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Homeschool stigma fades while numbers rise

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released that there are 1,770,000 homeschooled students in the US.  This is a huge jump from 1.5 million students in 2007. Now, 1.7 million may not sound much since it represents just 3.4% of children of school age, but the fact still remains that the number is on the rise since it was first tracked in 1999 when there were only 850,000 homeschooled students. Right now, there are two options when it comes to schooling – institutions and homeschooling. Of course, most parents prefer the traditional form of sending them off to public or private institutions. Only a little more than 3% of parents homeschool, a statistic so lopsided as to stigmatize those parents who do decide to teach kids themselves. It’s easy to see why this is the case. After all, most parents were traditionally schooled, so the idea of something that doesn't always seem viable. I admit that I didn’t want to be homeschooled because I didn’t want people to think that I was weird – only religious nuts and actors were home-schooled. There's many an article that argue that most homeschooled kids ended up weird. Homeschooling PaceBut homeschooling is on the rise. There are social media homeschooling websites where families have a dedicated community. When I started digging into the reasons why parents homeschool, the first thing I found was that private pre-schools are run as commercial institutions meant to maximize profits. It’s like every move your kid makes there’s an attached fee structure that provides the school with the opportunity to increase tuition. Sure, I know that they have to pay the bills, but so do I. By homeschooling my kids, I can save a lot of money. For starters, I’m going to save on $4,460 to $13,158 per year, the average cost for preschools in the US. You’re probably thinking ... what the heck do I know about educating kids? Well, I'm keenly aware of the work that lay ahead of me. There are homeschooling programs to follow, some for a fee, which teach parents the methodology and provide the lessons for children. Many of these homeschooling programs are actively promoting themselves as ways to teach children to learn, not teach children to take tests. Many of today's academics are  betraying their...
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Helicopter parenting laws enforced in South Carolina

The backlash against the North August city government has been nothing less than severe as news outlets accuse them of enforcing helicopter parenting laws. From the state where conservative politics once meant mind-your-own-damn-business, southern police departments have started targeting anti-helicopter parents – those who let their kids run free and learn independence by playing alone.

The irony is great, but the tragedy is real. Just ask Debra Lynn Harrell, 46, who was arrested and charged with unlawful neglect toward a child.

The criminal act? Letting her 9-year old play in a public park without supervision. The girl told arresting police officers she sometimes walks over to visit McDonald’s – where her mother works – or to the Wal-mart to buy lunch. The Department of Social Services took custody of the child.

A lot of parents thought the festival of stupid was limited to blowhards blogging on the Internet about the perils of sleep training – the practice of abandoning children in beds to learn to sleep on their own. Now, police in South Carolina have sent the message loud and clear that hands-off parenting strategies meant to teach independence are going to be prosecuted.

Watching the story develop with outrage and despair are the anti-helicopter moms and dads who think parenting is best done by allowing children to explore their independence.

The circumstances of the mother’s absence make the law enforcement’s decision to arrest the woman and take her child away from her all the more disturbing. The 9-year old had a mobile phone with her and was keenly aware her mother was working at the McDonald’s. The cops clearly made a decision based on unfounded paranoia about child abduction or some other invented dangers clearly not present in the bucolic southern town of North Augusta.

One angry blogger clearly stated his case against these new helicopter parenting standards:

We need to understand that kids need to learn manners, and outside behavior, but also responsibility like walking to and from the park by themselves … and be ok.  We need to give our children the tools for success, so that they can build upon the feeling of independence and trust.

The enforcement of helicopter parenting has a record in other parts of the South, including La Porte, Texas where a police officer arrested a mother for letting her children ride scooters unsupervised in her neighborhood.

 

Sadly, it’s the good parents who also suffer the results of these arrests, good parents who hesitate to send their children out to ride their bicycles in the park or fear asking their children to walk home from school. Our politically correct world has long been a product birthed in those “liberal cities” in the northeastern states; now, the conservative states have decided to force their morals upon citizens. Helicopter parenting is now being enforced by threat of criminal prosecution in South Carolina.

In defense of no time for bedtime

Within reason, my young son doesn't really have a set time he has to go to bed. That's because I enforce no time for bedtime. It's just not what he needs. No bedtimeIt is true that my situation is different than a lot of people's. I'm a single mom, so there's no big hurry to get the kid off to bed because some great romance awaits with my husband. Also, my son is home-schooled, so he doesn't have to get up early to rush off to school, either. Nonetheless, I do wake him up around 7:00 am every morning. That's the rhythm we've established for our lives – so experts be damned! As a baby he had difficulty sleeping late, but he always got enough sleep. Overscheduling children remains a huge problem for children of his generation, creating needless stress for them when they have natural self-regulating qualities that we should nurture. I realize I am on the other side of just about everyone out there when it comes to my opinions on no time for bedtime. Some experts write that kids should have an early bedtime or they will suffer from it because of lost sleep, disruptive schedules or other arbitrary problems that just doesn't happen to him. Fortunately, there are others who are also in agreement with my philosophy of no time for bedtime. Scientists are now reporting that our biological clocks impact our circadian rhythms, and they are unique to individuals. According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, scientists have identified genes that direct circadian rhythms in people. These genes can be linked to various sleep patterns and are also responsible for how the body reacts to light signals, the single biggest factor in regulating sleep. It is because of these unique gene factors that we have our own individual rhythms. There should be no time for bedtime precisely because it's unfair to impose standardized values on what, for my child at least, can vary. My son is different than most people in how he approaches sleep, I admit. No time for bedtime works for him because he doesn't need the sleep others do. I'm a morning person and am lucky if I can stay awake past 10:00 pm. Most nights I can't keep my eyes open past 8:00 p.m. It's just the way I...
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