Protecting our Kids from the Dangers of the Internet, Part I

With two teenagers in the house (how did that happen so fast?), I have become increasingly concerned about the dangers and effects of the internet and social media on our young people. I’m particularly worried about pornography, although internet, video game and social media addictions are also a concern. Have you seen any of the latest statistics on children/teens and the internet?

Here are some stats from Covenanteyes.com

  • 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
  • The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average.
  • 83% of boys and 57% of girls are exposed to group sex online.
  • 71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
  • 28% of 16-17-year-olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online.

These stats are unsettling, aren’t they? We need  to protect our kids from the dangers of the internet. But with smart phones and iPads being ubiquitous, the task seems almost impossible. Of course, we need to use parental controls and put filters on our routers. (Here is a great list of resources.) However, even if we have the most sophisticated parental controls and filter systems, our kids are still in danger. After all, our children have friends, and their friends (will) have smart phones, apple watches, iPads, and laptops. And who knows how protected their gadgets are?

Parental controls,  filters, and monitoring tools.  They are a no brainer.

But we can’t stop there.

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How My Kids are Keeping Busy this Summer

When I was a child, my mother used to say, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” I find myself saying the same thing to my kids whenever boredom leads to trouble. Not that I’m against boredom. A certain amount is healthy — it allows children to use their imaginations and creativity in a free and leisurely manner. Excessive boredom, however,  makes children want to eat when they’re not hungry and waste time on video games (which we don’t do here). It also incites kids to pester their siblings because they have nothing else to do.

The warm, care-free days of summer are a wonderful gift. But children still need structure. They still need to use their time constructively.  Besides play-dates, swimming, biking, and sports, here are some things we are doing to make the most of our summer days.

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The Five Types of Tattle-Tales

Summer is here! And with it, mosquito bites, scraped knees, and an outbreak in tattle-taling. Being home all day with half-a-dozen kids,  I have noticed there are five (yes, five!) different types of tattle-tales. Not all tattles are created equally. Here’s what they are and what we can do about them:

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More Poems for Copywork and Memorization

Having a repertoire of memorized poetry is something my kids secretly enjoy… although some would never admit it.  Sometimes when the younger ones are reciting their poetry, the older ones jump right in, remembering the same poems they had learned in earlier years.

There are many good reasons for copying and memorizing poetry: The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is catchy and fun. As they get older, the kids learn to appreciate the imagery and the way poets play with words, rhyme, and meter. More importantly, it is an excellent way to fill our children’s minds with beautiful imagery and rich vocabulary. In a world so devoid of culture and beauty, memorizing poetry is one way to help our children appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.

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What to Look for when Choosing Curricula

It is usually about this time of year when the homeschooling catalogs start coming in the mail. I gather them into a big pile and, like a kid in a candy shop, I pore over the pages.  I love browsing homeschooling curricula. There is so much promise and potential in new school books.

But I have learned that beyond glossy pages and full-color pictures,  there are certain things that make for effective curricula. There are good books, and then there are great books. Here are ten criteria to think about when shopping for next year’s school books:

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Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today

Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:

George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison,  Robert Frost,  32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.

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How We Use FaceTime to Improve Writing and Reading

A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State.  We have been great friends for such a long time.  God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool.   We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year.  The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!

A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing.   We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together.  What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.

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Church Closings: The Real Tragedy

Here’s a post by my husband:

The cacophony of blaring sirens, honking horns, and loud profanities is the deafening backdrop as you make your way through the sea of intoxication and into your destined oasis.  The Holy of Holies stands before you.  You genuflect and the cloud of sin in the air that you waded through drops at your feet. You now stand before God.  After that brief moment of peace, you feel a strange state of euphoria and desolation as you realize you are surrounded by your friends posing in stain glass windows amidst a dilapidated building in desperate need of repair if only to plug the dripping holes in the vaulted ceiling.  You wonder how long before her doors are padlocked like her friends’ down the street.

It’s a sight only too familiar for those stepping into an inner-city church in the Northeast. The Northeast has seen almost a 19% decline in the number of churches since 1965, and this past September, the diocese of Pittsburgh announced that they may reduce the number of Churches from 188 to 48. (The final decision is expected this month). The reasons cited for these closings are a shortage of priests, lack of attendance, and “money problems.”

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula this Year

For those of you  living in the North East, how did you  like all that snow on Easter Monday? It’s hard to believe that spring is here, but it really is here! Princess brought me some daffodils she picked from our front lawn – happy proof that warm weather is on its way and our school year will be winding down.

I always think about the next year’s curriculum in April. Planning curriculum in the early spring keeps things realistic. I’m still vividly aware of what we are doing well and what keeps getting pushed to the side. When I’m tempted to throw extra curriculum into the plan, the reality of this year’s juggling act keeps me in check. Spring planning also gives me a chance to create a shopping list so I don’t impulse shop at home school conferences (the curse of the curriculum junkie!)

Just in case any of you are doing some spring planning, I thought I’d share some of our favorite curriculum from this year.

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