Snow and cold temps won’t cancel school for some!

We have been snowed in for a few days and the local schools unexpectedly extended Christmas Break.  Here’s my response on the Kansas City Star Blog:

Snow and cold temps won’t cancel school for some

By Maggie Jackson, Kansas City Star Reader Advisory Panel

http://voices.kansascity.com/node/7121

As several metro kids receive another day off due to freezing temperatures and snow, there are some who will not have the luxury of knowing about snow days. These kids will receive their lessons despite the weather.

They sit at their kitchen tables or bedroom desks sipping on hot cocoa or enjoying a bowl of snow ice cream while completing daily assignments between sled races. In some cases, those sled races and ice cream making opportunities become a part of their school lessons.

These are the same kids who attend frequent museum field trips on weekdays to compliment a recently learned concept. Their schooling is not considered traditional, but it works for the millions of children who are schooled at home.

 For homeschoolers, a “snow day” isn’t just another day to sit inside and read or complete math lessons. It becomes an opportunity to extend the learning process from the mundane to the WOW.

When children are younger, art is incorporated into the science of snow with snowflake cutouts while learning about Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley. Older children may pull out a microscope and learn about the science and geometry of crystals in relation to snowflakes.

Sure the kids may be disappointed about not receiving a day off, but despite the lack of snow days, many homeschooled children receive sunny days.

These are the days when the sun is shining, the grass is green and it’s just too nice to sit and do school work indoors. Instead, it is taken outside and completed between exploring expeditions.

However, the biggest plus side to no snow days, is the lack of make up days at the end of the school year.

 Submitted by MaggieJackson on January 7, 2010 – 1:37pm.

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Formal Dance

I took the the two oldest to a Spring Formal tonight.  There are people out there who question whether homeschoolers have social opportunities.  Those same people seem to think that if children don’t attend school they will miss out on dances, dating and other important mile stones.  It’s too bad those people can’t or won’t open their eyes long enough to see that school doesn’t offer the only opportunities to young people. 

My count put the teens at around 50 give or take a few.  They came as couples, singles and friends.  The kids danced until a pile of shoes formed near the dance floor and then demanded another song by stomping their feet to the tune of “We Will Rock You” when the night was over, which the DJ obliged.  A photographer was available with prom type props to take pictures of couples, friends and singles.  He even took a mother and son picture, which I am eagerly waiting to purchase.  

What I didn’t see were cliques.  The kids that would be considered odd at school are cool in the homeschool community.  They wear Rat Pack hats and perform Blues Brothers dance routines.  Swing dancing is fashionable and circles are formed to encourage dancers to display talented and not so talented moves.  Towards the middle of the evening a couple of girls displayed their Celtic dance jigs.  The crowd cheered and clapped with approval. 

It was a very satisfying evening with a really nice group of people.  I dare say, homeschooled kids have figured out how to treat people no matter age, economic, or racial status based on their virtues and nothing less.  It is refreshing and brings a kind of hope that the next generation isn’t so doomed after all.  Here are my thanks to all the wonderful young people tonight.

Strange Youth

The young seem to think they need to gather with those of their own kind.  However, a strange thing happens with teens and especially with young women during a gathering.  This age has got to be the strangest, giggliest, noisiest on the planet.  The teen boys in the group had difficulty understanding the need for the girls to scream, jump and make strange noises over a simple comment or movement and instead chose to seek the safety of any empty room.   They stood around in silence for a few moments looking toward the door and at each other as if in fear that the girls would find them and fill that room with shrieks.  After a few minutes one boy made the comment that girls are just weird which caused all the moms in the room to smile and unsuccessfully cover our laughter.  They ignored us by turning to the piano and banging out a great sample of the Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”. 

 It seems that when young girls gather the only way they can communicate is by acting as strange as possible. Teen boys seem to look for sanity and the girls have none to offer at this early teen stage.  Perhaps this is because my daughter as well as all her friends are into the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.  All their actions and words center around the book’s plot and characters,  Good-bye Harry Potter, hello Edward. 

After a couple of hours watching these goofy girls, my only question was, “Did I act this silly when I was a teen.”  My answer is a hopeful but uncertain, “I hope not!”  After all, does anybody really know with absolute certainty that they remember of childhood with perfect clarity?  It is doubtful although I’m sure there are a select few who actually do, but I suspect many more only pretend they remember every minute detail.  For myself, I will entertain the thought that I did not act like my brain switched to the goofy mode.  

Although the girls did act strange at first, eventually everybody came together and enjoyed the afternoon.  It is unmistakable that teens need an outlet to meet and chat.  Today was just that type of day.  Here’s hoping for many more similar moments of teenage goofiness.

In All Seriousness, We Really are Schooling

A strange phenomenon occurs when a parent decides to homeschool.  It is called the, “Oh you don’t work, so you must be available to do….”  For some reason, people seem to think that because a parent doesn’t work outside the home, that person must have time to babysit, run errands, volunteer and whatever else the so called busy working person doesn’t have time to perform.  It could be safe to imagine that most think that homeschooling parents sleep in every morning, wear pajamas all day, allow the kids to run around or watch TV and perhaps get in a couple of hours of lessons.  Well it is possible that a portion of that image is correct such as the sleeping in and pajama wearing.  It is true that if a person doesn’t have to go anywhere, there isn’t any reason to dress up.  Not true for all homeschoolers, but certainly true for this particular mom.  The other half truth is sleeping in every day.  It is something that occurs occasionally, but not as often as most people would like to believe.  After all, any self respecting homeschooler knows that the amount of hours over sleeping, equals the amount of time spent in the late afternoon and early evening finishing up school work. 

The rest of the assumption about homeschoolers mentioned above can be for the most part dismissed.  Perhaps, there are a minority of parents who disgracefully claim to homeschool, while using the television as the main source of education, but the majority of parents take their children’s education very seriously.  Which brings me back to the initial belief that parents who homeschool have all the time in the world to cater to other people’s needs and wants.  It amazes me when I am asked if I can run an errand, baby-sit or do some other chore that usually has no redeeming quality to the eduction of my children.  But what amazes me more is the shocked reaction when I declare that school comes first and all other activities come second.  After all, isn’t education the most important factor in our children’s lives?  This concept should be true whether a family decides to send their children to school or keep them home.   No parent should be made to feel guilty because of saying “No” when it benefits the education of children.  Instead, these parents should be looked upon as shining stars in our increasingly downward spiraling sense of soundness.

Unfortunately our “Me” culture can not seem to grasp the understanding that there are parents who homeschool for reasons other than for themselves.  Most people who school at home do so for the benefit of the children, which is usually the same reason people go into teaching at traditional institutions.  It is a shame that many do not have the capacity to understand that when a parent declares quality education over play time, it is for the future benefit of the child and not for the short term laziness of the parent.  Most stay at home educating parents would rather go, play and be with other adults.  However, those of us who have decided to make our life’s work our children, understand that when the kids leave as successfully educated adults we can finally run all those little errands and perhaps even have a little time to play.