Worthy Reads

Homeschooling

When your first official day of homeschooling kinda sucks – The Cultivated Mother – I think we can all relate.

An argument against raising well-rounded kids – Penelope Trunk

From Homeschooling to Home Alone – World – Wow. This depressed me. It’s not how I want to homeschool. I liked what the commenters had to say.

8 Most Annoying Things You Can Say to a Homeschooling Mom – The Stir

Homeschooling in the media

Debunking myths surrounding homeschooling – The Province

Homeschooling Becomes More Popular in China – The Wall Street Journal – Suddenly I’m seeing lots of these articles about homeschooling in China, yet there’s only about 2,000 homeschoolers in a country of over 1 billion people! Still, it will be interesting if the trend continues.

Homeschooling Dad Pays $7,143 In Public School Taxes With One Dollar Bills – Opposing Views – Not sure he’s going to get much sympathy outside the homeschooling community.

Homeschooling Resources 

Joe’s Science Book RecommendationsIf you are like me, there may be a lot of subjects you’d like to learn about so that you can teach your children better.  This book list looks like a good place to start for science.

200 Free Kids Educational Resources – Open Culture

Parenting

Meeting our children’s needs, all at once – The home of Lisa Hassan Scott

Raising and Educating Boys

Teaching Boys to Respect Women – Building Boys – This is a great post, and I want to give a shout out to this new blog founded by Jennifer Fink. I think it has a lot of potential. I have enjoyed reading Jennifer’s blog posts about boys over the last couple of years.

Worthy Reads

Homeschooling

*NOTE GEORGIA HOMESCHOOLERS: New bills affecting homeschooling in Georgia – Atlanta Homeschooling Examiner

How home schooling threatens monopoly education – USA Today

Homeschooling — Another Name for Helicopter Parenting? – Huffpost Students

The Microcosm of Homeschooling – Huffpost Teen

A Home-Schooling Pioneer Looks to the Future – NYTimes.com

The Messy Side of Interest-Led Learning – Interest-Led Learning

Learning to use the time you have – Project-Based Homeschooling

Homeschool Reflection: I’m Ambivalent – Patheos

Education

Online courses need human element to educate – CNN Schools of Thought

Raising and Educating Boys

Guns don’t kill people – our sons do – USA Today – Very provocative column, and I have to agree with it.

Boys, Bullying & Guns – Blogging ‘Bout Boys

Book Review: RAISING BOYS by Steve Biddulph

From my archives: Boys visiting a farm

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on February 29, 2012. You can read the online version by clicking here.

Last week I finished reading Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph.  Not long ago I wrote about one of his other books, The Secret of Happy Children.  Like that one, Raising Boys is short and easy to read.  I found it full of useful advice.

Some of it was similar to Michael Gurian’s book, The Wonder of Boys, which I reviewed last year, but there’s enough difference that I highly recommend both.  Busy parents may find Raising Boys more concise and practical for their needs, however.

Biddulph begins the book by noting that thirty years ago, a huge effort was raised to help girls gain confidence. While this was good (I think I benefitted from that), there was neglect when it came to boys. He writes, “…today, it’s the girls who are more sure of themselves, motivated, and capable. More girls than boys finish school, more girls go on to college, and they get better grades than boys.”

While this isn’t true for all boys, I have noticed other articles about boys and education reporting similar findings.  But work has been underway to change how we treat boys.

Much is known now about the differences between the developments of boys and girls brains.  Boys’ brains develop more slowly, and the left and right hemispheres of their brains are less well connected.  Since we know this, we can take steps to help boys and girls as they develop.

Biddulph advises, “…when you chatter, interact and tell stories to babies, toddlers and school-age boys, you’re actually building their neural linkages so they will become men who are good with words and feelings.”

In the book Biddulph writes about the three distinct stages of development for boys.  From birth to approximately six-years-old, boys are in the “learning to love” years.  This is a time that mama is the star of the show, although dads are very important too.  From six to fourteen, however, is “when fathers count the most.”  After fourteen, boys begin to seek a wider world.  They need mentors and caring adults in addition to their parents.

I learned in the book that boys like structure and need to know who’s in charge.  “Wherever you see a gang of boys looking unruly, you know the adult leadership is failing,” Biddulph writes.  Later he adds, “If the teacher, scoutmaster, or parent is kind and fair (as well as strict), boys will drop their macho act and get on with learning.”

He also explains that “if girls are anxious in a group setting, they tend to cower and be quiet” (that’s true for me!), but boys may run around and make noise.

I found it interesting that he noted that schools such as Montessori schools which engage boys in interesting hands-on work have less of a problem with unruly behavior.  He also explains that girls can certainly behave like boys too, and many of the differences between girls and boys are slight.

Biddulph is a big proponent in having boys start school one year later than girls.  I have read this many times and even talked to a kindergarten teacher about it, which is why I wouldn’t enroll my five-year-old in Kindergarten until next year, if I weren’t homeschooling.

Boys’ fine-motor skills and cognitive skills develop slower, so most of them would benefit from starting school later.  Just watching my little boys, it’s evident to me that they need to move a lot.  I don’t make my five-year-old sit at a desk for lessons for more than 20~30 minutes, and even when we are learning, I allow plenty of wiggling.

The book has a chapter each for fathers and mothers and explains the important roles each of them have in their boy’s development.  There is also advice for single mothers, a chapter dedicated to finding and creating the right school environment for boys and much more.

My favorite quote from the book is: “Family life is a work in progress. You only get in trouble if you have to be right and you have to show them who’s boss.  If you are human, it goes much better.”  Raising Boys is an essential read for parents with young boys.

What parenting books would you recommend about raising boys and girls?