Count the flags!

FlagWe had an interesting discussion about celebrating America’s Independence Day, and the  ways to celebrate are as diverse as the country itself. Most of the towns around here offer some sort of fireworks, usually preceded by live music, and people bring lawn chairs and visit for a while. When our kids were kids, we usually visited the one in the town where we lived. Currently, we live out in the country, so we don’t usually bother.

Hubby wants to watch a movie, preferably Independence Day Resurgence(Bluray+DVD+Digital HD). We loved the original ID4 movie, but somehow we missed seeing the sequel. Despite its mediocre reviews, I imagine that we’ll be looking for that one in a couple of days.

In my work as an adjunct instructor, I work with students from lots of differing situations, but some of the most interesting are immigrants to our country. Many of them are just so appreciative for the opportunities that Americans have. I remember one gentleman, originally from Romania, who came over a couple of decades back, beginning with nothing but some work ethic. At first he made his living doing odd jobs. He worked his way into owning his own construction business, and he and his wife raised their family through hard work and savvy real estate deals. At our college, he was working on his HVAC (that’s heating and air-conditioning) certification, as he wanted to open an HVAC business so he could scale back doing difficult construction work as he aged. Being a very smart business man, he said that in the south making money on repairing air conditioning was a sure thing! One day at the end of our class, he spend probably half an hour, telling all of us about what a wonderful country we were living in, because he could never do all that he was doing in the economically and socially constricted country of his birth. It was quite refreshing. Sometimes, caught up in the polarized morass of modern media, Americans forget just how wonderful our country is, and how it differs from others.

When I mentioned that it can be difficult teaching young children about our country, one  mother of youngsters mentioned that when they are driving in the car, her kids count flags. Regardless of the destination, they look for the red, white, and blue symbol of our great country. That, too, is a great way to begin celebrating the good ol’ US of A.

Happy American Independence Day, y’all.

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How Many Moms Does It Take to Graduate Eight Boys from Homeschool?

Homeschooled

Three years ago, a post a entitled “Graduating and Graduating Some More” was written on the day that our daughter graduated from the local high school.

Only a few months after that, our son, who has never found education to his liking for more than a few minutes at a time, was so unhappy that he began to rebel against education and his parents. Not good. Over his years in public school, both teachers and administrators had suggested that we consider homeschooling, and early his sophomore year, we took the plunge. During that time, I have learned some things that didn’t work well for him, and some that did. In some ways, homeschooling is no different than public school education. For instance, taking the ACT involved getting up early on Saturday, just like it does for public school students. Formal dances require flowers, spiffy clothes, and all that is left are the pictures, and that is just like public school, too.

In other ways, homeschooling is more like college. Until I embarked upon the homeschooling journey, I did not know that there are homeschool “groups” and “co-ops” and private tutors who cater to homeschooler families. The state of Georgia also allows homeschoolers to enroll in online classes via the Georgia Virtual School. During our three years of homeschooling, we have experienced all of those. Actually, not only are there many options open for educating, there are also opportunities for socialization, from drama groups to homeschool swim day, skate day, winter and spring formal dances, and bowling leagues. And I learned that one can order everything from entire curriculums with books, tests, and DVD instruction; to invitations, a diploma, and even the cap and gown. I’ve met a number of interesting people, including my son’s tutor, his music teacher, and a number of other homeschooling moms. Without participating in homeschooling, and a homeschool group over in Hall County, I would never have known about the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, Yonah Skate and Bowl, the nifty ice cream cones at the Corner Drug Store on Thompson Bridge Road, the HEART co-op, Nuçi’s Space, Camp Amped, Baxendale Guitar, the Athens School of Music, Oasis Bowl, and I probably would not have visited nearly so many churches and parks in Hall County. My car has added a humongous number of miles, too. (Thank goodness, it is Honda.) As I look back on it, there are many activities we did not do. I don’t see how anyone could come close to doing them all.

When I was in graduate school, studying English and education, a chronologically gifted professor had us read The Sabre Toothed Curriculum, a satire which points out how old ways remain a part of schooling, far beyond their usefulness. Things have not changed much since its publication in 1939; schools still teach outdated skills. Some homeschool families have made it a priority to teaching their children life skills, rather than merely to sit still for long hours. The group instruction model does not take into account individual learning styles, either. Among homeschool moms, there are discussions about the Charlotte Mason method, Classical Conversations, and whether Saxon math is better than Teaching Textbooks. My curriculum and methods classes at Piedmont College did not cover the myriad of choices available to enterprising moms who choose to homeschool.

My daughter had gone through four graduations before her high school ceremony, and my son had also gone through four previous ceremonies, from preschool to middle school. Despite his lack of interest in the homeschool ceremony, our son did agree to this last ceremony, so he graduated, along with seven other young men, at a church in Hall County. All the moms have helped with the preparations, so the answer to my title question is eight, plus eight dads, and a number of siblings and friends.

Quite honestly, homeschooling has not been easy, nor inexpensive, but it is often a better plan for children. Most of the homeschool students I have met are more polite, more social, more mature, much more moral, and usually smarter than their public school peers. The bullying and moral decline evidenced in many public schools is reason enough to consider homeschooling. The main problem with it, other than time and expense, is the prejudice which is better summed up by the video than by me.