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June 28, 2009

What to Make of UN Treaty

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


There has been a lot of talk about the UN Children’s Treaty among homeschooling circles and I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon it briefly.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is causing fear among some as it has the potential to weaken the rights of parents. We can see the impact the UNCRC has already had in England where it was recently ruled that officials could enter the home of any homeschooling family at any time.


This does not just affect homeschoolers. If the US ratifies the UNCRC, it could affect all areas of parental rights. Family and education law would become the jurisdiction of congress. Congress would fall under UN mandate. I don’t know about you, but I find this frightening.


There are those that feel this is not as big of a deal as some are making it out to be. As I’ve done the research, I’ve tried to keep an open mind but I have to admit this entire issue leaves a sinking feeling in my gut.


I encourage parents to keep up on this issue. Read what you can and draw your own conclusions. If you have time, share your thoughts on this issue at our news discussion forum. You can also send your thoughts via email to


For more on this topic, here is an article by HSLDA’s Michael Smith. You can also check out this article by fellow homeschooling parent, Jennifer Klever


Copyright 2009


June 25, 2009

Teaching Nutrition

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. No two families approach homeschooling in the exact same way. They also do not cover the same topics.


The other day I wrote about how the flexibility of homeschooling allows for a wide variety of topics to be covered. Most families cover the basics like math, grammar, etc. From there topics become diverse.


I mentioned the mom who implements gardening in her daily lessons. My kids took a botany class this spring and my 6 year old is currently caring for a tomato plant. Otherwise, that is not a big topic in our house. I don’t have a green thumb and my kids just don’t have a huge interest in gardening. If that interest were to grow, I imagine we would make adjustments to allow for further exploration of that topic.


A topic we do cover is nutrition. I mentioned that my kids have a cooking or baking project every Wednesday. Cooking and baking are hobbies of mine and the kids enjoy doing it with me. Along with this falls the subject of nutrition. I feel it is an important topic and it can easily be combined with topics in biology or when discussing functions of the body. We have a cookbook, The Healthy Body Cookbook, that begins each chapter by introducing a body concept and then giving an activity to do. Then each chapter is full of recipes that contain nutrients needed by that part of the body.


The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) has a catalog full of items designed with homeschooling in mind. Items found in the catalog help to educate children on the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. For advice on healthy eating and kid-friendly recipes, you can visit Fruits & Veggies More Matters. For interactive, online fun, head over to Fruit & Veggie Color Champions. Nutrition can be a fun topic and you would be surprised at how kids will make good choices when they are informed.


If you have a topic that you explore and you would like to share the details, send an email to


Copyright 2009

June 24, 2009

Homeschool Association Hosts Resource Fair

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Homeschoolers love books. I have never met a homeschooling family that didn’t get excited at the prospect of new books, or exploring a new curriculum or playing a new educational board game.


When we lived in Japan, there were two elementary schools in our community. Each school hosted two Scholastic book fairs each year. We went to each one of them. That is four book fairs each year. We never walked away empty handed.


I can spend hours browsing online stores, looking at curriculum and various educational books. When I place an order, I dance around in anticipation for the order to arrive. The idea of attending a homeschool curriculum fair is like being told I’m going to Disney Land.


I bring this up because 18 counties in Tennessee are coming together for a homeschool resource fair. The annual Smoky Mountain Home Education Association Family Resource Fair will host more than 60 vendors. There will also be workshops and seminars.


For more details, you can read this article. Look at the photo accompanying the article and tell me that doesn’t look fun. The article quotes kids as saying “It’s Christmas in June!” Indeed!


For further information about SMHEA, you can visit their website.


Copyright 2009

June 23, 2009

The Flexibility of Homeschooling

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


If you were going to compile a list of all the positive things about homeschooling, flexibility would probably be near the top of your list. I can tell you it is at the top of mine.


If we feel like skipping a day of school, we can. If we want to set aside math for a couple of weeks as we explore other topics, we can. If we want to take a break from all subjects and just read for fun, we can. Flexibility allows for all of those things.


Flexibility also allows for the exploration of topics that could be considered unconventional. I know of a homeschooling mom who started teaching Latin to her kids when they were still very young. I know of another homeschooling mom that implements gardening as part of her children’s daily lessons.


In our house, we try to follow the interests of our children. We have studied the paranormal. Right now, we’re combining American history and the paranormal by exploring stories of hauntings in the White House. My oldest plays the guitar. At his request, I’m putting together lessons for the fall about famous guitarists. We also have a cooking or baking project every Wednesday. The kids take turns choosing a recipe they’d like to try.


Homeschooling allows for this type of exploration because we are not confined by deadlines, curriculum demands, or 20 other kids that need our attention. There is no one standing over me telling me what I must teach my children. We can explore the basics and then so much more. It is one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling.


What are some unconventional topics that you have explored while homeschooling?


Copyright 2009

June 22, 2009

The Socialization Myth

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


One of the biggest myths we try to dispel as homeschoolers has to do with the dreaded “s” word. Socialization.


Somehow, our society has equated public school with the real world. I’m not sure how this has happened since public school has nothing to do with how the real world operates. I was not aware that the real world takes place within a building where you only spend time with people that were born the same year as you.


I recently talked to a friend who has a son in the public school. She was called into the school for a conference. Why? Because her son socializes too much. The argument is that you must send kids to public school so they can socialize but then they go to school where they get in trouble for socializing.


Homeschoolers are not stuck within the walls of an institution for eight hours a day. They are encouraged to interact with people of all ages from all walks of life. They do not need to be prepared to enter the real world. They are already in it.


While browsing around the homeschool boards recently, I came across something that I felt made an excellent point and in a most amusing way. I did some quick research trying to find the source. I found that this item titled “Homeschooling Family Finds Ways to Adapt to a Public School ‘Socialization’ Program.” It first appeared in the Kolbe Little Home Journal in 2005. Although it has been around for a few years, it was new to me and I felt it worth sharing.



“When my wife and I mention we are strongly considering homeschooling our children, we are without fail asked, ‘But what about socialization?’ Fortunately, we found a way our kids can receive the same socialization that government schools provide. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the bathroom, give him a wedgie and take his lunch money. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not being in the ‘in’ crowd, taking special care to poke fun at any physical abnormalities. Fridays will be ‘Fad and Peer Pressure Day.’ We will all compete to see who has the coolest toys, the most expensive clothes, and the loudest, fastest, and most dangerous car. Every day, my wife and I will adhere to a routine of cursing and swearing in the hall and mentioning our weekend exploits with alcohol and immorality…. And we have asked them to report us to the authorities in the event we mention faith, religion, or try to bring up morals and values.”



You know what they say. It’s funny because it is true.


Copyright 2009

June 21, 2009

Homeschoolers Benefit Public Schools

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


When it comes to homeschooling there are a few myths that we are always working to dispel. One of those myths is that homeschoolers are detrimental to the public school system because they cost the system money.


The idea is that the schools rely on numbers to get their funding. This is true. Therefore, it would make sense to assume that homeschoolers would cost the schools money. Those are bodies that are not filling their seats, which means that is money the schools are not seeing.


I found this article that looks at a study sponsored by the Nevada Policy Research Institute.  The interesting thing about this study is that it found that homeschoolers actually save the state of Nevada millions of dollars each year.


The students that remain at home decrease the schools expenses. This decrease in expenses far outweighs the schools loss of revenue from lower enrollment, which means the schools actually benefit from homeschoolers.


The article also looks at the idea that homeschooling lowers the tax burden and lowers the rate of incarceration. The article is worth a quick read. It is fascinating to see how the positive aspects of homeschooling are far reaching.


Copyright 2009

June 18, 2009

Honoring Homeschooling Dads

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Sunday is Father’s Day and I wanted to take a moment to recognize all the dads out there. When we refer to a homeschooling parent, we often do it with mom in mind. It is mom that we picture sitting around the table with the kids, or carting them to activities in the “soccer mom” van. 


Behind the scenes is dad. Sometimes he simply plays a supportive role. Sometimes he takes a more active approach. Dads coach sports teams, help with projects and sometimes play the role of tutor. In our house, dad comes up with spontaneous science projects and has the role of math teacher.


Then we have the dads who do the bulk of the homeschooling while mom is the one working away from the home. I’ve only met one of these dads and only briefly. I imagine there must be many more out there. I came across this site and spent a little time looking around. It looks like a worthwhile site for all those homeschooling dads out there.


Homeschooling is not easy. One of the reasons it isn’t always easy is because those who do it are swimming against the current. I once quoted a man who, when referring to single homeschooling parents said, “…they are a rare subset of a rare breed.” Homeschooling dads would fall into that same category.


Homeschooling parents deserve accolades for their effort and commitment to their children’s education. But this weekend when you celebrate dad, remember to thank him for not batting an eyelash when you spent $100 on that set of history books, or for when he took over helping the kids with their big project when you were tired of dealing with it, or for coaching soccer week after week after week.


Thanks to all the dads for all your hard work and support. Happy Father’s Day.


Copyright 2009

June 17, 2009

Graduate Denied Diploma

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


One of the best things about homeschooling is that my children get more of an opportunity to express themselves. They will never be told they are not allowed to color a leprechaun purple.  They will never miss an entire lunch period because they didn’t walk in a perfectly straight line to the cafeteria. They will never be ridiculed in front of the entire class for not following the exact directions on an art project. These are just a few of the real life examples I have witnessed.


I bring this up because I read an article today that shows how far the school system has gone to strip their students of any sort of individuality or freedom of expression. A graduating senior was denied his diploma because, as he walked across the stage to accept the diploma, he turned and blew a kiss to his family. What has the world come to when a child wants to blow a kiss to his family? The horror!


Apparently, this high school and many others have strict expectations on how graduating seniors should conduct themselves at a graduation ceremony. I guess the mood is expected to be somber. We shouldn’t expect a room full of teens that just completed a very important milestone to be giddy, festive and ready to celebrate. That’s just crazy.


It is better that they sit quietly, staring straight ahead with blank expressions, doing nothing but listening, just as they’ve been conditioned to do during their stint in the prison we call the public school system. Many schools no longer even allow graduates to toss their caps into the air.


What a wonderful memory for this student and his family.


Copyright 2009

June 16, 2009

HSLDA Responds to USA Today Article

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


A few weeks ago, I linked to a USA Today article that reported new statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics. You can find my article here.


My point in the article was that I don’t trust the numbers. Statistics have this magical way of fitting whichever agenda they need to fit. It turns out HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) took an even bigger issue with the USA Today article, which paints homeschoolers as rich, white people. HSLDA’s take on the article can be found here.


I did find it interesting that the USA Today article painted homeschool families as high-income. We are not high-income. In fact, other than maybe two families, I don’t know a homeschooling family that would consider themselves high income. But, as HSLDA points out, USA Today defines “higher-income” as any household making $50,000 or more.


If you have time, I encourage you to read HSLDA’s response to the USA Today article and pass it on. I don’t know if the author of the USA Today article truly has an agenda or if he is just guilty of reporting poor facts. But, as the author of the HSLDA report states, this article “falsely paint homeschoolers as rich and white, thereby dismissing the full range of people who are making tremendous sacrifices on limited budgets to ensure that the next generation receives the best education and upbringing available.”


Copyright 2009

June 15, 2009

Schools Caught Cheating

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden News Editor


In recent months, I have posted articles about bills such as the Tim Tebow bill. These bills would allow homeschoolers to participate in public school activities, such as sports. People who are against such bills say it is because homeschooled kids are not accountable for their grades. How does anyone know if, like public school kids, homeschoolers are “making the grade” in order to play?


Those against the bill have gone so far as to say that homeschoolers can easily lie about their grades. In other words, cheat. I have always maintained that we cannot assume the schools are above cheating. How do we know public schooled kids are “making the grade” just because their teachers say so?


This article proves that the idea of schools cheating is not just a cynical thought born from my mind. It does happen. Not one, not two but four schools are accused of changing scores on standardized tests. Why would they do this? There is a strong correlation between standardized test scores and federal funding of public schools. Schools face penalties for failing to progress.


Fellow educators and administrators are claiming shock and disappointment in the face of this scandal. But does anyone honestly believe this is the first time? This time someone just got caught.


Thanks to the No Child Left Behind act, the system is set up in a way that puts pressure on schools and ignores the individual child. The system does not care about your child’s interests, creativity, or individuality. As long as your child can hold a #2 pencil and fill in bubbles, then the system is happy. Your child doesn’t even have to fill in the bubbles correctly, because someone behind the scenes will fix that.


Copyright 2009

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