Friday, September 15, 2017

Martial Arts is Fantastic for homeschool kids, but they MUST fight to really get its benefit

KJ (in Black) fighting a boy her age in the ring at a dojo about 30 minutes away from ours
Martial Arts is an integral part of our family life.  The way some families focus on gymnastics, or cheer, or band, or soccer, or whatever, we do martial arts.  Well, almost like that as unlike many families that do those other things, I actually participate myself.  That is, I study and apply Martial Arts myself, taking classes, sparing, and work on belts with the same vigor as my girls do.

Dy drilling from Closed-
Guard on Joey..... Joey the
dummy, at one point referred
to as KJ's boyfriend! 
For those uninitiated in Martial Arts, at a very high level Martial Arts can be broken down into two broad level groups, armed (knife for example) and unarmed.  Within these two groups you could categorize based on striking -aka- hard (boxing for example) and grappling -aka- soft (wrestling for example).  Don't let the hard and soft monikers fool you, as they are references to energy transfer approaches between combatants, as both hard and soft styles can debilitate a foe.  Within these categories, you find styles which are collections of approaches with a particular strategic view on, and collection of tactics for, how to win in a combative scenario.

KJ drilling an Arm-Bar
practicing her BJJ
Putting all this together, here is an example:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a very popular style of unarmed fighting that is based on grappling using a strategy of close contact with the opponent while taking a fight to the ground.  The tactics used in BJJ are typically joint-locks, choke holds, and leverage thus enabling a physically weaker opponent to use superior skill to win in a
physical altercation.

Our base, or primary style, is Shito Ryu Karate.  Beyond its unfortunate name, it is an amazing blend of Karate styles that emphasizes a number of things to include copious amounts of Katas (choreographed fighting sequences) and Sparring (controlled fights).  While Shito Ryu is our foundation style, we also take classes and spar in Muy Thai Kickboxing, Judo, Boxing, and BJJ.  These other styles bring in variety, provide interesting challenges, and give insights back into our Shito Ryu practice.  This would probably be akin to a child focusing on the piano, practicing it for hours, taking private classes, etc. but then also branching out to learn the harpsichord and drums.  They may not be experts in those latter two instruments, but they could carry a tune and it helps their appreciation of the piano, and for music as a whole.

Over the years, a number of parents have asked for advice on picking a style and school for their kids.  I will put together a post on this, but the critical element is ensuring that the school actually has the kids spar at least once a week.  Learning moves (locks, punches, throws, kicks, etc) is like learning words, Katas and/or Drills are like learning sentence structure, but sparring is like having a conversation.

While visiting another dojo, Dy (in black) was put in the ring with a girl
her age (8) who was new to sparring, so Dy helped her gain confidence
by keeping the fight controlled and a quality learning experience for the novice
fighter. Such experiences help Dy learn to be a better leader and martial artist. 
Martial Arts provides a huge array of wonderful benefits to anyone who practices them.  The obvious ones are confidence, discipline, respect, health, and the ability to defend yourself.  Beyond these you will find an amazing camaraderie, a pursuit of excellence, loads of physics, leadership, and more!  For homeschoolers, this is an easy way to not only incorporate PE requirements but broaden your kids social circle to other kids who have a drive for excellence and a competitive spirit.

Friday, September 1, 2017

I'm an Ignorant Ass Homeschool Parent

Me as an Ignorant Ass Homeschool Parent
A few months back, I posted a "socialization" blog entry highlighting how stupid the topic is and how much of a red herring it is that distracts from a bigger issue (public schools are a source of societal problems).  I've come to learn that Homeschool Socialization is important for a reason that I was completely ignorant of.  I posted my commentary as an Ignorant Ass Homeschool parent.  The first of many I'm sure.

As shared in multiple other posts, the bottom line in doing this homeschooling adventure is to provide KJ and Dy the absolute best start in life that I am capable of providing for them.  There is no more important mission in my life than helping them become happy, independent adults.

To this end, in January 2017, I shifted my focus from reading blogs of other homeschool parents to reading blogs by adults that were homeschooled themselves  (especially girls).  The posts from adults that were homeschooled are like After Action Reports (AARs) that I did in the Army .... once an action is over, you reflect on what went wrong, right, and what could have been done better.

As expected, there were positive and negative experiences, and lots of great pieces of advice that I'm actively incorporating.  However, what struck me was the vitriol in some of the publicly shared stories.  They were composed of sheer anger, bordering on hatred for their parents at "what had been done to them."  This scared the hell out of me.  Sure, some kids grow up to hate their parents, homeschoooled or not, but this group of posts hinted a much deeper pain, stemming from a sinister plot.

I began to peel back the onion on these anger/hateful posts and learned of an entire sub-culture that I was ignorant of.  A sub-culture that actually subjugates women! What the fuck? Fuck you! Sorry, I had to vent.

Being raised by a single-mom, it has been my mission to help foster the growth of women who can carry on, on their own, as they see fit as my mom did without relying on someone else.  The entire notion of a girl being raised in an environment where they are taught to be subservient to a man is damn sick to me.  Homeschool Environments where this is norm and intent are in dire need of socialization.  This is where my ignorance of an entire sub-culture bit me.  In my ignorance, I just never considered that homeschooling would be used for such a diabolical means, controlling a human being (referred to Totalism).  All of you who do this are sick fucks and should die.

It is heartbreaking to read the stories of this group of homeschooled women.  To them I say, "Thank you."  Thank you for sharing your stories to help highlight a horrible problem that our societal construct makes possible. I can see the rationale, and passion source, behind your push to put more standards and oversight into the home education environment to help protect children from such caustic environments.  However, I don't agree with adding more rules into the system.  What happened to you is child abuse and negligence, and there are already laws and mechanisms to handle such things. Maybe they don't work well, and most certainly they don't work in 100% of the cases (child abuse and negligence happen even to public schooled children), but putting into the hands of bureaucrats the education of my girls wouldn't be best for them.  What is the right solution?  Creating awareness, just as you're doing.  Keep sharing as you feel comfortable.  I wasn't aware of this problem, but now I am and will stay vigilant in my circles for such bullshit, calling it out when I see it.

If you're ignorant of this problem, as I was, here is a good starting point to remedy this:
https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Word Triggers For Learning The State Capitals

Over Christmas break, way back in December, my eldest wanted to finish memorizing all the capitals of the United States.  I told her we could absolutely weave that into her Winter Break Homeschool activities.  We would not, however, be using the rote memorization approach that they had been applying at her charter school.  Rather, we would use a "trigger word to story" memorization device.  I'm happy to report that not only did she learn the remaining 30 state capitals within 5 days, but she has retained them over the past 6 months!

How to learn, how to acquire information, how to build knowledge, and how to apply wisdom are often lacking in an education system.  Many times the student is left to their own devices to figure out ways of doing these things.  Within our homeschool we actively seek out a variety of ways to get stuff into our heads (See our homeschool Charter, VII.Tactics of Exerevno Academy.5).  It is hoped that by doing this, each of our girls will find multiple ways that work for them so that when they, as adults, have to learn something, they can do it on their own, both effectively and efficiently.
The funnier the association the better

As shared, the technique we explored together for her states was "trigger word to story." I have no idea what the formal name is for this approach, but it is the technique of seeing a word in something and building a story out of it that clues you into the answer you want to recall.  It is a simple two step process.

First, I asked my daughter to look at the state name and blurt out the first word that came to mind.  For example, when she saw Nebraska she said "Ask".

Second, I challenged her to build a story that links "ask" to Lincoln, the president.  She shared with me that when she did the debate module at school, she was told the history of the Lincoln Douglas debates.  She then continued on with something like, "and he would ask a lot of questions."

Viola! That's it, when she sees Nebraska, she triggers with "ask a" recalling that Lincoln asks a lot of questions.

Below are 20 of the associations she built. The key point is that the trigger word and story had to resonate with her, not me. My context, my knowledge, my background, etc. would build associations that didn't/wouldn't naturally fit her recall.  For example, she got stuck on Oregon, so I offered that I see Oreo and that is a cookie sandwich, and that she could instead have a Salami sandwich (for Salem). Nope, that didn't work so after some poking and prodding, she came to one that she still hasn't forgotten but doesn't work for me at all ... something about "Sailing"

After we built her list, when she would recall the capitals, she would regal me with the story each time, thus further burning her association into her mind.  Some of her associations were funny, some were crude, and some made no sense to me ... but that didn't matter, they made sense to her and she remembered.

Examples from my daughter:

Alaska - Whats the best month to visit the coldest state? Jeau Know? June, No?
Arizona - Prisoner of Azkaban/Arizona? The Phoenix
California    - Sack Ra Men Toe (I don't get this one at all!!)
Colorado - Where does a DOe live? In the Den of Fur (Den-of-fur, Denver)
Idaho - "I da ho" No you're not, you're a boy, see (Boy-see, Boise)
Illinois - There is no Ill in Spring Field (notice the rhyme)
Iowa         - "I owe a" "these monies"  des monies Des Moines
Kansas - Where is the Kan Of Sauce? At the Top! (Top-E ka)
Michigan - Mich gets rich by land Singing
Minnesota - Mickey was jealous because Minnie had lunch with Paul
Montana - Hanna Montana? No Helena Montana!
Nebraska     - Aska lotta questions? Lincoln debates
North Dakota - Dakota is a good business woman with Mark, Bis-Mark (friends of hers)
Ohio - Oh, Hi!!! O.... What Columbus said when he first came to America
Oregon - Or, go Sailin (Or, go is from Oregon)
Texas - Austin likes to Text (Austin is a friend of hers)
Utah - "ahhhh" from the Salt Lake bath (ahhh comes from U ---tahhhhhh)
Washington - Must being washing tons of clothes for Olympians
Wisconsin - W is on in? Because of his Mad Eye Son
Wyoming    - Why you, Ming? Because of my friend shy Ann