A few days before her 4th birthday she finished Kumon’s Addition Workbook – recommended for ages 5,6,7: Here she is at age 4.5, starting multiplication: Now mastering the...
Here’s our son reading random words at age 4.8: Now at age 5.5 here he is reading a *chapter book* all by himself: At the time he simply could not read to himself silently. It was...
Last Monday I took my kids on a *homeschool cruise* around Manhattan.
It was just the Circle Line one that caters to NYC tourists. Over 90 minutes we motored, slowly, down to the Statue of Liberty and back up the Hudson. For NY-ers, this was not such a big deal.
But for homeschoolers it was.
Why is that?
Because we had 400 people signed up!
I’m telling you, the parent-led, individualized education movement is about to explode. Only a couple of years ago, an organized event like this would get about 40-50 people to sign up. But now more and more events are – as they would say on Wall Street – “surprising on the upside” – in terms of attendance.
And don’t believe this is simply a case of a crusty old northeastern region finally discovering, in terms of educational wonders, what the rest of the country already well knews. The ramificantions of this cannot be understated because the Boston-Washington DC corridor still controls the media and the parameters of national discourse. So as homeschooling becomes accepted here and among the pinheads on TV and in the print media, you can only expect to see more and more people *opt out* of the system.
I mean….just about every single person I know with kids in school already has a litany of complaints that they are all to eager to share with my wife and me.
Just a little more press and popularity should help them get past their weak excuses.
And it would help them immensely, if they could really see the possibilities…Read More
Today I just want to share an analogy that just popped into my head.
About 500 years ago, brave souls started leaving the social stratification and intolerance of England for the freedom and opportunity in the New World.
And look what happened! Almost instantly (within a couple hundred years) America became the wealthiest, strongest, most innovative, and most productive country on the planet.
Guess what, a similar seismic shift is underway again – but in terms of the educational landscape.
Families and students are fleeing the outdated, ineffective, and inhumane confines of institutional education by moving towards homeschooling, self-education, and online learning.
If you think about it, the historical parallels are profound.
And the results? Well, they are already proving equivalently spectactular.
You know, 10-20 years ago the stock complaint or cynicism against homeschooling was, “Are the they kids learning anything?”
But today, the main criticism against parents directing the education of their own is, “What about socialization?”
So what happened to the original complaint?
Ah….it must have been answered!Read More
I’m not talking about the content, first-person shooters, glorified gangs, thieves, and pimps….I’m talking about ME versus everyone, and I mean literally EVERYONE, who blithely lets their kids play video games and pluck away on other devices.
Kids with cell phones? I just heard of a 5 year old who has their own iPhone 5 or 6, whatever version they up to, today!
Parents are always complaining to me about their kids’ behavior – that they are too confrontational, too hyped up, too detached, too ornery, too bored, etc.
But then I see these same kids with their heads buried inches away from electronic screens. They are texting, watching YouTube, or God knows what specifically. And it doesn’t matter. Effectively they are disengaging themselves from reality and from society.
I watched a young man get up on stage the other night at a Cub Scout talent show…
He couldn’t audibly or clearly say his name or the name of the piece he was going to play – he couldn’t take a bow afterwards. Yeah he played beautifully (Chopin’s Nocturne?) but when he sat back down I noticed he eagerly grabbed his iPad and went right back to gaming. Gaming? At a Cub Scout Pack Meeting? Where were his parents and why do they permit such ludicrous, disrespectful behavior? Who gave him an iPad in the first place? Who said he could bring it to the Pack Meeting?
I’ve heard every excuse too. “They need to unwind.” “I limit him/her to only an hour a day.” “I let him play because all the other kids play video games and I don’t want him left out.” “Minecraft is educational!”
Would you let your child smoke pot everyday for 30 minutes to “unwind”?
If you read Boys Adrift – which I highly recommend – you’ll learn that it’s been PROVEN that video games literally FRY THE BRAIN. Gamers apparently have their nucleus accumbens and their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex measurably “out of kilter”.
Seriously, video games and phones are the opiate of our times. One day soon everyone, hopefully, we will look back on this current
phenomena epidemic with as much consternation as we allot the rampant, and complacent smoking in society only a few decades ago.
I mean they just HAD TO KNOW that sucking smoke into their lungs every single day wasn’t in the best interests of their long term health, right?Read More
Watch the video above….it’s not just a pic with a weird arrow on it!
That was at last week’s homeschool talent show in NYC.
We started piano only 13 months ago.
But Christine started singing this past fall (in a choir) and has really taken to it. In fact she has asked for a private voice coach! Although that’s only because she knows at least 3 other kids, kids who are much further along, who are fortunate enough to have private instruction.
It’s certainly pretty cool to see my son play chess at a high level and see him whip around math equations that I couldn’t handle until I was 6-7 years older….but this salient we’ve made into the arts, a realm beyond our personal experience, has truly delighted my wife and I.
No color TV, no video games and I mean NONE….an early emphasis on math, reading….and a 7-days per week regimen….that’s the entire, secret recipe.Read More
John is chugging along with Khan Academy. As you can see, now he’s completed 320 of the 415 *skills*. If one goes too slow with this, well, that’s not good in its own right, not an effective way to learn math, but also he or she will fall behind because Khan keeps adding skills! Two weeks ago….there were less than 400 skills on the practice module.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that Khan has gone, correctly, to *perpetual review*. So although a student masters a subject, questions from it keep popping up in the *review*. This is good. I’ve seen some teachers recently adopt this strategy, making all tests “cumulative”.
Khan continues to work out the kinks. They’ve added a calculator because some sections involving decimals simply could not be mastered without using one. (Although I’m quick enough to do these particular questions by hand!) It just wasn’t clear to the students and they struggled making progress.
My daughter is doing well with the math on IXL.com. Since we started on that, according to the usage statistics provided, she has apparently spent 28 hours and 42 minutes on it, solving 6,121 problems. Even though she can do and has done up through 6th grade level math, I let her start on the 2nd grade level of IXL. And I was glad to see that not only is IXL more difficult than the typical 2nd grade math curriculum, but also that it covers a few topics and concepts that we hadn’t hit yet. Overally, again, I would say that IXL is more than worth the $10 monthly fee.
John continues to improve at chess. He still has his weekly private lesson (2100 rated coach) and he’s played in 3 tournaments since we got back from Florida in March. While he hasn’t had any notable results to speak of in these tournaments, his rating has jumped significantly on Chess.com – up to 1223 last week! (see graphic above)
In one of these recent tournaments he lost to kid who is younger than him. This is the first time that I can recall him losing to a younger player. The youngster was good – even though John should have won that game. Anyways I asked his mother if he was working with an instructor and she confirmed he was. He works with an instructor from India, over Skype, for the princely sum of $10 per hour!
I pay my instructor $50-$60 an hour and he’s good, very good. But I have to look into this online, outsourced option. The price is simply too compelling. The best I can find so far is advertised at $15 per hour.
Finally I was able to find a decent chess workbook which we’ve purchased and incorporated – The Chess Tactics Workbook: Expanded 4th Edition. Make sure you get the 4th edition. It’s pretty good.
Also, I’m happy to report that my daughter (age 6.85) not only played in her first two tournaments but won and drew a few games. What I’m more excited about, however, his her unexpected enthusiasm to compete. We have to miss the next big Long Island tournament on May 11th for an out-of-state baptism and she won’t stop complaining about not being able to play. Fortunately we are in the NYC area and there are plenty (weekly!) of opportunities to compete…Read More
John’s teacher said that in the course of a single year he has done “at least two and a half year’s” worth of work.
When John wakes up in the morning, every morning, the very first thing he does is saunter over to the keyboard usually with his favorite blanket draped over him. And when we go away for a few days….the very first thing he does when we get home is jump on the keyboard – often lamenting, “I missed the piano.”
I read recently that the holy trinity of childhood genius consists of chess, math, and piano. Well that’s precisely where we’ve been focusing!Read More
I believe I’ve previously posted another video of this man – Sugata Mitra – where he also discusses the poor Indian children who taught themselves all sorts of amazing things from a PC. (That’s indeed an embedded video above, not just a pic with a weird arrow on it!)
Here’s the bang-up quote from the beginning:
“I tried to look at where the kind of learning we do in schools came from. If you look at present-day schooling the way it is, it’s quite easy to figure out where it came from. It came from about 300 years ago, and it came from the last and the biggest of the empires on this planet. Imagine trying to run the show, trying to run the entire planet, without computers, without telephones, with data handwritten on pieces of paper, and traveling by ships. But the Victorians actually did it. What they did was amazing. They created a global computer made up of people. It’s still with us today. It’s called the bureaucratic administrative machine. In order to have that machine running, you need lots and lots of people. They made another machine to produce those people: the school. The schools would produce the people who would then become parts of the bureaucratic administrative machine. They must be identical to each other. They must know three things: They must have good handwriting, because the data is handwritten; they must be able to read; and they must be able to do multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction in their head. They must be so identical that you could pick one up from New Zealand and ship them to Canada and he would be instantly functional. The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists. The empire is gone, so what are we doing with that design that produces these identical people…????”Read More