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    Hive Mind Queen Bee

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  1. Working through lots of carrying problems with base-10 blocks (I used Cuisenaire rods for 1s and 10s, with large 'jewels' for 100s). With both girls, I needed to pause our main math program to do more work on regrouping (carrying and borrowing). I made up problems and we worked through them with our improvised base-10 blocks. I'd have them do a step with the blocks and then do the exact same step with the standard algorithm (it felt like 'recording' the block result on paper), making sure they saw the connection between what we did with the blocks and what we did on paper. Here's the basic steps: 1) make each number in blocks, 2) combine the ones blocks and find the total, 3) exchange groups of 10 ones for 1 ten, 4) write down the ones total in the ones place and write the number of carried tens over the tens place. 5) Do the same with the tens: combine the tens blocks (including the carried tens) and find the total, exchange groups of 10 tens for 1 hundred, and write down the tens total in the tens place and write the number of carried hundreds over the hundreds place. 6) Do it again for the hundreds. I would work problems together, blocks+writing, with me prompting each step. Then once the kids started getting it, they would work the problems themselves with both blocks and writing, recording each step as they went. I let them use the blocks as long as they wanted, and they eventually dropped them once they were solid.
  2. I'm clearly communicating badly, because I likewise see education as about faith and perseverance to the end of life, and about pursuing the end for which they were intended. I fundamentally *agree* with you about the point of education. And I would say that what you just said *is* a form of "educating for things greater than survival" - is not faith and perseverance to the end of life of *greater* import than earthly survival? And I'm not talking about MC suburban lifestyle or the employment which maintains said lifestyle. I'm talking about living wage employment to support a family in a modest but stable way. (I mean, heck, we are a one-income family in one of the highly-educated-but-low-paying helping professions, and I am more than satisfied with what we have. But some of that is that we are fortunate enough to have parents who help us with the big-ticket things - we'd be in a lot different, more unstable place without that. And we are not on track to be able to help our kids the way my parents are helping us, and that *does* concern me.) That said, despite my concerns about the prospects of providing my kids with the path to a living wage and a stable life, I am *not* allowing those concerns to change how I educate. I am *still* committed to educating with an eye to faith and perseverance to the end of life, whether or not that results in a living wage and stable life. (Christ never promised us either.) More committed, actually. Because in accepting material insecurity as a given, it drives home that Christ offers the only security there is, that the goal of educating for faith and perseverance to the end of life is truly *the* goal that matters above all else. But that's really kind of counter-intuitive in some ways. I mean, Maslow and his hierarchy of needs assumes that the lower needs have to be fulfilled before you can focus on the higher needs. It's not surprising that more people are willing to pursue things like the liberal arts when the lower needs are secure than when the lower needs are insecure. And it's not surprising that people find their beliefs shaken when their lower needs become insecure, because they see those lower needs as the foundation for those higher needs. But Christianity calls for the reverse: that really, the eternal things are the foundation for the temporal things, that the higher things support the lower things. Seek first the kingdom of God. I guess my point is that I agree with you about the point of education. And I always would have said I agreed with you. But it's a very different kind of agreement now than it used to be. Before it was the blithe confidence of someone who felt secure in everything. Now it's the more desperate, heartfelt clinging of someone who learnt the hard way that temporal security is only temporary, that eternal security is both the source of what temporal security there is and is the only true security in the first place. And that gives me a lot of sympathy and understanding about what the loss of temporal security can do to a person, even as I think that temporal insecurity is the truth of things, and so everyone needs to reckon with it. But there's a difference between understanding it in theory and having to put that understanding into practice. My original understanding faltered very badly under practice - I was wrong about so much - and the experience of floundering and rebuilding was a humbling one. And I suppose it makes me want to champion people who are in the same boat: viscerally coping with the loss of things they (wrongly) assumed would always be there. Even as I in many ways agree more with the solutions of people who haven't struggled that way than the solutions of those who are struggling. In short (too late 🤣 ), *I agree with educating toward the greater (eternal) things. *But material insecurity still bites. *And so I understand why someone suffering material insecurity would neglect the greater things for the material ones, even as I think they shouldn't do it. *But it felt to me that a lot of posters didn't really grok *why* material insecurity would drive people to that foreign-to-the-poster choice (of material insecurity driving people to neglect the greater things for material ones). *Since that choice *used* to be foreign to me, too, but now I understand it (at least in part), I've spilled a lot of words in trying to help make that foreign choice understandable, which is not the same thing as trying to make it defensible. *This does not include or address the non-material-insecurity reasons for valuing material goals over non-material goals.
  3. I completely understand *why* you'd do it; I just don't understand how you (and people like you) practically *do* it, financially speaking. It's like owning a yacht - so far out of my reach that it's almost beyond comprehension. I mean, I have no idea how I will ever be able to pay for college for my kids. It's scholarships or grandparents or all the loans, basically. So if I can't picture how to cover my kids' increasingly-necessary-to-make-a-living-wage *undergrad* college, the idea of for-personal-fulfillment *graduate* education is so far out of my reach that I can't fathom ever being in that situation. (Which is odd, in that both my parents and my sister would have no trouble doing so, so it's not like it's actually outside my family situation.) I'd love to get theology and philosophy degrees. But as that's practically impossible, I self-study instead. I've had an ongoing research project for the past five years, and I've used the library and accumulated a lot of used books and used my dh's seminary alumni journal access. And my dad has been working on a research project for thirty years, and never really considered going to school in his pursuit of it, even though he actually *could* (financially speaking, at least). I heavily value learning and education, but I don't see college as central to that pursuit, just one path. And an increasingly expensive path, at that, that puts it increasingly out of reach.
  4. All I mean is by "middle-class" is having "enough", not living hand-to-mouth. Nothing at all to do with being able to have status symbols or to conspicuously consume or to keep up with the Jones'. Just the ability to have a stable life, to make a living wage while still having a bit of leisure time. ~*~ It used to be completely foreign to my view, too. Then I realized that "having enough" wasn't at all guaranteed - by which I mean things like health care and jobs with living wages. (And then I realized that even having another day isn't guaranteed either, which put the "stable life" insecurity into perspective.) Even though I *still* believe in - and practice - educating to pursue the greater good (by which I mean a paideia, whole-life sort of education, not merely academic concerns), I now completely understand why people facing an unstable future focus on employability concerns. Because when you feel like your future isn't assured, that's *scary*. You start to strip away the fluff and focus only on the things that *really* matter - things that contribute to survival and things that are more important than survival. The ability to make a living is pretty foundational to survival. And when you are insecure about survival, when the prospect of not surviving becomes viscerally real - your list of "things more important than survival" gets pared down really fast. (But at the same time, you newly-shortened list of "things more important than survival" takes on new importance, because they are *more secure* than survival.) Unless someone's got a really well-grounded, visceral understanding of how pursuing the liberal arts and humanities is genuinely and concretely *more important than survival* (or they genuinely see them as necessary to survival) then of course they are going to value the ability to make a living over them. Because when survival is iffy, you pare down to survival and things more important than survival - and I can understand why the liberal arts/humanities/etc. don't make the list for many people. (The only reason they make *my* more-important-than-survival list, in the second slot (along with practical education), is because a) my top slot, faith in Christ, provides a compelling reason for including them, and b) I've demoted survival way down the list.) An important issue, I think - and maybe this is what you are getting at with "connecting education to MC lifestyle is completely foreign to your view of education" - is to genuinely *have* something you value more than survival and material concerns (something that really and truly *is* more valuable than survival). That valuing survival over everything - and educating accordingly - is foreign to your view of education. And I would agree wholeheartedly with that. But I really understand how it happens now, in a way I didn't before. ~*~ Also, I see education concerns as a far wider category than college concerns. I strongly believe in whole-life education, education that prioritizes the eternal over the temporal and the immaterial over the material; I utterly reject educating (in the paideia sense) for material concerns only, or even for temporal (immaterial+material) concerns only. But at the same time, I completely and utterly understand college decisions being driven by employability concerns, and I don't think that implies a rejection of the larger benefits of education and learning. It's just a realistic reflection that college is insanely expensive and that going into material debt for a largely immaterial benefit only works if you have *other* material resources with which to pay it back. Which so many people don't have (like us, for example). If the main material resources you're likely to have are the ones which will come from your college education, then it's foolish to borrow more material money for that college education than you will be able to pay back from that college education. Schooling is just a subset of education and learning, and college is just a subset of schooling. There are so many, many other ways to learn. (As well, I think there's a lot to be said for the concept of a day job. If what you love isn't likely to pay the bills, then don't ask it to. Find a job that gives you the time and resources to pursue what you love. There are a ton of skills and talents that are of great benefit to oneself and one's neighbor - and you don't have to do them professionally in order to enjoy them and serve others with them. There are a ton of things that are more important than survival - but it's highly unlikely that you can pursue those greater things *as* your means of making a living. But you can pursue them *through* your day-job, and *outside* your day-job.)
  5. One thing I've noticed: losing faith in material security, it's pushing me to do what I should have been doing anyway. I mean, nothing about how I'm now living my life is dependent on the future becoming worse. If it stays as it is or gets better, everything I'm doing to live well, to pursue the greater good is equally valid and applicable. It's like Rod Dreher's Benedict Option: while the push to change came from realizing that things are bad, the actual changes are good things that need doing no matter what. It's the difference between fleeing the bad and pursuing the good. Shaping your life around fleeing the bad - or even fighting the bad - is woefully incomplete (and something of a waste if the bad didn't really merit all your work to flee or fight it). But shaping your life around pursuing the good? That's worth doing no matter the circumstances. And it's the best preparation to face the bad as it comes. ETA: I don't have a lot of optimism about the temporal future. But I have faith and hope in a good eternal future, which is the future I should be focusing on and living in light of anyway. And doing that is the best preparation for whatever the temporal future brings.
  6. I don't disagree; making a living is *not* the greatest good, and education ought to center around being equipped to pursue that greater good. (Although making a living does fall under the greatest good umbrella - it's not antithetical to pursuing the ultimate good, but *part* of that pursuit.) But for me, and I think for many middle- and upper-middle-class Americans who consciously value something over material success, there's an unconscious assumption pursuing those greater goods will also naturally result in achieving those lesser goods of a middle-class life. So you don't feel like you're *giving up* anything by aiming for higher goods. Your choice isn't higher goods OR middle-class goods; rather it's higher goods+middle-class goods versus middle-class goods alone. It's not just a net gain, but a positive in all ways - you lose nothing in pursuing higher goods - the assumption is that your middle-class future is set either way. The lower middle-class goods are simultaneously seen as less important than the higher goods, yet the assumption that those lower goods will always be there is the invisible foundation supporting pursuing higher goods over those lower middle-class goods. (You see that in articles on Tiger Moms: so many upper-middle-class American parents reject the Tiger Mom approach because they think it's harmful to their kids, that success isn't worth that kind of sacrifice. But at the same time, they still want their kids to achieve the same sort of tangible success as the kids of Tiger Moms, only without all the sacrifices the Tiger Moms impose. They assume that their kinder, gentler parenting will do both: result in emotionally healthy kids who also achieve on par with their peers. IOW, that they can pursue the higher good of emotional health without undue loss of tangible success. I was the same way with unschooling and delayed schooling: all the benefits of dropping out of the rat race with none of the drawbacks - that you'd find yourself winning the rat race relative to your peers all while conscientiously refusing to participate. All the benefits, with none of the drawbacks. (Once you put it that way, it sounds rather foolish.)) So what happens when that foundational assumption - that your middle-class future is set - that you can pursue greater goods instead of lower goods while also ending up with those lower goods anyway - no longer holds true? Then what? Do you temporarily give up on pursuing higher goods, shore up your now-shaky life by shifting your focus to the foundational lower goods? Or do you rebuild your foundation on something else, something more solid - ground your pursuit of higher goods in something other than the now-revealed-to-be-iffy lower goods? Should the goal be regaining material security, or learning to live with the prospect of material insecurity, finding one's secure foundation elsewhere? That depends on which is true: is material security the foundation for the higher goods, or is something higher the foundation for the lower goods? Honestly, for me, I always thought that my faith was the foundation for everything else - it was supposed to be - but it took me losing faith in the everything else to realize how much I'd treated the everything else as the foundation for my faith. My point is that it's one thing to pursue higher goods over lower ones when you have faith that you will end up with the lower ones anyway; the cost of doing so is small. Dealing with the repercussions of losing faith that you will end up with the lower goods at all is another entirely. It's much harder to choose the pursuit of higher goods over lower ones when it comes at a high cost. (I happen to think that the high cost is the true cost, which kind of mitigates my mourning. I see my previous assumption of all the benefits with none of the drawbacks as a reality-defying lie. I'm not unique in having to deal with the prospect of material insecurity; it was a lie that I ever thought material security was truly *secure* in the first place, and a lie that only wealth made possible in the first place.) ~*~ This. My previous expectations and assumptions were fueled by a very unique set of circumstances (growing up during the 90s prosperity, with the Cold War ending before I was old enough to properly grasp what it meant, but entering the workforce before the crash) - they were based on an historical blip. So it hurt to have the bubble burst, but the bubble was a lie, so... As you say, every generation has its terrors. There's nothing new under the sun. ETA: Life requires hard work and sacrifice - and this is not a tragedy! Hard isn't a synonym for bad.
  7. I'm not terribly optimistic about the future, either, and the question of how to become the sort of person who can live well in it, how to raise kids who can likewise live well in it - that's on my mind a lot. It feels like the world is trending downward and somehow we need to climb an uphill path against the flow, only we're so. very. steeped. in the downward habits ourselves =(. On the one hand, I made my (theoretical) peace with not seeing a middle-class future for my kids when I disentangled my Christianity from it. I realized that, in many ways, middle-class goals don't mesh well with the ultimate goal of Christianity, and so being a Christian may well require relinquishing middle class goals when they conflict. AKA, I relegated middle-class goals to secondary status, gave them up as a primary goal. So the prospect of losing out on those secondary goals was no longer a tragedy, but something that needed to be accepted in any case, as part of pursuing a greater good. But on the other hand, even within our current comfortable circumstances I feel woefully insufficient for the task - both pursuing that greater good myself and preparing my kids for pursuing that greater good - let alone in the far more difficult circumstances I worry the future holds. (Plus, I've become deeply skeptical about first-world life in general - I'm coming to see the whole thing as a ridiculously wasteful, unsustainable lie that insulates us from reality. So it's not just that I need to make my peace with the possibility of a non-middle-class future as I pursue a greater good, but that I'm coming to believe I shouldn't be living in a middle-class present - that part of pursuing that greater good doesn't just mean being prepared to lose middle-class trappings if needs must, but rather must involve pro-actively *rejecting* a ton of those trappings because they are insanely wasteful and reality-defying.) We're so far down the downward slide: my grandparents were better suited than my parents, who are better suited than me, and - God help me - I'm better suited than my kids, despite how full I am of downward slide habits. I mean, the very fact that we currently have resources that give us a chance to prepare for a harder future is itself a huge gift - and I feel like I'm wasting so much of it. That we (meaning my family, but also kind of our country in general) are being grasshoppers, not ants - taking our ease now while we can, instead of toiling in preparation for harder times ahead. I've been convicted recently that I need to quit bemoaning this and start taking steps to do something about it. Starting with repentance and prayer. In general, I think the best preparation for living well in a harder future is to live well now - aka, assiduously pursue the greater good *now*. *Live* our values, our beliefs, in everything, even - especially - when it is hard. For us that means to bring our faith in Christ into the whole of our concrete, everyday lives. So things like dealing with suffering and death, putting repentance and forgiveness at the center of our dealings with both God and man, not returning evil for evil, receiving God's gifts and loving God and neighbor in response, living for someone outside ourselves, having hope in someone outside ourselves - Someone who is worthy of the trust. And secondarily, as a subset of that greater good, to pursue the basic practical skills that are the bedrock of life. Root yourself in concrete, messy reality, learn how to do the basics (growing and fixing food, building tools and shelter, making clothes, etc.). And also root yourself in the liberal arts, in the humanities, in the really human things. Root yourself in the whole of reality: material, immaterial, spiritual. Because that's good to do anyway, no matter what is coming. And be incremental about weaning yourself and your family off the parts of modern life that are ubiquitous but are unsustainable or are arguably doing more harm than good or are preventing you from pursuing the greater good, instead of going whole hog, "get rid of it all right now". But don't entirely ignore those things either - if you strongly believe that things need to change, then live out that change. But live it out sustainably.
  8. Bumping this. I bought it to do with my rising 8th grader in the fall; I haven't watched beyond the sample videos yet, but I downloaded the written materials today and read through all of the first module, doing about half the exercises. I quite like it so far - it's doing what I hoped it would do, and doing it well - but I'm having the worst time trying to organize my impressions into worthy words. What sorts of questions did you have?
  9. How does this relate to the Barton pre-screening? It's not supposed to screen for dyslexia, but instead is supposed to screen for whether you have the phonemic awareness skills to be able to learn from phonics instruction. But from what you write here - dyslexics struggling with phonetic awareness and blending - that sounds like the same thing the Barton pre-screening is looking for. And the "brain routing the ability to read through a different and not as efficient pathway" sounds *exactly* like what happened with my oldest dd. Which in her case happened *because* she didn't have the phonemic awareness needed to learn phonics, yet somehow learned to read (from pure phonics teaching, even) without it. She failed the Barton pre-screening as an apparently fluent reader. However she was reading, it wasn't phonetically. (And her spelling and decoding of unfamiliar words showed it.) And those phonemic awareness deficits definitely run in my family. My mom learned pure whole word, and she insists to this day that she couldn't have learned to read via phonics. And, really, given the point of the Barton pre-screening - do you have the skills to learn to read via phonics? - she's 100% right. She *doesn't* have the underlying skills needed to learn to read with phonics, and so without those underlying deficits being remediated, she *couldn't* have learned via phonics. But the skills she doesn't have are the same thing that dyslexics struggle with - lack of phonetic awareness (she can't connect the dictionary phonetic pronunciation to how a word sounds), inability to blend - and she definitely reads through a different, non-phonetic pathway. But no comprehension issues. Ditto for my sister and me. We learned with whole word before school, but did have some phonics in school, after we could read. Except since our reading was better than our phonemic awareness, we used our stronger reading skills to work backwards to figure out the answer, bypassing our weak phonemic awareness. (I watched my dd do the same thing. To add or delete sounds, she'd visualize the spelling of the word, think which letter was associated with which sound, add or delete the letter, and read the resulting word.) And it would have been ditto for my kids, except that I read for years on the importance of phonics-only instruction, and persisted with pure phonics despite how hard it was for my oldest. (Even though she was the poster child for balanced literacy, naturally using grammar clues and picture clues and context clues to bolster her weak decoding.) And even then it *still* would have been ditto for my oldest - using a different pathway *despite* all the phonics because she still lacked phonemic awareness and blending skills. (My oldest somehow learned to read from pure phonics teaching *without having the ability to learn from phonics teaching*.) Since then I've taught my kids as if they were dyslexic (including remediating my oldest), because dyslexics have serious problems with phonemic awareness and blending, and my kids have serious problems with phonemic awareness and blending. And it's been both necessary and successful. And family history demonstrates that if those problems go unremediated, we learn to read, but not phonetically - rather like we are using a different, non-phonetic pathway. But does that imply dyslexia? Or, no, you can have serious phonemic awareness problems that interfere with your ability to learn to read phonically (and thus push you to learn to read non-phonetically) for other reasons?
  10. My top extra room would be a library (instead having bookshelves on every available wall in every room and hallway, plus a place to read in peace and quiet that's not a bedroom). Second would be a storeroom (instead of putting things in the non-climate controlled garage/attic). Third would be an exercise room (instead of putting the exercise equipment in the non climate-controlled garage). Fourth would be a hobby room (a place for dh's trains and such that's not the non-climate-controlled garage, and a place for kid creations that's not the dinner table or the floor of their bedrooms). Really, except for the library, what I want is a basement. Our previous house had a finished basement with a storeroom and plenty of room for exercise equipment and kid/adult hobbies. But there's no basements here, and the size of house to match having a full basement is ridiculously huge and expensive.
  11. In general I've found aloe vera gel (the clear stuff, with just aloe, no added "medicated for sunburn relief" stuff) to work well for preventing flyaways when hair is pulled back. I appreciate it both because aloe is good for hair and because I don't have to shampoo it out - I can just comb or brush my hair out and let it absorb. So there's no build-up, no worries about having to clarify occasionally to get it all out.
  12. FWIW, at 8yo I wouldn't worry about teaching or facilitating creative writing beyond giving him plenty of time and materials to do his own thing and being an appreciative audience whenever he shares something with you (all of which you probably do already). I'd just keep working on the mechanics like you are doing, and I would personally do WWE with him as well. It's lit-centric, gentle, and quick, and ime the results give a lot of bang for your buck. Since he likes creative writing, he'd probably like the stories, and ime it's gentle and quick enough it shouldn't suck the life out of him and should leave him with plenty of time and energy for his own creative writing. One thing you could do to encourage his self-expression and creativity is to let him talk your ear off about his writing and really kind of engage with him as he does: ask questions to clarify his thinking, ask questions that encourage elaboration, brainstorm with him. I mean, kind of a joyful, engaged interest: like how people who are into a fandom engage with it. Paying really close attention and really thinking through all the logic and the implications and such, but in a "because I love it so much" way, along with just squeeing over the good bits because you enjoy them. Just kind of entering into his creative writing world with him and giving him the gift of an engaged, thoughtful audience to interact and brainstorm with (if/when he wants it). Not just being an appreciative audience, but a thoughtful, interacting one as well.
  13. I think that, even though the actions themselves are similar, the intent and the goals are quite different. Punitive silent treatment is aimed at hurting the other person, while withdrawing to calm down and recover is aimed at helping oneself. Let's say the other person doesn't notice the withdrawal and silence, or doesn't care: does that make your withdrawal/silence ineffective or not? If you were trying to hurt them with the silent treatment, then their not noticing or caring ruins it; if you were trying to heal yourself, then their not noticing or caring is basically irrelevant (might even be a plus). I get that it might look similar to the other person, especially if the other person is primed to watch out for silent treatment in general. It's probably worth examining yourself to make sure that punitive motives aren't creeping in, because you can certainly withdraw to nurse your wounds *and* hope that your withdrawal makes the other person feel badly for hurting you. And reassure the person at neutral times that your withdrawing is about you coping and not about you punishing them. And possibly watch out for how long the withdrawal lasts. Otherwise, if they persist in taking it badly despite you genuinely not meaning it badly *and* you letting them know that you don't mean it badly, then <shrug>. Out of love for them you could try to check in on them here and there during your withdrawal, to let them know the relationship isn't broken over this hurt. Otherwise the best you can do might be to just not take offense at *their* taking offense - to know that they will take it badly and to not take it personally.
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