Make way for ducklings

Saturday, April 30th, 2005
This afternoon, I took Kelly down to the lake to feed the ducks. Two of the ducks had ducklings in tow. We saw a mother duck with three ducklings and another with eight. What a treat!

ducklings.jpg

And of course, my little duckling ...

Kelly_and_friends.jpg

Plenty of Wiggle room ...

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005
Where can you take your young children where they are encouraged to make lots of noise, get out of their seats and move, and interact with the folks on stage?  A Wiggles concert!

The Wiggles are Australia's best export in the world of children's entertainment.  Are these friends of yours Richard?

wigglesconcert.jpg

Greg, Jeff, Anthony and Murray wiggle, giggle, sing and dance their way into children's hearts.  Parents love them because their songs are about safety (how to cross the street), healthy eating habits (Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy), and excercise (Shaky Shaky Shaky).

Tonight, Kathy and I took the girls to see The Wiggles perform a live concert in Bakersfield.  We were soon clapping, singing and dancing along with them (even our 12 year olds caught Wiggle fever - but don't tell their friends!).

According to their website, they are currently touring the west coast, up through Canada.  If you want to experience pure childhood entertainment, without the crassness Hollywood has thrown into the movies and television shows, then I encourage you to catch the Wiggles in concert.  You are never too old to have fun!

Follow the money ...

Saturday, April 9th, 2005
"Public Schools Wooing Home-Schooled Students." That's the title of yesterday's CNN article on education.

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 our children:

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.

"I like 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."
We 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 the costs.

Bible Quizzing, Ridiculous?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005
TesTeq thinks my post about Bible quizzing is ridiculous, and he's taken the time to share his point of view in a comment on my blog today.

TesTeq wrote:
Such competitions concerning religion are ridiculous in my opinion. What about "fastest said prayer" competition. Or who loves God most

Thanks for reading my blog, TesTeq, and for sharing your point of view. You did not leave an email address, and I do not know who you are, so I can only respond to you here.

TesTeq, you bring up a legitimate point: we live in a world of extremes and, as with anything, it it possible to take any competition to an extreme - even a Bible quiz.

Please permit me to share with you another perspective - my perspective: To me, the point of the Bible Quiz is not about who's the best for the sake of being the best. The purpose of Bible Quiz is to train and encourage children (and even adults) to develop a better understanding of the instruction in God's Word, the Bible, so that they can apply it in their lives.

The Awana Bible Quiz competition format is simply a tool - one that makes the learning process fun for children and one that recognizes them for their efforts.

Sports fans recognize and reward athletes for their ability to move a ball around a field; The result? athletes are encouraged to work at further developing their skills.

We have spelling and geography bees, national competitions that recognize and reward children for their ability to master spelling and geography. The result? Children are encouraged to study hard, apply what they have learned, and strive for excellence.

The Awana program and Bible Quiz recognizes children for their efforts in studying, memorizing, and applying God's Word. It works.

I hope that you noted that I did not post how the teams did in the Bible Quiz - only the athletics. Every team that competed in the Awana Bible Quiz did exceptionally well. By the way, our team did not win the Bible Quiz; we have much to learn. But we did learn a lot by preparing for and participating in the Awana Bible Quiz. It was a wonderful experience.

It is my hope that as a result of their participation in the Awana Bible Quiz, these children will hide important truths in their hearts - truths that will make all the difference in the world.

I'm glad that you read my blog, TesTeq, and I thank you for your comment this morning. I enjoy discussion.

Eric

Note to other readers of my blog. I believe Testeq has a legitimate question about taking things to an extreme. Happy to continue this discussion as time permits.

How well do you know the Bible?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
This weekend, I was asked to be on a panel of judges at the Awana Bible Quiz and Games. It's not as it sounds; I'm not a Bible scholar. Though, after this weekend, I'm inspired to work harder at it.

Over the weekend, my daughters, Amy and Wendy, competed in the Awana Bible Quiz and Games in Riverside, California. We arrived at seven o'clock in the morning; the Bible Quiz was held in the morning and the Awana Games took place after lunch.

GBC Awana Bible Quiz
Team

While the games were exciting - our church team won first place - it was the Bible Quiz that impressed me the most.

For close to four hours, twenty-six teams, called "quizzers" competed in various activities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the Bible. The two primary activities were the "Bible Quiz," and the "Speed Tests."

For the "Bible Quiz," the judge asked 30 questions, such as "In what Old Testament verse does God make a statement about Himself?" followed by three possible answers. After 30 seconds, the judge would say "paddles up," at which time a designated person on each team would select and hold up a wooden paddle to indicate the team's response - A, B, or C. The teams earned points for each correct score.

For the "Speed Tests," each team was given a  button to press. Each button was connected to a master computer that determined which teams pressed the button first and second. The team members stacked their hands -- one on top of another -- so that any child who knew the answer could trigger the button to alert the judge. The most difficult part of this event for the teams was triggering the button fast enough to be the first or second team to press the button and signal the judge -- only one team and one alternate would be called upon. A correct answer earned points; an incorrect answer earned a penalty. With twenty-six teams, the pressure was intense; it was important not only to know the correct answer but to be able to respond quickly.

GBC Awana team 2005

I served on a panel of judges for the speed tests. My role was to verify that the students, who quoted scripture as part of their answer, quoted word perfect from one of three translations. I verified the King James version (KJV) verses while two other judges verified the New International version (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). I found this challenging, as we had to listen to the child recite the verse and provide the reference. While the child was quoting the verse, we had to determine the translation and whether or not they had quoted the passage word perfect. Fortunately, we were given printouts with the verses in advance, so we did not have to look anything up. There was no time. After the verse was recited, we conferred with the head judge to agree upon the translation and the accuracy of the recitation.

I am amazed at how well these young students did and I am proud of them for working so hard to memorize and apply scripture.

As one pastor put it, "a group of pastors would find it challenging to compete with the lowest-scoring team at the Awana Bible Quiz."

How well do you know your Bible?

I've got some work to do.