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¨  Could you tell me why my 2 year old son won't say much?
¨  How should home education be organised?
¨  Where do I begin to teach my 6 year old about archaeology?
¨  What are the common physics concepts that can be taught to high school students with application of robotics?
¨  If I get into Bedales, should I switch from the American to the British curriculum?
¨  Can robotics increase critical thinking skills in High School students?
¨  My daughter is always getting into trouble for excessive talking or off task at school.
¨  Do you know of any high school archaeology programs?  What about summer camps?
¨  School is getting very difficult. Success is turning to failure for me. Can you help?
¨  What do you do about students who talk excessively at inopportune times?
¨  Is a one-year-old child ready for day care (five days a week)?
¨  Are there educator resources to accompany Homer Hickam's book, Rocket Boys?

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Could you tell me why my 2 year old son won't say much even though he understands everything we ask him?

ANSWER from Jenny Welsh on 22 November 2006:
I think reading the article at the following website will help: http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/117/112730.htm

Try not to compare your child with other children.  Each little one will develop at his or her own pace, however, there are certain ages that a child should be able to do something.  The article from WebMD.com discusses this in more detail and talks specifically about speech.

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If a child is taken out of high school, how should home education/tuition be organised?  Which subjects should a child be taught and how many hours per week in each subject?  Also, is the child limited on what subjects they can take?  For example, how can they still do the practical experimants for science?  Can they still take a cooking GCSE?  How do they learm stuff like PHSE, what a CV is, how to cook etc.?  Who teaches the child?  Is it meant to be parents?  What else do I need to know about home education?  What organisations do you need to contact?  Which organisations can help?

ANSWER from Roger Herzler on 5 November 2006:
There is no cookbook for home schoolers.  Open to you are a variety of choices.  In general, yes, the parent or at least someone that feels they have a handle on the subject matter the student is learning would be teaching the child.  Ideally, the teacher/parent would find the ideal situation for their students, and the first thing tried may not be what works.  Flexibility should be an operational idea.

I'll try to answer some of your specific questions, but bear in mind that these answers may or may not be applicable for the student.

I would guess that most of the testing organizations allow for students to take their tests apart from the public school system.  For example, one can set up and attend an SAT test without being in a public school setting.  However, the student is subject to the academic requirements of any test like everyone else.

In general the number of hours per day depends on the student and the teacher.  Anecdotally most of the home schoolers I've talked to have said that their coursework lasts 4-5 hours a day.  The one-on-one setup of home schooling seems to allow for a much shorter day.

I would recommend that you contact your local school district first and see if they have any resources for home schoolers in your area.  This has been a shift in the educational paradigm in many areas - that public schools at least tacitly support the concept of homeschooling.  They often allow home schooled students to participate in team sports for example.  They may have programs that open up their chemistry labs, but they may not.  If they don't have programs they may be able to offer leads on curriculum so that they match their own general educational plans and goals.

You may also consider consulting the matter with your local church.  Often home schooled children are doing so out of religious or traditional needs.  If you are open to that, many organizations and curriculum are available to that type of homeschool environment.  For example, A BEKA (http://www.abeka.com/) can provide books for homeschool students.

Homeschooling is definitely an option for many students that don't fit the "typical" mold.  I don't believe there are many, if any, limitations on the subjects that are available.  The teacher is really only limited by their available resources.  I would suggest that it's a great way to go if the student and the teachers understand the challenges.  The good news is that the challenges have largely been identified by others who have gone before and have found solutions to them.

Try typing "homeschool" or "homeschool curriculum" in Google for a plethora of links, such as:

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How do I teach children 6 and under about archaeology?

ANSWER from Dana Harper on 17 August 2006:
This age does not have a concept of time so we show them things they are familar with.  For example, you can show them a hammer and let them tell you what it is.  Then you can show them a prehistoric hammer stone and let them feel it and look at it.  Have them use words to describe it such as smooth, rough, heavy, color, etc.  Then show them a butter knife again let them tell you what it is then show them an arrowhead and explain how the arrowhead was used.  Again let them feel and describe it.  Finally, (since there attention span is not very long) show them a ceramic bowl (one you do not mind being broken).  Ask them what it is and how they use it.  Then show them piece of pottery, sherd from the past.  Let them see it and feel it (actually you might want to have several pieces because of sharing needs and the same with the artifacts).

Then get them up and stretch.  You can play statue with them and they can pretend they are prehistoric Native Americans frozen in time when the music stops.  You could play Carl Nakai flute music to them.  Stop the music when you want them to strike a pose like a prehistoric Native American.

Come back down to the circle and you can read them a book, "When Clay Sings" by Byrd Baylor.  When you finish if they are not too wiggly you could discuss the different pictures in the book.  Also you might have to read the book in two parts it might be too long for them.  You know your audience.  Good luck!  I hope that helps.

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What are the common physics concepts that can be taught to high school students with application of robotics?

ANSWER from Mike Bastoni on 16 August 2006:
Yes, students who involve themselves with the study of complex electro-mechanical systems can in fact gain many wonderful insights into the workings of the physical world.  Often the desire to create complex machines is what drives all of us high school students to learn more so that we can construct more capable mechanisms and machines.  There is an exciting learning dynamic that takes place whenever we find ourselves consumed by the joy of discovery.  Discovery fuels learning, learning leads to discovery.  If robots create that dynamic for you, as they have for me, then the answer to your question is yes...yes...absolutely yes.

Are robots the only avenue or even the best avenue through which we might gain understanding about how the world works?  I dunno.  Certainly robots have great educational potential.  I have fashioned a great deal of my life around this premise, but I know there are many paths to knowledge, achievement and self-satisfaction.  It's not robots that open the doors of our perceptions; it is our passion that provides us with the energy to learn and to do.  If robots fire your passion, they are a great way to become familiar with common, and not so common physics concepts.

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I am an American student who has been living in London for the past four years and has recently applied for Bedales.  I was trying to find information about Bedales on the web and discovered this site, finding it very helpful.  I haven't received word yet whether I have been accepted, but I have a very difficult decision to face as to whether I want to switch over to the British curriculum.  What are your thoughts on this?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 12 June 2006:
I can understand your difficulty with this decision.  Converting to a different curriculum is a BIG decision.  I had a similar quandary when I lived in Spain as a teen.  I visited Bedales, as an adult, last year and I would have LOVED to study there.  It is an incredible place.  However, if I was the one faced with the decision, and if I were accepted at Bedales, I might look into the possibility of transferring for one year and then going back to the American system.  Check for transferability of the coursework before you make such a decision though.

If it turned out you were doing well with the British system and could continue your education under that system, that would be great.  If not, a one year experience might be the next best thing.  I would look at that as an incredible learning experience.  If you got behind in the American system... not a big deal.  Working hard and perhaps taking some summer courses, you can complete the American HS diploma in 3 years and still graduate on time even if you "lose" a year.  The experience studying at Bedales would probably far outweigh any lost time with American studies.  I studied for a year under the Spanish Bachillerato system and it was the best "lost year" of my academic education.  Best of luck.

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Can robotics increase critical thinking skills in high school students?  How do you assess critical thinking?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 28 March 2006:
Of course robotics can increase critical thinking skills!  Whenever you design and build something, you learn to think on your feet and figure out different ways to do things to make things work.  Critical thinking is not a passive skill.  You can have robotics in the classroom and let someone tell you each step of the process... you don't really learn as much that way.

How do you assess critical thinking?  I assume you are asking how individual teachers might assess a student.  This can vary.  Typically robotics will generate its own set of problems for students to figure out and solve.  Observing students as they work and listening to their thought process as they talk their way through a problem, gives great insight into their critical thinking skills.

Often, teachers require that students put these thoughts in a journal or answer a question in an essay form.  This provides one method of assessing a student's critical thinking skills but it is probably not the best way.  Problem solving is very dynamic. You try things... test to see if they work... if they don't (which happens often), you try something else.  Having to list all this in a journal can be very tedious and take away from the problem solving.

One way to get around this problem is to assign people jobs on their teams and let one person write the journal for the team.  Team members rotate through different jobs so everyone gets the chance to do all the different jobs.  This technique is one I like.  Observation is a good learning experience.  Writing is also something necessary in any career.  The journalist for the team can observe and log the activities during problem solving and allow the teacher more insight into the group's activities.

The thing I like best about robotics is how much fun it is to learn.  Making "mistakes" and trying new things is a big part of robotics and a great learning experience.  It is an amazing feeling to finally get something to work the way you want.

I hope this helps!

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My daughter is 6 and in Kindergarten.  She is always getting into trouble for excessive talking or being off task.  I have tried everything from taking her friends away and taking away sweets but nothing seems to be.  Any advice would be great.  Thanks.

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 17 March 2006:
As a teacher I have seen a lot of kids who talk a lot and get off task.  Sometimes it is just a developmental stage.  In young children, much of this behavior is something normal that teachers and parents should learn to deal with.  Your daughter is learning to interact and she is developing her own learning style.  Kindergarten is supposed to be a time to develop these skills.

If she is very disruptive, hurting other children, taking the teacher's time to an excess... these can be issues for the teacher.  Please talk to your child's teachers and figure out ways to help your daughter be successful in school.  If they are not willing to work with her, you may want to consider changing teachers or changing schools.  There are many options.

Unless a child's behavior is destructive or a danger to other children, I personally think that it is up to the TEACHER to make it work for the CHILD.  Six years old is too young, in my opinion, to be forced to stay on task, not talk, stay seated, stand still, etc. etc.

Feed your child a balanced diet.  Make sure she gets sufficient sleep.  Avoid caffeine and sugar.  Avoid excessive use of video games and television which will add to the behavior issues.

Observe your child.  Is she learning the skills that she should be learning in class?  Is she becoming self-sufficient and able to tie her shoes, dress herself, remember her backpack?  Is she learning her numbers and letters at the same rate as the other children?  How are her fine motor skills?  Is she improving in her writing, coloring, etc.  How are her gross motor skills?  Can she play games with balls, ride a bike with or without training wheels, and other activities common of children her age?

If you have any concerns about her development, aside from the talking and staying on task, please discuss these things with her pediatrician.  Please do not feel like you have to give her supplements (or medications) to make her "behave".  If she is developing normally, please do not focus on the talking or getting off task.  Encourage her to enjoy learning.  If it becomes a battle in Kindergarten, you are going to have a tougher time in the years ahead.

Please discuss these things with her teacher and between you and the school, find ways to let her feel successful.  Please do not punish her by taking away her friends.  That is only going to make the situation worse.

A great book to read is POSITIVE DISCIPLINE by Jane Nelsen.  She is interviewed at Imagiverse.ORG.  Her book is absolutely incredible.  If you need specific answers from her, depending upon her schedule, she may be able to provide answers for us.  Please try out the techniques in the book.  If your daughter's teacher has not seen these books, recommend them.  Jane and Stephen Glenn also authored additional books on the subject.  POSITIVE DISCIPLINE IN THE CLASSROOM and POSITIVE DISCIPLINE A-Z may also be of help.

NOTE: For older children, talking and getting off task can be among the symptoms of a learning disability.  Concerns about learning disabilities need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by professionals.  There are many wonderful organizations which can assist with learning challenges of all sorts.  Please contact us if you desire more information.

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Do you know of any high school archaeology programs?  What about summer camps?

ANSWER from Dana Harper on 21 February 2006:
I can only think of two places off the top of my head.  One is in Colorado and it is called Crow Canyon out of Cortez.  The other one is in Tucson, AZ and this is Old Pueblo Archaeology Center www.oldpueblo.org.

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Hi.  I'm at the last year of high school, natural sciences.  Since I was born my life was full of success but now I'm falling to pieces.  Maybe because my aim is lost in wind of moments.  Please help me to get rid of this distress.  I should admit I don't know what to study for college and unfortunately in our country we have an entrance exam which is very difficult.

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 24 December 2005:
I'm sorry to hear of this, but we are not really able to help you, since we don't know your situation.  It is not uncommon to have some small "slumps" during the school year, especially as the year goes on.  But if your studies have taken a steep downturn, can you think of what could have caused it?  Have you lost interest in your studies?  Have your personal relationships been altered?  Are things simply getting too difficult?  You (with the help of parents, teachers, etc.) must try to pinpoint any possible problems that might affect your schooling.  Try that, and don't put too much pressure on yourself.  There comes a point where you have sit down, take a breath, and put things into perspective again.  Putting too much stress on yourself will likely have negative effects.

You have mentioned some of the professions you are considering.  It is good that you are thinking ahead.  It is also reasonable for you to have your doubts at this point, since deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life is a very important decision.  It is okay. Many people go to university still looking for their calling and it may be a few years or more before they really know what they want to do.  University is quite a brand new experience, and what you are exposed to may reinforce your original desires, or it might inspire you to do something entirely different.  You are free to explore ideas and you may come up with your calling really quickly, or it may take longer, but enjoy this period of time and see where life takes you.

I hope you get through you current problems.  Investigate why it is occuring and slowly try to get through it.  You have a wonderful future ahead of you, if you take one step at a time.

Stephanie Wong
Imagiverse Co-founder
University Student

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What do you do about students who talk excessively at inopportune times, especially when it involves about 80% of the class?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 17 August 2005:
It is hard to "diagnose" something like this without observing the particular classroom.  I believe the best way to deal with it, especially if it involves 80% of the class, is to figure out WHY they are talking excessively and WHAT they are talking about.  Are they working through classwork by discussing it or are they talking about television programs and video games?  What they are talking about and why they are talking go hand in hand.

Obviously, talking is not acceptable during certain times like testing, but talking in class is not always a bad thing.  I encourage my students to talk because they are learning and teaching each other in the process.  I learn a lot from their thought processes when they verbalize what they are thinking.  Are the students engaged in learning?  Are they bored and restless?  Is the work too difficult or too easy?  Is their talking disrupting learning?  It might help to get an impartial observer to sit in your classroom and give you feedback on what they see.

One of the best books I have ever read on discipline (for use with both my own children and my students) is Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.  She has also written (or co-wrote) several other books on the subject of positive discipline, including Positive Discipline in the Classroom.  She is one of our Imagiverse interviewees.  I encourage you read her interview and take a look at her books.



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Is a one-year-old child ready for day care (five days a week)?

ANSWER from Michelle Mock on 11 July 2005:
"Daycare" is the same as "babysitting".  Parents who work often need to find some arrangement for their children, even infants.  We no longer live in a time where all parents have the luxury to allow one parent to stay at home with the children.  Parents need to find the daycare situation that works best for them and their child.  There are a variety of options, including large daycare centers, small daycare homes, a variety of schools, daycare centers in the workplace, nannies, grandparents, etc.

Children will go through "separation anxiety" which is very normal.  They may cry uncontrollably when the parents leave them but the good news is that in almost all instances, shortly after the parent leaves, the child is just fine.  Sometimes they need several days/weeks to adjust.  This is quite normal.

Parents should carefully check the credentials and licensing of the caregivers, no matter which option choose.  I think it is also a good idea to be able to show up unexpectedly to observe the environment mid day.  Most caregivers will allow this but you need to be careful how you do it.  If you show up to play with your child for a few minutes and then leave, you could cause problems for your child to readjust again to the routine.  It's best if you can observe without disrupting the routine of the daycare environment.

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Is there any teaching material available to use with the book Rocket Boys (by Homer Hickam Jr.) in the classroom?

ANSWER from Linda Hickam on 12 March 2004:
For teaching Rocket Boys/October Sky, we have some great new sites and tips.  Please spread the word - they are all linked from our website's Educator's button on
http://www.homerhickam.com/ and there is lots more free down-loadable classroom material there as well as great letters to give you ideas on different ways to teach with the book and movie.  Aim them high!

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2 July 2007

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