Monday March 10, 2014
As a homeschooler, I get uneasy when I see parents and politicians pushing for universal pre-kindergarten, especially when they tout it as preparation for Common Core testing to come.
Don't get me wrong -- I want the children in my community to get a good education. But the implication that more hours spent in the classroom is good for kids is worrisome.
Early childhood experts believe little kids need more time to run around and explore. That's how their brains develop. Forcing kids to sit still, work quietly, and do only what they are told to do before they are ready can lead to more children being diagnosed with attention problems who really just need an environment that's appropriate for their emotional and chronological age.
That's why I encourage homeschooling parents not to begin "schoolwork" with their very young children unless the children themselves ask for it. My new article "How to Homeschool Your Preschooler" includes ideas for age-appropriate activities you can do before traditional homeschooling work starts.
Image: kate_sept2004/Getty Images
Sunday March 9, 2014
Astronomy fans will want to tune in this week to watch Cosmos, a reworking of the Carl Sagan series that inspired so many with its explanations of time, space, and how the universe works.
Host Neil deGrasse Tyson, head of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is one of the most well-known scientists today -- most famous for demoting Pluto from the status of planet.
You can catch Cosmos tonight, Sunday March 9, at 9 pm Eastern Time on multiple Fox channels, with re-broadcasts on Monday and Friday on the National Geographic Channel.
Image: National Geographic Channel
Friday March 7, 2014
According to a study in Science Daily from last fall, researchers got a surprise when they compared the health of homeschoolers and traditionally-schooled children.
"Based on previous research, we went into this study thinking home-schooled children would be heavier and less active than kids attending traditional schools," said Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, the study's lead author. "We found the opposite."
As researchers discovered, both groups got about the same amount of exercise, but homeschoolers were still less likely to be obese than the traditionally-schooled kids. The deciding factor? Homecooked meals. Kids who ate cafeteria meals got way more calories, sodium, and sugar at lunch than homeschoolers.
If you're having trouble finding time to prepare homecooked meals when you're also homeschooling, try some of these Cooking Tips for Homeschoolers. Research shows, it's worth it!
(Hat tip to the Free Range Learning Facebook page for the link.)
Image: Jamie Grill/Getty Images
Thursday March 6, 2014
Stories in The New York Times and Washington Post report that the College Board, maker of the SATs and other standardized tests, has faced reality. Nobody ever liked the Writing section the company tacked on in addition to Reading and Math (especially the hand-written essay), and many colleges simply ignored those scores.
So starting in 2016, students will only have to take the two original sections. To lessen complaints that it's weighted towards wealthy kids whose parents can afford expensive test prep programs, free online SAT prep lessons will be also available through Khan Academy.
I don't put much stock in standardized tests, and many educational experts don't either. It'll be interesting to see if these changes can quell the backlash against the over-testing of kids in school.
Have your kids taken the SATs, ACTs, or other standardized tests? Are you happy to see these changes?
Image: Creative Commons/Flickr user Alexandratx