"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Multisensory Math Facts

The gist of my talk, "How to Get Your Kids to See the Light!" is really multi-sensory learning. It's unlikely a homeschool with more than two children will be made up of learners that all use the same primary learning modality. Besides, using a multi-sensory technique to teach increases the chance of retention.

Learning Math facts can be tedious. But, I assure you that if you can find a way to hit on that primary modality, it will stick. My favorite multi-sensory Math weapon is the Math Machine.  My dear friend Julie gifted us with the Multiplication Math machine and Division Math machine that her girls were done using.  They are the most pleasing tactile Math manipulative I have ever used.  All of my children love them.  Each of the buttons are spring loaded and release with an almost pleasing ping when depressed.  My little boys make car tracks with them or patterns, even though they are too young to understand them.  More importantly, the kids that needed them love them and have gotten good results using them.

For your auditory learners, you might consider Audio Memory Systems' math songs.  There are the Wrap Ups which come with Wrap Up Raps.  My visual learner finds both of the audio selections horrible, so you might want to consider that if you have a visual learner.  There is School House Rock which has several Math Fact songs that are more pleasing than the Raps or AMS options.  Just remember to check in with your child to make sure that it is working.

Lastly, I want to put in a plug for Finger Math.  I am a tactile learner.  Math facts never came easy for me until I learned the Korean method of finger math called Chisenbop.  I swear, without it, I would have never excelled as far as I did in Math and Science.  I have the book (on the left).  I have used Finger Math, to some degree, with my older kids.  My daughter, the visual learner, did not need it.  My son, wasn't terribly interested, but my middle daughter is interested, so we'll be taking some more "secret finger Math lessons" over the summer to see how it sets with her.

Ultimately, you need to find something that works because life without memorizing these facts, or finding some way to quickly do the operations will be slow and tedious.  One of my children dragged their feet on learning those facts and now understands, when Math takes a painful amount of time, that  had those facts been memorized Math would be done sooooo much more quickly!

By the way, for a truly multi-sensory Math program, check out Math-U-See.  My kids did not like it but not because it was multi-sensory.  They still used the MUS blocks.  One child is overwhelmed by big pages full of Math problems.  Teach Textbooks is a good choice for that child because each question is presented separately.  The other child found it BORING.  That child needs more challenge and has returned to Singapore Math.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shout out for new game website

Here's a website of free printable games. The feature new ones each week, so you might want to get on their email list or check back regularly.

We're doing Apologetics at the dinner table.  Lately, it has been bothering me how I seem to not be able to find the words to defend my faith.  My husband has been reading Nuts and Bolts: A Practical Guide for Explaining and Defending the Catholic Faith by Tim Staples during Eucharistic Adoration.  He wants us to help the kids to better understand our Faith and be able to counter anti-Catholic remarks both charitably and correctly.  My husband informs me that Tim Staples kids are homeschooled, so he will be looking in the book for further ideas of how to introduce Apologetics to the kids.

So how to you turn Apologetics into a game?  Remember, they don't HAVE to know the answer to the questions to play.  If you've ever played a game like Trivial Pursuit, you know that.  So, we'll be either facing off girls against the boys OR South Side of the Table -vs- North Side of the Table with Dad giving the questions from the Friendly Defenders cards.

When the kids get older, I will be working on a debate style program for my kids and others.  I took debate in high school and LOVED it.  My partner and I won several matches at the local level.  Once my kids have started Logic (2011-2012 school year), we may start.  I intend to do this like a book club, only we will be working on finding the arguments most Catholics face against the Faith and find Biblical responses to those.  We will most likely approach it by doing a Lincoln Douglas Debate Case.  I look forward to this exercise and think it will be beneficial for all of us.

Catholic Apologetics can simply be taught with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible.  But that can be fairly dry.  You could also use the Baltimore Catechism.  However, I recommend books like those by Tim Staples.  Dr. Ray Guarendi now has a DVD course available called "What Catholics Believe."  If it's half as good as the keynote he gave at the 2010 Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference, it's worth the money.   If you have a preteen or teen child that likes to read, you might want to consider having them read the book  A Philadelphia Catholic in King James' Court.  It was a fun read!

So, what do you do for your kids?  Are they learning Apologetics via the Catechism or are you doing something else?  I'd love ideas, if you are willing to share.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yes, in truth, there is beauty.

In season three of the original Star Trek series, there is an episode  called Is There in Truth no Beauty?  My husband thinks otherwise. 

To say my husband has no hand in educating my children would be lying.  He brings a tremendous amount of resources to the table.  He's more educated and better read than I am.  Here is an example.  He uses Star Trek to educate our children and introduce them to important pieces of Classic Literature and important periods in history.  Or perhaps he just wanted to have an excuse to watch Star Tek with the kids.  You decide.

Ed. Note:  He started this project in 2009 and it is still a work in progress.  


Season One, 1966-67

The Cage (pilot)
After being tricked by an illusionary distress signal, captain Pike escapes from his captors who wanted to use him and his crew to rebuild their world."
Note that some components of this, such as referring to the second in command as “Number One” were used later in The Next Generation
The actress who played Number One was recast as Nurse Chapel, and also as Gene Roddenberry’s real-life wife!
Where No Man Has Gone Before'
"When the Enterprise nears the galactic barrier, two crewmembers develop telepathic powers which threaten the ship."
Explores a common theme within Star Trek and other science fiction:  what if our abilities advance faster than our ability to control them?
The Corbomite Maneuver'
An alien ship threatens the Enterprise with destruction, causing Kirk to use a ruse to trick the opponent.
Essentially a lesson in the merits of playing poker rather than chess. 
This is a common theme across all Star Trek iterations.
It establishes for the first time that, all things being equal, intuition is more valuable than logic or intellect.
Mudd's Women
Kirk rescues Harry Mudd, a pirate, and the three beautiful women who are his cargo, en route to a lithium mining colony.
Parental Warning:  ultimately scores points for advocating “the beauty within”, but not before showcasing the objectification of women.
The Enemy Within
A transporter malfunction splits the captain into a good Kirk, who can't command very well, and an evil Kirk, who makes passes at Janice Rand and manipulates the crew
Pure Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Man Trap
A shape-shifting "salt vampire" which seduces its victims by appearing as someone attractive to them comes on board.
Parental Warning:  the creature is pretty scary for younger ones.
The Naked Time
The crew contracts a disease which brings their repressed emotions to surface, causing a young lieutenant to shut down the engines and leading Kirk to fear he can't command the ship.
This story line is revisited in “The Naked Now” episode in ST: TNG
Shows what happens when one loses their moral compass; their inhibitions
Charlie X
When the Enterprise transports Charlie, an adolescent human with powerful telekinetic abilities, back to the Federation, he makes crewmembers vanish and takes frightening steps to make Yeoman Rand fall in love with him.
Parental Warning:  one brief image really frightens younger ones, when one crew woman’s face is completely blanked out and she can’t speak or breathe
Good lesson on proper etiquette for treating women
Balance of Terror
The Romulans destroy an outpost and Kirk pursues their commander, whose cloaking device enables his ship to vanish from sensors.
Retelling of the classic WWII movie “Run Silent, Run Deep”.
What are Little Girls Made of?
Kirk pursues the missing fiance of Nurse Chapel, who has survived underground with the help of androids from a vanished civilization.

Dagger of the Mind
While delivering supplies to a facility for the criminally insane, Kirk is taken hostage by a power-hungry doctor who uses a neural neutralizer to control the minds of his patients.
Title is a reference to MacBeth, William Shakespeare
See “Animal Farm”, George Orwell
See the Zimbardo Prison Study:  http://www.prisonexp.org/

On a planet of decades-old children, one of whom develops a crush on Captain Kirk, the away team becomes infected with a genetically engineered disease that prolongs youth but kills adolescents.
Lord of the Flies
Parental Warning:  creepy make-up effects showing lesions
The Conscience of the King'
When the leader of a traveling theatrical troupe is suspected of being a genocidal governor, the suspicious deaths of people who could identify him concerns Kirk - especially since he's one of the survivors.
The title is a reference to Hamlet.
There is more in this episode as the main plot concerns a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors
The Galileo Seven
An away mission led by Spock falls victim to a disastrous crash on a hostile planet, where Spock and McCoy fight over the ineffectuality of his strictly logical approach to the situation.
Rather lame, actually
Court Martial
Kirk is put on trial for negligence when the computer records contradict his logs about the death of a crewmember during a shipboard crisis.
The Menagerie, Part One
Spock takes over the Enterprise and faces the death penalty to take his former Captain, who has been horribly disfigured in an accident, to a planet where an alien race has learned to turn thoughts into reality.
Contains footage from the pilot episode, called “The Cage”, featuring a bellowing Spock.
The Menagerie, Part Two
During Spock's court martial, Kirk learns of his predecessor Captain Pike's encounter with the illusions created by a race desperate for breeding stock to help them rebuild their planet.

Shore Leave
The crew takes shore leave on an idyllic planet, but when people's fantasies begin to come true - deadly as well as benign - Kirk must evade his own demons to solve the mystery.
Alice in Wonderland
Don Juan
This one is really fun
The Squire of Gothos
A powerful alien named Trelane abducts crewmembers for his amusement, but when Kirk refuses to play his games, Trelane puts him on trial and prepares to execute him.
Lesson in Einstein’s theory of relativity
When the Enterprise encroaches on alien space in pursuit of a ship that apparently helped to destroy a Federation outpost, Kirk finds himself and the leader of the alien vessel, the Gorn, stranded on a planet where they are forced to fight for supremacy.
Contains an overt chemistry lesson
Many ancient wars were averted in this same manner; Prince Caspian is the latest example.
The Alternative Factor
The crew meets two nearly-identical men named Lazarus, one from their universe and one from an antimatter universe with the potential to destroy both universes should they come together. Kirk must work with the Lazarus not of his own universe to trap the other, a madman, in a void between the universes with his twin, thus keeping everyone else safe.
The name Lazarus was not an accident, as one can arguably refer to the Gospel account of Lazarus for a deeper understanding of this episode.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Discussion of parallel universes
Tomorrow is Yesterday
When a black hole sends the Enterprise back in time to the 20th century, an air force pilot who spots the "U.F.O." is beamed aboard when the Enterprise must destroy his ship and its weapons. Kirk must return the pilot to his own century, yet find a way not to disrupt the timeline, before he can try to return to his own era.
Time travel paradox
The Return of the Archons
The Enterprise pursues a missing starship's crew on a planet ruled by a being named Landru, which takes over their minds to make them part of a passive, complacent society
Frankly, a dig at organized religion
A Taste of Armageddon
An arrogant ambassador places the Enterprise in the midst of a civil war between two planets fought entirely by computer, which reports the casualties so that people can voluntarily report to disintegration chambers without their societies risking physical destruction.
Another heavy-handed anti-war message
Space Seed
Kirk and his crew find a "sleeper ship" of genetically bred superhumans, led by the ruthless 20th century dictator Khan Noonian Singh, who tries to take over the ship with the help of a 23rd century archaeologist who falls in love with him.
Refers to despots in the past and future history of civilization, including Napoleon and Hitler
Milton’s “Paradise Lost” is referenced at the end.
This Side of Paradise
Humans are kept safe on a planet bombarded with deadly radiation by a spore which has the side effect of making people blissfully content. Spock is reunited with an old friend who uses the spores to make him fall in love with her, but when Kirk realizes that the price for paradise is an end to exploration, he determines to recover his crew from the spores.
A smiling, laughing Spock; weird
Moral:  seeking only contentment squelches innovation and progress
The Devil in the Dark
A creature that can eat its way through solid rock is killing miners on a distant outpost.
“No Kill I”
Important biology lesson, distinguishing between carbon-based versus silicon-based life forms
Errand of Mercy
Sent to establish an alliance with the peaceful, unsophisticated planet Organia which is located strategically between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Kirk is disgusted to find the inhabitants apathetic to the presence of Klingons on their world.
Lesson in the tyranny of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) concept
The City on the Edge of Forever
An accidental drug overdose sends Dr. McCoy on a disastrous trip through a time portal, where he changes the course of Earth's history. Kirk and Spock pursue him into the past, where Kirk falls in love with a social worker whose life plays a pivotal role in the events McCoy will affect."
The one with Joan Collins
Time travel
One of the best
Operation: Annihilate!'
Kirk's brother's family is devastated by an interplanetary crisis of mass insanity and Spock is attacked by one of the creatures which caused the crisis. McCoy must find a way to kill the aliens without destroying their hosts before the creatures can take over the galaxy
We think of this as the flying pizza’s episode
Biology / neurology lesson

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is a Classical Education?

According to the "Circe Institute", a Classical Education:

is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences.
Historically, classical education has followed two streams that frequently flow together:

  • the Rhetorical, in which teachers guide their students to contemplate great texts and works of art, believing that such contemplation will enable them to grow in wisdom and virtue and

  • the Philosophical, in which teachers guide their students through an analysis of ideas through a Socratic dialogue, believing that insight into the heart of things will enable students to grow in wisdom and virtue.
These two emphases, which have often been in conflict historically but are not mutually exclusive, gave rise to two modes of instruction: the Mimetic (Didactic) and the Socratic
Another way to define classical education might be as follows: "Classical education is the logocentric, idealistic quest to cultivate virtue in the souls of the student."
 My current read is _Climbing Parnassus:  A New Apologia for Greek and Latin_.  At present I am in the Introduction, which is about 30 pages long.  To say that Tracy Lee Simmons is eloquent would be an understatement.  I am enjoying every word, sentence and paragraph.   However, one thing the Circe Institute and Tracy Lee Simmons do NOT agree about is what makes a Classical Education.  Simmons asserts that one MUST fully embrace both ancient languages, declensions, and all, to have a truly Classical education.  It must not just be a "Great Books" program, or logic and rhetoric, but it all starts with those two language.  He has convinced me.  I now need to work on learning them both myself so I can better teach my children, since it is not in our budget this year for them to take an on-line class or class in a group setting.

I have to be careful.  Reading this book makes me want to start school NOW.  I am not a patient person.  This year we take Latin seriously.  We've done Prima Latina, but I felt it was a little too easy for the older kids.  We'll do Latina Christiana I.  We'll start Latina Christiana II as soon as they finish and move on to Greek.  We don't start Logic until we start Greek.  I'm also excited about the program I have for my youngest two.  They are using Song School Latin before they get to Prima Latina.  The younger students in my home school LOVE to sing.  I hope this will be a great addition to their curriculum. 

If you have experience with Latin, could you please let me know what programs you use and how you like them?

Thanks in advance!

On Keeping Toddler's Busy...

I'm helping out this week at VBS and I'm working the nursery.  We are surrounded by 6 lovely teen aged girls, us 5 moms.  We have 18 or so little charges, mostly kids of the Nursery workers, go figure!

So we were brainstorming about how to not lose our sanity keep them busy this week.  Here are some of our ideas.  These are useful when you are homeschooling as well:

New toys that aren't yours.  I resurrected a ball toy that consists of chutes and ramps that balls run down.  It kept many busy...Find a friend with whom you can swap toys.

Playdoh - homemade is best.  Use unsweetened kool-aid type drink mix to color and scent it.  Get out the cookie cutters, rolling pins and have fun.

12' long tube of fabric ribbing.  I kid you not, this is probably the best $12 I have ever spent.  We call it the car wash.  You have two of those adorable teens each hold an end open and send kids through on their hands and knees.  It's hilarious and they have a blast.

Pack-n-play and a large amount of balls = ball pit.  Ball pit balls are very inexpensive and they don't hurt when they hit you.  The pack-n-play helps contain them.  You could also use an inflatable pool.

Dress up clothes.  We're bringing hard hats, shields, knights clothes, princess dresses and cowboy hats.  We're testosterone heavy in the nursery, so I'll be looking for more "manly" dress-up clothes in our bin tonight.

Roads, Rivers and Runways - Get a large sheet of paper and draw a city or just a race track for the boys to run their cars on or make an airport for the planes.  You can draw a lake for the boats, too.

Kindermats.  The make good napping spots, forts, baby beds and tunnels for cars and trucks.

Videos.  I'm a firm believer in judicious use of Veggie Tales.  We use this for that last half hour when we've heard all too many times, "Is it time to go home yet?"

Have a great week!  I'll try to post more as the week goes on...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interesting look at technology in the classroom...

From Rod Dreher.  Here's the link.

Being a pair of geeks, we have discussed this topic ad nauseum at our house.  We do have the kids using computers, but it is not the focus of our homeschool. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Doing the right thing...

Copyright issues are really a matter of conscience.  As a Catholic, I cannot make copies of copyrighted material without explicitly paying for it.  It's only fair.  But, there aren't many checks and balances available to keep people from doing things illegal and immoral.

I bring this up because I have been frequenting the used curriculum boards and ebay.  I saw this:
"Please take a moment to look at the awesome savings if you purchase this timeless collection. These are all in wonderful condition because they were all only used once in order to put them all onto my MP3 player so I can listen to them on the go. This shipment will be mailed only after funds are deposited through Paypal because it is a large amount. Please be reminded of the savings you receive but buying here. God Bless and happy bidding!"

They might be saving someone money, but what about the people who are out of jobs?  Now, we've experienced unemployment in this home.  In this economy, we aren't helping each other by pirating CD's, either ones you sell or ones you borrow.   Piracy might be putting some one out of a job somewhere, be it in the store, studio, warehouse, anywhere along the supply chain.  Piracy is making one OR more illegal copies.

One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.  For copies of the report, please visit www.ipi.org

You can read more here, too.  That is for music alone.  I'm sure it's much, much worse in the paper world.

Now, here's my rub.  I have loaned friends CD's before.  I can't control if they copied them and I have stopped lending them out because I paid for them and they did not.  So, they are stealing from me when they take that CD home and burn it or copy it.  I will not purchase used CD's anymore from the Internet or from anyone else, for that matter, after seeing this.  It's a hard thing to do because everything does cost more these days.  Perhaps it is because of things like what I found above that drives the prices up on CD's.  Buyer or lender beware!  I don't want to be a party to breaking the law or sin.

Ed. note:  Someone emailed me this on the very topic of copyright infringement:  Ultimately (and I am reminded of that poignant scene in Cinderella Man where the Dad admonishes his son for stealing bread when their family was destitute during the depression) our economic situation should not compromise our morals or ethics.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beginning Fine Motor Skills

As I was writing about Kindergarten, I mentioned working on fine motor skills.  One wonderful resource I have found is the Ed Emberley books.  My kids, including my preschoolers, love Ed Emberley books.    These wonderful books are a great introduction to drawing and following instruction.  

Ed starts out with the premise that if you can draw a few very basic shapes, you can draw anything!  And he is right.  My four year old was kissing this book last night, our most recent library resource.  Don't tell him, but I just purchased his own copy for school next year. 

Starting out with these drawings, we will be working on the fine motor skills necessary to write and retell stories.  Next year will be filled with read aloud stories.  He will need to retell them to me orally and also to draw pictures of them.    

One more note...my son that has had  fine motor delays is also finding pleasure in drawing with these books because they so clearly illustrate what to add step-by-step.

Another approach to take with this is using finger prints.  Ed Emberley has several books on "funprints".  We used this idea to make Mother's day cards this year.  We'll be using it in our school work, too.  

Both of these books are available in our county library system.  However, I am opting to purchase them as Amazon is running a 4 for 3 sale right now.  Lots of books I will use the whole year are in the sale.  While I tend to buy a lot of books, many that we'll use are available from the library.  But, some I can't pass up when they are so handy the whole year round.

Art will be playing a larger part of our school year next year as we draw in our Nature Journals and as we work on our drawing, painting and Art appreciation skils.

Sample of using the Internet for Free Homeschooling - Kindergarten

One of my commenter had said they were interested in free homeschooling. She has a child who will be in Kindergarten next year.  I did a google search on Kindergarten academic goals (this was for my own benefit, as well as hers because I have a Kindergarten student starting next year).  They are very basic.  It's important to remember that it is better to start off softly, gently and slowly, following the child's lead the first year.  I practically squashed my oldest child's natural love of learning by overzealous teaching in the Kindergarten year.

So, this may seem simplistic, but the academic goals for a kindergarten student are some beginning reading skills, counting and number recognition and beginning writing.  Because we are Catholic, there will always be a component of Religion included, at our house.  I've added that to the basic list of goals I found online.  I also found web-sites that meet the goals for the Kindergarten student.  You need a printer to make worksheets.  I'm also including some good read aloud books, just for good measure.  Reading aloud to your child everyday is important for their language, grammar, character, virtue and self regulation development.  Lastly, work on cutting, pasting and coloring skills to develop fine motor skills for writing later.

I'd like to add the disclaimer that this does not follow any specific "approach".  This is only an example of how you could accomplish doing school without purchasing curriculum.  There are so many websites out on the Internet that will help you educate your child at home following a specific approach, that I did not take a specific "approach" to creating this list.  You can find those by googling things like "free kindergarten charlotte mason".  For example, www.materamabilis.org/ has FREE Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum.  You can go there and need not do anything else but visit the library.  

Remember, when choosing a curriculum, to look at the needs of the child and their learning style.

Academic Goals for a Kindergartener

Reading Objectives http://www.starfall.com/
Identify likes and differences in word forms.
Recognizes rhyming words.
Name upper and lower case letters of the alphabet
Name the beginning consonant sounds in spoken words.
Indicate where a sentence starts and ends and use left to right motion when reading.
Make predictions and use picture clues to read.
Sequence a story with beginning middle and end.

Math Objectives - http://www.kidzone.ws/math/kindergarten.htm
Count to 100 by 1’s , 5’s, and 10’s.
Count to 10 by 2’s.
Recognize numbers to 20.
Show sequencing to 20.
Show one to one correspondence to 20.
Correctly write numerals 0—20.
Make patterns and graphs.
Sort and measure simple objects.
Do simple addition and subtraction problems to 20.

Writing Expectations - http://www.first-school.ws/theme/handwriting.htm
Correctly form the capital and lower case letters of the alphabet.
Correctly write first and last name.
Apply letter/sounds as emergent writers.
Write simple sentences.

Catholic Religion Goals -  Beginning Catechism, Catholic Read Alouds and Bible Stories
Catechism - http://www.catholiccatechist.org/freeFile_Category.php
Great Catholic Book List -    www.hillsideeducation.com/mosaicbooklist.pdf
Bible stories, Saints and Catholic activities - http://www.catholicmom.com/catholic_kids.htm

Unit Study Ideas - http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/2008/08/a-tutorial-for.html

Games and fun activities, thrown in for good measure - http://www.softschools.com/grades/kindergarten.jsp

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Search of Mark and Janice Vreeland of Family Learning

For those that attended my games workshop, I had promised to try and contact Mark and Janice Vreeland that had written that great workbook called "Games...Tools for Learning" that I had gotten at a one day workshop back in 2003. I have tried google searching them, tried their web site, email all to no avail. So, if anyone out there has a copy of "Games...Tools for Learning" that they would like to unload, I know some buyers. I'm happy to act as a go between.

For those interested in further information on a full games workshop that I provide, that would include a workbook and time to create games with other moms, please contact me. The talk I gave at the conference was based on my workshop. My workshop is not like Mark and Janice's. Their seminar was a full day. I do my seminar in 3 hours and you go home with a booklet of quick and easy games. Mark and Janice almost created curriculum out of their games. I don't go that far and I don't use many of their ideas. I have a very different approach and we will have LOTS of fun.

I love doing the workshop and I think it's important, more so for the mom than the kids. Games give moms as much of a needed break as it does for kids. Mom? When was the last time you could say you really had fun teaching a subject? Playing a game with your kids on the subjects they need to learn will help restore our "love of teaching" as much as the kids "love of learning."

I don't charge much for the workshop, just the cost for the workbooks and my travel costs.  My only request is that you have at least 5 people so the copy costs are reasonable.  I get a discount for bulk copying.  So, please let me know via the combox if you are interested.  It would be my pleasure to do the workshop for you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beginning Homeschooling - Minnesota Compulsory Reporting

ed. note:  I apologize for the increasing spacing as you go further down...the blog composer keeps adding them and I will have to come back to correct that later!  Sorry for the difficult read!

By request, I am adding the eight slides pertaining to the Minnesota Compulsory Reporting section of my Beginning Homeschooling presentation.  DISCLAIMER:  This is my interpretation of the law.  I am not a lawyer.  Use the MACHE FORM for compulsory reporting and you will have provided all the information required by Minnesota State Law.

Our right to educate our children at home goes right along with the right stated in Canon Law.

From the January/February 2010 Home School Court Report, Michael P. Donnelly, ESQ wrote to Minnesota Home Educators: 
As more and more new homeschoolers get involved without personal experience of past battles, it’s important that we work together to hold the line on compliance.  For example, what do you do when the superintendent calls and asks for his or her annual visit?  This is an uncommon request for most homeschoolers, and many would be ignorant of the fact that in lieu of this legally sanctioned visit to your home, you can provide the superintendent three items – class schedules, copies of materials used for instruction and a description of methods used to assess student achievement. …” 
 I highly recommend checking out MACHE, Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators.

The Minnesota Law MN Statute 120A.22 requires that the local public school district be notified of your intent to home school by October 1st of each year.  Every home educating parent with children between the ages of seven and 16 must annually report the information required in Minnesota Statute 120A.24.
Nothing in Minnesota law specifies exactly how non-public educators are to make their annual report only that it is due by October 1 each year and certain information is to be communicated.  So, what do you report?
You do report a child who is 7 years old, but not a child who has turned 16 by October 1. A child who turns 7 during the school year can be reported following their birthday. Don't forget to send in their address!  (The MACHE form has all of this on it.)

You may submit a photocopy of immunization history from your health provider. Notarization is necessary if you sign the conscientious exemption to immunizations statement.   Conscientious exemption: No student is required to have an immunization which is contrary to the conscientiously held beliefs of his/her parent or guardian.   You can find  a form for MN immunizations and conscientious objection here.

Slide 40
The name of the instructor and evidence of meeting the requirements of teaching your child at home which are:  licensed teacher, some supervised directly by a licensed teacher, someone who has passed a teacher competency exam, someone that is already teaching in a recognized school, someone that has a bachelor’s degree or IS THE PARENT OF THE CHILD. 

IF THE TEACHER’S ONLY QUALIFICATION IS “PARENT”:  a quarterly report of the achievement of each child in the required subjects must also be submitted.
Annual Instructional Calendar/Quarterly report card: Specific dates for report card submission are not mandated by statute. Parents must be responsible to submit this information in a timely fashion. Only grades for the required core curriculum subjects have to be submitted.  This may simply be Pass/Fail. Nothing in statute requires you to use report cards from the school district. Prepare your own report card and proofread it carefully

Slide 42

Your school is autonomous from all other educational institutions.You may have year-round school.
Following the local government school calendar or that of a private school may make scheduling for other activities easier.
Indicate beginning and end of year dates and when major  breaks occur for holidays. 
Required Days of Instruction: None.

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Standardized Tests: Children not enrolled in an accredited program or public school “must be assessed using a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement examination.” The test, administration, and location of the test must be agreed to by the district superintendent. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22 Subd.11
Minnesota law does not require homeschools that are accredited by a recognized Minnesota accrediting association to administer standardized tests. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22 Subd. 11(d). Accrediting associations such as TEACH or HBGAA are free to set their requirements for standardized testing.
Parents who do not meet teacher requirements 2(a), (b), or (c) above must assess their children in required subject areas not covered by the test. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22 Subd.11(b).
Children who score below the thirtieth percentile, or one full grade below children of the same age, must be evaluated for learning problems. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22 Subd.11(c).
Parents have equal authority with the superintendent in the selection and administration of these tests. The name, tester and test location of your child’s annual standardized test OR simply telling them that the testing will be arranged at a later date (simply drop a note in the mail saying what test your child will be taking, who will be administering the test and where it will take place).

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Parents must be prepared to document that the required subjects are being taught. This documentation must include class schedules, copies of materials used for instruction and description of method used to assess student achievement indicating that the subjects required are being taught. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.24, Subd.2.
The law Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.26 Subd.1 also says the school superintendent can visit the homeschool, but that is a violation of your 4th amendment rights, so as an alternative, a parent who is providing instruction at home may choose to present the documentation identified above rather than have the superintendent visit the home.
Slide 45Photocopy this completed report and retain it in your permanent record file.  Mail a REGISTERED Mail copy to the school superintendent by October 1st.