Why am I Writing this Blog?

I am very concerned about the growing level of illiteracy among our children. This blog is for parents who are homeschooling, parents whose children are falling behind at school and they don't know how to help them, teachers who would like to bounce ideas off an experienced teacher or get ideas to help student with problems. I will do everything in my power to help anyone in the areas of reading and writing.

In this blog I'll be using the original English spelling forms, so please make allowances if you're American or have been taught the American spelling form.

Please be understanding about the advertisements on the blog. It gives me the opportunity to earn a little to add to my pension.

Related links for teaching training, lesson plans and worksheets:

Fantastic Free Video series on how to teach handwriting:
by handwriting expert Nan Jay Barchowsky
by handwriting teacher Matt Nisjak

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://www.handwritingebooks.com/
101 sheets of lower case and 101 of upper case letters, plus a bonus book on numbers and another on words for $5.95 for the lot - A great bargain.

Information on Education and Homeschooling
EducationBug: Education Directory - articles, directory, newsletter and profiles on schools

Free Worksheets:
Eastside Literacy
First - Schools

Lined Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting For Kids

Making Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting Worksheets
Ed Helper

Videos About Teaching Handwriting:
Teachers TV

Free Lessons and Ideas:
The Electric Company
First 55 Come Alive
Literacy, Families and Learning
ESL Partyland

Ed Helper - Spelling
Ed Helper - Reading Comprehension
Ed Helper - Vocabulary
First - School
Sites for Teachers
Sites for Parents
Clipart for Worksheets
The Teacher's Corner
Teaching Made Easier
School Express

Membership Sites:
Ed Helper
Reading A-Z
ELSIE: Reading 0-6

Inexpensive Handwriting Books
Staidens Homeschooling

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What to Expect When Your Child Begins Preschool

Preschools may just look like a jumble of toys, books, activities etc, to the uninitiated, but in reality, they are very carefully planned to stimulate your children's interest and motivate them to explore and discover.

They are geared towards fine honing children's conceptual skills, to prepare them for learning to read and write, to count and figure. They're also set up to give your children that wonderfully creative but incredibly messy play that's essential to develop the finer muscles and coordination they will need to launch successfully them into the world of learning.

For those whose children are about to begin their education, here is a great description of what to expect when you first visit the preschool. Read THIS and look for similar organisation in your child's preschool.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.7 - Understanding Spatial Relationships

The directions that teachers use to teach handwriting in the school assume that children understand spatial and temporal(related to or limited by time) concepts. Hey what???
These are obviously terms used to confuse any but the initiated, but all it really means is can they get their minds, to communicate to the hand, the directions the teacher is giving them. Terms such as "on top of the line, "above the line," or "between the lines" and many more, are used in handwriting instruction.
An ability to understand these terms is acquired as children develop both physically and mentally. The age at which the average child begins to understand the position "in" is 2 years. Additional positions or locations are learned as the child increases in age, with the most challenging locations, "back/front" usually understood by the average child at 4 years 8 months.
Practice in understanding locations or positions is covered in the preschool curriculum, but it is often assumed by Kindergarten teachers that this concept has already been gained and they proceed from there. If a student's concepts in this area are only a few months later in developing, than their entry to kindergarten, it can effect their self esteem, or belief in themselves, to the extent that they cease believing that they can succeed.

I'm going to get on my favourite hobby horse here, about mid-year intake in Kindergarten. What this actually does is take a child into Kindergarten who is approximately six months younger in age, skill and concept development and only give them half a year of Kindergarten before they are required to keep up with the curriculum in year one. Now I ask you - does that sound, in any way at all, logical to you, or good for your child? If you answer "Not logical at all." and you say "I'll never do that to my child", I'll give you an A++++++++. Please, please, please, even if you do think you have a genius on your hands, and you may, hold your child back until the beginning of the next year.

Activities to help your child with positions are fairly obvious. I've given you some below, but you'll probably think of lots more as you progress.
1. Take something in your hand. Hold it in different positions and ask your child to tell you where it is.
2. Find the object. Hide something and give the child instructions, one at a time, on how to find it. Use a lot of position words. such as in, on, under, over, above, through. If you want to brainstorm about position words use the sentence. "The fox jumped..................the gate." Any word that fits in the space in this sentence is a position or location word.
3. More advanced practice. Take a picture with objects in it and ask the child to describe to you where one particular object is. Make it simple to begin with - not many things on the page. As they gain skill you can make the picture more complicated. Repeat their instructions out loud as you find the object and be very positive when you do.
4. Give your child an object to hold and then give them instructions about where to hide it. You can leave it at that, or you can prolong the game by getting your little student to give someone else position/location instructions on how to find it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Educators Are Best Understood as "Ignorance Engineers"

This is a reprint of a very thought provoking article by Bruce Deitrick Price.

I tend to agree with him, on the whole, both about the Maths and Reading. It's been heartbreaking, tutoring children who are the product of this type of education. They are so worn down by the process, with poor self esteem and no faith in their abilities.

Of course there are some children who will learn, no matter how they're taught, or should I say in spite of how they're taught. If you have a child like this, then thank God. Most children do need good teaching and they haven't been given that. The most terrible thing is that they've not only received poor teaching, but they've been blamed for their own failure and believed the lie they've been fed.

It's not their fault! They still have the ability to learn if they're taught properly. The problem that we run into, is to convince them that this is so. It's very, very hard to ask someone to believe this truth, when they've accepted a lie about themselves for so long.

Here is the article.....

Public schools seem to be in a constant state of disarray and low performance. We have to wonder: are our educators hopelessly inept? Or is intellectual sabotage a factor?

Some experts argued that educators have been sidetracked by social engineering. Here, the main goal is that students have correct opinions rather than that they learn a lot. (The Civil War? Oh, that´s about the injustice of slavery. What else needs mentioning?)

Note that schools in Socialist and Communist countries engage in endless indoctrination, but they also find time to teach a lot of information, as required by the traditional educational model. So it´s clear that both can be done.

The striking thing about American public schools is that students stop learning even the simplest things. Children are in school roughly a thousand hours a year, for a total of 12,000 hours from grades one to 12. But in that vast mansion of time there doesn´t seem to be room for a match box of facts. Find Japan on a map? Don´t be silly. Nobody needs to know that.

Can social engineering, as normally defined, explain why American children know very little? I don´t think so. The ignorance is too towering. The more I looked at the shortcomings of our public schools, the more I was forced to conclude: somebody is deliberately aiming very, very low.

The picture starts to make sense if you assume that American educators, at the PhD level, are not social engineers so much as ignorance engineers. All their ideas and policies appear directed at mass-producing mediocrity, to the degree they can get away with it.

Their concern seems not to be with shaping opinions so much as making sure nobody learns anything worth having an opinion about! Perhaps this nihilistic kind of social engineering is more easily snuck into classrooms.

I didn´t reach this distrustful view casually or in a sudden epiphany. No, it was slowly forced on me as I contemplated the pitiful spectacle of math courses that don´t teach any math, a reading pedagogy that doesn´t permit anyone to learn to read, and geography, history and science courses that are not concerned with anyone retaining information.

What we seem to have is a widespread war against civilization, especially American civilization, conducted in every subject and at every level. Here´s a quick run-down of the incriminating evidence in the main disciplines:

MATH: Decades ago, our educators concocted a fatuous fraud known as New Math. The public laughed. The educators went underground for several years and came up with a bunch of replacements now known (sarcastically) as New New Math. Some of today´s leading textbooks are called TERC, Connected Math, Everyday Mathematics, MathLand, etc. Children taking these courses learn virtually no real math.

To understand this craziness quickly, please see a wonderful video on YouTube titled "An Inconvenient Truth" by M. J. McDermott. Give McDermott 15 minutes and you will understand the vacuity of these programs.

What sort of people would devise math books that don´t teach math?? Ignorance engineers.

READING: It was by studying Whole Word (also known as Look-Say) that I really came to understand the scandal of our schools. This unworkable pedagogy has created 50,000,000 functional illiterates. What could be more vicious?

By all accounts, 99% of children taught with phonics learn to read by the age of 7, or 8 at latest. But children stuck in Whole Word classrooms are made to memorize word shapes one by one (a tedious process), thereby guaranteeing that most of these children will be semi-literate well into high school.

Still worse, this bogus pedagogy is shrouded in sophistry. Even highly educated people rarely understand what Whole Word is. How can the public defend itself against this dangerous hoax? That seems to be the point. I´ve created some graphic videos that try to explain Whole Word in a few minutes. Please visit YouTube and enter "phonics versus whole word."For a longer, more historical analysis, please see "30: The War Against Reading" on Improve-Education.org.

FACTS, IN GENERAL: The dogma is that children should not be expected to memorize ANYTHING. Teachers say: "They can look it up." In real life, this means that nobody knows nothing. About history, science, geography, the arts, or which way is north.

This rampant ignorance is dramatized every time Jay Leno goes "JayWalking." I developed "The Quizz--100 simple facts that every high school student should know" to spotlight the same emptiness. (Google "20: The Quizz")

IN CONCLUSION: Throughout all the years that this dumbing down has been going on, our educators have been yelling for more money. As if that is the key to the kingdom. Not at all. Genuine educators with half the budget would easily outperform the ideologues now in charge.

The central tragedy is that these misguided educators seem to have little concern for the needs of children or the good of the country. Let the people eat cake. (Please print this piece and follow up the leads at your convenience. That our so-called educators would actually function as anti-educators is THE story of the 20th century.)