Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gifted Education

Time4Learning has decided to help parents of gifted kids get the advanced math that they deserve.

"With Time4Learning, you can help us place your child at the appropriate math level. It's not unusual for a child gifted in math to be weaker in language arts. With Time4Learning, your child can pick and choose those lessons that are most meaningful to him or her (and to you!).

If a parent wants to change a grade level up or down permanently, we can shift the student easily.

Once placed, you have access to the materials in adjacent years so in areas where the student is ready for even more challenge or would like to review, you can click forward and back. This is especially important for gifted children, who often have uneven skills development in different subjects."

So, if you are looking for advanced materials for your gifted child, give us a visit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Appropriate Literature

Time4Learning, an online homeschool & enrichment service, received this email this weekend....

"A homeschool acquaintance told me about your site so I had to try it. First, I have to say I was really looking forward to having my children do your program. So much so that I even signed up my two boys (on March 28 2006). They've been having a pretty good time with it ....But that's not why I'm writing and canceling our subscription. ....

I must say, your interpretation of what homeschoolers want is light years away from reality....I say this after taking a look at what your 8th grade "lesson plans" had to offer. Dang folks! Do you really think I'm going to let my 8th grader read the kind of trash that you offer in your first language arts lesson?

I mean really. I looked up "Surviving the Applewhites" on Amazon and was appalled that you can even think that a book so disparaging of homeschoolers could even possibly be attractive. Was the intent to show us just what we were missing by not sending our children to public school?....."

Here is how I answered.....

"I am very sorry to have upset you.

Time4Learning takes its educational content seriously. We have licensed the
CompassLearning system which is sold into schools around the country. We make it available to users at home with minimal adaptations and at as low a price as possible.... When I got your email earlier this weekend, I looked up the book. Since I had not personally read it, I acquired a copy and read it. I have not read the Amazon summary but generally I have found Amazon to be very accurate on questions of price but somewhat undependable on questions of content. Have you found differently?

The book is interesting and a fast read. Here is what I have found.

The book was a Newbery Honory book in 2003 for literature and as such, it is on many recommended reading lists for students. My first reaction is that as a homeschool enthusiast, I am pleased that a major children's book uses homeschooling as its context instead of the usual stories where "John and Jane go to school every morning..."

The book focuses on a difficult rebellious adolescent (Jake) who is taken in by a unschooling family in NC made up of a set of colorful tempermental characters. The story is a combination of coming of age and dealing with issues of adolescence, identity, self-worth, and family.

Do I think the family is ideal or typical? No, this is literature. The family is more than a little dysfunctional although big-hearted and full of talented people. Their approach is unschooling which works extremely well for some of the children in the family, not so well for others.

The family itself is portrayed a little cartoonishly. I found that as literature it would have been more appropriate for a younger grade since it lacked subtlety and was a little formulastic, the ending was relatively predictable. However, the book did support the content of the lessons that it was supposed to and it is very well written. I'm sorry that you found a review of the book which led you to believe that it was inappropriate.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Children are...

Children are...

Amazing, acknowledge them.

Believable, trust them.

Childlike, allow them.

Divine, honor them.

Energetic, nourish them.

Fallible, embrace them.

Gifts, treasure them.

Here Now, be with them.

Innocent, delight with them.

Joyful, appreciate them.

Kindhearted, learn from them.

Lovable, cherish them.

Magical, fly with them.

Noble, esteem them.

Open-minded, respect them.

Precious, value them.

Questioners, encourage them.

Resourceful, support them.

Spontaneous, enjoy them.

Talented, believe in them.

Unique, affirm them.

Vulnerable, protect them.

Whole, recognize them.

Xtraspecial, celebrate them.

Yearning, notice them.

Zany, laugh with them

© 2001, Meiji Stewart

For printed posters, abcwritings
(note to Meiji - remember me from herewood house?)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Word Awareness & Vocabulary

I have recently been thru an experience interesting from an educational point of view. I have spent alot of time with a 9 year old (not mine) whose language skills were poor. She basically was a non-reader TV-watcher who, while bright, had weak language skills. Her grammar was poor, her vocabulary was weak, and she couldn't care less about either.

Over the last six months, I have convinced her that just such things matter. She even asked why it mattered how she spoke "so long as people know what I mean". I compared it to clothes (whcih she cares alot about). I explained that "some people think clothes are only there to keep us warm and for reasons of modesty. But, don't you think clothes are also about looking good?".

After she finished snickering at the concept of "modesty" (she asked me to explain what it meant), she admitted that perhaps people were paying attention not just to what she said but how she said it.

We also spent alot of time playing word games and discussing the meanings of words. After about six months, I think she has become word conscious (language aware ?)and is on the path to improving her language skills. The word games were almost always played in the car and consisted of:
- Hig Pig - What do you call a feline that has put on weight? (answer: a fat cat)
- Opposites - What is the opposity of "hasty"
- Synonyms - What's a word that means the same as "tiny" ?
- Alphabet Games - I went to the grocery store and bought...apples, berries, cherries, dates, eggs...
- Analogies - A flock is to birds as what is to fish?