Saturday, March 13, 2010

READ ALL ABOUT IT! 'No Child Left Behind' is going to be left behind.... about time too!

So here's the latest on the public education front. Obama's administration is moving towards nixing the legacy of Bush's 'No Child Left Behind'. Here is a link from

While I am thrilled to hear that 'No Child Left Behind' (which was an admitted failure)  will be made history,  I am concerned about the continued involvement of the federal government in education. Why? Because politicians bow to lobbyists and the teachers union has already shown its colors. Until parents are given the ability to choose schools via financial incentives (vouchers),  schools can continue to remain in a state of relative mediocrity as long as they stay above the mentioned 5% of worst performing schools.

So far I have not been a fan of the Obama administration but at least they are getting one thing right, get rid of the abysmal failure called 'No Child Left Behind' .

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Notebooking? I didn't know there was a name for it.

Surfing around I came across the term 'notebooking'. Forever on the outlook for inspiration is homeschooling I decided to investigate. According to 'Notebooking' it  can be defined as
"Notebooking is the coined term for what one may refer to as educational journaling or scrapbooking. Essentially, the idea is to create a compilation of what has been learned and experienced in any number of subjects or activities and organize it in a notebook (or binder). It is generally up to the child to determine what he wants to include in this notebook, although you may want to provide some basic guidelines to help him get started. Written narrations, copywork, timelines, reports, lists, observations, drawings, maps, and photographs are just some of the items that he may include. The notebook pages he creates for his notebooks will capture the new knowledge he has discovered as well as his own personal reflections of what he has learned. The finished notebook will prove to be a treasure for years to come as the child reviews all that he has learned and admires the elements that he brought to the subjects in making his very own book."
The funny thing is that as it turned out Missy and I had been doing this all along. Not on pre-printed pages but blank or lined paper with her illustrations. I had started her on this method because it was the way I had been taught at the Pestalozzi Waldorf Schule in Germany. Thinking back I realized that we had no text books (I left after 8th grade). Instead our teachers wrote information on the boards which we then copied. We then had to neatly and with illustrations copy this information into another book. We were only allowed inkpens to encourage neat handwriting. Ballpoint pen were frowned upon and not allowed. (I wonder if that still holds true? ) The interesting thing is that we learned very well this way. Rather than reading to us from a text book our teacher compiled his or her information from various resources and presented to us a detailed, custom tailored educational experience. Writing the information twice re-enforced the data gained in our young heads. We practiced good handwriting, neatness and illustrating. Skills that I now try to foster in  my children as well.  I just had no idea that it had a name.

We use a folder with dividers and page protectors. She is very proud of it and has covered a variety of topics. Her favorites so far a dissertation on Bill Gates (yes, she is a techie even at 10 years old) and ancient history.

Bear-Bear my son (4½ years) also notebooks. He draws his observations etc in an artist tablet turned notebook.  I think he'll be an excellent artist some day. He is a better artist already than his sister was at the same age. Start 'em young.

For anyone interested I would recommend having your children do their own illustrating rather than only using ready made pages. For some technical subjects like say, the human cardiac system, using pre-made pages or illustrations makes sense but I firmly believe that there is something to be said for practising fine motor skills like drawing and sketching.  We like blank, unlined paper. I had a lined template which she puts underneath the blank paper. She sees the ghosting of the lines underneath to keep lines straight. That's how we did in back then. The advantages are obvious. Clean presentation on straight lines without lines blending into any illustrations. 

Give it a try. It's fun, creative, and effective.