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My eldest is 11 and I'm beginning to see glaring omissions in subject matter that I probably should have covered by now. It doesn't feel good. The panic and sense of failure are setting in. Have you guys experienced this? Would people mind sharing some homeschool failures to make me feel less alone and like maybe there's hope? 

Some gaps I've uncovered lately:

- Democracy. You guys, my kids didn't know what it meant. We talk about current events and civic issues all the time, because dh and I are big on that. And they know what Congress is and stuff like that, but this morning they didn't know what democracy meant. ?

- Disability. I was talking about human interest stories that I used to write for the newspaper and I mentioned a disabled artist I wrote about one time. My kids didn't know what disabled meant. ?

- Writing. I'm too embarrassed to go into detail, but they've never written reports or persuasive essays or the like. I have an MA in English, so...shame. 

- History. Lots of stuff. We live in Virginia, so we're solid on colonial stuff and the Revolution, as well as the Civil War. We've done lots of American Indian studies. DD11 also knows quite a bit about Ancient Greece, and they're good on the Renaissance, but other than that, FAIL. 

- Kickball. My daughter's soccer team played it at their last practice of the season, and she had no clue how it worked. When they said, "It's just like baseball," same problem. Because we neither play nor watch baseball. Ugh.

There's a lot more, but I can't think of them all right now. These are just the most recent shockers. 

On the bright side, math, reading, and writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, fluidity) are pretty solid. But man, I have so much work to do. And I can't recover lost time, you know?

 

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Meh. If you follow TWTM, an 11-year-old doesn't need to be writing persuasive essays yet. That would be a rhetoric-stage skillset, wouldn't it?

Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that there are ALWAYS gaps. It's not your job to produce no gaps. It's your job to give kids skills in how to spot and fill gaps on their own.

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LOL, I think we have similar gaps, especially the sports. I have anxiety related to that stuff as well, as you can see from some of my previous posts, but I think it's good to pull yourself up short and keep up the "bright side" thinking. My 11-year-old doesn't have a good grasp of abstract/higher-level vocab words either, and my 13-year-old thinks he does but upon further investigation can't use them in a sentence or explain in his own words what they mean. I think we often overestimate what kids "should" know at certain ages. I could not have explained what democracy was at 11, and I had never heard the word "capitalism" until 7th grade, or knew anything about Buddhism and Hinduism until 9th. No single teacher can possibly cover everything! Now that they're in the Logic Stage, I'm taking special effort to teach them how to recognize gaps in their knowledge and "fill 'em in" on their own when the lack of knowledge is a concern. I only recently learned what "teleology" means, thanks to a budding interest in philosophy/ethics... I doubt DH, who has vastly different interests, will ever care to learn that word ? 

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Gaps are going to happen. My niece who is 11 and goes to one of the best public schools in the area (and tests gifted) has tons of holes in her learning so it is not just homeschool. I know I will notice them with my kids as we go along as well. Also, kids can be taught a concept and lose that knowledge from one year to the next. Repitition is key. When you stumble across a hole it is a great teaching moment. Democracy can be taught in the moment by revisiting your Ancient Greece and Rome history as well as bringing in the implications of ancient democracy on western civilization as we know it now. Then you can bring it all into current events. Kids don't naturally synthesize vocabulary and learning at that age. You have to do the synthesizing for them and then at some point it clicks ?

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Everybody has weird knowledge gaps, and nobody - I mean nobody! - expects 10, 11, or 12 year olds to be extremely well educated about everything.

Concepts around democracy will be covered in a decent civics textbook. Shouldn't take more than a term to do if you really do it, or a year if you sort of half-ass it. Or you can skip it until high school, whatever. History, nobody in the US knows about much other than American history, especially in middle school. Your kids are already ahead of the curve, and that may be a sad indictment of national priorities, but there it is. Kickball and baseball - meh. If this is important, sign them up for a sports class. If not, whatever. The important thing is that they're active and have fun.

Writing is a skill, not a concept. I'm liking The Writing Revolution (new edition, published this year - the old edition costs waaaaaaay too much!) for adding writing to every day for the dyslexic kiddo, who really needs the help. But you know what? We deliberately and consciously did no writing whatsoever for her older sister for middle school, in order to help her recover from a really awful elementary school experience around the subject, and she writes a heck of a lot better than her classmates now that she's in high school.

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The gaps on democracy and disabled appear to be semantic gaps.  As in they probably do know about the basics of "for the people, of the people" but just didn't tie the word "democracy to those concepts.  And I'm sure that they have seen disabled people before and know that disabilities exist - they just didn't match it to the word "disabled".  Both of those are quick fixes.

Most 11 year olds are not writing reports other than something like a book report.  And they certainly aren't writing persuasive essays.  Your expectations seem off here?

 

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I think Jean is exactly right about semantics.  There are a lot of things my kids know for which they haven't learned the over-arching term. I really hope I get around to teaching them!  I share your anxiety, but I think those things will come up, because it's not like their first pass through history will be THE ONLY ONE.  

A few weeks (months?) ago, there was a thread in which someone was horrified that a young person didn't know the word "holocaust."  That gave me pause, because I couldn't remember if I'd used that term with Dd10; I think SOTW defines the term, but I just wasn't sure!  So I filled her in.  She knew about Nazis and the killing of Jewish and other people, she just didn't recall the term.  We're good now.

As far as sports... my first exposure to volley ball was college gym class, where I received my only "C" grade, dang it!  Ah, well. 

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Agreeing that I don't see any fails. I am not sure that my 8 yr old would give an accurate definition of disabled but has a disabled adult brother who lives in our home.  We don't talk about him being disabled, just the best him he can be which happens to be different than her other siblings.   My 12 yod would be able to define democracy if I asked her what kind of gov't democracy was, but if I just asked her to define democracy without any sort of relationship word leading into the question, she would probably look at me with blank eyes.  No biggie.  

Essays.....definitely not an issue for an 11 yr.  Writing in general, otoh, yes, I would want to see writing being done regularly.

 

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2 hours ago, Bucolic said:

My eldest is 11 and I'm beginning to see glaring omissions in subject matter that I probably should have covered by now. It doesn't feel good. The panic and sense of failure are setting in. Have you guys experienced this? Would people mind sharing some homeschool failures to make me feel less alone and like maybe there's hope? 

Some gaps I've uncovered lately:

- Democracy. You guys, my kids didn't know what it meant. We talk about current events and civic issues all the time, because dh and I are big on that. And they know what Congress is and stuff like that, but this morning they didn't know what democracy meant. ?

- Disability. I was talking about human interest stories that I used to write for the newspaper and I mentioned a disabled artist I wrote about one time. My kids didn't know what disabled meant. ?

- Writing. I'm too embarrassed to go into detail, but they've never written reports or persuasive essays or the like. I have an MA in English, so...shame. 

- History. Lots of stuff. We live in Virginia, so we're solid on colonial stuff and the Revolution, as well as the Civil War. We've done lots of American Indian studies. DD11 also knows quite a bit about Ancient Greece, and they're good on the Renaissance, but other than that, FAIL. 

- Kickball. My daughter's soccer team played it at their last practice of the season, and she had no clue how it worked. When they said, "It's just like baseball," same problem. Because we neither play nor watch baseball. Ugh.

There's a lot more, but I can't think of them all right now. These are just the most recent shockers. 

On the bright side, math, reading, and writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, fluidity) are pretty solid. But man, I have so much work to do. And I can't recover lost time, you know?

 

 

I assure you, as the parents of four children who go to a top school district and whose educations have been excellent (based on what they do daily and what they learn and do use in life), these are not fails. Kids remember some things and forget others. If they remember Ancient Greece and the Renaissance it is probably because those are so interesting! Not that you want to compare to public school, but just to say, what you are seeing is normal. That's why most systems cover subjects repeatedly and in more depth year after year.

Democracy: So, we have three kids 11 and up (plus one younger). We talk about civics and we talk about democracy. Ask them to give a definition that does not begin with "it's like when" and they are lost. The strong narrative foundation will help them as they get older and more able to abstract things.

Kids keep a lot stored deep down. You have the foundations. Seriously, you are doing great. Any educational program, even the top homeschool, private school, or public school, will have gaps because kids' brains are constantly reforming. Constantly. Facts fizzle as they create more space for new facts and logic. 

As for kickball... who cares? My 11 year old started lacrosse this year. She knew nothing about it. She learned. She doesn't know the rules of baseball either beyond "hit the ball and run". We go to baseball games, she just mainly pays attention to her friends and walking around concessions and trying to get a wave started, lol!

You are doing fine. This is not a homeschool fail. The fact that you her mom know what the gaps are is a homeschool success. Keep at it.

Edit: I also want to say, in my experience, a large proportion of boys 11-15 have mush for brains. This is not the population that you can use to judge whether or not your educational system is a failure. Are they active? Are they participating? Can they express themselves in two-word sentences? If so, you're doing GREAT. They will move beyond that phase and turn into brilliant young men but don't let their reticence or inarticulate selves make you doubt your choices. I'm not saying that our teens don't make us question reality daily. It's just that... we have to step back and breathe and realize that kids aren't perfect and one day is not a measure of success or failure.

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Wow, if you would consider those fails then .... I don’t know what to say. Content area is tough in regards to retention. The only reason my kids know who the first three presidents are is because we have a poster of the presidents on the wall and they look at it from time to time. Also, we use A Beka history some years and they drill the kid on the presidents and states and capitals. We watched Gone With the Wind a couple months ago and my kids hadn’t the slightest idea who was fighting whom, and why. And yes, we do history every day, every year.  Someone upthread said something about interest, and I think that nails it. If they aren’t interested, the probably won’t remember it.

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So am agreeing with everyone. Not one of what you listed is a fail. 

It sounds like you are doing fine but need a break. Pull back, make a list of what is going well in your school/ with the kids and then take two weeks off where you do not think of school  

( and I taught for a decade in high performing  elementary schools and have home educated for 13 years,one to graduation, so you should listen to me and not the bully in your brain lol)

(true confession--we all have those moments when we doubt ourselves bc neither we nor our children are perfect or have time to be or do everything. )

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Oh Kickball. 

Last year our girls were at an overnight camp with our local troop. They announced that kickball was next on the agenda. I sunk deep in my chair and had a slight panic attack. We are NOT a sports family. We don’t watch sports. We don’t do sports. I’m not sure any of us are coordinated enough for sports. I was forced to play the game in public school growing up. 

I knew my girls had no idea what their friends were talking about. They kicked the ball, and they had no idea what to do or where to run. It was bad. Since then, we’ve gone to a few Durham Bulls baseball games so I can start teaching them basics and terminology. We’ve also started bowling. (It has been an eye opener!)

Try not to worry about the gaps. Think of all the gaps public school kids have. They have to get used to a new teacher every single year, and most will never read a full classic novel - EVER!

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None of this sounds like a fail to me, either.  Not in the slightest.  

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OP - your kids' gaps sound pretty close to mine. 

Gap: neither of my kids can tie their shoes...and they have no desire to learn. 

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Happily the kickball gap is easy to fix. The rest will be fixed over time. I agree the writing is a non-issue. The history terms, etc. will fix with time. 

Go play kickball and take your break. You probably need to recharge. When I'm down, everything looks worse. When I'm refreshed and feeling confident again, I can brush away the worries knowing I have a plan and the energy to make it happen. 

The key is to take care of yourself and recharge. Says the woman speaking to herself, lol.

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I'd consider those gaps to be pretty minor and easily fixed. No where near the "fail" category. You're much too hard on yourself. When you come across a gap, simply teach them. And then keep doing just that. Some of those may even have been things you DID teach previously, and it just didn't "stick" yet. So, teach it again. That's part of what teaching is. 

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4 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

OP - your kids' gaps sound pretty close to mine. 

Gap: neither of my kids can tie their shoes...and they have no desire to learn. 

 

I live in Hawaii.  There are lots of kids here who need late lessons on shoe tying. 

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I always hated watching Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader for this reason.  There were so many questions I thought they should know. When they didn't it hurt because I was their teacher.

Take note of what you haven't covered. Try to cover it as you move forward.  

Both of my older kids are now successful college students, despite all those cringe worthy gaps when they were little.

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Those are not fails at 11. No kid is going to know all terms and even if it was covered it could easily be forgotten. My 11 definitely can not write a persuasive essay nor could most kids that age write a good one. I do not know if my kids know those terms or not. We talked about democracy in history but who knows it retained months later after brief mentions. Childhood games are easily learned so the kickball thing would be easy to teach.

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I always hated watching Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader for this reason.  There were so many questions I thought they should know. When they didn't it hurt because I was their teacher.

 

On the flipside, I always felt that combining 5th grade standards from multiple states is cheating, I dislike the conflation of memorizing random trivia with learning, and I thought some questions - like "What was Stonewall Jackson's real first name?" - were utterly unreasonable. (Indeed, not a single one of the fifth graders correctly guessed that his name was Thomas. LOL, but that was a funny scene. It was a charity episode, and the guy up front was absolutely convinced it must be Andrew Jackson. Nevermind that Andrew Jackson was, I presume, long dead by the 1860s, nor that nobody goes from being President of the USA to a mere general. To be fair, the children also all thought that his first name must be Andrew, and I don't blame them. That question was completely ridiculous. So, because this is for charity, the host kept saying "But, you know, you have a lot of money, you could quit now, you don't want to lose any money, it's for the kiddies" rather than going back and forth like they usually do, and this guy just didn't get it. So after the answer is already recorded, the host turns to his friend in the audience, the one whose charity this is for, and goes "Do you ever get the feeling like you're talking, and he's just not listening to what you're trying to say?" and even then, after all this, the guy goes "Well, just because he wasn't the president that doesn't mean his name still couldn't be Andrew." My grandmother was cracking up, we were watching together, and for months afterward she would go "His name still could be Andrew!" and have a good laugh.)

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All five of my children are adults. NONE of them could tell you how to play kickball, nor do they care to learn. We were at my dad's house one day, and my sister's kids were trying to get up a game of kickball. My children were reluctant because 1) they didn't know how to play and 2) they knew grandpa wasn't going to be happy with balls landing in his flowers. My sister commented, "Your kids would know how to play kickball if they were in ps!" My comment back, "Your children would know how to be kind to their cousins if they WEREN'T in ps!" 

I'm 63 in a week. I have NEVER needed kickball skills in my adult life! Actually, I've never needed kickball skills as a child. 

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Kickball is fun.  We play at camp and we had a party once at a local gym where people of all ages played kickball together.  It took perhaps 5 minutes at the most to teach to those who didn't know how to play or had forgotten the rules.  It's not exactly rocket science to kick when someone says "kick" and to run when someone says "run". 

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Awwww, momma, give yourself a big hug!!!! Tell the fear and panic to go away and leave you alone! At 11, I wouldn't consider any of those to be big fails. Even if your children were older I wouldn't necessarily consider them fails. They're just things your kids don't know yet. Maybe you could keep a running list of "things my kids don't know" by group and by individual child. Just write them down as they pop up and then either plan a time to teach them whether that means a book, a definition, a demonstration, a conversation or whatever.

My oldest is 8 but I've had similar moments of "I can't believe you don't know this!". Some examples are jumping rope, tying shoes, the names of our city and state. So far it's been easy to address each gap as it appeared. In my brain, I will also counter each "I can't believe you don't know this" item with a "but they know ________" to reassure myself. 

Hope this helps! You are not alone! :-)

 

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When my Public schooled daughter was in 10th grade she was re-reading The Witch of Blackbird pond for fun. Someone on her swim team asked her what it was about and my dd gave a brief synopsis using the term Puritans.  The girl didn't know what that word meant! Good school district, 10th grade. Yikes. But she most likely had heard of the term pilgrims. 

My son had no idea what time period "Medieval" referred to. However he knew what periods were ancient, middle ages, Renaissance and modern.  ? 

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3 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

 

On the flipside, I always felt that combining 5th grade standards from multiple states is cheating, I dislike the conflation of memorizing random trivia with learning, and I thought some questions - like "What was Stonewall Jackson's real first name?" - were utterly unreasonable. (Indeed, not a single one of the fifth graders correctly guessed that his name was Thomas. LOL, but that was a funny scene. It was a charity episode, and the guy up front was absolutely convinced it must be Andrew Jackson. Nevermind that Andrew Jackson was, I presume, long dead by the 1860s, nor that nobody goes from being President of the USA to a mere general. To be fair, the children also all thought that his first name must be Andrew, and I don't blame them. That question was completely ridiculous. So, because this is for charity, the host kept saying "But, you know, you have a lot of money, you could quit now, you don't want to lose any money, it's for the kiddies" rather than going back and forth like they usually do, and this guy just didn't get it. So after the answer is already recorded, the host turns to his friend in the audience, the one whose charity this is for, and goes "Do you ever get the feeling like you're talking, and he's just not listening to what you're trying to say?" and even then, after all this, the guy goes "Well, just because he wasn't the president that doesn't mean his name still couldn't be Andrew." My grandmother was cracking up, we were watching together, and for months afterward she would go "His name still could be Andrew!" and have a good laugh.)

I know that one because of a historical marker near my childhood home, which marks that a half mile north, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson fell off his horse. 

 

I asked DD13,figuring she would have no clue (since I KNOW our US history didn’r Include first names of Confederate generals who are known by nicknames as more than a passing comment when first introduced, if that),and she immediately responded “Thomas”-turns out, thaf particular marker is the nearest Pokestop to my parents’ house, and as an avid Pokemon go player, she visits it regularly when we’re there :).

 

OP-we’ve had many homeschool “uh, you should know that”. DD didn’t learn to tie her shoes until she started doing field work with college and grad students and was embarrassed by it. We had to teach her how to use a combination lock before she went to marine bio camp this summer because she had never used one. Milk cartons and opening single food containers without getting a pair of scissors has also been a “oops-missed that”. And ahe’d Have no clue how to play kickball, either -although she has gone to a few minor league baseball games. 

 

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It was in my freshman year at Duke University when I found out there were companies.  I knew there were factories, but had never given it even a small piece of thought as to who ran them.  Companies were never discussed in school subjects like English, Calculus, Chemistry, or History, even though my school was excellent.  My dad worked for the government, so we didn't discuss companies at home, and they didn't own stocks or track the stock market.  I was not allowed to watch TV, so never saw any advertisements; and my mom only bought clothes from yard sales and goodwill.  Companies just never came up, ever.  Needless to say, all my friends were quite floored that I didn't know there were companies.  Point being, I think that it is easy to have BIG gaps in your education let alone small ones, but you just fill them when you find them, and move on.  ?

 

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11 hours ago, Margaret in CO said:

Perhaps I should mention that my music major dd called me from college in her undergrad days, asking, "Who were the Beatles?" 

LOL! 

My kids have also had a major gap in understanding certain conversations bc they lack all knowledge of "street" lingo, for lack of a better descriptor.   

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Golly, if you want to talk gaps (homeschool fails), how about a 9 yr old who asks, "What do those little boxes on the calendar stand for?" after 3+ years of doing daily calendar activities?
Or multiple kids (including a 15 yr old) who couldn't (correctly) tell you which country we gained our independence from back in the late 1700s? Correctly name even one founding father? Get the date for the signing of the Declaration of Independence closer than 15 years to its actual year? [Yes, there are lots of adults who cannot do these things either.]

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills that my kids take every two years starting in 4th grade gives me a reality check on gaps I didn't know they had - including ones I don't care about filling (like my 6th grader not being able to understand a sports bracket - it was not a priority at the time, she'll figure it out if she ever care enough to).

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That all sounds pretty normal to me.  But then I had to teach my 9 year old to write her name earlier this year because she's always used a nickname.  

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My then 11 year old couldn't answer any probability questions based on a deck of cards because he was like "deck of cards??!  Birthday cards?  Notecards?  Whhhaaaat?"  ?

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I just asked my ds15, “Do you know how to play kickball?”  He looked thoughtful and said, “Not really.  Isn’t it like baseball, but you kick?  How do you play?”

Um...I couldn’t answer.  I have no idea how to play kickball.  ?

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If it makes you feel better..here are the gaps my children had after public school....

 

handwriting, spelling, grammar, math, history.....

Those are blanket across the board complete nothings. In a school that ranks very well at that. Sounds like your children have done great and you have done great with them!

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Every year, my kid (10) does well on the vocabulary section of a standardized test.

Today, I had to explain the difference between a drawer and a cabinet.

#missedsomething

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I remember when my daughter asked me why there were so many unemployed veterinarians.  She had seen a man carrying a sign saying "Unemployed vet.  Please help."

We won't talk about how old she was when this  happened.

Regards,
Kareni

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Spend some time with kids in public school. Gaps are everywhere. It’s not a homeschooling problem. And 11 is way young! You have lots of time!

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I don't really know what kickball is, and I'm 41.  I guess it probably involves kicking a ball - but where, and to whom, and why?  It's a mystery to me.

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21 hours ago, Kareni said:

I remember when my daughter asked me why there were so many unemployed veterinarians.  She had seen a man carrying a sign saying "Unemployed vet.  Please help."

We won't talk about how old she was when this  happened.

Regards,
Kareni

When I was 12 I got to do a horse back riding program for a while through school.  One time we were having a Vet visit...  my question was... "What war were you in?"....  

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11 minutes ago, scoutingmom said:

When I was 12 I got to do a horse back riding program for a while through school.  One time we were having a Vet visit...  my question was... "What war were you in?"....  

You and my daughter would have been fine friends at age twelve!

Regards,
Kareni

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8 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

I don't really know what kickball is, and I'm 41.  I guess it probably involves kicking a ball - but where, and to whom, and why?  It's a mystery to me.

Me either.  Soccer-baseball?

 

 

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Ah, ok, we called this soccer-baseball.

I always thought of it as a fake game for when the teachers weren't good enough to play soccer or baseball.

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An attorney I follow on Twitter recently started a discussion of "things you finally learned in your 20s".  He led off with the example that in his 20s he discovered that pickles don't simply grow out of the ground like lettuce.  It's been an interesting panorama of gaps people have.

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Oh PS kids have gaps too.

My 3rd grader had no idea what a pronoun was. The state test didn't include grammar, so the school didn't bother teaching it.

Imagine me, sitting in my first college computer science class, as a computer science minor; ten minutes into class and I finally swallowed my pride and asked the student next to me how to turn on the computer. I took a computer science class in high school, but to save time, the computers were always on and always open to the exact program we would use. I didn't have my own computer until I was a sophomore in college.

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On 7/6/2018 at 3:29 PM, dmmetler said:

...OP-we’ve had many homeschool “uh, you should know that”. DD didn’t learn to tie her shoes until she started doing field work with college and grad students and was embarrassed by it. We had to teach her how to use a combination lock before she went to marine bio camp this summer because she had never used one. Milk cartons and opening single food containers without getting a pair of scissors has also been a “oops-missed that”. And ahe’d Have no clue how to play kickball, either -although she has gone to a few minor league baseball games. 

 


I've used your shoe-tying story to define Asych. Development to people.  

Yeah, those darn milk cartons.  We were at a convention, and DD was thwarted by a milk carton.  

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9 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

Ah, ok, we called this soccer-baseball.

I always thought of it as a fake game for when the teachers weren't good enough to play soccer or baseball.

 

In elementary school we played a game called "squashball" (dodgeball played with a flat ball so instead of the ball bouncing off it hit with a sickening thud and left a bruise) that I didn't realize was different than "squash" the racquet game until fairly recently. I wondered why adults wanted to play a game that was so painful. 

I'm pretty sure PE teachers today couldn't get away with requiring that game. This particular teacher also drove a beat-up car with a "die yuppie scum" bumper sticker, which would probably also be frowned upon. ?

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