Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Funny faces

Monday, March 16, 2009

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool....That is the Question.

I didn't sleep at all last night. I was up all night worrying about my 3 year old son's education. Yes, I'm a worry wart. I have very valid concerns though (in my opinion). Let me give you a little back story so you can understand why. I'll start off by saying, I'm truly not trying to brag, but my son is only three years old and he is already at least at a first grade level academically. He can read and write all by himself and do simple arithmetic (add and subtract numbers under 10, counts to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's, etc.). He has known his shapes, colors and patterns since before he could walk. He spoke early as well, by 11 months he was saying two word sentences.

My concern is that some of the things he learns in preschool now are things that he has known since he was 1 or earlier. By the time he gets to kindergarten, in two more years, I have a feeling he is going to be far ahead of his classmates academically and be bored out of his mind. I have him in a private Christian preschool right now and we really do love it. Even though he is academically ahead, he is still only a three year old and acts like a typical three year old, so he would not be ready to be around a first grade classroom. The preschool is only 3 hours a day, two days a week, which is perfect. It's enough time for him to work on social skills and be around other kids his age, but not long enough that he gets bored out of his mind being there. However, next year preschool goes to three days a week and I am afraid he will get bored.

With all this being said, I know it seems the simple answer is to homeschool him so that I can keep up with his pace and he doesn't have to throttle back his learning to stay around kids his own age. My concerns with homeschooling, however, are this:

1. Whenever Nic says that he can't do something without even trying it, I tell him there is nothing he can't do and not to say he can't do something when he hasn't even tried yet. When it comes to homeschooling, if I do that first, am I saying he can't do a private school without even trying it first? I want to make sure Nic gets every opportunity in life. I think a private school is an opportunity he deserves to try (I say private, because I really do think a private school will be the best option for him, I have no plans to send him to public school). If we at least try a private school first, if it doesn't work out, THEN we can re-visit homeschooling. At least we can say we tried and he had that opportunity. I won't feel like I've robbed him of an opportunity due to my own fears. I feel I should practice what I preach and let him try school before I say he can't do it.

2. It comes back to opportunities and social activities. For example, if Nic is home schooled, he won't get to go to Prom, Homecoming or be President of the Drama Club or even be Senior Class President, if he chooses. He won't get to be Captain of his high school football team, if he wants to be. If I start right off with homeschooling, I'm afraid I will be taking those opportunities from him without even trying. These are things I loved about school, I don't want to rob Nic of these fun, time-honored, teenage traditions.

3. I'm not a teacher. I don't feel I'm qualified to teach my son effectively. Now, I've had people telll me this is crazy because I've done such a great job teaching him so far. But I'm 35 years old, I know how to read and write so I can handle teaching reading, writing and simple math. I can even handle simple science lessons. My fear is when he gets older, what if he wants to learn Algebra or Calculus? What if he wants to become a scientist and I don't have access to a chemistry lab? There is no way I could teach those things!

4. College - I've read that children who are homeschooled have a more difficult time adjusting to college life. Also, if he is homeschooled and wants to go to a top University, he will be competing with the kid who went to a great school, was President of his class and Captain of his football team. Guess who the college is going to pick first? Guess who will have a better shot at the scholarship?

With this being said, I hope I didn't offend anyone because that is not my intent. If you can homeschool your child, I think that's really great and I admire you. I think more children should be homeschooled. I'm just not sure it is the first option for Nic. One thing I've really learned from him being at preschool is that he LOVES being around children his age. He likes having his friends around and learning with them. I have also seen an improvement in his social skills. If he is homeschooled, he won't get to be around his friends as much. I guess that was just another point for private school.

Whatever school he attends, I plan on being very involved. I will know his teachers and be comfortable with them. One of the reasons I love his school now is because I know his teacher, I don't feel like I'm leaving him with a stranger for three hours. When he starts school, I plan on doing the same.

After writing this blog, its easier for me to see what the best option is for us. I'll start researching private schools today.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Go Green - Save Money and the Environment.

There are a lot of ways to go green and save money while doing it. It's easier than you think and with the money you can save, why not? Going green is a win-win situation. Most of us know we can use compact fluorescent bulbs and buy Energy Star appliances, but what are ways to go green that are even easier and cost less?

Here are some easy ideas, along with how much impact they have on your wallet and the environment:

1. Save electricity, purify your air with plants. Having live plants in your home helps to absorb airborne toxins and saves energy costs by not plugging in the air purifier. Not to mention, plants are MUCH cheaper than air purifiers!

2. Use bar soap. Replacing just one plastic bottle of liquid soap with a bar will save 2.5 million lbs. of plastic! Also, let's not forget that bar soap is cheaper!

3. Put a recycling can next to the trash can in your office. This way you can just as easily throw your paper into the recycling can as the trash can. Making one ton of paper from recycled materials saves 7,000 gallons of water AND 17 trees.

4. When building a fire, use an artificial log (like those Duraflame fire logs you can find at most stores) to start the fire. Believe it or not, those man made logs burn longer than wood and give off 75% less carbon monoxide.

5. After you fill up your gas tank, turn the cap until it clicks three times. Each year, 147 million gallons of gas evaporate into the air due to missing, loose or damaged caps. This is in the US alone!

6. Wash laundry in cold water only or use the warm wash and cold rinse cycle. You will save on energy costs and if each home in America did this, we would save 100,000 barrels of oil a day!

7. Use your toaster oven as much as possible. When you need to bake a few rolls, some chicken nuggets, or any other small baking job, use a toaster oven. You will use half as much energy, saving you money.

8. Stop using the screen saver on your computer. Instead switch your computer display to go into sleep mode whenever it isn't used for 5 minutes. This will consume 90% less energy!

9. Use power strips and turn off the power strips when the electronics plugged into them aren't in use. Some electronics use electricity even when they are turned off! If you plug your appliances into a power strip and then shut the power strip off, you will use 87% less energy than if you have the appliances plugged into 6 separate outlets.

10. Return your wire hangers to the dry cleaner. Don't just throw them in the trash. If we did this, we could save 200 million tons of steel each year that could be reused.

Just think of how much money we could save and the environmental impact we could make if we all just did these 10 simple things!

Thanks, I will now step down off of my soapbox and take it to the recycling bin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Smile, it's electrifying :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Time Changes Everything - Even Marketing

I was just thinking about how much time changes things. We all know the effects time has on us in everyday life. Be it your memory, that extra little ache you may feel in the morning that you didn't feel a few years ago, or that (gasp!) gray hair that has seemed to pop up overnight.

Time doesn't just effect how we feel or look. It also has effects on how we think and get things accomplished. Take the phone book, for example. Ten years ago, if I needed anything from a plumber to a doctor to someone to bring me a hot meal, I'd go right to the phone book. Today, I looked under my phone table and found two phone books from the last two years that are still in their plastic wrap and have never even been opened. At first I started thinking about what a waste of paper. Think about all the poor trees that were cut down so that my phone books could collect dust (which made me realize that ten years ago, I never would have thought that much about the environment, either). Then I realized that, like me, phone books are suffering the effects of time. I wonder how long it will be until they no longer exist in paper format? Most people today just look things up on their computer or cell phone. I know I do. I hope that everyone who has an ad in the phone book has also invested advertising in other mediums. If you haven't, I can just about guarantee you are not getting the most from your advertising dollars. I'm not saying don't advertise in the phone book, I'm saying make sure you advertise in several different places in order to get the most bang for your buck. By just sticking to print, you are missing all of those who do research online and vice-versa.

Another advertising medium that has suffered the effects of time is newspaper advertising. In today's online and environmentally friendly world, most forms of print advertising are on the decline. Again, if you only do print advertising, you are missing a large number of potential clients. Review your marketing, make sure you are keeping up with the times and spread your marketing out among several different mediums such as the web, television and radio. Just think, 10 or so years ago many small businesses and professionals couldn't have imagined the importance of having a web site or blog and now they couldn't imagine going without it. Stay on top of the trends, only time will tell what the best advertising medium will be for you 10 years from now.