Saturday, May 31, 2008

Every Once In A While...

Every once in a while I catch my kids doing something that makes me proud.

Ok, that happens pretty often actually. What I mean is, every once in a while I catch my kids doing something that makes me really, really proud to be their Daddy, and reaffirms that Mommy and I must be doing something or other right.

So as I was getting ready to make the kids lunch today, just as I was about to call them over to the lunch table, I happened to notice what the girls were doing:

The Adrenaline Junkie, our three-year-old daughter, has been learning the sound values of the letters lately, to the point where she can sound out simple words--generally of three letters or fewer, with all short vowel sounds. And this has become a rather fun game for her. So the Pillowfight Fairy (age 5) occasionally, spontaneously (i.e., no pushing from Mommy or Daddy), decides that it would be a fun game to help the Junkie learn her phonics. The Fairy is a little like her Daddy: she likes to explain things in incredible detail.

So I sneaked up with a camera. Not quietly enough, of course; the moment you show up with a camera, your kids notice and start acting. Well, mine do anyway. But I told them to carry on. In the picture just above, the Fairy has just cleared the Magna-Doodle and is preparing to write the next word:
By the way, I highly, highly recommend these little travel-size Magna-Doodle toys, for parents who are trying to teach their kids phonics. You can write, erase, write, erase, and so on for thousands of cycles before the toy breaks, and you save a lot of paper. We found when we were following the Hazel Loring blend-phonics method (warning: PDF file) we found at Don Potter's website, that the Magna-Doodle was absolutely the right tool for the job. It is the exact modern equivalent to those chalk slates students used in the middle of the 19th century.

(Which brings up another question, that I ran across when trying to look up the links for this post: it appears that Fisher-Price is no longer making the original Magna-Doodle toys. It looks like they're now being made by some outfit called Ohio Art, and that Fisher-Price is instead making a different line of toys under its own brand name "Doodle". Anyone have any information about this?)
At any rate, you can see here that the Fairy is teaching her younger sister both about phonics, and about the parts of the body. Those that are easy to spell, anyway. I don't expect her to start teaching the Junkie about the duodenal epithelium anytime soon.

Then again, you never know....


Kay Pelham said...

Maybe this does or doesn't apply to the post, but I thought this might interest you as a California parent: “If upheld, the California ruling will send shock waves nationwide,” says Richard Kahlenberg, the author of a number of books on education. He says the case “pits those who believe parental rights are paramount against those who place a premium on well-educated citizens.”

This is from Sunday's Parade magazine article which you can find at I tracked down an email for Mr. Kahlenberg and let him know about the false dilemma he has presented. I guess if the Powers family is on the side of parental rights, they must not be placing a premium on well-educated citizens : ) Reading your blog tells me something mighty different.

Kay Pelham

Timothy Power said...

Well, it's a bit off topic from the post. But I can't resist at least a little response. ;-)

It's interesting to read surveys that have been taken of homeschoolers, asking why they homeschool. There's a stereotype out there that most of us homeschool for religious or moral reasons. And while many do, this isn't usually the most frequently-cited reason.

The most frequently cited reason is generally that the homeschooling parents are concerned about the academic quality of the education the schools are providing. They are homeschooling precisely because they "place a premium on well-educated citizens," and they don't trust traditional classroom settings--or politically-managed public school systems--to deliver the goods.