Recently, reading Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, I found myself coming to terms with my audiobook angst in a new way. Audiobooks are a phenomenon woven into our family life since my children’s earliest days, and I’ve often mulled their pros and cons. This post from eight years ago is a good sample of the kinds of ruminations I’ve struggled with. Do audiobooks represent a net gain or a net loss in overall literacy? Do they cultivate valuable knowledge or chronic partial attention syndrome? I’ve…Continue Reading “Audiobooks, Physical Books, and David vs. Goliath”

I learned about Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading in the blogosphere, where some homeschoolers have used it to great benefit as a springboard for literary study. It offers the detective as a metaphor for the attentive reader. In the same way detectives strive to solve mysteries, students of literature investigate books. Instead of focusing on suspects and a crime scene, readers piece together the basic clues of a book: protagonists and antagonists, setting and plot. After figuring out the basic structure…Continue Reading “Deconstructing Penguins”

My kids surprise me. A fly on the wall would have heard this conversation last night: Younger Daughter (12): Mom, I don’t think I can read Men of Iron. It’s sooooo boring! Me: Really?? Aren’t you liking Ivanhoe? [Our current knights and castles read-aloud.] YD: Yes! Me: If you like Ivanhoe, trust me, you’ll like Men of Iron. And anyway, sometimes you have to push through. Do you think [Older Daughter] is enjoying reading The Inferno? Do you think she likes reading about a trip…Continue Reading “Overheard”

You know, it’s funny. Christians are often perceived and represented as brainwashed. They refuse “the facts.” They shelter their kids from “scientific knowledge.” Their “faith” is just another word for “willful ignorance.” Or so they say. The “they” I refer to, in this case, is the educational bureaucracy of this country. It dominates public education and extends, often, into the college level. Over the last few months, I’ve heard some news stories on NPR that indicate just how enslaved this entity is to a faith…Continue Reading “Education — or Brainwashing?”

It’s that time again: the school year is about to start, and the new books and other materials are looking shiny and attractive. Picking out materials is always a favorite part of home education for me! By May (earlier than May, if we’re going to be brutally honest), the bloom will be off the rose, but I like to savor this feeling of anticipation I always have on the brink of a new year. This year I’ll have a 6th and a 9th grader, and…Continue Reading “School Year Eve”

“When we reflect that ‘sentence’ means, literally, ‘a way of thinking’ (Latin: sententia) and that it comes from the Latin sentire, to feel, we realize that the concepts of sentence and sentence structure are not merely grammatical or merely academic — not negligible in any sense. A sentence is both the opportunity and the limit of thought — what we have to think with, and what we have to think in. It is, moreover, a feelable thought, a thought that impresses its sense not just…Continue Reading “Why bother?”

Though Catholic schools are the ostensible audience, Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the Word is a thought-provoking read for anyone interested in the subject of education — or worried about current trends. The book explores the classical trivium and shares many insights into the nature of learning as well as the power of language, story and tradition. It’s a great read for anyone who needs a refresher on the purposes of homeschooling or other educational pursuits. I liked it partly because it presented to me some…Continue Reading “Beauty in the Word”

I thought this was an interesting article about ADHD. It discusses the insights yielded by recent research on children with ADHD. Apparently, in these children the connections between the area of the brain largely responsible for focus and other regions are slower to develop. This suggests that it’s simply a matter of brain maturity occurring at a slower pace in these children. Time takes care of it. But I find it interesting that the emphasis in researchers’ responses is on “treatment.” We wouldn’t normally “treat”…Continue Reading “Factory or Garden?”

Homeschooling with a new puppy and a bum foot is quite the experience. I’ve wondered before how folks with a newborn or a toddler manage to homeschool the older siblings. I think I have just the tiniest taste of it now. For one thing, my recovery from foot surgery got a setback when my appointment to have the stitches removed revealed that I’d had an allergic reaction to mastisol, the adhesive they paint over the incisions to fasten the surgical tape.  Let’s just say it’s…Continue Reading “Challenges”

I used to do “Homeschool State of the Union” posts in which I wrote about all of the resources we were using, and evaluated how things were going. The longer I’ve schooled, the less I’ve written. Part of it is that our educational efforts become a way of life, along with what we had for supper or what appointments are on the schedule for the week or what we wear. None of these seem like blog post fodder. And part of it is that the…Continue Reading “Random School Musings”