Posted by: chrisdavis | August 25, 2014

“High School” Will Never Be the Same Again

Colleges and universities are turning to high school students with offers almost too good to believe.

From Liberty University (the world’s largest private, Christian university) to Stanford University (always among America’s top-ranked universities)–from small to great–colleges are actively seeking out high schoolers to enroll with them.

The local community college where I live takes students as young as age 13. But Stanford goes a step further, offering a complete online high school with no minimum age requirement. 

What’s up with all this?

Part of it has to do with the flexibility of homeschoolers. One of the Deans at Liberty University recently told me, “We can easily tell which of our students were homeschooled. They come to us more mature and more purposeful than any of the others.”

As the cost of attending a brick and mortar institution makes attendance unavailable to many good students, the internet has opened up a huge opportunity and the more astute colleges are taking advantage of this option.

So, why not offer college courses tailored for homeschooled high schoolers? When the student takes the course, the parent simply gives the student high school credit and the college gives the student college credit. Then, if and when the student enters college, he could actually enter as a college Junior!

Read about other options to the traditional 4-year high school for homeschoolers. Check them out in my new book, available at Amazon:

081914_1444_Doesitevenm1.jpgPS: see you all at the end of next month. I’m off to Israel…

 

Posted by: chrisdavis | August 24, 2014

What is the “best” foreign language for your children?

I am a strong proponent of young people learning Greek and Latin root words rather than the traditional language choices offered by state schools. Traditional languages are rarely mastered in a school setting since true mastery of languages only comes by immersion in the language’s native culture. If a student shows a strong desire to learn Spanish, French, or another language, I would find a way to allow that student to spend time in the country where that language is spoken. On the other hand, a working knowledge of Greek and Latin roots is valuable in helping the student with upper level vocabulary and, especially, if the student is entering a scientific field.

There is another approach to languages that I recently encountered in an article appearing in ParentTookKit. The article took me back many years to the time when my oldest son said something like, “When I graduate from school, I want to have a college-prep diploma that will get me into a good college.”

“OK”, I said, “You know that means you are required to take 2 years of a foreign language.”

To this he replied, “The ‘foreign languages’ I want to learn are computer languages.”

By this time, my son had been homeschooled for several years and, by then, I thought I didn’t have a traditional thought in my head regarding education. So I was surprised that I balked at the idea of him not taking Spanish or French or the like.

But, the more I thought about it, the more I considered that my son’s request to learn computer programming should be as advantageous as any offered by the state schools.

Fast forward to my son’s future (he is now 33), owns his own programming business, and does quite well for himself.

The article in www.parenttoolkit.com, spoke of the need to educate young people in the skills of programming. It argued that the ability to program the various technological tools that infuse our daily lives is currently in high demand in the job market and the writer projects the existence of up to 2.1 million jobs in computer-related fields within the next 6 years.

Learning to “code” also means learning a way of thinking that promotes analyzing, problem solving, and creativity.

For some time, state schools will lag behind as they continue to promote traditional languages such as Spanish and French and ignore the obvious need for young people to become proficient in the languages of programming.

My preferences for children learning Greek and Latin roots as well as my preferences for children learning to program (as early as age 4) appear on my website, ChrisDavisRecommends. Go to the site now and see for yourself…

Chris Davis

PS: If you are not a subscriber to this blog, do so now to receive all future blogs I write.

Have a good September. I leave for Israel this Wednesday for a month. Consider joining me in Israel next June. The website is ExperiencingIsrael. Our trips are totally homeschool friendly!

Posted by: chrisdavis | August 19, 2014

Does it even matter?

Everyone believes a child should be educated.

But, what if I were to discover that the Bible defines the terms “child” and “educated” differently than I have always thought?

I only know how to define words from my personal experience with those words; or, based on what everyone else thinks they mean.

What if I am wrong? What if the Bible says a child is something other than what I have been taught to think? What if the Bible says education is something other than what I have been taught to think?

Does it even matter?

It is said that the one defining the words gets to decide.

Society has decided what the words “child” and “educate” mean, but you can decide that they mean something else: what the Bible says they mean.

You child’s destiny may just hinge on how you choose to define these words.

 

In my new book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally, I discuss the biblical definitions of “child” and “education”. Available on Amazon in paperback and as an e-book. Check it out and write a review.

Posted by: chrisdavis | August 11, 2014

My Journey to an Education

What follows is the forward to my new book Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally, now available at Amazon in either paperback or as an e-book.

 

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire

William Butler Yeats

Grandma was sitting in the living room reading a book. She always seemed to be reading something. Her bedroom floor was piled high with reading material. She once warned me that a person who stops reading will grow old in his mind. Her mind never seemed old and her broad range of knowledge was welcome everywhere. She laughed easily after which she would dab at the corner of her mouth with a Kleenex.

I walked into the living room and flopped myself on the couch opposite her. She always looked the same to me: smartly dressed, her pure-white hair nicely groomed, and the ever-present Kleenex poking out of the cuff of her blouse within easy reach. Dabbing the corner of her mouth with a Kleenex had become so habitual she was no longer aware of how often she performed this ritual. The removal of a facial nerve had left the right side of her mouth paralyzed and it tended to leak saliva.

Her name was Florence, but she was affectionately known to her children as Flossie. I was not allowed to call her that. The reason, I suppose, was the 64 year difference in our ages.

Grandma was born in a little town in southern Minnesota but her Dad eventually moved the family to Walnut Grove. Even though Laura Ingalls was 12 years her senior, Grandma must have known the Ingalls family as Walnut Grove was just another of the many small villages on the frontier.

Descended from a famous Scottish clan leader, Grandma was a proud Scot and did not let the prevailing attitude toward women stand in the way of her earning a Master’s Degree at a time when most women did not usually attend college. She had successfully raised five children on a teacher’s salary after the death of her young husband. Her proudest possession, and one that never left her person, was a pocket watch given her by her father, engraved with the date of her 21st birthday: May 21, 1900.

This was Grandma. She had been in and out of my life as she moved between her various children’s families, staying a few months with each one.

Grandma put down her book and turned to me. Her face and seemingly frail body betraying the twinkle in her eye as if she was always forcing her aging body to admit that it housed a girl’s adventuresome spirit.

“How is school?” she inquired, a very logical way for a retired school teacher to begin a conversation with a 13 year old.

Truth is, I hated school. It’s not that I hated learning. I just hated school. Everything about it made me feel dumb and I hated feeling dumb. My emotional maturity had been slowed by my father’s premature death when I was two, and my mother had to work to support the family. Paying for a babysitter was not within her means. So, she had put me in 1st grade two months after I turned five, and a few years later, the school Principal talked her into allowing me to skip 4th grade. I was in 9th grade at age 13, but with the maturity of a much younger child.

To her question, “How is school?” I answered, vaguely, “It’s okay, Grandma.”

“What are you learning?” She was a schoolteacher, after all, and this was what she wanted to talk about.

“Well, you know,” I answered, “Thanksgiving is next week and we are learning about the Pilgrims.”

“That’s wonderful!” said Grandma, her face lighting up as she found a topic she loved and that we could share. “Tell me what you’ve learned about the Pilgrims.”

As a 13-year-old there were many things I didn’t care about, and that definitely included the Pilgrims. Unfortunately, I heard myself say this to Grandma.

“I don’t care anything about the Pilgrims, Grandma. That was ancient history.”

A perceptible change came over my grandmother’s countenance. The previous look of pleasurable interest was now one of disbelief. I knew I had said something very wrong; but, as with most things I said or did at that age, I was unaware of what it was.

Finally, a light appeared in grandmother’s eyes as if she had understood something important. Slowly she nodded her head and she said, “I see.” Then, she picked up her book and began to read where she had left off. So ended our brief conversation.

I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas without another talk with Grandma and she finally left and went to stay with one of my aunts.

Toward the end of that school year my mother said, “I bought a canvas tarp. I want you to spread the tarp on the driveway and paint it with the waterproofing paint I bought.”

“Why?” I asked. “What would I do that for?”

“Your grandmother is taking you somewhere,” she said. “She will be here to pick you up the day after school is over.”

I was taken aback. “Taking me somewhere! Where?”

“You’ll see,” she said with such finality, I knew that was all the answer I was going to get.

Saturday morning I spread the canvas on the driveway and painted one side of it. The southern California sun soon dried it and I turned the canvas over and painted the other side. By evening, it was completely dry and waterproof. My mother took out an old suitcase and put it on my bed. She then dictated which clothes I was to put in it. She avoided all my questions about where I was going with Grandma and how long I would be gone.

The last day of school is the favorite day of the year for most students. It was always my worst day because I received my report card and my grades were always pretty bad. I never saw the point of school. I intuitively thought that most of what I was required to learn would have little meaning in my future. I thought school was probably meant to fill the days rather than make me a smarter person.

The next morning was Saturday and I awoke to the realization that I had a whole summer ahead of me without school. Since I lived on a hill above the ocean, I envisioned three months of body surfing and, generally, being lazy.

During breakfast, my mother announced, “Your grandmother is here!”

My heart sank. “Oh, yeah,” I said as the future began to dawn on my awakening mind. “I’m supposed to be going somewhere with Grandma.”

On the back seat of Grandma’s 1948 Chevrolet was a large Coleman cooler. On top of that sat a very old Coleman stove. The rest of the back seat was filled with sacks of groceries and more camping gear. Grandma opened the trunk. It was a good thing I had folded my tarp as tightly as I had because there was just enough room in the trunk for it and my little suitcase. The rest of the trunk was stuffed with more camping equipment, including a Coleman lantern, a large canvas tent and other odds and ends.

I stepped back and looked at my mother and grandmother. It was clear to me that this was not going to be any day-trip, and it was also clear that it had been planned for quite some time.

“Okay,” my mother beamed. “You guys have a great trip!” She kissed me and her mother and turned toward the house.

Grandma climbed into the driver’s side of the front seat. She motioned me to get in. I opened the passenger door and started to sit down. On the floorboard was a large block of dry ice, sending smoke from its top as if it was a smoldering fire. I had never seen a block of dry ice before. Grandma told me not to touch it as it would burn my skin. I was to sit with my two feet straddling either side of the block.

Grandma turned the key and placed the ball of her right foot on the starter pedal which came out of the floorboard to the right of the brake. She shoved her foot downward and the engine chugged a few times and then came to life. She put the car into reverse and we backed out of the driveway. I sat in silence as we drove toward the ocean at the bottom of the hill, and the highway that would take us somewhere that was still unknown to me.

We drove that way, saying nothing, until we turned east onto a highway marked “Route 66.”

Finally I pointed to the block of dry ice at my feet and asked, “What is this for?”

“Air conditioning,” she said, and she grasped a handle coming out from under the middle of the dashboard and pushed it downward. As she did this, a flap opened just in front of the windshield. A stream of air began flowing around my feet and over the block of ice sending cool air into our faces. I smiled at Grandma’s resourcefulness.

“Where are we going, Grandma?”

“Do you see that book on the dashboard? That is the map of our route. I will drive and you will navigate. You will tell me where to go and where to stop for the night on our route. There are only two rules that we will follow: First, I cannot afford motels, so we will camp each night. When we camp, you will put up my tent. You will sleep outside in a sleeping bag on a cot I brought for you. You have waterproofed a canvas tarp that you will put next to your cot. The tarp is big enough to completely cover your cot in case it rains. I will cook the food and you will wash the dishes. I will wash our clothes.”

She continued, “The second rule is that when we visit a place, we will stay there until you are ready to leave. Is all that clear? Now, take the map and let’s begin our journey.”

I took the book from the dashboard and opened it. There was a map of the entire United States with roads marked all the way from Los Angeles to the east coast. There were several smaller maps of various states with locations marked on each.

The next three months we camped every night but one, when we were forced by a tornado in Tennessee to seek refuge in a cottage. From time to time it rained during the night, but I never got wet. When the first drops began to fall on my face, I pulled my waterproof tarp over my body and the sound of raindrops on the tarp lulled me back to sleep.

Grandma took me to every important historical site in the eastern United States. Williamsburg was my favorite and, true to her word, we did not leave until I was ready to go. Actually, Grandma spent most of that time back at the campsite, reading. I was enchanted by Williamsburg and, for two weeks, I spent every day wandering the historic village, following the tour guides who filled my young, impressionable mind with electrifying stories of the most dangerous and controversial time in the founding of our nation.

I lost myself in the Capitol building and the Library of Congress, riding elevators, wandering halls, opening doors, entering rooms—things that would not be allowed today. I asked questions of everyone I saw.

By the time we left Jamestown I could have led tours. The same with Kitty Hawk and Ellis Island. And, yes, few 14 year olds (I had a birthday during the trip) knew as much as I did about the Pilgrims. I spent hours reading about them in the Plymouth library and asking questions of the re-enactors at the restored Plymouth Colony. When I returned to our campsite, I shared all I had learned with Grandma.

Grandma and I talked about many things that summer as we traveled this beautiful land. And, although Grandma loved American history and had taught it for years, she never used our time together to teach but let my many experiences be my teacher. That summer, Grandma turned 78.

At no time that summer did I ever feel dumb.

Thirteen years later I sat by my grandmother’s bed as she lay dying. She had recently given up her lifelong dream of earning her doctorate. Her diminished hearing made it impossible to follow the lectures.

She turned her face toward me and smiled. Her last six words to me were, “There is so much to say…” Then she closed her eyes. This time, there was no need to dab the corner of her mouth.

A few days later I stood by her coffin as people began moving slowly toward their cars. It was a bright, warm, sunny day. The kind Grandma liked best. I thought of those six words: “There is so much to say…” When I was alone with her coffin, I told Grandma she had been wrong, “No, Grandma. You never had to say anything. Your example said it all.”

I was years into homeschooling my own sons when, one day, it dawned on me that Grandma had formed my ideas of how a person receives an education. Is it any wonder that I could not raise my children by conventional educational methods but, instead, had to do for them what Grandma had done for me? Much of my sons’ education was spent on the Oregon Trail, on Ellis Island, in Williamsburg, or touring Israel…

“None of us has ever been afraid to venture beyond what is familiar to us,” my youngest son said to me recently. “We have been so many places―we are not afraid of anything or any place new. You did that for us.”

No, not I; it was someone you never met. An old lady with a girl’s adventuresome heart, willing to take a 13-year-old kid around the country to learn its history. She changed my life and my understanding of what education means; and, she changed the lives of my sons. Perhaps she even changed many generations to come.

Oh, I almost forgot to add: Grandma visited us again the Christmas I was 14. I was now in 10th grade and my attitude toward public school had not changed much.

She had been there long enough to get settled in. I found her in the living room, reading. I flopped myself down on the couch across from her. She looked older than I remembered. I sat for some time before I finally got up the courage to interrupt her.

“Grandma,” I said.

She looked up from her book. “Yes?”

I hesitated. Finally, “Do you think we could take that trip again next summer?”

For a long time she sat, thinking. Her gaze went far away somewhere. But, even before she smiled, I saw the twinkle enter her tired eyes.

Slowly she responded. “Yes… I suppose we can.”

And, we did. 

Moms often admit to me, “I am so glad I’m not my child and have to use this curriculum!”

Many parents use materials they don’t like—or the child doesn’t like—for all sorts of crazy reasons. Maybe Mom spent hundreds of dollars on some prepackaged curriculum or maybe she was told how wonderful it worked for someone else’s child (perhaps another of her own children). Regardless, she makes her child slug through it day by day and the child is resisting.

Here is a story from a homeschool conference where I spoke about these issues:

A mother came to me and stated, “Now I understand why my child is resisting: The materials we are using are so boring! We only have three months left in the school year so after this year we will never use that curriculum again.”

I asked the Mom, “Why wait until the end of the year? What would your daughter do if you went home tonight and told her, ‘Put that away. I don’t ever want to see that curriculum again!'”

Mom looked at me curiously. “Can I do that? My daughter would probably hug me and tell me what a wonderful Mom she has.”

I told her, “If you are looking for my permission, you have it.”

Mom turned and fairly skipped down the aisle as she left the meeting room.

Is your child resisting being homeschooled because you are using awful curriculum? Or perhaps curriculum not suited to that particular child? Why are you doing something to your child you wouldn’t appreciate being done to you? A particular curriculum might be like manna from heaven for one child, yet be tantamount to child abuse to another.

The above is excerpted from Chris Davis’ new book Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally which is available from Amazon.com in both paperback and as an e-book.

Please take a look at my new website where I offer my personal recommendations for some of the best in homeschooling materials by age/grade. Click here to go to the website (www.ChrisDavisRecommends.com).

Posted by: chrisdavis | July 27, 2014

Teenagers and High School

There are two ideas which are relatively new in the world. They are the concept we call Teenager and the concept we call High School. Think for a moment what it might be like if neither of these existed (as they once did not).

Never a teenager; just moving from child to young adult to adult. Never in high school; just moving through the natural process of having age-appropriate experiences, as listed above, where the child learns what he needs to know to progress into the world of work or on to college to gain detailed training in a specific skillset.

Teenagerism has created a separate class of humans with their own, separate culture. Did it ever occur to you that your children never have to be teenagers and that you are allowed to avoid buying into the idea of a teenage culture?

High School has not only created its own culture but as John Gatto states,

Due to its emphasis on competition, institutional education leaves a large population of losers, damned to the self-image that they cannot succeed no matter what they have a heart to do.

This competition allows adults to separate the able from the unable quite early on and helps adults determine how far a young person will go in life.

Yes, I am actually suggesting that you do not treat your children as teenagers and that you do not become subject to the universal rule of high school unless there is a practical reason for them to attend public high school.

___________________________________

The above is excerpted from Chris Davis’ new book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally available from Amazon in paperback and as an E-book.

Posted by: chrisdavis | July 21, 2014

Preparing Your Child for High School Math

Many public schooled students come to high school-level math lacking the foundational math concepts they need to succeed. This is largely due to the fact that public schooled students are encouraged to use calculators from an early age yet the student may never understand the meaning of important math concepts.

As homeschool parents, it is critical that our students have learned these foundational math concepts until they are able to work with them easily.

The concepts of which I am speaking are addition & multiplication facts; percentages, fractions, & decimals; and what math function to substitute for words in a word problem such as “and”, “more than”, “more”, “is”, etc. The time to make sure these facts are firmly impressed on your child’s mind is the Middle School grades. During these grades, you will fill in any gaps your child has in these areas. Fortunately, lots of materials exist to help you (see below).

Here is an example of the simplest of Algebra word problems: “Three of the same number and six is twenty more than that number. What is the number?”

Now, I will rewrite the question and underline each word that represents a command to perform a particular math operation: “Three of the same number and six is twenty more than that number. What is the number?”

Would your child know what to do with those underlined words? “Of” means multiply; “and” means add; “is” means equals; “more than” means add. So the equation would look like this (if we call “number” N): 3 x N (or 3N) +6 = N + 20. The answer is 7.

On my website, wwwChrisDavisRecommends.com (under the drop-down menu for ages 11-13) I have placed some good, and inexpensive, materials to help you determine if your Middle School child has grasped the math concepts necessary for entering higher level (high school) math. If not, these materials will get him ready. As for math problem words, simply google “math clue words” for a long list of freebies you can use to help your child get “inside” the vocabulary of word problems.

Chris Davis

 

For extra credit, here is a little brain-teaser for you and/or your student:

The following is written as a simple addition problem. Rewrite it as an algebraic equation and solve for ABC if A, B, & C are different numbers each being less than 10 and greater than 0. Don’t put your answer in the Comments box, below (so you won’t give it away to others). Instead, send me an email with your answer and how you solved the problem. Send it to ChrisDavis@PioneerHomeschooler.com

 

Here is the problem. Solve for ABC:

ABC

ABC

+ABC

BBB

Now, visit my website www.ChrisDavisRecommends.com to see what I recommend for every grade in every subject (with an additional list of books especially for boys).

Posted by: chrisdavis | July 5, 2014

Harvard Understands

When Harvard University decides to offer its courses online, you know a “new day” has dawned in higher education!

With a $30,000,000,000 (yes, that’s $30 billion dollar) endowment, Harvard could easily afford to stay aloof in its Ivory Tower of educational institutions. But, Harvard has decided it makes both financial and cultural sense to join 3rd tier colleges that have been offering its courses online for years.

Until now, those 3rd tier colleges have given online education a reputation that has not exactly been sterling (although the world’s largest online university, Liberty University, has done much to enhance that image in recent years).

Harvard’s entry into online education has changed everything. No longer can any college resist offering its courses online or dismiss online education as substandard.

Congressman Ron Paul recently wrote, “Online education can be sold profitably for a tenth the cost of an Ivy League university. From now on, what the colleges sell is a myth: overpriced, brick-and-mortar education that is no better than online education.”

 

Paul goes on to say, “Don’t be hypnotized by bricks and mortar. They are not worth the money at the undergraduate level, except possibly in a few natural sciences. Not in the liberal arts. There is no good reason to attend traditional schools in the first two (overpriced) years.”

 

A college makes most of its income from its lower division courses (the first two years) which courses are often no more than repeats of the last two years of high school. For the student who actually knows why he is going to college, these “required courses” are often a huge waste of a student’s time. Instead, let your student take CLEP exams and, if done right, he can enter college as a Junior the day he graduates from high school and begin taking classes that actually matter!

 

All this information is included in my new book, available now at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle.

 

 

 

 

 


Posted by: chrisdavis | May 27, 2014

Need Encouragement? Check This Out!

Spend a little time looking over this Infographic to see how the average homeschooler compares with the average public schooled student.

Is it possible to say, “Making the decision to homeschool will give your child a greater chance to succeed academically than if you sent that same child to public school”?

Take a look and decide for yourself…

Also, look over my recommendations for the materials to use when homeschooling your child(ren).

You should also consider taking your family to experience Israel next year with other homeschooling families. Check out itineraries and prices.

Chris Davis

Posted by: chrisdavis | May 12, 2014

The Tyranny of the Transcript

Many homeschoolers have heard John Taylor Gatto’s quote, “If you want to educate a child, find out what the public school does and do something else.” (For those of you who still don’t know who Gatto is, John taught public school for 30 years and was eventually was awarded New York State Teacher of the Year).

“That’s all well and good, John. But, I am a homeschooling parent and there are simply some things I am required to put on my child’s transcript each of his 4 high school years. How can you say, ‘…do something else’? Like what?”

Not to despair: The largest section of my new book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally is dedicated to answering that very question. In the book, I take each high school subject and show how you can “do something else” in history, science, foreign language, etc.

A simple example: Why do so many public schooled children take Spanish? Is it because millions of teenagers long to learn Spanish so they can become adults who are capable of reading, writing, and speaking Spanish? Let’s be honest, now. With few exceptions (and there are exceptions) they take Spanish because 1) They have to take 2 years of a foreign language to graduate; and, 2) Spanish is considered the easiest foreign language to pass.

Is there an alternative to taking Spanish? Yes, and I don’t mean taking French or Italian or any other “normal” language…

What about History? Yes, there are alternatives to this subject as well as every other subject required for graduation.

If the high school transcript is driving your homeschooling, put on the brakes and change gears. Check out my new book: Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

Chris Davis

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