cheating
Humility
Integrity
Justice
Patriotism
Self-Control
Thankfulness

The site gives this acknowledgement:
These recommendations are harvested from a variety of listserv such as LM_NET, Childlit, Booktalkers @egroups.com, YALSA, etc. The reading lists were started as part of a librarian collaborative project, All Together Now, begun by Dale Copps.

The site also links viewers to a new wikipedia collaborative book list of many different book lists for children, which can be viewed here.

Nancy Keane’s home page gives access to even more book chidren's book lists!

Wow, what a great, free resource.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Homeschoolers Respond To Dr. Phil’s Show About Homeschooling

On November 24, 2006, the Dr. Phil show episode that aired was titled “Great School Debate”. There were numerous negative statements made on the show as well as some common myths, worries and misconceptions of homeschooling portrayed.

The Shows Main Points
1. The main issues posed were citing recent school shootings and asking the question if homeschooling is better and safer for children as an option to avoid violent crimes that occur in school.

2. Another topic was whether homeschooling provides enough of a social experience for children and teenagers. (Dr. Phil said there is a lot of research to show that homeschooling does not provide enough social experiences for children who are middle or high school aged. I have never seen that study data. If you can provide me with it I would appreciate it!) A 26 year old woman homeschooled from grade two through to the end of high school was on the show (without her parents) saying she felt socially stunted in her development and basically cheated out of a mainstream high school experience.

3. One couple had young children and the mother wants to homeschool and the father wants the children to go to public school—they are still in disagreement about this decision. Unlike on other episodes of Dr. Phil's shows he did not help this couple come to a common ground or to a resolution, he must have been content that they were still in conflict over this important decision since he didn't help them resolve it.

4. Lastly a main issue was a focus on examining how one family interprets their ‘radical unschooling’ lifestyle, including describing what I consider to be “non-coercive parenting” and her self-defined parenting style of attachment parenting, toddler breastfeeding (age two) and child-led weaning, and co-sleeping.

5. There were some guests in the audience who were homeschooled who seemed to have a lot to say but were not allowed to say it.

This entry will either contain responses from homeschoolers to the show, or I will link to other homeschoolers blogs or websites that carry a response to the show.

My intention is to gather into one page, many different opinions and voices to respond to some of the questions or issues raised on the show.

I will be updating this entry as it is expanded and more opinions become available either on the web or sent to me by email. If you would like your voice posted to this main blog entry click on “view my complete profile” at the top of my blog and it will take you to a screen with a link to email me.

I recorded this episode so I can refer back to it later if necessary to double check facts or statements presented on the show.

I will also say the show wrapped up with presenting school options as homeschooling or unschooling. I found it very interesting and was surprised that unschooling was not rolled into the same definition of homeschooling.

If you want to discuss topics with other Dr. Phil viewers you can access their message boards, here. The message boards are divided by show topic/episode. You must be a (free) registered user in order to post on the Dr. Phil message boards. Please consider leaving positive homeschooling comments on those message boards. I left a response on

Here is the link to the archive for this episode “Great School Debate”. This webpage has long text quotes from some sections of the show.

Today there is a poll on the Dr. Phil website asking what type of schooling is best. Note they have unschooling and homeschooling as two separate choices. The other two choices are public school and private school.

As of right now the still-open Dr. Phil survey results are this:

Private school 20% (368 votes)
Public school 13% (285 votes)
Homeschooling 44% (920 votes)
Unschooling 23% (477 votes)

(So far all this tells me is that the homeschooling community in general is keyed into this show having aired and that they took the time to visit the site and to vote. I know it is not true reality to have so far, 67% of the population thinking the best schooling method is either homeschooling or unschooling. If that were true then more than the current 1-2% of children in America would actually be homeschooled (with unschooling or whatever other method they choose).

If you want to vote in the Dr. Phil poll, go here.

Due to holiday business and holiday-related fatigue, I hope to revise and expand my own opinions tomorrow.

Here are some responses that I have received:

1. My own opinion as an experienced homeschooling mother is….
The show was not as bad as I imagined it could have been.

It seemed to me that the bulk of the show was dedicated to one family, Dayna and her husband (who sat on the stage with Dr. Phil), who are self-labeled “radical unschoolers”. Dr. Phil spent a lot of time examining her parenting philosophy. Although she said she practices attachment parenting what I heard her talk about seemed more like non-coercive parenting to me, which is another entire philosophy which is not a base component of attachment parenting at all. To sum it up quickly some of the things discusses were no rules in the home, no rules on what children can and can’t eat, what they should do or not do, what types of learning experiences they should have. The learning environment seemed in line with unschooling in that it was ‘learner-driven’ or ‘child-driven’ or ‘child-led’.

One thing that Dr. Phil made clear was that he felt that as a child he would never have learned anything constructive if left to his own devices. He also said very clearly that he hated every minute of every day at school, for every year he was in school. One thing that no one mentioned on the show is that it is typical that a child who first went to school and is used to complete coercion and forcing of ‘learning’ all the time often does act and learn differently when not in the school building. Children who are withdrawn from school and begin homeschooling often need a ‘deschooling’ or ‘decompression’ stage to release the old habits and ways and to adjust to a different lifestyle free of the school rules and school routines (good and bad). Children start off life with a desire and a joy for learning. Some who attend school get this flame extinguished, for various reasons and by various methods. A happy homeschooled child often does need some breathing room to adjust to the new routine and method of homeschooling vs. school. I can see how someone would not understand that a child who never went to a conventional school can and does learn on their own or with some guidance and facilitation of the parents. Even a radical unschooler must make their home environment rich with learning opportunities, from games to books and other things and to provide opportunities in the real world also. I don’t think that Dr. Phil grasped the point at all.

I don’t feel that non-unschoolers were represented much at all on the show. Even eclectic style homeschoolers, or ‘relaxed homeschoolers’ seemed to not be addressed. The methods were represented as teacher lecture driven teaching at the kitchen table or else ‘radical unschooling’. That is not an accurate representation of the homeschooling community.

One point that Dr. Phil also made clear was that to function in the adult workforce a child must be forced to learn in a classroom environment with assignments and deadlines, goals and expectations such as can only be provided in a public school. My always-homeschooled children have been involved in various kinds of classes and teacher-led projects since they were babies. I didn’t like that no one stated this. For example at seven months my older son began taking Gymboree classes with me. Beginning at age five he took an art and craft class with other homeschoolers led by a real art teacher in a classroom/art studio environment in which parents were not allowed to stay in the room. My children have done sports from gymnastics to swimming to baseball in the community mixing mostly with non-homeschoolers and they have not been under my guidance or supervision for those lessons, practices, and/or games. With Cub Scouts my children are in many different situations including being taught by complete strangers. Now at age nine my older son is taking an online electronics class for gifted homeschooled children, this has goals, deadlines, projects, and even real tests to take. And at home regarding the academics that I teach my children, they have goals and assignments. I resented the over-focus on ‘radical unschooling’. There was no ‘middle-ground’ as Dr. Phil so often likes to talk about in his other episodes.

Regarding the parent teaching the child it was made clear on the show that the best teacher is a trained school teacher who takes teacher workshops and learns to teach a specific subject. It was said that no parent could match this.

Overall I thought the show seemed intent to discredit homeschooling. I could go on and on. For now I will stop. I may expand this later.

2. Jane, a homeschooling mother who participated in this Dr. Phil episode gave her permission for me to share her feedback on the show. Jane wrote this after she attended the show but before she watched it air on television.

Jane’s opinions are in blue. I did not edit or shorten what she wrote.

Last month I found a link to the Dr. Phil Show web page asking for opinions about homeschooling. I wrote down some comments, and sent off my thoughts regarding the topic. I had no doubt that my words would disappear in a flood of other opinions, and since I thought the show was filmed in Chicago, I didn't give the matter a second thought.

A few weeks later, I got a call from someone from the show, who told me that it was taped in Hollywood and I was asked to attend the taping. I'm a pretty poor public speaker so I told her I didn't want to be cornered by someone with a microphone and she assured me that I would only have to sit and watch. She then told me to expect a call from one of the producers.

The next call was from a young woman who was very encouraging and reassured me that "Dr. Phil" doesn't want his show to be like Jerry Springer, and that he tries to "stay neutral". She also said there would about 50 invited guests and then 200 random people in the back of the audience. I knew they have to fill up all the seats and that they often recruit tourists from places like Universal Studios to accomplish this.

I asked how many of them would be homeschoolers and how many school employees. She again reassured me that Dr. Phil is fair, but she was only communicating with the folks on one list and couldn't say how many were being called by other folks on staff. I was still a little apprehensive about the situation, but I generally got the feeling that Mr. McGraw leans more toward being pro-homeschooling. (See last fall's "No Room for Compromise" transcript.) So I agreed to come.

I also watched Mr. McGraw that afternoon to see how the show "works". I was really impressed that he had about six women on from the "Women of Faith" conference. All well known, old time "Pillars of the Christian Faith". It was a very upbeat, enjoyable show to watch, with lots of laughter and camaraderie, everyone seemed at ease.

When I had the commitment from three others to go with me I felt even better about going to the show especially with two of our group being the head our Independent Study Program. They are well-known, homeschool leaders in this area and do quite a bit of speaking on the topic of homeschooling at conferences etc.

A few days later I got another call from someone from the show asking me to attend the taping of another show about a teacher who was fired for being involved in pornography and another who was suing some students for using her identity to create a website. They wanted people in the audience who were sympathetic to the teachers and since I had mentioned that I had worked for the public school system, I guess they thought I would fit the profile.

Needless to say, I declined; this was getting to sound a little Jerry Springer–ish for me. And since I only taught classes as a school nurse, and am not into porn myself, I didn't feel qualified to help them out. I had no idea what the show on homeschooling was going to be about, but I thought after spot lighting teacher porn stars, and thieving school kids, homeschooling could only look like a life raft to those on a sinking ship.

The morning of the taping, we arrived at the studio between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. as I was directed by an email, also instructing us to dress in "business clothes". When I passed by the majority of those waiting to get into the studio, I felt like I was at a Teacher's Union meeting. Most of the other invited guests had the look of the tired, older, public school administrators and teachers, worn out by the stress and bureaucracy of the public school system, like the one I worked for during my time as a school nurse in a Los Angeles suburb.

We quickly found other homeschoolers, and waited together in a kind of outside holding area with benches. There were also some adults that were interviewed inside, in the hour or two before the show, for a video to be played during the show. One of them was a member of our ISP who, I had learned, is an attorney, homeschooling young children. Good representation! (I saw her face in the video for seconds and can't remember a word that her, or any of the others' had said, the video was presented in such a hurried manner.)

It was obvious that we were greatly outnumbered by school folks though, including bus loads of high school students and their teachers. (One group was from a Public School District the other from a Christian School).

When we got inside the studio we were directed to our seats; on the far left when looking from the audience toward the stage, and in front of the Public High School group seated in the rear section. Mr. McGraw faced our section throughout most of the show, he was often reading from a "prompt" behind us.

Twenty five minutes prior to the beginning of the show a man came out to hype everyone up. (This wasn't hard to do with the high schoolers present.) We were enlisted to "make television happen" with Dr. Phil. The performer got people excited about Dr. Phil mugs and vouchers for Dr. Phil books that he was passing out.
He entertained the group by asking random audience members to name three things that make them happy. One of the public school kids said "family, friends and sports”. The Christian school student answered with two of the same answers and added "Psychology class" to his list. It seems that peer pressure is pretty strong, even in the Christian Schools.

A man near us who said he was with Considering Homeschooling, and is homeschooling four children, with two more on the way, answered: "The Lord Jesus, my kids and my wife”. His answer got cheers from our section.

After about 20 minutes, and right before Mr. McGraw came out on stage, the entertainer got everyone cheering and clapping along with a Cher concert video. (So basically, no one was really clapping for Mr. McGraw, but that's how it appears on the show.)

Mr. McGraw (appearing to me to very uncomfortable – maybe nervous, definitely "stiff" in his body and facial expression) entered and gave his intro. This set the tone for the rest of the show as he revealed that the first part of the discussion wasn't going to be about homeschooling vs. public school or private schools, but "Unschooling" vs. public or private.

I guess it wouldn't have been as entertaining to have a conservative homeschooling family, using a formal approach to education on the show. So instead they picked the extreme, the most socially unaccepted and misunderstood form of homeschoolers to represent all of homeschooling; although this wasn't stated, I think it was, and will be the outcome for those in the audience.

The first people interviewed were a very radical "unschooling" family who stated on their intro video that they didn't believe in rules in their home; that they only taught principles. The couple sounded like the typical stereotype of "those crazy homeschoolers" who are raising wild/undisciplined children. They also felt a need to include a video clip that showed that this family believed in, and used the “attachment approach” to parenting and got into their breast feeding and sleeping habits, which really didn't have anything to do with the discussion, but only served to put them further out of the mainstream of our society. Talk about having a problem with tolerance!

When the discussion got under way, it was obvious that a lot of what they expressed, would make some sense to a lot of people, (especially given the age of their children) but that's not the way it was presented in the tape and to the audience. It was also obvious that they were just beginning to live out their beliefs and didn't really have a handle on how to present them.

The next family that they brought into the discussion was sitting in the audience. They had the look of a very successful "TV" family, affluent and attractive, with 3 children sitting between the parents. They were moved out of the front "expert" row to one further back during the first commercial break (I guess someone had goofed in the seating arrangements). Mr. McGraw spoke to the mom of this family briefly, who stated that they are also "unschoolers". I thought it was interesting that he seemed surprised that the children were attending the taping.

He said to the mother "...and you're ok with them [being] here..?" I wondered if he was being protective of the homeschooled children because he thought his presentation of homeschooling would affect them negatively. If so, I wouldn't be surprised if he was a little ashamed. The mom was confident that her children could handle it.

The next couple was split on the decision to homeschool, although their children aren't old enough for mandatory schooling. The mother is set on it, especially after seeing news stories of school shootings immediately after her first child was born, and the father doesn't want his daughter to miss out on her "first crush" on her teacher. (I guess that it's important for the first crush to be a teacher.) Mr. McGraw made a point to ask them if they thought the show helped them to change their minds about their positions regarding homeschooling. Both said no.

The clincher was when they had a disgruntled ex-homeschooled 26 y/o who said she missed out on being able to "hate the girl with purple hair who thinks she's all that" because she was homeschooled. I think there's still plenty of opportunity for that kind of stuff for homeschooled teens in California, if that's what a girl really wants out of life. Homeschoolers in our area take classes and play sports together, they have graduation and proms available to them; they have plenty of opportunity to hate their peers if they want to, but I don't think the majority really want to.

Not many who spoke during the show were older and wiser with grown kids. Mr. McGraw's argument last year was, and still is, that homeschooling is a good thing up to a certain age, then somehow things go awry for teens, and he uses the phrase "research says" or something to that effect to validate his claim. I don't know of anyone, who knows what this research is. But I do know high school age homeschoolers; and if anything, these kids seem to me to be more able to handle the "real" world with a more mature approach than those I’ve met raised in a public school setting. Maybe this has to do more with family influences than their peers?


The last person to speak, if I heard correctly, was someone from the State Education department. And then it all came together. Last year in the school district where I was employed, I four schools were closed due to lack of enrollment due to the quality of education the district is offering. There have been three public meetings held there in the last two months to persuade families to send their preschoolers to the public schools there. I'm sure this is not just happening in this city.


There also have been lots of local as well as national news stories about school violence and killings. If there was no political agenda intended, why invite someone in government to have the last word? Someone mentioned to me that we tend to remember the first and last parts of a story, if that's the case then most people will remember the "crazy extreme" homeschooling family and then the "education expert" and forget about the more balanced viewpoints expressed during the show.


The other problem for those running the public school system is that homeschooled kids cannot be reached for "diversity training". I heard the words "diversity" and "socialization" thrown around so many times as an argument for public schools during that hour; I'm beginning to think that "socialization" the way it is happening in the school setting, is becoming an academic requirement.

Our family and homeschool friends are members of several homeschool support, and church groups, where there is no lack of cultural, racial, or religious diversity. There is no lack of peace either. None of the kids I encounter with my children ever shun another because they are of a different race or religion. They don't even think about it, probably because their parent's have been right there with them modeling acceptance of each other since they were toddlers. In my experience working in the public school setting, kid's at school learn the behavior of excluding those who are different, not only from other children but also from the adults around them. This includes those in private schools as well.

At one point toward the end of the show, Dr. Phil asked for a show of hands of those who were for homeschooling in general, then those who were for unschooling as a method of homeschooling, then those who were only for public or private schooling. It was obvious he and his producers already knew the stats. Maybe they were making an effort to reflect the general population? This in itself was fair, what was not fair was that those who are average successful homeschoolers were poorly represented. The fact that most homeschoolers were somewhere in the middle between "unschooling" and doing "school at home" was not emphasized.

The following are comments that Jane received from a new homeschooling friend, Yvette, who had the advantage of sitting in the Dr. Phil show's audience among the public school group right next to two of the speakers:

"I was sitting in a shark tank...I was next to the third grade teacher of one of the producers...the one they called up to the microphone...and the lady sitting just over my shoulder is also a teacher who made negative comments on tape...the entire section was filled with school teachers. They were making snide comments and snickering and tisk-tisking from their high-horse-trained-educator point of view.

One comment 'Oh, Dr. Phil is making mince meat out of them. He's leaving me nothing else to say,' really made a great impression on me. If "educators" would waste less time worrying about homeschoolers and more time making the classroom a place of learning...perhaps their problem of losing pupils (and the cash they bring in) would go away on its own.

And cash is definitely what this show was about...Ratings for Dr. Phil and an hour long commercial for public education which culminated with a government official reminding us that any number of education choices are available to children...all under the public school umbrella.

When the show airs, I will be encouraging everyone I know to post positive homeschooling comments on his website - with no mud slinging - including comments such as your observation that there was no representation of experienced homeschoolers such as the Fortes.

You did forget one small "guest" the short haired lady who is concerned that homeschooled kids will one day be making public policy and that she doesn't want to live in a place influenced by homeschooled kids. She was a real peach, and did more good for homeschoolers than harm, with a ridiculous and hurtful comment like that. I thought that public education was about tolerance and diversity....did I miss something?

Interestingly enough, the teachers in my section were very disappointed by the show. The comments they were making as they prepared to leave included a comment that they felt that there were far more homeschooled guests (people who actually got to speak on camera) than "educator" guests and that the show was very one-sided in favor of homeschooling." '



3. Homeschooling Mom, S. at the blog "Treasure Keeper" blogged her thoughts on the show, here.


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Here are a few links to some other informational sites and blogs that I did not link to in the above blog entry.

A to Z Home’s Cool website (all methods and styles)

Archives of the
Blog Carnival of Homeschooling, read many voices of homeschooling parents here (47 carnivals have been published to date)

My favorite homeschooling magazine,
Home Education Magazine, secular

Homeschool World, website of the Practical Homeschooling magazine, Christian

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Note: entry expanded/updated on 11/26/06 3:20 p.m.

Did “Black Friday” Sales for First Time (Before Dawn, To Boot!)

I am exhausted right now.

I had decided to do the early morning “Black Friday” sales today. Since learning of limited quantities of certain toys at Toys R Us I realized I should go at opening time (5:00 a.m.). I have never done this before! My policy is usually to avoid shopping on this day, to stay out of the zoo that the world becomes on this day.

The alarm was set for 4:00 a.m. However I had a panic dream where I woke up on my own and saw it was 7:51 a.m. and everyone else in my family was still asleep and I realized it was too late to go shopping. Then I woke up and it was actually 3:58 a.m., and the alarm was indeed set to go off in just two minutes. So without further adieu I shot out of bed and threw myself into the shower to get going.

I had decided to blog about this and to take photos along the way. However in my rushing I forgot to take the extra, already-charged digital camera batteries. Of course the batteries conked out after two photos. I really wanted to share with you the sight of the line at Toys R Us that went down the full front of the store and wound all the way back nearly to the end of the building. It was insanity.

While we waited to get in I had a fun conversation with a mom of four and six year old boys. We were both determined to get specific items that our children wanted which were being offered at 50% off retail price.

I was victorious in finding the items (not always an easy task) and then getting what I wanted. I made only one non-sale purchase, something I have been unable to find in other stores and was on the fence about buying. That ended up being my impulse buy. I was done and gone after 30 minutes. Phew.

I should add that the Toys R Us staff was very friendly and helpful. It was hard to find some sale items as some were in their regular shelves and others were put in other parts of the store and were harder to find, so the staff were helpful to guide me and others to find the merchandise.

It was also odd to drive down Route One in the dark and to have deserted streets yet at each store which has a flyer, the parking lot was mobbed. In that town there are stores after stores and you could just drive down that one road and hit nearly every store that sent out big sales flyers.

Off and running to Staples to get my husband a long needed desk chair ($160 on sale for $60). Now he doesn’t have to sit on the extra kitchen chair anymore (which is scratching the wood floor, by the way). That place was a madhouse. I first waited in line for 20 minutes outside in 40 degree weather (still in the dark) with the wind blowing. I wasn’t wearing a coat, mental note: even thick fleece shirts are not wind-proof. The doors opened at 6:00 a.m. I had more interesting conversations. I noted there were more men on line for tech-y stuff. The women in line said they were buying movies and small computer parts. A man said he drove past the store last night at 11:30 p.m. and there were a bunch of people camping out. To truly appreciate the insanity of that you should know that it was steadily raining alternating with sleet with temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s all day on Thanksgiving and continuing to sometime around 3:00 a.m.

When the doors entered it was crazy. They had the major sale items in the center aisle, but they were all crowded onto tables. People were four deep reaching in and trying to grab items. I found the few small items and finally found the chair.

They had some problem with their security system and over and over a horrid sounding alarm would go off as nearly every customer walked out. It took longer to check out due to complicated security measures with locking devices on some items and that magnetic strip on others. Then the mail in rebate forms that printed out took a while (nearly a minute for my receipts, which seems like forever when the line is 40 people deep behind me). All in all it went fast as I was out of there in just 20 minutes.

Next I was off to Best Buy. Reports from other customers said that when they opened at 5 a.m. it was very smooth and calm. Well it was not that way when I got there. I picked my one item and then stood in a line. Some men tried to cut me in line and a staff member saw (I didn’t even protest, by the way, as at that time I didn’t even realize what was happening). What they did was this: there was a man in front of me with one small item in his hand. Then a group of men walked up to him with the full flatbed and tried to get into the line. They were speaking loudly in Arabic or something and ignored what the store staff guy said. I chose not to argue as they kept talking loudly to each other and shooting me dirty looks. I was not up for a fight. Without going into a long story I will just say I felt a bit threatened as they were Muslim and they were with a group of men, and were all giving me dirty looks and they were never speaking English. There is something about that combination that made me feel threatened. So I was the passive one for once and let the guy cut the line. When the store clerk walked away the guy in front of me grabbed the flatbed and wedged it in front of him. Another guy took one item off the cart and held it in his hand and stood behind me in line. Since they were obviously together and would have to wait for me to do my transaction anyway they made no head-way by cutting me like that.

Next up was A.C. Moore where I needed to get two small toys and I wanted a few craft items for myself. I didn’t realize that I mixed up the Michael’s sales with the A.C. Moore sales. It is a long story but I will just say that I had my cart filled with a lot of small cost items that I thought I’d get 25% off of, and instead I put them all back on the shelves and left with just the sale items.

I then stopped for a treat at Krispy Kreme, bought a dozen for my family and headed home.

I then crashed for a two hour nap.

For the record the sales that Michael’s craft shop is running today and tomorrow gets the award for the most confusing of all. They had one coupon for a sale from 6am-9am Friday, then other multiple coupons which could be combined from 9am to 10pm Friday. Then yet again on Saturday they have another early morning coupon then another coupon for the rest of the day. To boot also they have a “50% off one item” coupon but that can’t be combined with any other offer (like the 25% off of everything you buy coupon). Lastly there is just one coupon per customer per day.

So after my analysis of the sales flyers I will say this. If these flyers are an indication of what America is doing we are a television obsessed nation. I just can’t believe the number and variety of TV sets available and for sale. There are also a zillion DVD movies for sale and all the other equipment such as DVD-recorder, TiVo type DVR units for the TV, and on and on with the TV-related gadgets. We are also apparently a video game obsessed nation, not just for the kids (which by the way, accounted for a large number of the sales of kids ‘toy’ items), but also for video game playing for the adults. The “in” thing this year is not music it is TV.

Lastly today I watched part of the Dr. Phil anti-homeschooling show. All of it did not tape due to my husband accidentally interrupting the recording process. I set TiVo to record it again later today so I can watch the full show. Overall it was not as negative as I thought it would be, or maybe I just am not in a mood to rant and rave.

I have a headache and am over-tired from getting up so early.

I’ll blog later, especially about Dr. Phil’s show, I hope.

The last thing on the “to do” list is to narrow down my children’s Christmas wish lists to a do-able purchasing list and to shop online at LegoShop.com, while their online sale for free shipping and discount prices is still in effect. I only hope the things that my kids want are still in stock.

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