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#121 of 184 Old 06-14-2006, 04:59 PM
 
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Lillian got me interested in writing in color... Hehe. We were read to in school. I liked it for the sole reason I did have to do any stupid busy work during that time - like (I kid not) copy entries from a dictionary. My kids are so lucky they won't have to waste their childhoods on busy work!

I'm confused by the HS teacher comment - HSers don't know ABCs, 123s? I taught HS Spanish, and I was amazed that they hadn't learned basic English grammar, but it wasn't stuff I had expected them to be taught at home - it was stuff I expected them to know from English class - parts of speech, etc.
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#122 of 184 Old 06-14-2006, 05:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 2bluefish
Lillian got me interested in writing in color... Hehe.
Oh, I'm so GLAD ! I feel like a weirdo sometimes, wondering why nobody else seems to drawn to use any of those colors we can choose from! In fact, you've inspired me to use a new one for a change... - Lillian
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#123 of 184 Old 06-14-2006, 05:37 PM
 
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I don't think it's overblown at all either. My DH grew up in a home where books were not valued at all. He was barely ever read to. He doesn't have good reading skills now and it slows him down in stuff. I mean most people would think he reads fine, but to me and my family who all grew up with our noses in books, we can see a big difference - in ability to read with ease, enjoyment of it, enjoyment of learning, vocabulary, spelling etc

I also think it's *very* important to read to infants. My DD at 11 months loves to have stories read to her at naptime and bedtime and any other time. She also spends prob 1/2 her play time playing with her books, looking at pics and "talking" reading them. She knows which ones are her faves and b rings me the ones she wants read to her.
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#124 of 184 Old 06-14-2006, 05:59 PM
 
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Here's some more Waldorf info I found:

Why do Waldorf schools teach reading so late?
There is evidence that normal, healthy children who learn to read relatively late are not disadvantaged by this, but rather are able quickly to catch up with, and may overtake, children who have learned to read early. Additionally, they are much less likely to develop the “tiredness toward reading” that many children taught to read at a very early age experience later on. Instead there is lively interest in reading and learning that continues into adulthood. Some children will, out of themselves, want to learn to read at an early age. This interest can and should be met, as long as it comes in fact from the child. Early imposed formal instruction in reading can be a handicap in later years, when enthusiasm toward reading and learning may begin to falter.

If reading is not pushed, a healthy child will pick it up quite quickly and easily. Some Waldorf parents become anxious if their child is slow to learn to read. Eventually these same parents are overjoyed at seeing their child pick up a book and not put it down and become from that moment a voracious reader. Each child has his or her own optimal time for “taking off.” Feelings of anxiety and inferiority may develop in a child who is not reading as well as her peers. Often this anxiety is picked up from parents concerned about the child’s progress. It is important that parents should deal with their own and their child’s apprehensions.

Human growth and development do not occur in a linear fashion, nor can they be measured. What lives, grows, and has its being in human life can only be grasped with that same human faculty that can grasp the invisible metamorphic laws of living nature.

From Five Frequently Asked Questions by Colin Price
from Renewal Magazine, Spring/Summer 2003
http://www.awsna.org/awsna-faq.html#reading

How is reading taught in a Waldorf school? Why do Waldorf students wait until 2nd grade to begin learning to read?
Waldorf education is deeply bound up with the oral tradition, typically beginning with the teacher telling the children fairy tales throughout kindergarten and first grade. The oral approach is used all through Waldorf education: mastery of oral communication is seen as being integral to all learning.

Reading instruction, as such, is deferred. Instead, writing is taught first. During the first grade the children explore how our alphabet came about, discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter's form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the children's art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language.
http://www.steiner-australia.org/other/Wald_faq.html

Studies in England have shown that, in fact, Waldorf pupils’ reading skills tend to lag behind state-educated pupils in the first few grades, but they also show that by 5th grade (11 years of age) the Waldorf pupils have caught up and thereafter are ahead of children of the same age who are educated in state schools. Research by Piaget and others also supports the view that early academic learning actually interferes with the development in early childhood of faculties that will enhance later learning capacity. [1] They maintain that the literacy-building techniques Waldorf schools use during early childhood—storytelling, music and singing, games, speech, and movement exercises—help to nourish imagination and a love of language which will be carried long after the child learns to read. It is worth noting that Finland, which sends its children to school at a comparable or later age, is one of the most literate societies in the world.
http://www.thecatalyst.org/resource/...orf-Education/
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#125 of 184 Old 06-14-2006, 06:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 2bluefish
I totally caught that. All the feminine characters are archetypes, no "real" women - except maybe the 1 "human" woman, which was interesting...
I always see "The Eye" as a great, flaming vagina... and the balrog, all of Moria, really... All three movies are just full of feminine things gone scary, and there are no real women to counter that effect.. just men fighting the big, scary, flaming vagina, trying to destroy the Ring in a river of fire... : Totally not on topic, though.

I'm not a big fan of the Waldorf philosophy myself, and I'd have to expect that CB has some issues with it as well, but I wanted to say this: A five year old reading Pride and Prejudice isn't necessarily being compelled to be an adult too soon. She's reading a book with her mother, how much more wholesome can life get?

I hated being read to as a child. I just couldn't stand it, it took too long and my mother was not the demonstrative sort anyway. I can remember the last time that my mother tried to read to me; I was very young, and she started reading, and I just snatched the paper out of her hands and said, "I'll read it myself, thanks." After that, I wouldn't let her read anything to me, it was too irritating. My children and my relationship with them is quite different; BeanBean loves being read to, and he loves snuggling up with me for reading and for anything else. BooBah is the same way, and I hope that Bella will be as well. Reading out loud is a social activity, as far as my family is concerned. If they pick up useful information, that's fantastic; if not, at least they've heard some beautiful writing in their own mommy's dulcet tones. Okay, if they're not exactly "dulcet," at least they're lively and interested. The fact that I care enough about my children to spend time doing something that they enjoy with them is what I'm trying to get into their beady little heads, and I think that even the little bit of reading I do with them these days gets that point across.

ChibiChibi enjoys reading on her own, but she only likes certain people to read to her. As far as she's concerned, there's no point in being read to if the person doing the reading doesn't seem to care about the book and the kids they're reading with. Fair enough!

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#126 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 02:14 AM
 
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Well I was the youngest of five and my mother never read to us as children...but we did get to see her sneaking in her "forbidden pleasure" when she would have her bath (not that we ever actually let her read LOL....our bathroom was so small that whoever got into the bathroom with mom first had a captive audience for one on one time

Seriously though we had books throughout our house...and lucky for me my brother is 7 years older than I am so he was just learning to read when I was a baby. My mom said she was really worried because he was a late reader but when I was about 8 months and later he would put me in the lazyboy and start reading out loud His skills improved rapidly!

All of my family are readers interestly enough. I think there is something to be said for the whole "leading a horse to water" line of thinking...but in order for that to hold ahem...water you have to actually have books available at a moments notice.

I don't believe in forcing reading on children but I think if you show that you enjoy reading and enjoy reading *to them* that goes a long way. Its not the only way to raise a reader but it helps!

Steph

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#127 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 02:23 AM
 
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I always doodled during class! It is easier for me to listen and retain if my hands are doing something. I read constantly on my own but listening to someone else is harder.

I'm an introvert and not talkative. When dd was a baby it was difficult for me to chatter to her. Reading aloud to dd was a good way to get more comfortable talking to her.

When I read to my 6 year old dd, I don't require that she sit still. She can hear me as long as she is in the same room. If she leaves the room or is making a lot of noise I figure she has lost interest and stop reading until next time. Some books we don't finish because they don't appeal to dd.
We've never tried Junie B. Jones.
This is interesting to me. I enjoy reading outloud to others, but I cannot stand to be read to. I can hear the person reading, but it just doesn't make it inside my brain. I'm instantly bored and distracted. It does feel much too slow for me.

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#128 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 02:38 AM
 
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I haven't been able to read all the posts, just the first few pages...

the read-to-your-child campaigns don't annoy me a bit. Hopefully they get parents who are otherwise preoccupied with their lives to slow down a bit and spend some time reading with their kids. It's good for everybody. However, the book 'competitions' (Book It, or whatever) totally annoy me. As someone else said, books are not icky but good-for-you things like cauliflower or brussels sprouts that we should have to bribe kids to partake of. I feel that these types of programs do to leisure reading what grades do to learning in general in a typical school setting: they suck the essence out of an incredibly rich activity and substitute values of competition and speed.

I was one of those bookworm kids, you know, the kid who brings their books to lunch every day and sometimes recess. I read at night under the covers, in the morning while eating breakfast, and kept books in my desk at school to read after hurriedly completing my worksheets or whatever other useless busywork I was given at my mediocre public school. I read relentlessly, furiously, rapaciously. I read to the exclusion of many normal childhood activities, like running around playing games with other kids. I also read whatever material I could get my hands on, and read entirely inappropriate books/magazines for my age. I read disturbing books but, just as they say it happens with little kids and TV, I couldn't look away.

I certainly don't *regret* being such a book-devourer as a child, but I do feel that it led me to concentrate my development in certain areas and neglect my development in others. The adult that popped out of the tunnel of my childhood reflects the way I spent my time as a kid: I am clumsy, unsure of myself physically, and even now somewhat surprised that real people do not speak like the characters in books. I believed, as a child, that the worlds encapsulated in books were MORE real than my own reality, and it's a worldview that has been hard to shake, with many implications for how I live my life even now.

So I'm not anti-book or anti-reading by any means, but if DD should show a proclivity for the printed word similar to my own, I will set limits.* If anyone has ever read any Marshall McLuhan (who coined the phrase 'the medium is the message'), you know that different ways of transmitting information have radically different impacts on our brains and nervous systems. Books and literacy have been highly prized in 'civilized' societies for thousands of years and popularly so since the invention of the printing press hundreds of years ago. Reading is essential to the way we live our lives, and that is why it is so heavily promoted. But there is something to be said about apprehending the world directly, through our senses, rather than through the imagination. Ideally we'd primarily do the former, and use books as tools and as leisure and as inspiration...but not as replacements for life. (I don't think most people do this, just to be clear, but I think that kids might easily get the message from all of the reading campaigns that they are SUPPOSED to value books over and above directly engaging with the world.)

I find that I use the internet today the same way that I used to use books. It makes me a little sad that I feel so much more sure of myself when interacting with words on a screen or a page than I do when face to face with nature, with other humans in the flesh, with my own body.

*By 'set limits' I do not mean that I will strictly limit her reading time, or have 'rules' about reading, or anything like that. It sounds far harsher than what I mean. What I mean is, if I see that she seems to be 'addicted' to books, I will try to pique her interest in different activities, to the point of making her put her book down for a few hours to go to the Botanical Gardens with me if that's what it takes. I think that when I was a kid everyone was so ecstatic to see me reading that it never occurred to them that a child can actually read TOO MUCH, that I wasn't getting much exercise or developing other interests. No one would have been pleased to see me watch TV as much as I spent time reading, but even if I was reading great literature (which I often wasn't), reading became the same type of activity for me as TV is for other people, and I would have benefited from a bit more structure and perhaps a bit of prodding towards other things. Not that I didn't have other interests, but they paled in comparison to reading. I do think that kids, like everyone else, need balance in their lives, and by 'setting limits' I suppose I am really referring to trying to help DD establish this balance if she has trouble establishing it on her own. That is all.
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#129 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 08:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 2bluefish

I'm confused by the HS teacher comment - HSers don't know ABCs, 123s? I taught HS Spanish, and I was amazed that they hadn't learned basic English grammar, but it wasn't stuff I had expected them to be taught at home - it was stuff I expected them to know from English class - parts of speech, etc.
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I can't tell who was read to at home, although I have some ideas, but I can certainly tell who reads *now,* and I can tell it within about two sentences of the first thing they write for me in class.

Here are the traits I see:

1. Far wider-ranging and more "textured," specific vocabulary.

Instead of "a car," it's a 1958 cherry-red Plymouth Fury.
Instead of "She walked," she strolled, ambled, slithered, slouched...

2. Even before I begin to teach them, they have a more complex understanding of plot and characterization than the non-readers.

My guess is that the non-readers have been exposed to far more one-dimensional characters in television and are used to simplistic motivations. The readers, OTOH, have been exposed to characters who are generally more complex, whose morality is more ambiguous, whose actions have more than one motivation.

3. Grasp of abstract concepts like theme and symbol.


This is the big difference. The nonreaders are just not that capable of abstract thought beyond a certain level. Oh, and I'm talking seniors. In an honors class. The nonreaders have a very hard time when we move beyond common cultural symbols (e.g., a rose = love, black=death) and into the personal, specific symbols an author uses for specific characters (in Ethan Frome, a pickle dish symbolizes a failed marriage). As far as theme (the author's message), they want to reduce it to a one-word definition about which they say absolutely nothing: "The theme of Romeo and Juliet is love." Love what? Love sucks? Love leads to suicide? Love hurts? Love smarts? Love wounds our hearts? It's like their thinking really never moves out of the concrete operational stage.

4. Ability to perceive irony and tone.

This is another element that separates the wheat from the chaff: the nonreaders can't "hear" tone. This is crucial -- it's as if everyone around you spoke like Stephen Hawking or the guy on the other end of the fast food speaker system. They reeeeeeeallllly can't get when an author is being ironic and consequently misread everything about the characters or the work as a whole. I can't tell you how many nonreaders have been absolutely convinced that Jonathan Swift hated the Irish and advocated eating babies. Uhhh...that's even AFTER people told them what the essay was really about.

They just don't get it. The readers do. I am not advocating a cause-and-effect relationship here. It could be that the readers perceive these traits because they're more intelligent, as a whole, than the nonreaders. It could be that reading has made the readers more sensitive to complexity, tone, irony, and so on. It could be that the readers are more adept at expressing themselves in language and seek out modes of expression which play to or indulge in that particular strength. I don't know. However, I do know this: it's obvious, and it's obvious right away. With some kids, I can even tell you what it is that they've read by the way they put words down on paper.
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#130 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 08:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy
I always see "The Eye" as a great, flaming vagina... and the balrog, all of Moria, really... All three movies are just full of feminine things gone scary, and there are no real women to counter that effect.. just men fighting the big, scary, flaming vagina, trying to destroy the Ring in a river of fire... : Totally not on topic, though.
Because it's a more penetrative thing, I don't tend to see the Eye as vaginal. I don't think Tolkein ever really encountered a vagina, is my guess -- even the female characters are far more phallic than not (I'm thinking of Shelob), but the impression I've gotten is that he mostly views women at a distance -- they're these untouchable goddesses (Galadriel, Arwen), "humans" at a safe distance (Rosie), or guy-wannabees (Eowyn, safely feminized by her marriage to Faramir). That's just my take on it, though!
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I'm not a big fan of the Waldorf philosophy myself, and I'd have to expect that CB has some issues with it as well.
Yeaaaah. I don't dispute that others find it valuable, and I detest the pressure in schools to force children to read who aren't ready -- to me, that makes as much sense as forcing a rose to bloom: it won't work and it just wrecks the rose. OTOH, I think both my dd and I would have found what I perhaps incorrectly perceive to be the Waldorfian restriction on reading to be, well, completely maddening.
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#131 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 01:07 PM
 
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It does drive me crazy, too. I feel that those of us who read to our children would no matter what and don't need condescending ad campaigns, and those who don't won't no matter what. I don't think the ad campaigns do any good.
Oh, I disagree. My sister works at a health center that serves a very poor, largely immigrant population. They have a program where children are given a free, age-appropriate book at each well-child visit, and a Child Life specialist says a few words to the parent about reading to children.

My sister says she's seen a huge difference in how the families approach books and reading. Instead of ignoring the books she has in each exam room, usually the families are reading to their kids when my sister comes in.

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#132 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 01:29 PM
 
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I didn't read the whole thread, b/c WOW is it long! ;-)

So a couple of things.

- I very much disagree with the concept that b/c of the reading to one's child early that had an affect on them reading early. One of the things I've seen is that early reading often has a very heriditary component to it. I've loved books as long as I can remember, but did not read until I was 7.... I remember it clicking one day in 2nd grade when all of the sudden I could read chapter books without a problem. Being read to definitely helps with the increase in vocab, and so in that aspect it can make it easier once a child is reading, to move up to 'harder' books... but the actual process of learning to read... I don't believe there is a strong correlation with being read to.


- Temperment. Temperment plays a HUGE roles. My youngest had NO interest in books until she was 15m, and THEN the only way she would read them, is if she held a board book, and looked at the pictures while jumping like a jumping bean. Seriously. It took a month before I could actually read the book to her while wiggling everywhere. At over 2, she likes books, but is VERY selective... only Dora (yah, not what I really want to be reading to her), books with props (like a book that has fingerpuppets that go with the story), or a few other choice books. That is it.

My oldest...at 10 months, she'd entertain herself for 30 minutes, just flipping through a pile of books. By two, she would listen to books for over 2 hours stretches if our voice would hold out. I was reading her Henry and Mudge as soon as she turned two, original Curious George at 18m. At 3, I could read her Magic School House books, and by 3 1/2 100 page books like the wizard of oz or peter pan. DD wants stories more than books during the day, and makes big complicated plots she wants me to tell her. This morning, she got up, grabbed a book and curled up next to me in bed, while she looked through it. As much as she loves, loves books.... I would be utterly shocked if she reads early. NO interest in academics... I expect her to follow me and not read until she hits 6 or 7.


HUGE HUGE temperment difference, which has influenced what and how I read to them.


I think reading is important, but depending on temperment/interest, it doesn't necessarily have to be every day.... and I do think oral stories w/o books are just as important and something that our society doesn't do as much anymore.

Tammy
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#133 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 02:03 PM
 
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It is valuable to consider that reading aloud to our children provides pleasurable reinforcment of social skills and communication ability, which is not at all like reading silently alone. Because I have an Aspie son who tends to mentally retreat inside himself, I do push reading together because I know he slips easily into the habit of being disconnected. He has auditory processing difficulty, and he has trouble creating images in his mind and with understanding causes and effects in plot, and I feel that listening-style reading is difficult and yet so good for him. It gives him the best chance possible of progressing in these areas in a "natural" way. I am pushy about joining us for story time, but I know more often than not if he refuses then he'll show up late, and expect us to start over

He reads independently a little, but he isn't yet reading fluently enough for mcuh gathering of information on his own, which is something I expect he will really enjoy because not having to interact can be a personal sanctuary for him. It is a totally different thing to read alone--it is such an all-consuming and sweet aloneness.

Once we see the different purposes of these two ways of reading, I think it's clear that neither should be excluded, even for kids not facing difficulties like my son's. The skills for attentive listening and sharing are good for everyone to practice, and reading together or telling stories is an ideal method and so pleasurable.

Another thing I value about reading aloud is that when we read something as a family, we are all of living in the story with one another. (Perhaps it's almost like having group spiritual visions or hallucinations?) Everyone can talk about it and refer to it in general conversation because it is fresh on everyone's mind. So the stories are part of our culture--our family's very own culture. It's not quite true in the same way when we discuss a book several of us have read at different times alone. It's a real treat when we read books that appeal to adults and children alike so one parent is reading and another is listening with the kids, and when dh and I actually stay up and read to each other. There are even some kid's picture books that are so good we all want to listen in.

There are obviously many ways to connect and communicate and avoid depriving our children of diverse stimulation if reading is not a favorite pastime. But I also think as parents, it is worth pushing ourselves to do some reading aloud even if it isn't the most appealling thing for our personal taste and even if we don't do it constantly.

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#134 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 02:10 PM
 
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I'm way into Waldorf and I've still been reading to my children since they were in the womb. I think there's a place both for exposure to written language AND oral storytelling. In Steiner's time, the written word just wasn't as prevalant as it is today. I think sometimes we need to remember that he, like everyone else, was very much a product of his times. Personally, I'm not much into the whole Amish-Steiner movement where you try to do everything exactly like Rudy would have done. Besides, much of our reading aloud isn't done with picture books, but with classics. There's a vast treasure chest of language to be found there.

And the campaign doesn't annoy me. Reading to a child is something just about every adult is equipped to do. To me, it's less about emergent literacy and more about bonding. In a world where the dominant message is to push children away, I rejoice when I see someone encouraging a parent to spend time with their children.

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#135 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 04:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Nora'sMama
I certainly don't *regret* being such a book-devourer as a child, but I do feel that it led me to concentrate my development in certain areas and neglect my development in others.
ABSOLUTELY! I feel the same. I guess that's a big reason why I'm drawn toward the Waldorf ideas. I know that dd will take easily to language; it's in her genes. It's not something I will have to spend alot of time teaching. My mom told me once that she spoke to my college prep writing teacher shortly after I started college, and thanked him for preparing me so well. He laughed at her and told her he didn't teach me anything. I don't think that's *entirely* true, but I know what he meant. There are other parts of our development - coordination is a huge one - that do not come so naturally. I think the idea of delaying the emphasis on reading and academics in order to foster more physical/material learning first is a wise plan for us. That's why I take a much more laid back attitude about reading.

I *do* feel that 5 years old is too young for Pride and Prejudice. It is a book about scorned love, defamed honor, virginity questioned... - NOT topics I want my 5 year old wrestling with...

I do agree that many people have trouble with irony and tone - I find I have to tone down my writing when I write in alot of forums for example, because people misread *everything*. But then again, I think being multi-dialectal is a useful social skill. Let's face it - not everyone is an academic, and it would be very stressful to live in this world if everyone was! Had a professor once tell me, "if your not a snob, what are you doing in academia?"
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#136 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 05:13 PM
 
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I have no problem at all conceptually with a campaign to encourage parents to read to/with their children. I volunteer with public school kids identified as needing extra help with reading - in practice the teachers select the children who not only have trouble reading, but who they know have adults at home who do not read with/to them. It's only 20 minutes a week with a volunteer, and these kids look forward to it all week (well, most of them - a few of them would rather be anywhere else!). That 20 minutes would be so meaningful is sobering to me.

What seems to be missing most for these kids is a sense of reading as a source of pleasure and interest. Sure, even in families with lots of books and time to read them, not every child is going to get a charge out of storytime. However, the kids I've worked with who are not read to seem to think of reading as more of a chore, and have fewer pleasurable associations with it, because it tends to just get associated with slogging through phonics texts and worksheets at school. They don't have the wider context that comes from a broad exposure to reading for pleasure at home.

...and then it doesn't help when, to try to bring the family into the literacy equation, the school sends the kid home with more boring phonics readers to read to their parent, who then has to 'sign off' on the 'family homework.' Send home some good books, guys!
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#137 of 184 Old 06-15-2006, 05:56 PM
 
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I'll probably repeat things that have already been said...

My feeling is that the good in the compaigns they that it prompt parents "who want to do the right thing" to provide literary opportunities and spend one-on-one time with their children. That can be done in other ways, of course, but it's kind of a catch-all way to do it.

It's misleading though, to imply that kids won't learn to read well or enjoy reading unless they're read to every day. I think that's ridiculous. I think there is a much more powerful factor in preventing kids from learning to read well and enjoy it -- namely, pushing them to learn before they're developmentally ready so that they come to perceive themselves as "bad" at reading, and coercing them into doing it rather than them choosing to do it for pleasure or because it has a known value to them. And I think the most powerful factor in creating kids who like to read and do it well is to simply surround them with a literary-rich environment. When they see their parents absorbed in books, talking about ideas in books, excited about going to the library -- they are going to internalize that as good and seek to find a way into it.
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#138 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 06:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I can't tell who was read to at home, although I have some ideas, but I can certainly tell who reads *now,* and I can tell it within about two sentences of the first thing they write for me in class.

Here are the traits I see:

1. Far wider-ranging and more "textured," specific vocabulary.

Instead of "a car," it's a 1958 cherry-red Plymouth Fury.
Instead of "She walked," she strolled, ambled, slithered, slouched...

2. Even before I begin to teach them, they have a more complex understanding of plot and characterization than the non-readers.

My guess is that the non-readers have been exposed to far more one-dimensional characters in television and are used to simplistic motivations. The readers, OTOH, have been exposed to characters who are generally more complex, whose morality is more ambiguous, whose actions have more than one motivation.

3. Grasp of abstract concepts like theme and symbol.

This is the big difference. The nonreaders are just not that capable of abstract thought beyond a certain level. Oh, and I'm talking seniors. In an honors class. The nonreaders have a very hard time when we move beyond common cultural symbols (e.g., a rose = love, black=death) and into the personal, specific symbols an author uses for specific characters (in Ethan Frome, a pickle dish symbolizes a failed marriage). As far as theme (the author's message), they want to reduce it to a one-word definition about which they say absolutely nothing: "The theme of Romeo and Juliet is love." Love what? Love sucks? Love leads to suicide? Love hurts? Love smarts? Love wounds our hearts? It's like their thinking really never moves out of the concrete operational stage.

4. Ability to perceive irony and tone.

This is another element that separates the wheat from the chaff: the nonreaders can't "hear" tone. This is crucial -- it's as if everyone around you spoke like Stephen Hawking or the guy on the other end of the fast food speaker system. They reeeeeeeallllly can't get when an author is being ironic and consequently misread everything about the characters or the work as a whole. I can't tell you how many nonreaders have been absolutely convinced that Jonathan Swift hated the Irish and advocated eating babies. Uhhh...that's even AFTER people told them what the essay was really about.

They just don't get it. The readers do. I am not advocating a cause-and-effect relationship here. It could be that the readers perceive these traits because they're more intelligent, as a whole, than the nonreaders. It could be that reading has made the readers more sensitive to complexity, tone, irony, and so on. It could be that the readers are more adept at expressing themselves in language and seek out modes of expression which play to or indulge in that particular strength. I don't know. However, I do know this: it's obvious, and it's obvious right away. With some kids, I can even tell you what it is that they've read by the way they put words down on paper.
I'm not disputing that there's probably a significant difference between readers and non-readers in these areas, but I will say that I am an avid reader, have been from age 4, of both fiction and non-fiction, both well-written and trashy, but I am incredibly inept at the things you mention. I have good vocabulary in the sense of knowing what words mean, but I have a hard time thinking of words when I need them, especially in conversation or fast writing. I am probably better than average at understanding plot, characters, and tone, but pathetic at symbols and theme. I can understand them when they're pointed out to me, but my interpretations of them on my own are inevitably wrong. I hated English classes all through high school and college, because even though I loved to read, my teachers would get so frustrated with how I would interpret the works "all wrong." So anyway, while I'm sure there is a difference between readers and non-readers, I think there is a strong element of innate ability also.

Also, somewhat off-topic, I think if you're going to criticize what trashy novels like "Junie B. Jones" do to kids' reading and thinking abilities, I think you should criticize newspapers, too. Newspapers are full of poor grammar, misspellings, bad geography, and, what annoys me the most, blatant logical fallacies. And many teachers *encourage* their students to read newspapers to "be informed." But no wonder people (as a whole) have no critical thinking ability when major newspapers make "Junie B. Jones" look like insightful literature. Personally, I would rather my kids read "Junie B. Jones" which can be dismissed as silly stories than most major newspapers which are presented as serious and informative.
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#139 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 06:28 AM
 
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#140 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 11:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Brigianna
I hated English classes all through high school and college, because even though I loved to read, my teachers would get so frustrated with how I would interpret the works "all wrong." So anyway, while I'm sure there is a difference between readers and non-readers, I think there is a strong element of innate ability also.
This is a teacher error, not a student one. An interpretation can't be "wrong," it can only be different. I had this problem in English class as well, not with my teachers (who were, for the most part, very interested in hearing different interpretations of whatever we were reading) but with standardized tests (i.e. my A.P. American Lit exam). My life experiences were different, so I often interpreted things differently. I was somewhat outspoken, but after every single AmLit class, at least one student would come up to me and say, "I totally agree with you about X, I thought it was very Y" or "I never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense." My teacher was young and dynamic (very popular with students) and was always waiting to see what I'd say next, because it was rarely what was traditionally taught. When I got questions "wrong" on his tests, if I could explain my answers he'd give me the points, and in fact we often debated test answers in class the following day (he offered everyone the same opportunity).

Some teachers don't know how to think outside of the book; maybe they weren't read to enough as children.

Quote:
Also, somewhat off-topic, I think if you're going to criticize what trashy novels like "Junie B. Jones" do to kids' reading and thinking abilities, I think you should criticize newspapers, too. Newspapers are full of poor grammar, misspellings, bad geography, and, what annoys me the most, blatant logical fallacies. And many teachers *encourage* their students to read newspapers to "be informed." But no wonder people (as a whole) have no critical thinking ability when major newspapers make "Junie B. Jones" look like insightful literature. Personally, I would rather my kids read "Junie B. Jones" which can be dismissed as silly stories than most major newspapers which are presented as serious and informative.
I have to agree with you on this one. Given the choice between my mom's local paper and a Junie B. Jones book, I'll give my niece J.B.J. every time. The thing is, those aren't the only choices. ChibiChibi is reading A Little Princess, (not this one; it's a different, unabridged version) The Magician's Nephew, and something else that just slipped my mind but is another classic work of children's literature. She loves the news, and wants to be informed (I did too, at her age) but is discouraged from reading the local paper for the reasons that you mentioned. Instead, she can go to the library and read the New York Times, or read news magazines. She enjoys Dateline, 20/20, and 60 Minutes, and last week she found out about NPR and that just blew her away ("You have the news in your car?!? That's so freaking cool!!"). There are more choices out there than crappy books and local newspapers.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#141 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 2bluefish
I *do* feel that 5 years old is too young for Pride and Prejudice. It is a book about scorned love, defamed honor, virginity questioned... - NOT topics I want my 5 year old wrestling with...
I have no doubt that this is appropriate for your five-year-old, but will you do me the courtesy of admitting that a blanket statement ("I do feel that five years old is too young") is not appropriate for all families?

Quote:
I do agree that many people have trouble with irony and tone - I find I have to tone down my writing when I write in alot of forums for example, because people misread *everything*. But then again, I think being multi-dialectal is a useful social skill. Let's face it - not everyone is an academic, and it would be very stressful to live in this world if everyone was! Had a professor once tell me, "if your not a snob, what are you doing in academia?"
I think it goes beyond being an academic snob and further into basic issues of communication. How many times on this board -- hardly an academic forum as a whole, although we often touch on academic topics -- have I seen someone completely misread or misunderstand someone else's post, particularly if that person were being sarcastic and their statements, to any educated reader, were clearly humorous in nature? Sorry if the "educated reader" sounds snobby, but I think it genuinely is an issue of education: if you're not educated to read for tone, if you're only functionally literate and can decode but not genuinely probe below the surface of what you read, if what you read sounds like it's being read tonelessly by Stephen Hawking, then no, I don't believe you're genuinely "educated" in this academic area.
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#142 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 11:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Brigianna
Also, somewhat off-topic, I think if you're going to criticize what trashy novels like "Junie B. Jones" do to kids' reading and thinking abilities, I think you should criticize newspapers, too. Newspapers are full of poor grammar, misspellings, bad geography, and, what annoys me the most, blatant logical fallacies. And many teachers *encourage* their students to read newspapers to "be informed." But no wonder people (as a whole) have no critical thinking ability when major newspapers make "Junie B. Jones" look like insightful literature. Personally, I would rather my kids read "Junie B. Jones" which can be dismissed as silly stories than most major newspapers which are presented as serious and informative.
How dare you criticize USA Today!!!!
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#143 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 11:42 AM
 
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This is a teacher error, not a student one. An interpretation can't be "wrong," it can only be different.
I agree wholeheartedly. I had one kid -- let's call him Bob -- who was really funky: either he'd be completely brilliant or completely off-the-wall, so I never knew which it would be when he opened his mouth. One day, we were talking about Macbeth when he said, "Miss, what's all this milk stuff going on in this play?"

My first thought: Bob, get off the drugs.

What I actually said was, "I'm not sure what you mean, Bob -- can you clarify??" He responded by pointing out the five or six times in this play where characters make reference to milk or milk products:

"He is too full o' the milk of human kindness..."
"I would, while [my baby] was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out..."
"Whey-face...cream-faced loon"

...and so on. I was stunned, because I'd read this play a zillion times, but clearly, this was a strong motif. We spent the rest of the time talking about what milk symbolized, what that symbol was saying about the characters, the author's point in putting it in the play, and so on -- heck, I could've written a great graduate paper on this subject alone and probably have gotten it endorsed by the La Leche League: Milk and Feminism in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

The lesson was one I learned: Never discount what a student says as "wrong." Give them a chance to explain and ya might learn something.
Quote:


Some teachers don't know how to think outside of the book; maybe they weren't read to enough as children.
Hee, hee...


I have to agree with you on this one. Given the choice between my mom's local paper and a Junie B. Jones book, I'll give my niece J.B.J. every time. The thing is, those aren't the only choices. ChibiChibi is reading A Little Princess, (not this one; it's a different, unabridged version) The Magician's Nephew, and something else that just slipped my mind but is another classic work of children's literature. She loves the news, and wants to be informed (I did too, at her age) but is discouraged from reading the local paper for the reasons that you mentioned. Instead, she can go to the library and read the New York Times, or read news magazines. She enjoys Dateline, 20/20, and 60 Minutes, and last week she found out about NPR and that just blew her away ("You have the news in your car?!? That's so freaking cool!!"). There are more choices out there than crappy books and local newspapers.[/QUOTE]
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#144 of 184 Old 06-16-2006, 08:46 PM
 
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Nope. Not overrated at all. I too know too many families where they don't even have a small collection of books.

Books are knowledge. Kids need to learn that at an early age. They need to be read to and they need to see us reading for pleasure.

Liz~A wife and homeschooling mother to two gifts from God!
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#145 of 184 Old 06-17-2006, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
This is a teacher error, not a student one. An interpretation can't be "wrong," it can only be different. I had this problem in English class as well, not with my teachers (who were, for the most part, very interested in hearing different interpretations of whatever we were reading) but with standardized tests (i.e. my A.P. American Lit exam). My life experiences were different, so I often interpreted things differently. I was somewhat outspoken, but after every single AmLit class, at least one student would come up to me and say, "I totally agree with you about X, I thought it was very Y" or "I never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense." My teacher was young and dynamic (very popular with students) and was always waiting to see what I'd say next, because it was rarely what was traditionally taught. When I got questions "wrong" on his tests, if I could explain my answers he'd give me the points, and in fact we often debated test answers in class the following day (he offered everyone the same opportunity).
You had better teachers than mine, I guess. I think a couple of mine had very strong "agenda" biases. But even some of what y'all are talking about would never occur to me, like "Moby Dick" being at all phallic. Things like that would never enter my mind. So I do think there's a certain element of innate ability, although I'm sure that being a reader helps.

Quote:
Some teachers don't know how to think outside of the book; maybe they weren't read to enough as children.
Or they don't read themselves. There are a lot of teachers, English teachers no less, who are non-readers.


Quote:
I have to agree with you on this one. Given the choice between my mom's local paper and a Junie B. Jones book, I'll give my niece J.B.J. every time. The thing is, those aren't the only choices. ChibiChibi is reading A Little Princess, (not this one; it's a different, unabridged version) The Magician's Nephew, and something else that just slipped my mind but is another classic work of children's literature. She loves the news, and wants to be informed (I did too, at her age) but is discouraged from reading the local paper for the reasons that you mentioned. Instead, she can go to the library and read the New York Times, or read news magazines. She enjoys Dateline, 20/20, and 60 Minutes, and last week she found out about NPR and that just blew her away ("You have the news in your car?!? That's so freaking cool!!"). There are more choices out there than crappy books and local newspapers.
Right, I wasn't defending JBJ by any means. But I think that as a whole, newspapers (and TV news) are more corrosive to the critical thinking ability than trashy novels. And it's not just local papers, but influential national papers too. Even NPR, which I usually like, has a lot of the same logical fallacies. But my only point was that non-thinking is promoted by so many sources that I don't think trashy kids' books have that much effect one way or the other.
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#146 of 184 Old 06-17-2006, 09:13 AM
 
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How dare you criticize USA Today!!!!
It's not just "USA Today," although they're probably the worst offender, but it's also "the New York Times," "the Washington Post," and others. Maybe not the misspellings and grammatical errors, but certainly the logical fallacies and conflation of unrelated things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I agree wholeheartedly. I had one kid -- let's call him Bob -- who was really funky: either he'd be completely brilliant or completely off-the-wall, so I never knew which it would be when he opened his mouth. One day, we were talking about Macbeth when he said, "Miss, what's all this milk stuff going on in this play?"

My first thought: Bob, get off the drugs.

What I actually said was, "I'm not sure what you mean, Bob -- can you clarify??" He responded by pointing out the five or six times in this play where characters make reference to milk or milk products:

"He is too full o' the milk of human kindness..."
"I would, while [my baby] was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out..."
"Whey-face...cream-faced loon"

...and so on. I was stunned, because I'd read this play a zillion times, but clearly, this was a strong motif. We spent the rest of the time talking about what milk symbolized, what that symbol was saying about the characters, the author's point in putting it in the play, and so on -- heck, I could've written a great graduate paper on this subject alone and probably have gotten it endorsed by the La Leche League: Milk and Feminism in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

The lesson was one I learned: Never discount what a student says as "wrong." Give them a chance to explain and ya might learn something.
You sound like a really thoughtful teacher. So what *does* milk symbolize? Childhood innocence (my first guess)?
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#147 of 184 Old 06-17-2006, 10:03 AM
 
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So, somewhat off topic, but does anyone have any advice for improving critical thinking skills? I know mine are sorely lacking. I know I'm easily swayed by cunningly-worded arguments. When I was in high school, I worked for a family who ran a business selling homeschool materials (they were homeschoolers), and with my employee discount, I bought a small "Introductory Logic" workbook. (I saw a piece on the news one night about the lack of critical thinking/logic skills being taught in the classroom and was swayed by their presentation of one teacher's thoughts on it -- this teacher offered courses as an extra curricular activity, I believe.) That, however, didn't really do much for me.

I had an English teacher in high school who would accept alternate interpretations from students -- but only if they were very well thought out and eloquently defended.

CB, you sometimes remind me of her. She was a great teacher. Though I've never forgiven her for marking my spelling of "programme" as wrong and telling me I must be getting mixed up with French when I told her it was the British (and therefore quite acceptable in Canada) spelling.

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#148 of 184 Old 06-17-2006, 11:06 AM
 
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I think this is free...

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Originally Posted by Brisen
So, somewhat off topic, but does anyone have any advice for improving critical thinking skills? .
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#149 of 184 Old 06-17-2006, 07:23 PM
 
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but will you do me the courtesy of admitting that a blanket statement ("I do feel that five years old is too young") is not appropriate for all families?
Surely won't. I stand by my opinion. If you want to introduce adult topics to your children at young ages, go ahead, but I don't have to agree with the appropriateness or morality of that - sorry. I made a statement of personal philosophy, not a blanket statement of truth.


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Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I think it goes beyond being an academic snob and further into basic issues of communication.
Most English speakers are multi-dialectal. Those formally educated learn a specific dialect. I don't happen to think being an "educated reader" is a requirement for life. I do agree that it helps in some social circles. If writers in a non-academic forum misunderstand tone, then perhaps the burden of responsibility lies with the writer to use a more appropriate dialect?

Certainly there is a difference between "functionally literate" and an "educated reader" - however, I wouldn't make the blanket statement that all readers need to be educated readers. We are all have our gifts *and* our handicaps.
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#150 of 184 Old 06-18-2006, 08:38 AM
 
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Thanks, PumpkinSeeds!

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