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Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education
Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Attachment Parenting Older Children: Alternative Education

Practicing attachment parenting generally leads to a great deal of research. In addition to simply wanting to be well educated about my parenting choices, I’ve found myself researching parenting topics regularly for many reasons. Family and friends tend to come to me for advice and information because they know I’ll find the most accurate available. This led me to further research in college, focusing most of my electives in psychology and education. You’d be surprised how much a thorough knowledge of such topics helps in political advocacy, as well.

Whether you practice Attachment Parenting or not, your children’s education is probably very important to you. Most parents still think their choices revolve around money. The options seem to be public or private school. More and more parents are realizing that they have the right to take responsibility for their children’s education and consider homeschooling as well. What most people don’t realize is that the choices aren’t that cut and dry. If none of those options seem to fit your needs quite right, you don’t have to settle.

While money can play a part, the main concern is how active you want to be in your child’s upbringing and education. There is a spectrum that ranges from boarding schools and nannies to unschooling.

Boarding School

In the united states, most boarding schools are limited to 9th grade and up but there are a few for younger children if you’re really determined. Boarding schools are known for providing children with regimented educations and connections that help them in their future careers. They are also known to be outstandingly expensive and provide minimal opportunities for parents to guide and interact with their own children during.

Public School

Public schooling is a social welfare program every state in the United States is required to offer. Public school is available in some states as young as two or three years old, and through twenty-one. The educational and personal guidance offered children varies more widely in public schools than any other educational option. Children may be offered horribly neglectful and abusive school years or incredibly uplifting opportunities to improve themselves, and this can vary from one teacher to another within the same school. Parents have no say in what academics or morals their children are taught and there have been national cases where parents were tried for trying to keep their children from being taught morally objectionable messages. Public schools in many areas expect parents to pay out constantly, but as a welfare program they cannot actually require payment from low income families. In such cases, they are required to offer alternative programs. Public schools usually welcome parentally involvement and volunteering. While some even expect it, few require parental involvement. One of the main reasons public school is so popular is that it is a free way to pass off most of the responsibility for a child’s upbringing. As such, it can be nearly impossible to force or coerce parental involvement at times. This program is earnestly needed by many parents throughout the nation, but it is also filled with children whose families are perfectly capable of raising them without assistance.

Private School

Private schools are run by private organizations and individuals. As such, they are operated on different legal standards than public schools. They can be very expensive but often have scholarship programs for children with financial need or high academic performance. They generally offer more effective teaching methods and more talented teachers than public schools. They almost always have specialized curriculum. This can range from academic focus to religious foundations. Private schools can vary greatly in their desire for parental involvement. Some prefer parents to simply pay them enough to hire the best mentors as staff. Others require parents to volunteer in their children’s classes and throughout the school.

Dual Enrollment

Many public and some private schools allow children to enroll part time. In such cases, the school teaches one or more specific subjects and the parents are responsible for the rest of their children’s upbringing. In such cases, parents often have to prove they are teaching their children using methods the school approves of. This method is great for parents that want to take responsibility for their children’s education but doubt their abilities in some areas. Generally, dual enrollment students enroll mostly in electives and extra-curriculars like band or sports. This is a less expensive than enrolling in community or private programs and can be a huge help to homeschoolers on a budget. It is usually free, and at least much less expensive than full time enrollment. Plus, it allows much more parental involvement than a fully institutionalized education.

Co-op

A co-op is a group of parents that share the education of their children. They are sometimes organized as private schools legally, but usually just another way homeschoolers can organize parts of their children’s schooling. Generally, each parent takes one subject they are knowledgeable about. All the children will be dropped off at that person’s house, or another designated location, for classes. Classes often meet daily, with each parent taking one day per week. Children are not generally subject to the age segregation of other classroom situations, making both the teacher and student’s job much easier. Costs are nominal for small co-ops, but administrative fees can become costly with large ones. This is the most involved a parent can be in their child’s upbringing while still utilizing the classroom organization mainstream America thinks children need to learn.

Charter School

A charter school is another form of public school. With the exception of academic charters, they look little to nothing like the standard school model. Families typically fight for the opportunity to enroll their children in these schools when they are available. They can look like anything from a science lab to a farm to something from a sci-fi novel. They can also look just like homeschooling. Homeschool is a legal designation, not an educational method. Many charter schools will provide parents with their choice of curriculum and supplies. They provide teachers for advice and often even offer extra-curricular programs as well as academic classes. Children are welcome to participate in such programs, but not required to. They also allow the state partial control in children’s upbringing. Parents are required to meet with teachers or educational advisors regularly to prove their children’s progress. Sometimes this means proving what they’ve been learning but all too often it means proving they’ve been producing a set amount of busy work, regardless of what they’ve actually learned. Still, if a family naturally follows methods and patterns similar to the standard classroom model, this option can be a huge help.

Distance Education

Not only college students can attend school from home. There are a variety of distance based private schools, and even a few public ones. While living like homeschoolers, such children may be considered to be legally enrolled in a public or private school. Most private distance education programs actually offer no legal advantage to homeschooling though. Most people seem to think their children will be legally considered private school students if their school is accredited. This is simple not true. Accreditation is granted by private institutions, not the state or federal government. In fact, none of the major distance learning programs for K-12 students are accredited by an agency recognized by *any* state in the United States, or on the federal recommendation list. They are also known for being very expensive. Some are Internet based. While others ship their products to the family and have them report manually. That said, these programs can still be a wonderful tool. Handing authority over to someone else can ease tensions over school matters significantly. Children are still in the home, being raised by their parents. They are still learning the majority of their morality from reputable sources, and they can be monitored as their developmental level requires.

Boxed Curriculum

Similar to distance education programs are boxed curriculum. These products come with everything you need to teach your children, and instructions on how to do so. There are a wide variety available, as well. Some can be customized to children’s strengths and weaknesses, too. They are typically very expensive, though. Since parents aren’t reporting to anyone, they are able to adjust the lessons and progression to meet their children’s needs. These can also be mixed and matched to meet individual needs, both in level and products used for different subjects.

Parent Designed Curriculum

Many parents don’t have the money for boxed curriculum or don’t like the busy work they typically employ. Such parents design their own lessons. Designing lessons is very simple. There is a wealth of resources both for design and activities available to parents. Parents that design their own lessons typically don’t separate topics into school subjects as clearly. A child can learn Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science in the same lesson for example.

Unschooling

Unschooling is often also referred to as Child-Led learning and looks differently in each house. In some homes, children are expected to complete school tasks but are given the right to choose the methods and/or topics they learn about themselves. In some homes, children are not expected to complete school work at all. Instead they are taught by hands on real world methods, and usually allowed to choose their areas of interest. From the outside, these families often look as if they are simply neglecting their children’s education. Often, these children learn at very inconsistent rates. Sometimes they will fall well behind their peers in difficult subjects for years. At some point, these children eventually find an internal desire to learn what they don’t know. Either they just gain an interest, or they develop a goal that necessitates certain knowledge. Rest assured, what it takes the rest of society 12 years of life to learn can actually be learned in just a few months when they are more mature and motivated. Unschooling is much easier and less expensive than any other means of education. Successful unschooling necessitates a high level of parental involvement, since most learning is from conversations and activities. It is only for confident parents, though. It can be downright nerve racking to deal with doubters when you don’t have written proof of your child’s abilities. Worse yet, self doubt can gnaw at your confidence in your parenting skills in general when it starts in on your educational choices.

Educational Neglect

While I don’t really consider this an option, it should be brought up. The less an education method looks like what someone is used to, the more likely they are to think that education is being neglected. Educational neglect means withholding education from your children. Teaching them differently is not neglectful. Most of the education laws in the United States are meant to reduce educational neglect. There are laws on every type of schooling. Public schools have waste more and more classroom time to teach kids to pass tests just to keep their funding. Private schools have to monitor and report on family and health information they have no business even knowing. Homeschools have to constantly prove themselves, even being forced to submit to regular home inspections in some areas. The problem with all these laws is that the people that abide by them are the ones doing what they’re supposed to. The ones that are neglectful simply fly under the radar. We are crippling our ability to raise intelligent children in the hopes of helping those that aren’t affected by our efforts. Instead of reporting your local homeschoolers or voting in tighter restrictions on your local schools, think about what you are trying to achieve and whether your actions will have any effect on that problem.

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Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Is Technology in Education Causing Child  Parent Stress?
Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

Is Technology in Education Causing Child Parent Stress?

After only eight days of school, our two middle school children are bogged down with multiple projects, lengthy reading expectations and nightly homework in multiple subjects. After arriving home at 4PM, our children immediately hit the books and read, study, research and complete homework until 9:30PM or later. There is a disconnect occurring between parents and children who have so much homework to complete that home chores, interaction and family time are pushed to the back burner. Replacing social communication are deadlines, research projects, reading lists, quizzes and tests.

The Link Between Technology and Parent / Child Stress

Researching online is quicker and easier than walking, riding or driving to the local library and searching through books, magazines and microfiche. Children of today need only a personal computer and Internet connection to gain access to the largest library ever created, but does that mean teachers are becoming more dependent on the Internet as a resource and thus expecting children to do more outside of school than in previous years and generations?

Technology has a fantastic place in education and the school system, but when expectations outside of school hours become so overpowering that children are left with no down time and no time with family without worrying about deadlines and grades, there is a disconnect that will occur between parents and children.

How Our Family is Dealing With Increased Expectation and Technology

As a family, we are tired of spending five days a week working full-time only to be responsible for all chores in a household of six people. Chores are important to teach children responsibility and no advances in technology or outrageous educational expectations will replace that fact. We are working with our children on choosing project themes that require no Internet access or detailed research. Just because the Internet is available does not mean it is the best source of information.

We will soon begin walking to the library a couple of days a week so our older children can work with media hands on as opposed to virtually. Research days for projects will be limited to one to two days a week and no school work is allowed on Sundays – our family’s day of rest and relaxation together without expectation.

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PhD Fieldwork

Posted by Rachel Evans on

Snow-clad peaks pierced the immense blue sky, partridges strutted amongst bushes near a stream, and a gentle breeze caressed Chandu’s round face. He was collecting data for his PhD thesis. It was a beautiful morning on an early autumn day; as the day progressed it became sunny yet windy. Chandu plodded up the valley; humming on a latest Bollywood song, his field assistants followed him to heel. One of them belonged to a small village tugged away in an adjacent valley. That morning Chandu and his assistants saw groups after large groups of ibex. Whenever they came across one, Chandu got excited, stopped and recorded in his notebook. Yet the assistants wondered as to why their boss was so much interested in those mountain goats.

Soon they spotted another one, and Chandu took off his thick feather jacket and sat on a boulder and got busy observing them through the spotting scope. The assistants took out all the equipments as usual.

One assistant’s curiosity finally got the better of him and asked, ‘Sir, why are you after these animals?’

‘I am studying them for a PhD degree,’ Chandu replied.

But the assistants had no idea what the heck a ‘Pee-Age-Die’ degree was. They had limited knowledge about the academic system. One assistant leaned against a rock, twisted his curly hair, and requested Chandu in a low voice to clear their doubts.

‘PhD is the highest academic degree awarded by a university,’ Chandu informed.

‘But what is a degree? Is it some kind of a trophy that you get for observing these animals?’ asked the other assistant, who had seen only a primary school in his life.

Chandu laughed vociferously. He had a habit of laughing even when things were not funny. ‘Ok, let me explain it this way,’ he started again after a long pause. ‘PhD is like pregnancy. You conceive an idea, nurture and develop it for four years, write a small book called thesis, and deliever it in the end.’

‘Four years! That’s quite a long time,’ quipped one of the assistants. At any rate, they got an inkling about the ‘Pee-Age-Die’ by then, and added, ‘That sounds very difficult indeed. You must walk cautiously to avoid a miscarriage and stay indoors most of the time.’

‘Yeah that’s right; it is a lonely journey,’ snapped Chandu, and got back to his spotting scope.

‘But who is the father in this four-year pregnancy?’ asked one assistant naively.

Chandu was at a loss again. He thought for a minute and said, ‘the guide, who sows the seeds.’

While this question-answer session was in full swing, Tuska, the ibex, and his friend sat on a slope, and enjoyed the early October sun. They had long scimitar-shaped horns and glittering eyes. Their rough ruffs waved in the afternoon breeze. They had just rested after a bout of grazing on the few blades of grass that Chandu had left after his collection for the herbarium.

Tuska saw Chandu and the two assistants trudging and said, ‘There he comes again. Today he is accompanied by two sub-adults.’

‘How do you know that it’s a he?’ inquired his friend, flicking his tail to get rid of the last flies of the seaoson.

‘Because this one has short hair, and their females have long hair,’ reasoned Tuska.

‘But I heard that some females also crop their hair short,’ said the friend.

‘You are right, but this one also doesn’t squat while peeing,’ argued Tuska.

‘In any case, I don’t understand why he is staying in a tent in this isolated valley,’ wondered his friend.

‘The villagers probably ostracised him,’ surmised Tuska.

‘Why would they do that?’ asked his friend.

‘I don’t know, may be he sits late in the night and think about irrelevant things,’ Tuska guessed.

‘If that’s the case then the villagers are mistaken, because this person sleeps like a dormouse. He starts snoring the moment he squeezes into his canvas-tent at 7 p.m.,’ said his friend. ‘Yesterday he even snored in broad daylight and ruined my siesta. I felt like going and goring him in the paunch.

But I did hear from a cousin of mine, who had a conversation with a domestic goat, that this person does think differently. My cousin told me that once when his book caught fire, instead of extinguishing it, he tossed three more books in the fire. When asked for an explanation, he said he needs to increase the sample size (whatever that means) to understand how the book caught fire.’ Tuska’s friend continued.

‘He does not look very well today, though. May be he has a bad stomach. I think we should collect his faecal samples to see what plants and animals he ate last night,’ suggested Tuska.

‘But how shall we collect them? I have never seen him going to the toilet, although I have seen him peeing,’ said his friend. ‘The other day, he shamelessly took a leak in front of a leopardess sitting on a ledge at close quarters,’ he added.

‘He probably didn’t notice her,’ Tuska defended.

‘How’s that possible? She was sitting just twenty meters away from him!’ exclaimed his friend.

‘I also have seen many villagers walking very close by snow leopards without noticing them. May be these creatures have weak eyesights,’ Tuska speculated. ‘But I agree with you, this guy lacks decency. A couple of months ago, he took off all his clothes, ignoring the partridges and an owl sitting closeby, and dived in that pool down there,’ he continued.

One day Chandu and his assistants left their camp early in the morning because they needed to do some vegetation sampling. After clambering a slope for a while they suddenly bumped into Tuska and his friend, who were grazing near a cliff. The two ibexes ran as fast as possible in the thin air until they reached a ridgeline, where they stopped, panted and looked back.

‘What the hell are they doing here this early? They have made our life difficult. If they keep on chasing us away from our favourite pastures like this, there is a danger that our kind will be extinct soon,’ gasped Tuska in frustration.

‘These people are not complacent with their annual hunting spree, and pester us on a daily basis,’ grumbled Tuska’s friend. ‘Today they are doing something with a rope; measuring something, I guess,’ he continued.

‘I cannot forget the incident when one of them shot my two-year old daughter in her left eye,’ Tuska sighed.

‘Yeah they are ruthless; these ones seem benign though, save for the nuisance value,’ said the friend.

One of the main activities of Chandu and his assistants was to walk a transect every second day to look for blue sheep and ibex. They walked it ten times before surprising Tuska and his friend.

‘I don’t understand why they are treading the same path again and again. Did they lose something?’ inquired Tuska.

‘That doesn’t seem to be the case, as they always look up while walking,’ replied his friend. ‘The other day one of the sub-adults carried something, which he pointed towards us. Later he looked into it while descending the slope next to that stream, and obviously stumbled and fell in the water,’ he recalled.

‘What else could it be then?’ Tuska marvelled.

‘These creatures are known to consume more than they need to, and sometimes they walk aimlessly to burn the extra calories. Perhaps these are victims of overconsumption, trying to shed the unwanted fats,’ said his friend.

‘Yeah that’s possible, one of the sub-adults is really hefty,’ Tuska agreed. ‘After all is said and done, they are a great source of amusement for us, aren’t they?’ he continued.

Chandu’s other task was to find out how mountain goats run in cliffs with such great ease. His hypothesis was that these animals run fast in cliffs because they use all four legs for locomotion, unlike humans. To test his hypothesis, he performed an experiment in which first he broke one of Tuska’s hind legs and shouted, ‘run’. Tuska ran for his life, but Chandu caught him back. He then broke one of the front-legs and shouted, ‘run’. Tuska hopped a bit, then collapsed. Subsequently, Chandu broke the other front-leg of the animal and shouted, ‘run’, but there was no response this time. He shouted again, and again, but in vain. The conclusion of the experiment therefore was after losing three legs, mountain goats become deaf.

‘This is a major breakthrough, so I have to go and write it up immediately’ Chandu bragged and left his field site.

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Music Education for Children

Posted by Rachel Evans on
Music Education for Children
Music Education for Children

Music Education for Children

The music begins

When you bring home the… guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, fill in your choice, there is a look of awe and wonder in their eyes. They can’t wait to get their little paws on the thing. Even as you are explaining how to handle the instrument, they are blocking out your annoying parental tones and grabbing for it; ready to rock. They proudly boast to anyone who will listen, that they are taking music lessons. The lessons begin and they can’t wait to show you the first three notes they learned on the first day. To you, it is the sound of brilliance in the making. You want anyone who will listen to join in celebrating the best three notes of music ever played. Out comes the video phone and soon your little Mozart, your Louis Armstrong, your Taylor Swift is on facebook and youtube. (Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube, after all).

But then there’s homework
“I’ll practice everyday”, is what you were promised; as your little angel pleaded in the store. However, beyond practicing, your child must learn music theory. It starts to resemble school. None of their friends have to endure this abuse. Your little Mozart becomes distracted, and the resistance begins: “do I have to practice?”, “I’ll practice later“, “I’ve practiced enough.” Eventually there is the inevitable ear crunching, heart shredding: I HATE PRACTICING. I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THIS STUPID INSTRUMENT. I’M QUITTING! You cringe as you consider the monetary investment. You argue, demand and threaten until eventually Mozart marches to the instrument and defiantly slams out the assigned music 10 times faster than it’s meant to be played. You begin to weaken: does the world really need another piano player? Will the world end if Suzie is not strumming her way through it?

Do you give up or do you go on?

Consider this: I’ve never met an adult who could play an instrument who said, “I wish I didn’t know how to play…” the violin, sitar, bagpipes, harp, etc. There are two things I have heard: “I’m glad my parents made me stay with it” and “I wish my parents had made me stay with it”.

My stepson is the inspiration for this article. Like his father, he is a drummer. Because of dad, he started younger than most. He was banging on his first drum at one and was responsible for a daily drum practice at three. 15 minutes was all I required; at seven it became 30 minutes. I was the bad guy. I insisted, I pushed, at times I wavered, but endured. He’s 12 now and loves being a drummer; loves being the kid at school who did drum solos for talent shows. A year ago he made the mistake of showing potential on the piano…and so, once more, the cycle began. However, for the most part, we have made it to the other side. My stepson is now aware of his talent and sees himself as a musician. The practices come easier these days and more often than not, unsolicited.

The benefits
Playing a musical instrument develops self esteem, social skills, promotes brain development and can even keep your child from abusing drugs and alcohol. I see discipline, confidence and creativity in my stepson that has been enhanced by music. Please visit: www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/benefits.html. (no apostrophe s) There you will find videos as well as the results of studies, showing how children succeed in school and in life because of music.
It’s a personal decision whether or not to force your child to stick with an instrument. I recommend enduring. The battle may be long; I stuck with it for years, but you’ll see great things develop in your child and they’ll even thank you for making them stay the course; one day…