24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

Hey there! Thanks for dropping by 24 Carrot Rabbitry
Take a look around and grab the RSS feed to stay updated. See you around!

Category : Homeschooling

Our car, a 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis, started having some driving issues a few months back.  Something felt a little rough to Shay sometimes, and we couldn’t figure it out.  It got worse, and finally I could feel it, too.  The alignment went off, with the car wanting to yank to the right.  It got to where it felt like we were always driving on a coarse gravel surface.  Then, suddenly, we started burning through gas like a Hummer.

Finally, Shay impressed upon me that I had to take the car in to the mechanic.  Since I was in the middle of my Giant Autumn Allergy Attack, I had been putting it off.  But I could put it off no longer.  I made an appointment with our mechanic, actually a homeschooling family about 45 minutes away.  It’s a bit of a drive, but I like them, and I know they are honest.  I was afraid that if I went anywhere else, I would be told that I needed a new suspension, a $700+ expense.  We couldn’t afford that right now, and I didn’t think the problem was the suspension, anyway.

Well, there is one other mechanic close by that I believe I can trust.  He’s highly recommended, and I took the car there once.  It’s only about a 10 minute drive.  We took all our schoolbooks and homeschooled in the waiting room, a comfortable room behind the front desk.  At one point, a woman came in, very agitated, and began yelling at the proprietor, accusing him of intentionally harming her car.  He was highly offended that she would impugn his character like this.  She continued to fly into an ever greater rage, finally threatening to kill him.  Meanwhile, I was looking all over that waiting room for a way to get out, but there was none.  The only way out was past this woman.

Once she was gone, the proprietor came back into the waiting room and was very apologetic.  I felt very sorry for him, but I couldn’t take my family back there again.  We learned that one of the families in our homeschool group had a garage started by their father, and we started going there.  We just make a day of it, and take all the schoolbooks with us.

Anyway, the Lord granted me a reprieve from my allergies that day, and we drove up to the garage.

Only minutes after we arrived, before we had even finished the breakfast we had brought with us, one of the brothers came in and told me that we absolutely needed two new tires.  This made me nervous, since I didn’t know what other issues they might find (I knew they would have to do an alignment, but was something else causing the car to drive like a metal-wheeled tractor?), and we had just gotten there!  Oh, well, the tires had to be done.

As it turned out, the tires were the problem.

I just about fainted dead away when I saw the condition of the tires! I don't recall ever having worn down to the steel belts before! Talk about an accident waiting to happen -- both of these tires were just waiting to go BLOOOOOEY on the highway!

Two new tires, an alignment, and an overdue oil change, and we were done.  The car rides like a dream now, like it’s floating on air, like it used to.  And we have our great gas mileage back, too.

Thank you, Father, for holding those tires together and protecting us all that time! :)

$600 Savings at the Used Curriculum Sale!

It’s been a long time since I went to a used curriculum sale.  When we lived in Florida, we lived a good distance away from where the sales were held, so I depended on the internet and the occasional hour’s travel (one way) to a used curriculum store.  This time, it was just a 20 minute drive, and I pounced on the chance!

I would love to buy all my curriculum new.  Not because I’m a snob, but because I enjoy supporting things I believe in.  If I buy new, it goes to support those who made the curriculum.  If I buy used, it doesn’t.  Unfortunately, our available $$$ doesn’t allow me to buy everything new.

I do occasionally buy new, because some of the curriculum I use retains its value very well.  At best, I’ll pay close to new prices for used curriculum if I buy it used, and sometimes it will go for the same price as new.  These things I tend to buy new, since I would save hardly anything buying it used, and I can support some of my favorite curriculum producers.  Somebody’s got to buy it new, or they’ll go out of business, right?

It reminds me of a lady Shay knew once upon a time.  She bought a used Cadillac at a dealer for $10,000.  She drove the car for 3 years.  When she went to trade it in on another car, she got $10,000 for it.  Other than gas and maintenance, she drove the car for free for 3 years.  That’s how well a Cadillac can hold its value.  Some of this curriculum we homeschoolers have available to us does just as well.

So Shay, the kids, and I got out of the house this past Saturday morning, and stopped at the nearby gas station.  There, we loaded up on mini donuts and chocolate milk, and Shay took out $100 cash at the ATM.  Not that I really expected to buy that much, but I wanted to have the option to.  We were on our way.

It was a 3-hour sale held in the gym of a local church, and it was packed!  We hit the ground running, with the kids going off together, and Shay and I going different ways.  I bought two books almost immediately.  It didn’t take long for ILoveBunnies to start calling me, “Mom!  Come look at this!”  “Mom!  We’re over here!  Come see this!”  Shay would search me out, “Hey, you might want to go look at this chemistry set at that table over there.”  I bounced through that room like a pinball, and I learned to take advantage of my opportunities to look at things I wanted to look at.  ILoveBunnies must have called me a dozen times.

We spent the $100, and I wrote a $50 check to a lady who graciously agreed to take it.  Shay had another little bit in his wallet, and we spent most of that, as well, for a total of about $163.

What did I buy?  I thought you’d never ask.

This is an Expedition! dinosaur archaeology kit of a T-Rex skull. The box was already historybythe time I started taking pictures. A similar kit can be seen at Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Kristal-Educational-897-Expedition-Triceratops/dp/B001A41FF4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1308721556&sr=8-3

(The caption thing quit working on this picture when I tried to modify it.  I don’t know why.)

A dynamo torch kit. Shay and Bunny-Wan Kenobi both love building stuff like this.

I took a chance on this microscope, since our digital one handed down to us by a friend had finally given up the ghost. For $15, I figured it was worth the risk. Now that I've looked at the reviews on it, it could go either way. People have trouble with it, or they don't, it's about evenly split. We'll see.

Build your own covered wagon model! Shay pounced on this for $1. He loves building models, and has collected a number of them so he'll have something to occupy his mind should times really get bad.

Science supplies! I paid $20 for the chemistry set at left, and $5 for the dissection kit at right. The chemistry set has two different glass beakers, three glass test tubes, two plastic graduated cylinders, a glass eyedropper and a couple of glass pipets, a test tube stand, pH papers, gloves, a glass thermometer, an alcohol burner, plastic tubing, a glass Erlenmeyer flask, and probably a few other things that aren't coming to mind. I got a glass graduated cylinder off of a free table, so I put it in there, too. The lady selling the set had done chemistry with some other families, so a couple of things were missing, and a couple of other things were added. All in all, $40 worth for $20. I stressed the glass pieces, because if those had not been glass, I would not have bought the set. The dissection pad and tools would be about $15 new.

Eyewitness books! I paid only $1 apiece for these, and they sell for $15-20 each!

Math-U-See is one of the curricula that holds its value very well. This is a $40 set, and I could expect to pay nearly that for it used, often. I bought this for $15. Now I just need the student workbook and tests, which I likely will buy new for $25. Math-U-See may not be the least expensive option out there, but it has really helped ILoveBunnies. She started with A Beka, then I tried Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse, but she couldn't get the math. Math-U-See uses manipulatives (not the only curriculum that does) and a good, logical progression to make somewhat abstract things concrete and understandable. You can see what the numbers are and what they are doing. You can see why they work the way they work. I bought some of the old Math-U-See curriculum to start with for ILoveBunnies, and I took her all the way back to addition. We started over, and have been progressing at an accelerated pace. When we finished that old book, I bought Gamma for her, from the new curriculum. They had taken the whole curriculum and rewritten it all at once, for a smoother, more integrated approach with better practice sheets (the original curriculum is still in use by many, and is more than adequate). This time around, she's getting it. She doesn't like math, but she does understand it. I got this Beta book and DVD for Buny-Wan Kenobi, who has known nothing but Math-U-See. He loves math.

I've heard great things about Spelling Power, but didn't expect to find it at the sale! This book is the previous version, which I can still buy new for $45, or used for various prices, in various conditions. The new edition is $65. The advantage to this is that you only need the one book for all your kids, for all grades, for all time, as long as you are homeschooling. I got this book for $8. It had fallen apart and been rebound with a coil, which is fine with me. At another table, I found the CD/DVD, which is from the new edition, but which will help me learn how to use it, and provides me with a bunch of printables. I paid $3 for them, and they would have been $15 new.

I was not surprised to see Apologia curriculum there. It is very popular among Christian homeschoolers, and is written by a Christian nuclear chemist, except for the elementary books, which were written by Jeannie Fulbright, and "adopted" by Apologia because they were so excellent and written in a similar style to Wyle. A little more conversational than his, but very similar nonetheless. This set is $85 new, and I could expect to pay nearly that for it used, in good condition.

Another Apologia set that would have been $85 new and almost that used, that I bought for $25.

I had never seen this before, but had been looking for something like it. It looks really interesting!

I got these Saxon math books for free. They had been retired from a Christian school, and most of the books in the stacks were quite tired. I use Saxon math to supplement Math-U-See, when more practice is needed. I also use it on the rare occasions that I need a slightly different approach to a particular subject -- a different way to explain it. I lent a couple of my Saxon books to a friend, though, so I was glad to find these!

It has been my understanding that while Bob Jones University has been slowly going more liberal, that tendency has not shown up in the homeschool curriculum they publish as yet. So when I found this is the free pile, I scooped it up. I don't tend to actually have a Bible curriculum, since, with all our experiences in the church, I don't trust very many people to teach the Bible to me, because most of them don't teach it for what it actually says. They have all their preconceived notions that they want to make the Bible fit. So I tend to just read the Bible to my kids and discuss it with them, consulting a concordance, Bible encyclopedia, maps, or commentaries as needed. I knew I would eventually need a course in truth and comparative beliefs for upper high school, though, and that's what this is. We are currently reviewing it, since I was still naturally suspicious, but it looks good so far. Many thanks to my uncle, who is much more knowlegeable than I, for helping review it.

A Beka has been slowly modifying their history books to make them less "offensive" (read: more politically correct). I was very happy to find this old A Beka history book. I bought some other history-related books, too. Here, a biography of Abigail Adams, and books on the Magna Carta (Charta) and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

More history! Usborne books are a lot like the Eyewitness books -- numerous big, colorful pictures, with engaging, yet informative, prose to go along.

A really fun T-Rex book, which takes the dino apart as you flip the pages. A $12 book that we bought for $1. A magic trick for the kids, and science experiment idea books.

A book on grammar, a book on Christian men of science, a reader about Greece, a couple of classic fiction, and an ancient epic.

ILoveBunnies found some beads she likes. She might do what a couple of other girls did, and make jewelry to sell at next year's sale.

A couple of books on purity, a couple of foreign-language word books (the kids were really excited to find the Japanese one. They've been teaching themselves some Japanese. I'm enrolling them in a Japanese course by Mango through the library (free for us). A horse book for ILoveBunnies, and an Iron Man book for Bunny-Wan Kenobi.

Shay also picked up several binders for free, to put his ADA materials in.

After I got it all home, I started looking it up.  It turns out that I would have spent $762 to buy all of this new, not including shipping.  To buy it used, I still would have spent probably 1/2 – 2/3 that amount, still not including shipping.  So, getting it all for $163 is just amazing, and I thank the homeschoolers in our homeschool group for making this possible.  All the other attendees probably did about as well as I did, as we all traded our materials with each other.  Well, I didn’t sell this time, but I probably will next year. :D

Exactly what kind of socialization?

Any homeschooling parent can tell you that the number one question they hear from people who find out they homeschool is, “How will you socialize your children?”.  In spite of the fact that homeschooled kids have been shown over and over again to be at least as socially adept as their peers who attend public and private schools, the most common question asked of homeschoolers is, “But, how will your children be properly socialized?”

(The voices in this video are computer generated, so that’s why it sounds a little odd.)

No matter how many clubs or other extra-curricular activities your children involve themselves in, no matter how many spelling or geography bees or academic fairs they participate in, no matter how many homeschool group field trips they go on, no matter how many homeschool co-ops they participate in, no matter how many friends they have or kids in the neighborhood they play with… somehow, the idea remains that a child not in public or private school is sheltered and will be unable to cope in the “real world” (whatever that is), and will turn out “weird”.

Yeah, I never knew anybody who was educated in public or private school who was weird.  Never.  Is my nose growing?

I started out in a private school, but only through first grade.  After that, it was public school.  I had some good times, and I had a few friends.  But I was also bullied.  And I was bored.  I learned new material very quickly, and often already knew it when we got to it, especially in math.  I was bored enough that I didn’t do the work I was supposed to do, and got bad grades as a result.  I finally applied to the gifted and talented program and was accepted.  The work was challenging, and I got good grades, but I had to be bused across town to go to school.  So I didn’t live anywhere near any of my friends.  At least I wasn’t bullied there.  But some of the stuff that happened at that school was pretty bad.  Kids from other schools were surprised to learn you went to this school, and would ask, “Have you ever been stabbed?”  I had a friend who had been burned as a kid, and had scars on his face and down his arm.  Other kids would ask him how he got them, and (just to mess around with them) he would reply, “Oh, I go to ______ High School.”  The other kids would say “Oooohhh,” and nod knowingly.  It was bad.

I remember the socialization I got in public school.  I remember being surrounded by some 30 kids who were mercilessly teasing me.  I remember the girls teasing me in gymnastics.  I remember the daily verbal pelting I got in middle school.  I remember the everybody’s-doing-it pressure about makeup, sexy clothes, drugs, alcohol, and sex.  Yeah, socialization was wonderful.

I would have loved to be homeschooled.  But when I was going through school, the homeschool movement in this country was just getting started.

Until very recently, nearly everybody in history was homeschooled.  Yet, somehow, we still managed to survive as a vibrant, well-socialized people.  We still produced great thinkers and mathematicians and scientists and writers.  If public school socialization is really so vital, then why is this the case?

Socialization itself is a very recent concern.  It was not among the reasons the public schools were founded.  The focus was on learning.

The idea seems to be that placing your children in a situation in which they will never again find themselves somehow prepares them for the “real world”.  I know that at no point in my life after school have I ever been expected to work in a group comprised of people who are exclusively almost exactly my age.  When I worked in retail, the employees and customers there were not all 22.  So if the socialization environment in a public or private school is an artificial one that does not resemble the “real world”, then how does that help the kids involved learn to handle the “real world” later, and deal with people of all ages?  How does it prepare them better than the environment of a homeschooled child, who has regular interaction with kids and adults of all ages?

This post is not a my-way-is-better-than-your-way post, but an is-there-really-something-wrong-with-my-way post.  The studies have been done.  Homeschoolers have been studied as they have grown up and become adults, and it has been shown time and again that they have no socialization deficiencies.  How many more studies need to be done before this is accepted, and homeschoolers stop having to deal with this maddening question for which no answer seems to be good enough?