Aug 29, 2010

Our Home School Begins Another Year

    We officially started on workbooks again, this year we are not focusing to much on workbooks but I feel they have there place. My son started 2nd grade home school and my youngest is starting to learn pre k reading. It was nice to have a break and we all needed it.

Last year we took on a lot of book work and didn't finish all of the workbooks we had but my son still did very well. So this year we are only using the workbooks needed for basic knowledge and this year we have picked curriculum that are more straight to the point and easy to follow along.

That way we can focus more on reading great books and doing fun activity instead of workbooks all day. My son loves video games so we incorporate educational computer games into our day, and my kids can play on their own while I get some stuff done.

Not to mention it is a great incentive to getting workbooks done!

This year we have chosen Pathways for our reading curriculum and I am very happy with it. Pathways consists of a chapter book and a workbook the child does a page before the section of the book is read and then does a page after. There are also phonics pages to do anytime, this is a straight forward curriculum in reading and hits all the important parts to reading. Pathways was created by the Amish to be used in their school houses. Pathways chapter books are filled with great stories that children love as well as character building scenarios.

We are using Math Steps for our math curriculum. This curriculum has a teachers guide as well as a great easy to follow workbook that gets right to the point of each math lesson.

We also are using a vocabulary workbook called Vocabulary Workshop by Sadlier Oxford. This one has a teachers guide and it is also very user friendly and hits all necessary vocabulary skills.

For spelling we use Spelling Connections by Zaner Bloser also a user friendly curriculum, this has a teachers guide and a workbook that gives a spelling list at the beginning of each section. The student practices the words by doing the corresponding work pages and then a challenge page that introduces more challenging above grade level words.

In English we are using Houton Mifflin.
Science is Mc Graw Hill.
Social Studies is California Vista this curriculum is standard for CA public schools.

There is not much to say about the last three, but we read them do the workbooks, activities and discuss the information. Later we may read other books and enjoy Field trips to places where we can further our education on the subjects.

Thanks for reading I just wanted to post something about our curriculum choices. We will not however be focusing our day on workbooks. I feel that curriculum has its place in home school especially when it comes to a basic knowledge which I feel essential in life but not solely obtained in a strict curriculum program.

We get all this curriculum for free provided to us by our Home Based Charter program provided to us by the state of CA. There are many Home Based Charter programs for your homeschooling needs, also see Online Home School Programs.  Home Based Charter Schools

Aug 24, 2010

Critical Thinking And Reawakening That Professional Question Asker Inside You!

      It is my opinion that the general population of Americans and around the world, don't question authority much or what seems like authority. From the time we are born we are told different things some true, some false and some things just out right dangerous.

We grow up listening to Doctors, teachers, religious organizations, our well intended parents and the government, without really putting a lot of thought into it. As children we ask questions and accept the answers and most of the time we are not really taught about critical thinking and how to question authority. Our parents usually just answer the question to the best of their ability and we just move on not really thinking about the information that has just been fed to us.

Eventually we grow up as a product of whatever information and experiences that were fed to us and in many cases still fed to us, throughout our daily lives. Few question enough, compared to the majority who simply follow along the same path or paths as their parents, siblings and peers. Many people grow up confused or extremely stubborn even after truths have been revealed to them and many just don't want to know.

From the moment we can observe the world around us we had a natural curiosity and tendency to question the things and events around us, it is a natural state of being. As soon as we start to move around we are told No, don't touch that! Even when it is relatively safe many parents get in to this habit, forgeting that touch is a big part of our development.

We were professional question askers at one point in time. As children we asked many questions, the quality of the answers dependended on who we were asking, but it is my opinion that "there is no such thing as a stupid question," many of us were even told to stop asking so many questions! When a question arose which challenged the opinions and beliefs of authoritative bodies we were told "because that is the way it is" we were rarely given an explanation of the answers we got and were conditioned to take it on face value.

I even experienced silence as my answer as a teen after making a rather serious but inquisitive remark, I see that moment as a time that really had an impact on the choices I made. Once in school in wasn't much different, we had to sit and be quiet in many cases and the over stuffed class room setting allowed very little time for honest questioning and discussions over topics.

We were given a curriculum picked for us by the school or state and a full school day would be seven hours and by the time we got home more like 8 or 9 hours of our day.Coming home tired and hating school we had to do our home work, eat dinner and perhaps socialize with our family and friends for a few hours before climbing into bed to do it all again.

We had little time for true learning, which I consider to be asking questions, finding and getting the right answers, called truth! In many cases it is not until later in life that we really start to learn, if we are so lucky. Many of us have been conditioned in such a way that we would not question the things we have always believed to be true even if detrimental to our life, health and well being.

We are told to go to school, get a job, and work for the rest of your life and if your lucky! You can retire at 62 but we are also told not to count on that, without even an explanation or a morsel of what we could do instead. We accept this life as the life given to us and not as the life we can make for ourselves. In most schools we were not given any other options and since we are products of our parents and environment, most of the time at home we are not given them either.

We go to the doctor and take our children to the pediatrician who's answer to every thing is a drug that only covers symptoms. We give our children vaccine medications from the time they are born with little thought as to what is in the drug, what will it do, we don't even read the paper work the nurse gives us just before allowing them to inject a foreign agent filled with toxic chemical poisons and biological products into our children!

I will add there is a reason why they give you the paper work just before the shot is administered, without giving you time to question it let alone read the documents mandated by law to give you! When you ask the Doctor is it safe they say yes it is, and we trust them.

They tell you it is good and you have to do it, you have no choice. Many people go about actually believing that they have no rights and surrender to the system. Sure we all have a responsibility to seek the truth and we are all capable of doing so, but it is apparent to me that we are conditioned not to!

The thing is when you can control how people feel you can control what they believe, you can control what they do! We are programmed every day by everyone and everything around us some good and some bad, it is what makes us who we are. It is in our human nature to absorb information, that is how we first learn to walk, talk, and do everything else that we do.

The problem is when this is done with little to no critical thinking. We are conditioned by our environment not to be to critical, and that it is rude to ask to many questions or specific questions, especially questions that challenge the opinion or beliefs of the person and or authority being asked, as I explained earlier.

Since we are products of our environment we need to be careful about what we watch on TV as well as our impressionable children, this is so important. Many television shows and movies are filled with propaganda meant to shape what you feel and believe.

This is done by the media, government, religious organizations, product manufacturers and television networks. Much like the Internet television is a "advertising tool" it is meant with one main objective in mind, to sell advertising space to millions of relevant ad watchers. The television programming you get is just the vehicle used in which the ads are put in front of you the consumer.

This is apparent when watching teen shows for example, that infuse a feeling of materialism / consumerism on your children, even sexual behavior, without you or your children really noticing, and why would you if you are being conditioned not to question what is being fed to you. Really the list of propaganda, anti truths, and out right destructive information is being fed to you and your children on a daily basis, the good new is you can control much of it.

You can as our family does choose not to view much television and when you do be selective. Use critical thinking when choosing things in which to entertain your family. Ask your self, is it this really good for me and my children to take part in? Will the information that will in fact be fed to me and my children be productive or destructive? Will is shape our minds for greatness and success or not?

Well, today is a new day and you are reading this article, you may be hearing some of this for the first time and are not sure about it, or you may totally agree with me. I challenge you to think about it, critically, but not dismissively just because it may be contrary to what you currently believe. 

Don't take my word for it seek the information for your self, ask questions then find out if you got the right answer. This article is based on my personal life experiences and the things that I have learned and continue to learn. I do not ask you to substitute my judgement for your own, I only want to invite you into my way of thinking and challenge you to look at things a little differently.

We must reawaken the professional question asker in us that was present at early childhood but unfortunately stifled in many cases. We must not be afraid to challenge authority by asking the tough questions and we must be brave enough to seek the truth and act on it no matter how it contradicts with our current belief systems.

We deserve it, our children deserve it! We must take the time to read and read a lot and encourage our children not to just accept things on face value but to seek and demand the answers for them self. If you are home schooling this can be more easily obtained but even if your kids attend school encourage them to challenge their teachers and even you the parents and ask tough questions.

Think critically, objectively and with a sincere heart and you and your family will go far!

Thanks for reading!

Joanne Utke

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