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Homeschooling- Free Your Mind

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
By Glinda

After a months-long battle with the school district, I finally got them to admit my son into the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program.  I won’t bore you with all of the frustrating details, but suffice it to say a bunch of stuff happened wherein a comprehensive IQ test was administered to the Munchkin, and wherein the district failed to interpret the results correctly for many moons, despite my prolific (yet always polite) emails describing to them EXACTLY how to fix the problem.

They kept putting me off and putting me off until the week before traditional school was about to start.  After being told that my son’s scores were not satisfactory and he would not be a good candidate, they finally did what they should have done from the beginning and lo and behold!  Wait, your son IS really smart! Sorry we didn’t listen to you ALL SPRING  AND SUMMER  and ignored your emails and treated you with condescension when you visited us in person.  Ooops, he’s in the 95th percentile, we actually DO want him in the program!  Did we say we didn’t? We didn’t really mean that.

And my husband and I, for many reasons, pique being a small part of it, decided against enrolling him at the GATE magnet school and chose to continue homeschooling instead.

I dunno, I’m a rebel, I guess.

But really, I’m probably one of the most normal people you will ever meet.  I just happen to think that given the opportunity, nothing beats a one-on-one teaching ratio.  There is also a big difference in what I do, which is called “school at home” versus “homeschooling.” Mine equals state-approved curriculum and credentialed teacher visits, whereas the other is a bit more free form.

I will admit that it is quite intoxicating to be free of the entire school rut.  I watch as my neighbors rush off in the morning to drop the kids off in time, and then six hours later go to pick them up.  And while I certainly don’t feel sorry for them, I don’t envy them, either.  I don’t miss all of the “stuff” that comes with going to traditional school, from the begging for money school fundraisers to the annoying class projects to having the principal call my home every week with a pre-recorded message, to having to buy all the clothes and supplies at a certain time.   It is all very freeing.

And yet intimidating at the same time.

But I think we’ll get through it just fine.


Monday Teeny Poll

Monday, July 11th, 2011
By Glinda

Good grief, it’s been a bit, hasn’t it?  Last week was fairly hectic, not to mention the Munchkinette having an illness that resulted in lots of bodily fluids coming out of her that, ah, weren’t really supposed to.  Poor baby.

Anyhoo, 52% of you rarely write checks anymore, 16% do it quite often, 28% occasionally, and 4% of you never have to write checks at all.  I wonder how much longer banks will be keeping checks around.  I imagine it is much cheaper to do it all electronically. 

As for today, the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the largest in the county, recently voted to stop serving chocolate milk in schools.  This includes students who qualify for subsidized or free meals.  Ostensibly, it is to combat childhood obesity, but I wonder if this is just a proverbial drop in the milk bucket, so to speak.

Testing, Testing, 123, Testing

Thursday, May 5th, 2011
By Glinda

This month marks the time when all schools in my state conduct the STAR test.  It’s a standardized test designed, supposedly, to measure the success of what is being taught in the classroom.

I am of two conflicting minds about standardized tests.

First, as a parent, I am anxious to know that my child knows the stuff he is supposed to know, you know? 

Yet another part of me whispers that standardized tests are a bunch of baloney and waaaay too much importance is placed upon them.  Honestly, there are some children who are quite smart, but aren’t good test-takers and there is no way to account for that.  My husband, who has a mild form of dyslexia, would have been one of those children.

Then another part of me thinks that there has to be some way to measure children across the state and the country, and the only way to do that is with a standardized test.

Then the anarchist in me says that they want to use the tests to decide too much about the strength of the teachers and the school when really there are variables like children who sleep in a room with seven other people, or who don’t eat breakfast in the morning, or whose mom and dad got in a fight the night before, and how would you like your paycheck to depend solely upon the performance of the employees under you? 


But, we reported to the testing site bright and early this morning, and will continue to do so for the rest of the week.

As an aside, I left my son in the main waiting room, thinking that he would follow the example of all the other students who were going to the classroom.

As I’m driving by to go back home, through the window I see him sitting on a chair in said waiting room, reading a book.  All the other kids? Gone.

So I have to swing all the way back around the parking lot, leave the Munchkinette in the car by herself (I swear God, I was only gone for thirty seconds, don’t report me to child services!), literally run into the waiting room and tell my absent minded son to get his butt in the classroom, and run back.


Colorado 8 Year Old Pepper Sprayed

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
By Glinda

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I am usually the first one to defend police, as I’ve got policemen in my immediate family.


I’m trying to think why they thought using pepper spray on an 8 year old boy was appropriate.

The only thing I can think of is that they didn’t want to try to physically restrain him due to potential lawsuits, so they went down the dubious pepper spray road.

I’m also wondering if this child has been tested for possible disabilities? Supposedly he is in therapy, so the answer should be yes. Right?

In the video, I first thought that the police spokesperson was the lawyer for the boy’s family, and I thought he was being sarcastic when he mentioned they were “in fear of this 8 year old boy” or whatever similar sentence he said that I’m too lazy to go back and double check.

I’m just feeling like it is alternate universe day, for some reason.

Heaven Help Me

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
By Glinda

Last Friday was the Munchkin’s last day of “real” school.

Yes, I did the unthinkable.  At least, based on the reactions of almost everyone around me, I did the unthinkable.

What I really did was enroll the Munchkin in a school-at-home program run by the education department in my county.  So he still uses state-approved textbooks and a state-approved curriculum, it is just that he no longer attends a public school and I am his teacher.

I want to talk about  the way everyone acted when I told them he would no longer be attending public school and instead schooling at home.  I got everything from a “Good for you” (the tiny minority) to a long and dramatic “Ooooooooooh-kaaaaay” (the vast majority).  When my husband went to pick him up early one day during his last week, the secretaries, unaware of who my husband was, were actually gossiping about it at the front desk as he walked up! 

This was not a decision made lightly.  My husband and I have actually been pondering the idea for at least two years now.  I can’t tell you how many people have such a negative view of schooling at home, which I think in large part comes from a vision of a brood of children hunched over Bible verses instead of math books, but that is a story for another time.  A large part of our putting it off was based on how much people told us that it was a horrible thing to do, both to our son and to our sanity as parents.

But then it finally came to a point where I knew the Munchkin was losing interest in school. It was a fight every morning to get him out the door.  He was bored. He’s eight!  He has no business being uninterested in learning.  I figured I could never forgive myself if there was something I could have done to reginite that love of learning he used to have and used social conventions as my excuse to not do it.  We have done it at this point in the year on purpose, as the bulk of the year is over, and if for some reason the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, he will not have lost much in the way of curriculum. 

I found the county-run program we are enrolled in almost by accident, but now I’m pretty sure there are no such things as accidents.  If you are considering taking the leap into schooling at home, but are intimidatd by thinking you have to do it on your own, it is well worth to check if your school district or county runs their own programs.  We meet with a teacher once every three weeks to check his progress, they gave me almost a thousand dollars worth of textbooks, and they have tons of field trips (much more than regular school) as well as computer, language, and music classes!  He will still take the state standards test, and he is given a report card, just like “real” school!

He always has the option to go back to public school if he wants to.  This is not something we are mandating, but a family decision that is flexible and committed to the best outcome for all involved.

We are only in day two of schooling at home, and I am still sort of getting the hang of it, as is the Munchkin.  But suffice to say that when we complete three day’s worth of work in one hour, I can’t help but feel vindicated.

No Eyewitnesses

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
By Glinda

This is a bona-fide exchange between my second-grader and his teacher:

Teacher: Class, when you are coloring your dinosaurs, don’t use purple or blue.

Munchkin: But, why?

Teacher: Because there were no blue or purple dinosaurs.

Munchkin: But how would anyone know if there were no purple or blue dinosaurs if there was no one around to see them?

Teacher:  Because…just…don’t color them blue or purple, OK?

Jesus Christ on a stick, what is with this school district and their issues with coloring? Coloring!

If only they put as much energy into addressing the kid in my son’s class (keep in mind this is 2nd grade) who still throws himself on the floor (in class!) during a tantrum, which apparently happens when he gets in trouble.  Which is much too often for my comfort.

The Other “S” Word

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
By Glinda

I found out today that using the adjective “stupid” in any context will get you in trouble at the public school my son attends.

Doesn’t matter if you call yourself stupid or if you are struggling with a backpack zipper that won’t open.  If you utter the “s-word” (the one with six letters, not four) the teacher will formally punish you.

Glinda is not happy.

While I fully understand that stupid is a word with an inherently negative connotation, since when do schools get to go around with a list of forbidden words that aren’t considered curse words?

If someone were to insult a classmate by calling them stupid, then those circumstances certainly warrant discipline.  An insult of any kind should have swift repercussions, regardless of the words chosen.  However, merely describing a situation as stupid and getting into trouble for it seems… stupid. 

You know I had to go there, didn’t you?

Forget book banning, schools are now effectively selectively banning common words they don’t like.

I personally don’t think the term “ugly” is any better than “stupid.”  I can’t think of many situations in which one can use the word ugly in a positive way. Let’s ban that one next! How about “fat?” ” Emaciated”  doesn’t conjure up a big smile, either.

Hell, let’s just pool together a list of words that aren’t nice and forbid kids from saying them.  Then school is guaranteed to be a place that is always affirming and uplifting! 

Tomorrow, the Munchkin and I are going to sit down with a thesaurus.  I’m going to teach him the myriad ways in which you can convey the exact same meaning as the word stupid.  Some of them might even technically be worse than the word stupid.

Except those won’t automatically get him into trouble.

Son of a Diddly!

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
By Glinda


A couple weeks before winter break, the Munchkin came home upset because he had gotten into trouble at school.

When pressed for details, he lied about the incident, claiming it was because he had called another child’s drawing “stupid.”

While not a fantastic thing to do, I wondered why he was so emotional about it, when the truth finally came out. Well, it came out after being badgered about it for the remainder of the day by moi, as my Spidey-senses told me all was not as it seemed.

Turns out, a fellow classmate had accused him of saying the word hell in a non-opposite-of-heaven way.

He swore up and down that he didn’t say it at all, and claimed to not even know what it meant.

I’m on the fence as to whether he did say it or not, but I’m pretty sure he knows what it means.

Did the Munchkin get punished?

Well he did, but not for the cussing part.  He got punished for not being upfront about what had happened.

Because yelling at him for cussing? Pot, meet kettle.

You see, my father, who was a very fix-it type of guy, would curse up a storm every time he worked on a project.  So if he had to fix a leaky sink, my young self would stand in the kitchen, see a waist and a pair of legs sticking out from the cabinet doors, and hear a stream of curses that would make any sailor blush. 

Did I cuss in elementary school? You betcha.  And I was a very straight-laced honor student at a Catholic school.

I was just smart enough not to cuss around anybody that would tell on me.

I truly try not to curse in front of my children, and I would say I am 99.8% successful.  But one of his best buddies is an 11 year old from a home that has a lot of salty language being thrown about, not to mention my in-laws not watching their language around him, or even my own dad on occasion.  Oh, and my own husband isn’t all that great at keeping his language perfectly clean either.

Yes, I know all about the people who say that cussing means you are ignorant and haven’t the language skills to truly express your outrage, so cursing is just a way of flaunting your lack of vocabulary.

Actually, I think the people who go around saying made-up expressions are worse.  You can go around all day and spout nonsensical expressions, but when you stub your toe against the bedpost, “fiddlesticks” just will not do.

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