Saturday, April 24, 2010

Basketweaving 101

After a tough morning on the soccer field, E decided to spend her evening in meditative basket weaving. This was her first reed basket. (She's started others from pine needles and such, but no real basket weaving projects completed in the past.) The following day, after cleaning out their playroom, the girls retired to their own projects - V playing cards and other games with me on the newly vacated floor; E wrapping up her first basket.

Not that I'm biased or anything, but I think she did a fabulous job. It was a perfect, quiet-time, contemplative project that just fit her needs at that moment.

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Spring Soccer - Game 3

These photos are a little late in coming, but with all the stuff going on around here, I'm just happy to finally get them online! These were taken at the third game of the season on 4/24/10.

No photos of today's game (5/1). Sorry about that. Left the camera on the kitchen counter this time.

Note to players' parents: Just as in the previous game photos, these have been uploaded at lower resolution to save bandwidth. If you plan to print them, just let me know which shots you'd like and I"ll send you the full-resolution image (which will print out MUCH more nicely). No charge! :)

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Homeschooling Is Not a Crime

There are still lots of questions about homeschooling, but done correctly, and within the laws of your given community, homeschooling is, in fact, legal. Earlier this month, I enjoyed listening to one of the Home School Defense Legal Association's attorneys make a few presentations at the Central Coast Home Educators Conference in Santa Maria. He offered a lot of information, including the legal backdrop for the current educational allowances, as well as some pointers for keeping it all on the level, and he granted me permission to repeat the information here.

First, let me confess that I haven't always seen eye to eye with this association. I was on their e-mail list for awhile when I started homeschooling, but felt they were using scare tactics to entice potential new members to join. Rather than use current legal claims and battles to scare the crud out of members and potential members, how about giving pointers that could HELP us toe the line?

Flash forward a few years and, voila, there I was sharing a room with Mr. Jones who provided just that - great information, even-handed treatment from a variety of perspectives - thereby raising my opinion of the organization as a whole.

So what was it he had to say? My favorite discussion of his was focused on his experience dealing with social services inquiries into homeschooling families. He offered the following.

Top 10 Reasons Social Service Investigations Are Conducted (and how to avoid them)

1. Parents aren't teaching the kids. (We call this home education for a reason.)

2. Parents aren't complying with the homeschooling laws in their states.

3. Spanking in public. (While corporal punishment is legal, social workers generally frown on it, and performing said punishment in public tends to raise concerns.)

4. Children playing outside during school hours. (Be discreet. Supervise the children. Everyone needs outdoor time.)

5. Younger children outside unsupervised.

6. Leaving children under age 12 alone in a vehicle. (Do you REALLY have to take them into the post office with you to check the box that's 10 feet from the car door through clear glass windows. It's your call, but, technically, yes, he said.)

7. Failing to keep children well fed, well clothed and clean.

8. Failing to keep your house and yard maintained, clean and uncluttered.

9. Allegations of sexual abuse. (Even if unfounded, the allegations can be devastating, and while the alleged offender may be found innocent, their reputation is forever tarnished.)

10. Parents failing to follow recommended medical care for children. (There are waivers for many treatments and services, but care should be taken on this issue.)

So what do you do if a social worker knocks on your door? Jones says the 4th Amendment banning unreasonable search and seizure applies to social workers, and the 5th Amendment allows any accused to remain silent. Further, social workers may not investigate educational neglect. Unless the worker has a search warrant, there's nothing you have to say to them or show them.

But Jones suggests using some common sense and exercising polite responses. Often, just letting the workers set eyes on your children waylays any suspicion they may have. If a neighbor claims they're never dressed, never fed and locked in the closet, letting the worker see your well-dressed, happy, well-adjusted children may be enough to call them off.

What to Do With That Knock at the Door
1. Get a business card from the worker. It should include his or her name and contact information.

2. Find out the specific allegations. Federal law requires them to provide this at first contact. Ask which children are involved, what specific abuse has been reported. (Don't bother to ask who reported you. They are not required to provide that information.)

3. Do not allow them into your home without a court order.

4. Don't lose your temper. (Doing so would give the worker reason to believe there's an issue.)

5. Don't resist police officers. Ever. You may, however, ask the officers if they have a search warrant or an emergency situation - their two "keys" to accessing your property. Further, Jones advised being respectful and polite while asserting your Constitutional rights.

6. If possible, make audio or video tapes of the interaction at the front door.

7. Don't allow workers to talk to children alone without a court order or a third party present. You have more interest in protecting your children than anyone else. Don't let it go.

8. Let the social worker or police officer see the kids (as noted above).

9. If the allegation is truancy, show your home school affidavit - the paperwork you've completed with the state, school district or other agency overseeing homeschooling in your area.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

News Flash - Another Face in Local Media

I've been doing lots of book promotions lately, but this Sunday, the media giant in our household was E, whose image was featured along with a story about Tri City Sound Chorus. After a couple of years of singing during the Christmas performance, E was invited this year to join in the chorus year-round. She's THRILLED. (Which means I'll be making more rehearsals than ever.)

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma Martha!

After soccer, we got ourselves back together, made a side dish and headed out to Nipomo's most beautiful, relaxing, serene gathering place for day with family we haven't seen in awhile. The kids have all grown so much, and got along so well. Really a relaxing, fun afternoon catching up and watching the kids revel in each others company.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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Spring Soccer - Game 2

Last fall, I signed E up for soccer with her sister. E went reluctantly, but soccer grew on her. Come spring sign up who was it jumping at the chance to sign up? Yep. E was on it. She loves her new team and her new coach. They all have such a blast at practice, and at the games.

Today's was the team's second game of the short, spring season. Spring soccer is co-ed, small fields, only five on the field at a time (4 plus a goalie) with lots of substituting to get equal play time for all the players.

Here are photos from today's games. These are low-resolution images great for sharing and viewing online, but they don't print out that great. Parents: if you'd like to have the original, high-resolution images, just send me an e-mail with the photo number and I'll e-mail it to you to use as you see fit.

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Why Reinvent the Wheel?

I sure do get asked a lot of questions about the hows, whys, and again the hows of homeschooling. Today, I was directed to this article which provides lots of great tips, particularly for those just beginning their homeschooling adventure. I thought I'd share it.

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