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#1 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's our situation. 3 teens in school/college. 3 unschoolers. Living in Arabia you can imagine our life is somewhat different than that of most of you. There are no public libraries that we can go to, very small and limited interest museums, and the zoo we've done to death. Our yard is a cement courtyard though we do have a pool. There are no playgrounds or parks around us that offer anything more than a patch of dusty ground, a few swings, and a slide. No community sports available other than martial arts classes (for boys).

Homeschoolers are a handful and I've found them to not be quite the type of families we'd have much in common with. So networking for activities doesn't seem to be much of a possibility.

My 3 unschoolers are 10, 8, and almost 6. They do all sorts of things through the day, mostly play, reading, art stuff, and whatever I'm doing that they want to do with me.

We do not watch television and have chosen to not subscribe to the satellite television programming available here. We've always felt that commercial television has little to offer us and what good it might offer is outweighed by its bad.

We do rent a movie or two once or twice a week and we have a collection of vhs and dvd movies that they sometimes watch. And we have a PS2 that they play with. But as they get older I'm feeling that the lack of educational resources and activities for them is a handicap. Not that they would get anything more if they went to school. Definitely not. But things are not quite as enriched as I would like them to be.

My question. Should I turn to educational television as a possible resource? I can subscribe to satellite programming and scramble all unwanted channels. So we'd have Animal Planet, Discovery, Discovery Civilization, and maybe the History Channel and National Geographic. I could leave in Nickelodeon (if there's anything of value there - not sure) and the news channels (BBC has some great documentary shows).

Yet my anti-TV self is arguing with me. Would this be a positive thing for my children? Or am I inviting trouble?

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#2 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 12:08 PM
 
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I'd say go for it, especially if you can get the whole Discovery Channel tier (Discovery Times, Discovery Kids, and the Science Channel are especially cool). Also if you can get a channel of BBC programming, that can provide interesting educational shows as well.
You may also want to consider investing in (or getting as part of yours sattelite package if available) a digital recording system. We have TiVo, and it lets you program ahead what you want to record, has settings that let it "guess" based on other things you've recorded what you might like and will record that, and best of all, you can fast forward commercials on recorded shows!

In my personal experience, educational TV shows can provide a starting point for learning new stuff, and the visual can give a different perspective from just reading things. I've seen some excellent documentaries that gave me better understanding of the world on Discovery Times, and I'm addicted to Ancient Expeditions on the Science Channel. Several times last semester (I'm a college student) I saw things on these channels that reinforced or reminded me of something I'd learned in my anthropology and archaeology classes.

I would probably still treat them in the category of "recreation", but in moderation I think there is something to be learned from educational television.

As for other recreation, are there private sports/recreation clubs you might be able to afford? These would, I suppose, be strictly sex-segregated, but surely there are athletic opportunities for girls as well as boys?

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#3 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 12:08 PM
 
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Cynthia, you have to do what you are most comfortable with. I personally am not anti-tv and will utilize the tv as a learning and even as relax mode tool. I also use the puters for a learning tool. We don't have and will never have a video game set, but do have computer software for the kids to use. We only allow educational software though and pretty much most of the tv we watch is educational in one form or another. We do have fun movies, but we also have educational ones which i encourage if they don't ask for first.

For Christmas one year, my mil subscribed us to ZooLive and Really Wild animals video series bless her we still watch those tapes even after 7 years of having them.

There is also LeapFrog videos that has helped the younger 2, fun yet helps with letters and words.

we have a singalongs, love to sing and dance, plus can read the words.

we have videos (dr. suess and others) that tell the stories, and we have the books as well. my youngest (2.5) was "reading" "Click Clack MOO, Cows That Type" book the other day and getting it pretty close to the story line to the page.

we also have historically accurate videos, watch discovery(and similar), PBS, nick JR and Disney (only the educational like Stanley). Rarely do we watch anything on "reg" tv, most of which i find worthless anyway.


It's not a driving force if that makes anysense. My kids don't beg to watch TV, they aren't slaves to the tv and they don't don't throw fits when I turn it off.

also we love to play games, board, card, domino, ect. play w/ legos, lincoln logs, building blocks, playdoe, simple science experiments, read, puppet play-felt story play, work on chalkboard, measure things in the house and outside, ect...everything supliments eachother. I don't wear us out looking for things to do, we just do what grabs our interest at the time.

oh we also have the "classics" and musicals which the kids love to watch.

right now my oldest is reading a mystery, middle dd is playing playdoe and watching "green eggs and ham" and ds youngest is wiggle nursing and watching green eggs and ham, occasionally popping off to sing along.

Ahhh tea the essence of life.
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#4 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your responses.

Ravin, I'm not sure about the tier of Discovery channels. I'll check into that. As for the private rec/sports clubs what few that are around are focused on martial arts, swimming, and indoor soccer. All for boys. I have yet to find anything of this nature for girls. Women, yes. Girls, no.

reesecup I guess I have a list similar to yours of things we do and have to do. Maybe I'm looking to fill a void that's not there?

I've been thinking of all the things I could do instead. Like mayeb a language tutor,
magazine subscriptions, more games, edu videos/dvds, more books.

But I guess I'm thinking as Ravin is - that there is something positive in the visual of educational tv that is separate from books and mags and there's a lot of stuff out there that we will likely never tackle hands on at home with our limited resources, or gain through reading.

My kiddos seem pretty bored these past few weeks too so maybe that is pushing the idea on me as well.

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#5 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 01:50 PM
 
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It was PBS that opened my mind and my imagination to faraway places, other cultures, travel, the wonder of nature, a love for animals and the environment, the arts. I don't think much of regular TV but I will never limit PBS in our home (within reason of course!).

I say go for it.

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#6 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 01:50 PM
 
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HMMM, maybe do subscribe to satalite if you can afford it and block out what you wouldn't watch, or just don't watch those channels (what I do).

I wished I could help with the bordom part. We're blessed with an itty bitty house (no way we can not connect in this house) but a good sized yard, so we have pets (dogs and chickens) as well as a garden and the kids can safely go outside whenever they want (fenced in back yard).

I also enjoyed living in Germany as a "guest" for 3 years. We had an animal park right across the street and another park the other direction about 2 blocks over. I can't imagen not having outdoor options readily available to me, guess I'm not much help there.

Sounds like cabin fever, but not sure how to help you scratch that itch. Luck.

Ahhh tea the essence of life.
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#7 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 06:05 PM
 
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Some questions to consider.

Have you had tv before and how do your kids handle it? My dd was becomming an addict like her dear old mom. I read so many posts where people say they don't limit tv because if you let the kids have free reign they might go nuts for awhile but eventually they will naturally limit themselves. I say bullhockey :LOL All kids are different. So in theory I have no problem with some tv as an educational medium. In practice, I have a HUGE problem with the tv being on all day long because my dd will literally watch anything (of course if you do subscribe and they turn into junkies you can always unsubscribe again).

Could you maybe use the money that you would have spent to instead buy more books on Amazon or fun experiments or crafts or just subscribe to something like NetFlix? I have NO idea what is available to you by mail, so forgive me if these aren't good ideas.

Quote:
something positive in the visual of educational tv that is separate from books and mags and there's a lot of stuff out there that we will likely never tackle hands on at home with our limited resources, or gain through reading.
As for this, I agree. But why couldn't this be accomplished by renting/buying videos instead of broadcast television? That way you avoid the commercials and you avoid the temptation of the 3 million "junk" shows out there, available at the touch of a button, any time night or day. Those are some of my big problems with tv.

I think if I were in your place, I would use the money I would have spent on tv and find some good educational videos on topics the kids are interested in instead. Many of the PBS educational specials eventually make it to VHS or DVD. You don't need to have broadcast tv to get them.

Quote:
But things are not quite as enriched as I would like them to be.
Quote:
Maybe I'm looking to fill a void that's not there?
Just from reading what you've written on this thread, I'm betting you *are* looking to fill a void that isn't there. And maybe a bit of "the grass is always greener". ALL kids get bored sometimes, right? You probably come on here (or other homeschol boards ) and read about all the awesome things this person or that person is doing with their kids and you are feeling like you aren't doing enough. Almost everyone feels that way sometimes Our activities have been severely limited this past month because of illness and now I've had to tell my dd I couldn't sign her up for Spanish again with her friends because of money. And you know, reading your post I think "wow, those kids are growing up in Arabia! A whole other culture! My kids just get the suburbs!" :LOL But then, no matter how "enriched" you make the environment, there's always something more you could be doing, right?
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#8 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 06:40 PM
 
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Cynthia,
Everything I have read about why TV is bad for kids says that it is not necessarily the content that is the problem. TV watching changes the way their brains work. It causes changes in brain waves that are not good. Several studies found that many kids were very aggressive and generally not well behaved after watching an hour or two of any tv, even Sesame Street.
"The Plug-in Drug" is a great book that really explains it all, with references.
I know this is a hot topic that puts a lot of people on the defensive. This is information, not opinion or judgement.

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#9 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 06:53 PM
 
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I agree with Suzy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher
I've been thinking of all the things I could do instead. Like maybe a language tutor,
magazine subscriptions, more games, edu videos/dvds, more books.
Sounds like you have some great ideas there! I suggest trying those, and looking for other ideas, too. Why not wait awhile and see if the lull passes, before making such a big lifestyle change (I think TV is one.)
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#10 of 48 Old 01-01-2005, 09:00 PM
 
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I would say go for it. I dont think TV is bad at all, though, so I should say that upfront. TV can have much to offer, especially if you are limited for such things. I would just spend some time in thought on it, as it sounds like you are definately doing, before coming to a final decision. Ultimately it will come down to how much you really do not care for TV, and if you think there are any positives that can possibly come from it.

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#11 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Buying videos is an option but a rather expensive one as there's really nothing available here beyond the Hollywood offerings of the season. So I'd have to have selections shipped over.

I have tried having friends record for me but it became rather frustrating - them forgetting and me feeling like a nag reminding.

We have never had a constant flow of television so no telling how the kids will respond to it.

I have read the book Suzy, which is why I'm struggling with this. It may be because my kids do not watch television as a daily activity but I don't see any behavioral changes in them when they do watch a video or play a game on the PS. They walk away from it having enjoyed the half hour or so they spent doing that and then on to something else. Yet having read everything in that book I am leery of what it could do to them. Hence my apprehension. Thanks for the reminder.

The TiVo sounds great so I may look into that if I decide to give this a go. Thanks for that suggestion.

After a bit of discussion with my husband we haven't made any decision on the TV idea but we are considering some sort of animal raising. The kids want rabbits which doesn't thrill me as I think they really need dirt to dig to be happy. Chickens and pigeons are another thought but I don't know how well we could manage it on our rooftop.

Plus all the other ideas, magazine subs and more books and maybe some science projects. I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks and months.

Thank you all for your input. It's so true that I often feel I'm not providing them with enough!

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#12 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 11:22 AM
 
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cynthia, if you are wanting to look into chickens there are others here that have them besides me. I grew up on a farm, and once we leave here will be going back to my roots to plant my families roots finally. I just couldn't wait to get SOMETHING so my indulgant dh :LOL got us set up for a few hens.

Anyhow, what i'm getting at, is if you need "help" with chickens (or even rabbits if you decide on that one) ask. You COULD keep a couple of chickens (I'd suggest just hens, roosters aren't necessary unless you want chicks) in a fairly small amount of space, there are even sites that have plans for hen houses/pens andyou could adjust for what you need.

oh and the pleasure, fun and lessons to be had with chickens is very enjoyable.

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#13 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 12:59 PM
 
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I did not know you unschool, Cynthia. How cool.

I think you should get the satellite, at least on a trial basis. If it doesn't work out, then get rid of it after a while.

I believe that TV has a very important place in the life of an unschooler. Many times when I am telling him about, for example, volcanoes or planets, my son (almost 6) will offer facts to ME that I did not know he knew. I'll ask him where he learned it & often it is from one TV show or another...

We do not have all the Discovery channels; I wish we did, they are supposed to be really amazing.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
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#14 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Jenny! Unschooling is awesome. But I still question myself everyday about it. It's something I just can't shake and probably won't until their grown and doing wonderfully as unschooled adults.

The TV thing is still under discussion. So many pros and cons.

You've piqued my interest with the chickens and rabbits Reese! Shall we start another thread to discuss this??

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#15 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 01:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher
It may be because my kids do not watch television as a daily activity but I don't see any behavioral changes in them when they do watch a video or play a game on the PS.

I just had to comment We unplugged the tv and yes, I saw a positive change in my dd's behavior! However now, 7 months later, I've found we can plug it in, watch ONE video, and nothing changes for the worse. The difference being that before, she would watch hours and hours at a time, day after day. And before, she knew it was an option, that it was always there. Now, she knows we plug it in for special occasions and it is *not* part of our daily (or weekly or even monthly!) life. So again, if your kids will self regulate you probably won't have trouble. If your kids (or one of them) are like my dd, they will OD on it, and it will show in their behavior.

And for whatever reason, my dd *does* self regulate herself on the computer (maybe because it actually requires effort?) and doesn't have (increased :LOL) behavioral problems even on the days when she plays for hours

I always thought it was cool when people raised pigeons on city rooftops and sent messages with them
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#16 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 02:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher

You've piqued my interest with the chickens and rabbits Reese! Shall we start another thread to discuss this??
cynthia, i'd be happy to talk critters with you. just let me know where :LOL and i'll be there.


maybe the reason i don't have issues with the tv is cause my kids do self regulate as well with the puter? hard to say.

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#17 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 03:05 PM
 
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Okay, I know it isnt the popular opinion, but my family loves our television. We watch so many amazing documentaries and science specials. We opt for the commercial free shows whenever possible, but we love it. Often times a special on Ancient Egypt or the life of Sir Issac Newton will spin us off into a great little afternoon of fun and exploration. We do have a dish, so that is a HUGE help. We are able to get the channels that we like as well as program in to music for most of the day. There is a GREAT folk music station that is commercial free and plays most of the day here. Also at a particular time it will automatically change to History Explorer or whatever I have programmed it to do. We have three kids and none of them are addicts. They walk away from it without a problem and since it is programmed they dont even know about the "junk" channels I dont want them watching.

Go with your gut, you can always change your mind, and you may stumble upon something along the way.

Hope this helps.

BTW, I love the bunny idea!!!
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#18 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I suppose all kids are different. I have a friend who has full satellite programming and she can't get her kids to sit down to watch it! She's the one with the addiction! :LOL

Shannon, I always thought that was cool too! We definitely have lots of pigeons in the city, even here in our neighborhood. I wonder if we have any carrier pigeons around. Something to look into!

Reese, let's keep the critter talk here in Learning At Home, since our goal is mostly the educational value. I'll start another thread. See ya there!

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#19 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 03:22 PM
 
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I would say avoid Nickelodeon if at all possible - it's mostly crap. The other channels sound good. BBC is the best for news.

The Plug-In Drug is a great book.

I think older kids can probably get a lot more out of TV than younger kids, for whom the tv will keep them from developing physically, intellectually and emotionally especially if they watch a lot (we are keeping DS 100% tv-free indefinately; he's not yet three years old), but keeping the watching for older kids balanced and limited against other real-life activities is important. Some kids easily become addicted, while others are able to self-regulate reasonable tube consumption.
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#20 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 07:47 PM
 
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What if the changes to a young mind are not reversible? What if watching a few weeks of TV alters the developing brain somehow that can't be repaired? You can't necessarily try it out and then change if you aren't happy with the way things are going. Of course, there's no way to tell how your kids might have turned out if you did things differently but the research shows that it does have a negative impact.
There are so many things out there that affect our kids that we can't control. Here's one that we can.

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#21 of 48 Old 01-02-2005, 11:10 PM
 
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Ooh! Ooh! Cynthia! How about Ham radio? That's a huge, time intensive hobby And then they can talk to people around the world!
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#22 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 12:52 AM
 
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I would totally get cable/sat. TV if it wasn't for dh. He would watch it constantly and that would drive me nuts. I do think there's a place for the History Channel, Discovery Channels, etc. I think on one of the websites for those educational channels you can order the DVD's/videos of their shows. I'm always tempted to do that. I believe that there is a time and place for TV. My kids don't watch it at all in the warmer months. In the colder months they enjoy Magic School Bus and other educational shows (PBS mostly).

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#23 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 02:49 AM
 
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Cynthia, I think you already have some great ideas. Especially about the bunnies and chickens! I did that when I was a kid and I *loved* it. I learned so much. This is an odd fact about me but...from the age of 12-15 I actually had my very own rabbit business. I had certain breeds that I would mate and sell (I know not PC to some here but I was a kid) and I learned so much about animals, business, caretaking etc. It really helped me to be super responsible at a young age too. I just can't say enough about how all of the various animals in my life affected me as a child. Very positive. I definately think you should do that.

Also, I would *not* go for the cable. I hate to say this but so much on TV is so fast paced that your kids might find a new meaning of boredom when the TV isn't on. If you're going to do any television viewing though I do think some nice videos would be best. There are some really amazing ones of dolphins with beautiful underwater pictures and things like that. We're TV free with the kids but I can see doing this when they're older.

I did have an idea that I don't think has been mentioned. What about your kids getting involved in some volunteer work? Maybe look into it and see what could be available. I think some really great learning and positive life experiences could come from that.

Sorry you don't have more resources there. I think you and your kids will be able to work this out though. Good luck!
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#24 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 02:49 AM
 
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can I go totally off topic and nosy and ask why you live over there?
I dont suppose letter boxing has taken off?
DO they use the computer?
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#25 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 03:28 AM
 
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I use to be VERY anti TV. I mean if it were up to me we wouldn't have one. My dh on the other hand is the opp. So we met in the middle with limited TV. What happened? My DS would start telling me all kinds of facts and very brilliant things. When I'd ask him whare he learned something from his responce would be TV. I'd love to tell you that all he learns comes from "educational" programs but that isn't true. Quite often the place he learns great stuff from will be something like Sponge Bob Square Pants. So after years of debating with my ds and dh I have finally conceded. Something I don't do often or easily I've had to change the way I think about TV and realize that learning happens everywhere in everything and you never know where or how it's going to happen.
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#26 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
What if the changes to a young mind are not reversible? What if watching a few weeks of TV alters the developing brain somehow that can't be repaired?
Suzy, what you're saying is reasonable. I think I'm going to read The Plug-In Drug again so I can give this, and the info it puts forth, more thought.

But offhand, and I know you said 'developing brain', from what you have read and know, would you say that the brain altering hypothesis is of concern at a specific age and younger? Or is it a lifetime issue, something that would affect adult brains as well?

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#27 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Shannon, Ham radio is not allowed here. Don't know why.

Amy, can you link me to where you can order the videos? Or better yet, anyone have a source for used edu-videos/DVDs?

The volunteer work around here is, as far as I know, an option for teens. As the kids get older I will definitely try that for them.

boysrus, I'm married to a Saudi. We married in the US after a brief courtship of sorts long distance (he had returned home). A year later I came here to visit his family and loved the country. It's very family oriented in spite of the "lack of freedom" reputation it has. So we discussed it at length and decided we wanted to raise our children here rather than the US. Though I often miss many things the US has to offer I feel like we made a good decision. And the things we wish we could have or have access to we probably really don't need. Or can usually come up with a decent alternative that will suffice.

Okay, so what is letter boxing?

And yes, they do use the computer a bit.


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#28 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 01:41 PM
 
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Here's the link to Discovery Channel store. Maybe you could find what you like and look on Ebay for it? I know I have more sources I just need to find it.

http://shopping.discovery.com/stores...tegoryId=22608

Try www.netflix.com . We have that and you pay one monthly fee and get up to three DVD's at a time. You can keep them as long as you like. I don't know if they have something like that available to you in S A or not?

Amy - Blessed wife to Jesse (the best dad in the world), mother of 10 on earth plus 8 in heaven.   PROUD to be a Catholic! : winner.jpg familybed2.gifhomeschool.gif

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#29 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 02:40 PM
 
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I have just a quick response. My dd is only 3 so we are just getting into "schooling" issues however I have a very positive view of limited tv. dd gets to watch one hour a week and one movie. She is addicted to Mythbusters and I find it is quite educational. However, her and dh will occasionally have a Mythbusters Activity Day where they pretend to be Mythbusters and try things out. :

My cousin lives in Saudi Arabia and she has done extensive gardening and bug exploration with her son. I personally am not into the bug exploration but botany in such a unique environment seems potentially interesting.

letter boxing concerns the issue of if the movie is shown as it was meant to be seen which is a wider angle than one gets on a tv set. So if you see a movie with a black strip on top and bottom the proper aspect ratio is being shown as opposed to having the sides cut off or worse the pan/scan approach. Here we are big snobs and will only watch the "real" movie.

Could you incorporate film studies into your children's lives? Maybe book adaptations where one reads the book and then watches the movie, lots of discussion points there. I know you unschool but maybe these resources could inspire your kids in that direction as opposed to a tv merely as time waster. I think movies from other countries etc can be have a mind opening element to them.
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#30 of 48 Old 01-03-2005, 03:06 PM
 
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thoughts on tv...well I have not read the plug in drug, but I would like to. My comments are more on the neuology/neuropsychology. Our brains are forming new synapses all the time, they are growing and building on into our early 20's at which point unfortunately we begin to deteriorate. The point that I make is that it is unlikely that the damage would be irreperable unless it was a long term usage. So if you're watching a few hours of tv a day for a year it will be much more difficult to undo that damage...those synapses are hard-wired so to speak. But in moderation if there were damage there is a better shot at "healing" so to speak.

We don't do tv here, but dd is only 2 which is a major factor for why. But we have let her watch a movie recently (chitty chitty bang bang) and I've been thinking of doing something every other friday like watching an old movie. No, this is not educational, but I was more thinking of pleasure which is what media should provide too. Just not a substitue for all pleasure IYKWIM. So that she learns that tv can be something useful. I guess I was afraid of it going the other direction like when she becomes a teen/young adult that she would want to watch all the time.

On the other ideas of things to do..you mentioned being interested in raising chickens/pidgeons...have you thought of doing a container garden on the roof to learn about gardening, nutrients, weather...etc. There's so much you can learn from gardening from how to look for rain clouds (deciphering which clouds are what) to ph in soil. Just a thought.

This has been a very interesting read...
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