This summer, Amy & Wendy decided to prepare a special piece to perform at the Master's College annual Bellfest and chose the song "O Holy Night". While they have been ringing bells for a long time, this was Emily and Kelly's first time to ring handbells and they were very eager to learn. The girls had a lot of fun practicing together and filling the house with music and were able to pull it off. It was amazing to see how quickly the piece came together and how smoothy it went.
After an audition, the girls were invited to perform in the Master's college Bellfest and everyone enjoyed it!
The girls enjoyed playing this song on the handbells and the four of them look forward to performing together again.
This year, Amy & Wendy have the opportunity to experience small ensemble ringing through through a new group: The Fellowship of the Ring. They started this trio last year with their friend Morgan Ruthardt and enjoyed it so much that they decided to continue the ensemble this semester. At the beginning of the semester, the three of them made the decision that the trio would only play music that was either written or arranged by someone in the ensemble, allowing them the freedom to play whatever song they wanted in whatever way they chose to play it. Because all either music majors or music lovers, writing their own music has helped them grow in their musical abilities. It has also given them a better understanding of the pieces they are playing (how they work and fit together) as well as a lot of fun.
I've enjoyed watching this handbell ensemble and I look forward to their next performance.
It's time to stop following Justin Beiber on Twitter and hit the books...
Now that the wildly successful "The man your man could smell like" campaign has made its way around the world, we are beginning to see some very classy parodies. How does the saying go? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
By the way, in case you've been under a rock or away from the planet for a while, here's the original
Not that this ever happens in our home but the neat thing about homeschool discipline is that you can tell your child that if she continues to disrupt the class she will have to leave the room and will miss home school for the rest of the day.
This weekend, Amy and Wendy were invited to participate in Bellfest 2007 at The Master's College. Christine Anderson taught a bell class for small groups, ensembles, and solos. Amy and Wendy prepared a beautiful piece to share at the concert at the end of the day. (Click on the image to watch the video)
What's amazing is that the girls accomplished this using two inexpensive sets of children's bells. If you've ever seen or rung one of these bells - where the clapper can go in any direction - you will know how hard it is to get one of these bells to ring only once or on queue. Amy and Wendy perfected a technique that allowed them to do this well, and they were an inspiration to everyone present. I'm very proud of them..
I'm also very appreciative of Mrs. Anderson for her kindness and invitation and inspiration to my children.
It's been a busy week. Amy and Wendy recently began an on-campus homeschool science program at The Master's College. It's a 4-year science program, taught by Dr. Englin, a science professor at the college. Dr. Englin has been teaching this course as an outreach to homeschool families for the past 18 years. While our homeschool curriculum covers this material, its a welcome resource to let them review this in a college setting.
My daughter, Wendy, is the guest contributor today, with a post she recently wrote in response to a question in the GTD connect forum.
I think the best way to teach your kids GTD is to model it for them. They need to see you doing it so that they can ask questions about it. You could start your child off with mind mapping. (One of the first processes that I learned) Introduce this as a way to remember things, and teach this along side making lists.If your child is young you could have them draw pictures to represent things, then gradually substitute that for words.
This is an invitation to encourage our homeschool robotics team in the 2006 FIRST Robotics competition. My daughter, Amy, contributed to this post:
I'm excited! We have just started our first official day of LEGO Robotics 2006.
Our robotics team, the The LEGO Mountaineers is an all-girls home school robotics team. We have been competing in the FIRST Robotics competitions for the past 4 years. FIRST stands for For Inspiration And Recognition of Science and Technology. Its a great way to learn to apply skills in critical thinking, problem solving, math, science, computers, and robotics. It's fun, too.
Today, we finished making our first mind map for the 2006 FIRST Competition.
We use mind maps in all of our planning and we make maps often help us keep track of our goals, projects, ideas, and questions. This will also make it easier for us to keep track of what we have accomplished. Below, is a link to the mind map we made. I believe that it is because of our mind mapping and GTD planning skills that we were able to successfully plan, prepare, and win the Director's Award at two different competitions.
Recently, we were on vacation and were able to view a small part of a race. What kind of race was it, what was it called, and what city were we in? Here are your clues: wheels, ocean, man powered, helmets, hundreds of participants, cow bells.
When I lived in Mons, Belgium, as a kid,
I apprenticed to a master craftsman for about a year or so. The man was
a fine woodworker and he taught me many things, a few of which I actually
remember. (Like pointed end of the tool goes away from the body.) In addition
to learning how to sweep, sand, and carve, I learned about pride in workmanship
and the reward for focused effort. Though I did not understand or appreciate
it at the time, I became a part of a rich heritage and tradition of knowledge
transfer from master to student. Now it's my turn, as a parent, to do the
Two weeks ago, I brought Amy & Wendy along to David Allen's to help
me deploy several new T42 ThinkPads for David's ever-expanding staff. We'd
rehearsed the software loading and deployment process back in my lab, so
when we got to Ojai, Amy & Wendy knew what to do. It's a great way
to expose my children to technology, teach them the value of work, and
allow them to earn money to put towards the new computers they plan to
buy. (Yes, they get paid when the work they do brings value to a client)
Wendy and I are sitting here, watching
NASA TV on her laptop. The shuttle crew has just radioed down to
Houston control to ask for help; it seems that they cannot get Outlook
to connect to the on-board server. As best as Wendy and I can determine,
they are running a network of laptops on board, with one laptop apparently
acting as their mail relay to the ground.
Wendy's indicated that she would be happy to make an on-site visit help
them troubleshoot their network. Michael and I have recent experience with
I'm not sure if the Shuttle crew is following my blog while in space, but
I thought that we might collect some possible solutions for them - just
in case they check in via RSS. Meanwhile, I'll listen to the NASA channel
There are many studies that show the benefits
of different modes of education, including home education, government schools,
parochial schools, and private schools. It is not uncommon for a discussion
of these to quickly, , turn into a discussion of which is better: home
education vs government schools, or which provides a more socialized child,
or any of a number of other aspects of the educational experience. I know;
I have these discussions often with parents of school-age children - regardless
of where they choose to educate their children. Recently, a blog
entry led to some interesting discussion in follow-up emails and comments.
I do not believe that the debate should be between public government vs
home education. I can come up with strong arguments for both points of
view - I've even debated many of these in public settings. Both options
offer opportunities and benefits to our children. I think there is a
more important discussion that needs to occur in every home: the importance
of parental involvement in the training and education of their children.
Ask any teacher and they will tell you that one of the most important factors
that influence the outcome of a child's education is parental involvement.
This is important, because teachers will only be involved for a brief period
of time in the life of our children. Even the finest teachers in the finest
schools only have but a few hours a day to influence their class. From
that, subtract time for distractions, (breaks, disciplinary interruptions,
lunch, assemblies. etc.) Divide the remaining time by the number of students
in the class, and you will realize just how little time that is really
available in each day for the education of each individual student.
Theoretically speaking, even if a school
were operating at 100% efficiency - educating the full time that our children
were in attendance - they would only have the students for what, 6 hours
a day? What parents do with their children for the remaining 18 hours a
day will largely determine the effectiveness of their child's education.
While I'm thankful that our government provides educational opportunities
for children, the government cannot - and should not - be responsible to
provide the total education of our children. It's not their job. That's
my job and Kathy's job as parents. If you're a parent, it's your job,
too. Parents, you must be involved, not only in selecting the format and
venue for their child's education, but in every aspect of encouragement
and reinforcement that goes on until your child leaves home as an adult.
For parents that choose to educate their children at home, as we do, or
for parents that choose to send their children to a government school,
parochial school, or even the finest private school, I say: BE INVOLVED.
Be involved and stay involved, all the way through high-school and college
graduation. That's a big responsibility. Far more important than career
or work or recreation.
Outside of our spiritual responsibility to our children, I believe it's
the most important responsibility that we as parents have.
Mark Gershon posted a great comment on
my blog this weekend:
Eric, I have the other side to hand to you, Yes, the
Robotics are cool, but can't we wait until they know how to read, and write
(i.e. hand writing skills) before the computer takes over. Please
remember they need to move physically just as much!!!!
Mark, I agree with you, however, my children all know how to read and write.
In fact, each of them began to read full-length books on their own by the
age of 5, some at age 4. Dick, Jane, and their dog Spot were a great help
in the early years. (Kathy had these books from many years ago) Dr. Seuss
will of course remain a starter classic in our home. Amy and Wendy read
the entire [original] Nancy Drew series a few years later. They love to
read and write as much as they love to run and play outdoors.
We did not have to push them into reading. We simply read and spoke to
them in full, complete, sentences from birth - no baby talk.
Kathy and I encourage reading and writing in everything that we do, whether
it's in our homeschool or just for recreation. (We don't have television
in our home, but we do have a large library of great books.)
I don't advocate robotics or computers in place of learning the basics;
but, when kids have the basics, I think robotics are a great way for them
to put their imagination into action.
Two recent comments to my blog about Amy
& Wendy's podcast
got me thinking about how tech and times have changed since I was a kid.
Excellent podcasts - I take my hat off to
everyone involved. Listening to them, it really points out how times have
changed since I was 12 years old.
These efforts by these two young ladies
continue to impress mightily.
Warner, Colin, in 1978, when I was 15, I was what some would have called
a computer genius - or at least a computer wiz kid. (Whatever that means).
When I was a kid, if you wanted a computer, you had to build it -
either from a Heathkit - or better, from scratch. In either case,
you started with chips and circuit boards to wire wrapping and soldering.
The one megahertz 8-bit CPU in my H-8 wasn't fast by today's standards,
but I never complained. (I simply clock doubled it to TWO megahertz and
added beefy cooling to the chassis.)
I once read an article, about 20 years ago, that attempted to explain why
so many young computer wizards had appeared on the scene all at once. (Aside
from the fact that computers were suddenly available to the masses; at
least those with the money and time to build one.)
The article, as best as I remember, offered these reasons:
Young people often:
Have lots of time
Are infinitely curious
Are not intimidated by the dreaded "BDOS
ERROR ON DRIVE A:" (If you remember CP/M you'll get it)
Are willing to experiment to find a
Will spend hours, trying to make something
work (i.e. Text Adventure)
Usually don't care what others think
about their computer efforts
Take satisfaction in leaning/knowing
things others don't (or won't)
you have young children and computers, put them together; then get
out of the way. (No internet connection needed)
I love encouraging my children - and children in general - to explore technology.
That's why I enjoy robotics outreach programs where I get to dress up like
I wish that when I was a kid, I had access to everything that they have
I look forward to seeing what my children will accomplish as they grow
up. I look forward to learning from them, too.
Robert Scoble and his friend are soliciting
ideas on how to get children
interested in computers. Not just interested, but really interested
- like taking one apart, building one, programming one from the ground
up. These days, many children grow up playing with computers; they get
into the games, but not what's inside.
When children grow up using computers, it's easy for them to be unimpressed
with what's inside.
As a parent of four computer/PDA literate children, ages 12, 12, 7, and
5, here are a few suggestions that come to mind ...
Start early. Expose your children to computers as early as possible
We allowed our children to "play" with computers starting at
age two. I purchased a "Jumbo Keys" keyboard that had oversized
keys arranged alphabetically.
Be creative in explaining how computers work
Be selective about the software that they use
There is a lot of wonderful software out there; software that will encourage
and promote critical thinking skills. There's also a lot of less-than-constructive
software out there. I could do a sermon on this, but I won't. I'll simply
recommend parental involvement.
OK, those are software-related suggestions. But, what about getting kids
involved in building or programming computers? Consider these options ...
Build a LEGO robot and program it to do something
Get a LEGO Mindstorms set and build it with your kids. Its a great investment.
Reusable, too. There's nothing quite like the experience of watching a
creation that you have built and programmed run across the room and do
Join a FIRST Jr. Robotics Team
Help your child enjoy the excitement of team projects in technology and
watch them experience the thrill of competition
Channel 9 guy thinks it's cool.
Your kids will, too.
Let them build their own computer
This year, I took four old laptops and helped my children set them up --
everything from formatting the drive, to installing XP, to loading service
packs, applications and games. We've had a great time, and the kids have
taken ownership of their computers. The process allowed for many length
discussions about how and why things work.
do they call them Radio Buttons, Dad?
Let them take a computer apart
Last year, for a science fair project Amy and I took apart an old computer
or a printer (older the better; bigger stuff inside, lots of moving parts)
-- all the way down to cutting open the hard drive and keyboard to see
how they worked
(Click on Science Fair)
What ideas do you have?
This afternoon, our family participated
in a homeschool geography fair. In all, 12 children participated. The Mack
sisters taught us about Egypt (Wendy), Japan, (Amy), New Zealand (Emily),
and Mexico (Kelly). This is the second year that Kathy's organized the
event, and it was educational, entertaining, and filling -- we sampled
food from each country.
Emily, teaches us about Kiwi fruit from New Zealand
Sampson, and his family (also
homeschoolers) were kind enough to provide Emily with an inside look at
their beautiful country. Michael sent pictures, newspapers, crafts and
even money. [You're always welcome to send money, Michael.] He even called
Emily to let her hear the funny way that New Zealanders talk. We'll get
to hear more of that when he comes to visit us soon.
I really appreciate the opportunity to encourage our children to participate
in public events like this. It's a great way to reinforce the instruction
that goes on in the classroom at home. Between church, science fairs, geography
fairs, speech, drama, and book report nights, our girls have become comfortable
presenting in front of an audience.
This week was a big week at the Mack Academy.
Kelly gradated from the first grade. To celebrate, we gave Kelly a Palm
Kelly's no stranger to PDAs but this one is her very own - a fact that
she's more than happy to remind her sisters about. Fortunately, her older
sisters have Zire 72s that they saved for, and Emily will have her own
Palm soon, too.
So, what does a 5 year-old keep on her PDA?
Handy dandy [digital] notepad
Bible & Memory verse flash cards
Lists of important things to remember
Grandma's phone number
I'm not pushing the kids with this -- just allowing them to use the same
tools that dad uses. As I model best practices, like GTD, I hope that some
of those will wear off on my children. This coming school year, we will
begin to integrate PDA use into our routine. I'm in the process of equipping
Kathy to prepare flash cards on her computer so that she can beam decks
to the kids to study in the car.
We all know what radio buttons are -- software
buttons that allow you to make only one selection. But why do they call
them by that name and how do you explain the answer to a kid who was born
long after those radios - the ones with the mechanical push-buttons - disappeared?
I faced this challenge, this evening, as I taught my children how to install
Windows XP onto their computers. (Part of our homeschool computer class)
My answer: a radio button is a round button you can click on to select
one of several choices in a list. You can only select one radio button
at a time. When you select another button, the original button is deselected
- it "pops up," just like the mechanical car radios. (Unless,
of course, you were like me as a kid: I tried to see how many buttons you
could push down at the same time.)
Why would a school district do this? Is it about educating the next generation
of decision makers?
I'd like to think so.
It seems that more than one school district is trying to make up for severe
budget cuts by... imagine this ... finding new ways to better serve students
in their districts - particularly those who are not currently enrolled
in public school.
This is a topic that I've wanted to write about for a long time. I'm no
stranger to public education. Still, I'm the only member of my family not
involved in public education. I spent eight years of my life in the American
public school system. My wife, a devoted teacher, gave up her career in
public education just so that she could home educate our children. (Why
would she do that? It's a long story - perhaps I'll blog about it another
day). As you can see, I have input and experience from many perspectives.
The CNN article brings up the fact that many public school districts are
trying to get homeschool families to send their children back to public
school ... so that they can collect state funds. You see, although you
and I pay state taxes earmarked for education, your local schools only
collect if your child is in school. If you don't send your child to public
school, the school does not get the money. The state keeps the rest. No
refunds. Surprise. Perhaps this is why some school districts argue that
families that choose to educate their children at home are hurting their
districts. Sorry, I don't think it's the classroom attendance they are
worried about; it's the ...
Regardless of their motivation, I think it is wonderful that so many school
districts are looking at what they can do to better serve students in their
district. I want to see all students benefit from a quality education.
I even pay taxes to help make this happen.
There is MUCH that I could say about the topics mentioned in this article.
Perhaps someday I will find the time to put all of my thoughts in writing.
Meanwhile, I would like to quote two paragraphs from this news article
that summarize a few of the reasons that Kathy and I choose to home educate
Many home-school parents are fiercely loyal to the lifestyle,
and to the educational benefits they see for their children. Some want
to protect their youngsters from the peer pressure and drugs they fear
are rampant in public schools. Others, like the Wilsons, home-school their
children in part for religious reasons.
instruction where the instructor, not just the body of knowledge, is important,"
Teckla Wilson said. "Home-schooling allows you to work out the pace
that is best for them. And, we are Christians, and for me, it is important
that I teach them to think with a biblical world view."
would add to the above the amount and quality of hands-on instruction time.
In fact, it was the amount of classroom instruction time (or lack thereof)
that influenced my wife's decision more than any other factor.
I know that I've said this before: any parent with children still living
at home - is a teaching parent. As a parent, everything that you do or
say becomes a part of your child's education. Whether or not you choose
to entrust your child to a school outside of your home for 8 hours a day
or not, you still have at least 16 hours a day to influence and educate
them. Make the most of it. Children grow up fast.
I'm thankful that we live in a country where we enjoy many liberties, including
the freedom to continue the excellent tradition of home education.
A tradition as old as the first family.
FYI: It's no small investment to educate your children at home. It requires
a big commitment in time, expertise, and financial resources. We pay the
same taxes for education as everyone else. In addition, we must purchase
all of the curriculum, training, and resources that we use each year. Finally,
most homeschool families must choose to have only one parent work outside
of the home. I believe that the long-term benefits significantly outweigh
My colleague from New Zealand, Michael
Sampson, and his boys have
provided an answer to a pressing question about time management and its
measurement. The question, posed by my daughter, Emily, went like
Dear Mr. Sampson, My name is Emily Mack I am 7 years
old. I live in California. My favorte days of the week are Wensday, Monday
The things that I like are playing, Computers and writing stories.
I have a question to ask your boys. Does your clock run clockwise?( left
In the picture you will see our clock.
Michael's son, David, was kind enough to post this response,
along with a very helpful photo, in order to help clarify how time is measured
Last week, we took a group of 60 home school
kids and their parents to California Adventure for a 1/2 day overview
of California history.
We were delighted by the turnout from
our local home school community. The staff and tour guides put together
a wonderful program in which the kids got to experience the sights and
sounds of California's rich heritage. After the tour, the kids were able
to enjoy the rides in the park with their friends. That night, Kathy and
I took our girls to our favorite place -- can you guess where?
My daughters and I are excited to begin
studying Latin and world history. Two of our friends, who also home educate
their children, have graciously offered to present year-long courses in
these subjects to some of the home educated students in our community.
This is a real treat for us, as both are professors at The
Master's College, and they
each bring a high level of expertise with them. On
the first day of class, 30 home educated students attended.
When asked why they wanted to learn Latin. Some of the young people said
that it was because they wanted to improve their English grammar, others
wanted to score high on their SATs, others said that they wanted to learn
Latin because their friends were, and still others said that their parents
had made them attend. :-) One young person admitted that he and his friends
wanted to learn Latin so that they could talk about people in a language
that no one would understand.
Whatever their reasons for attending, I am certain that they will learn
many things over the next year.
Our family is grateful for the opportunity to participate. I'm looking
forward to learning with my daughters, too.
reports that as more parents
seek control of the curriculum and environment for their children, the
estimated figure of students educated at home grew by 29% this past year.
The results were released Tuesday by the National Center for Education
Statistics, part of the Education Department.
Kathy and I have just returned from the Christian
Home Educator's Association of California
annual conference, where we spent a weekend with thousands of other parents
who are successfully home educating their children.
It was inspiring and energizing to be with such a large group of parents,
gathered for the sole purpose of further equipping themselves to educate
their children at home. The speakers were great, and the organizations,
vendors and colleges present provided valuable curriculum, books, resources,
and training in various methodologies of education.
I'll post a more detailed summary of the trip and commentary soon.
Fellow technologist, Richard
Schwartz, recently blogged
that he is considering home educating his gifted daughter, and he's looking
for information from other technically oriented parents who are already
doing this. If you fit that description, he'd like to hear from you.
Kathy and I have been home educating our four daughters since birth (the
older twins are now 11.75 years old) and we have found it to be a simultaneously
challenging, time-consuming, exhilarating, and rewarding experience. It's
a lot of work, but the benefits can be tremendous.
Home Education involves many aspects and can be accomplished in a variety
of ways. That's one of the wonderful things about becoming responsible
for your child's education. You do not have to do everything alone or even
at home. I tell parents that any parent can (and I believe should) become
a home-educating parent -- regardless of whether or not they entrust their
child's education to an outside institution (public or private) for portion
of their day.
Home education is about more than just where the learning takes
place; it is about the process and the approach. Every discussion,
event, activity, problem and question that your child asks is a learning
opportunity. What will be learned depends entirely upon how you respond.
This can be a great deal of fun, too. Just take a look at my past blog
Carrots. (I could fill
a daily blog site with stories like these.)
My first recommendation, Richard, would be to attend a local home education
conference. There, you will find a variety of resources. For my wife and
I, it is one of our favorite times of year, and in many ways, it is better
than [gasp] Comdex or Lotusphere. Imagine the excitement of
being in a convention center with 5000 other people -- all parents -- who
have only one focus in mind -- how to best educate and equip their children
for life. Add to this the speakers, exhibits, curriculum vendors, and learning
resource companies; you will definitely leave exhilarated and with a new
Since many focus on the academic potential of home education, which is
great, I'll mention something else: relationships. We have found that our
own family relationships have been greatly strengthened by the time and
activities that we do together, and I have observed this in most of the
other homeschool families that I know. This destroys the myth that
quality time is better than quantity of time. You need a lot of both.
Kids watch and learn from everything that they see.
I could go on all day, about this and other benefits, but I'll take my
leave. Perhaps I'll write more to post on our Family
Homeschool site, which I am
currently converting to DominoBlog,
so that I can more easily add information, resources and sections. Amy
and Wendy have already asked for sections where they can blog about their
robotics team and other school-related
projects and activities.
As an on-going homeschool activity, we
have set a goal of visiting each of the California missions over the next
several years. This past week, we visited the beautiful mission San
Juan Capistrano, the 7th mission
in a chain of 21 missions along California's "El Camino Real."
We were able to walk the Mission site and visit the Serra Chapel. We
also toured the Padre's quarters and the soldier's barracks as well as
the remains of the Great Stone Church. At noon, we heard the tolling of
century old bells.
After our field trip, and in keeping with the spirit of the day, we headed
across the street for authentic Mexican food.
For the past few weeks our house has had
an international flair as my children have been preparing for today's homeschool
geography fair. Books from the library, postal envelopes with foreign
currency, embassy packages with information, and flags from foreign nations
have all had a place on our dinner table for weeks.
Each child prepared a display and wrote a report about the country they
selected. In addition to their report, each child gave an oral presentation
to the group. Finally, we were able to taste representative foods
from each nation, which the children prepared for us.
Amy chose to do her research on the
country of Italy. She enjoyed learning about Italian culture, the Euros,
and the opportunity to build a model of the tower of Pisa.
Wendy researched the country of France and shared information and items
she collected from her French relatives. She made chocolate crepes to share
with the other children.
Emily studied about Ireland and served homemade Irish Soda bread. She
really liked learning that grocers sell vegetables from baby carriages.
She also learned about the flag of Ireland and what each color represents.
Kelly (4) read a patriotic presentation about the United States of America.
Kelly showed an American flag that she made and she showed everyone where
California is on a map that she colored. She let everyone sample authentic
American food: hot dogs.
For next year's Homeschool Geography
Fair, the girls plan to write to the Sampson
Boys, down under, to collect
some information about their homeland: New Zealand. Their dad, Michael
is a great guy, a fellow technologist, and a dedicated homeschooling father.
I've been behind on the blogging lately - lots of exciting projects going:
client work, another speech, preparations for the eProductivity.Net
site launch, family/homeschool, and my own studies and research all keep
me quite busy. I will try to post more details here and over at the Mack
Academy web site soon.
My friend and fellow robotics mentor, Rob
Steele, and I have just completed a 3-day Solid Modelling (CAD) course
for educators, sponsored by PTC,
makers of ProDesktop and ProEngineer. The course was held at California
State University, at Northridge. Once we complete our course assignments,
we will be certified to teach ProDesktop to students. We plan to use this
training to teach students in our U.S.
FIRST robotics teams real-world
Here is an example of some of the basic solid models we worked on. The
next step in this exercise is to render the materials to cover the surface
of the model. I can't wait to show the kids how to take their concepts
to design. Eventually, I plan to teach the kids how to take their
computer designs and machine them on a CNC mill and lathe using some of
the equipment in my CNC
Kathy and I have just returned from our
annual trip to a home educator's conference.
We left renewed in our commitment to home educate our children and wondering
how we are going to work in the new subjects that we desire to add to an
already busy curriculum. This year, what really has my interest,
is the classical form of education and logic.
On the classical side, the presentations on the Trivium, were quite compelling.
Kathy and I were as interested for the benefit of our children as
we were for ourselves.
This evening at the dinner table, Amy asked
me what a byte was. Knowing that she was not referring to the mouthful
of vegetables I had just taken, and that I first needed to explain what
a bit was, I quickly grabbed a handful of vegetables and began to teach
the girls the binary system -- using peas and carrots for zeros and ones.
Working from there, I was able to tangibly demonstrate bits, nibbles
It brought a whole new meaning to minding P's and C's. Whoever said
you couldn't learn something while playing with your food?
I've just completed a week long day &
night astronomy class. Amy & Wendy were invited by the professor
to join us for the lab portion of the class. They enjoyed learning
about the stars and constellations.
They even took the exam with me. I'm not sure who learned more. Thanks,
I have just returned from a quick trip to San Diego where the all-girls
homeschool robotics team that I am coaching participated in the
U.S. FIRST LEGO Robotics Competition.
team consisted of my two oldest daughters and four other homeschooled girls.
It was a fun opportunity to teach a little math, a little science,
how to build a LEGO robot, and how to give a presentation.
The girls had to give their research presentation as well as their technical
presentation before a panel of judges; scientists from the San Diego Supercomputing
Center. They were then called back throughout the day for additional
interviews with the judges.
At the end of the day, during the awards ceremony, the team was awarded
the Judges trophy for their excellent work on their technical and research
girls did an outstanding job on their research and presentation projects.
I am very proud of all of them.
I plan to update the girls team
web site with more photos
and their newspaper articles soon.
If any of you have, or know of middle school-aged children, the U.S.
FIRST organization, founded
by Dean Kamen, is a truly wonderful group of people, dedicated to the inspiration
and recognition of science and technology in students.
Today, Amy and Wendy were given the honor
of attending a David Allen seminar with me. They were the first children
to attend one of the productivity seminars. David was a most gracious
host and included the girls in the discussion. Amy and Wendy handled
themselves well and I am very proud of them. At one point in the
seminar, David talked about the motivation for getting things done. He
used a story that his dentist told him: "You only have to floss the
teeth that you want to keep." Amy and Wendy that that was really
neat and they asked me if we had any floss at home. (Thank you David
If you have children, you have to ask yourself
if you are home educating them as well. OK, perhaps that is a misleading
statement (See disclaimer #1) but I do want you to think about your role
as a parent.
Our family home educates our 4 daughters ages 1 3/4, 3 3/4 and twins at
8 1/2. It has been a fun and stimulating experience thus far. Perhaps most
exciting is to see the two younger children learning so much by watching
their older siblings. We do not push our children, the 3 year old is learning
to read because she wants to be just like her big sisters. The youngest
pretends to read along. The older ones help with the teaching of their
younger siblings and in turn, learn effective communication skills.
As for family dynamics, I can think of no better way to bring and keep
our family close together than the experience that we have had homeschooling
our children. I am fortunate to be able to run my consulting practice from
home. I'm therefore able to be involved or at least aware of everything
that is going on. We are all becoming our own best friends and this strengthens
Now, I must make two disclaimers:
1. Homeschooling as an alternative to public or private school is not for
everyone. That does not mean that you cannot have a homeschooling mentality
as you approach every event and circumstance with your children as a learning
opportunity. It is my personal belief that EVERYONE who has children should
be homeschooling them regardless of whether they also choose to have them
attend a public, private or parochial school for 5 or 6 hours each day.
2. As the income producer in our family, it should be noted that my wife
does most all of the work on the formal classroom training. I cannot take
credit for the many hours of classroom and textbook time that she invests
with our children. I think that in most homeschooling families you will
find this to be true.
I would welcome your comments or questions. We are only in our 4th year
of homsechooling and perhaps there are some of you out there who have already
graduated your children. I'd love to hear from you.
This year, the theme for our Vacation Bible
School was Science. As an outreach of ICA
Robotics, I put on my
lab coat and my special colander hat, complete with wires, lights, and
propeller. I entertained the children with a variety of robots, including
our family favorite, HERO 2000.