Sunday, December 20, 2009

1 Semester Down....

It's interesting to talk to Alyssa about her thoughts on homeschooling vs. high school. As usual, she doesn't see things as black or white. The other day, I asked her what she thought about comparing the two. And I reminded her how people were always concerned that homeschoolers weren't getting enough socialization. So, after a semester at school, what did she think now?

First, she didn't think they are using the right word. Socialization. And she's not sure what the "right word" actually is. "But this is the deal..." in her opinion:

Both have learning opportunities that you can either take advantage of or daydream through.

But homeschoolers are out in the real world. They are interacting with all kinds of people, in all walks of life. School kids are not. Homeschoolers are living life, while school kids are reading about it in a classroom. But what school kids get to do that homeschoolers don't, is they get to have TONS of interactions with other kids. They fight, they reconcile, they lie, they play around, they laugh, they watch....but it's all about interacting. And that happens all day long - not just between classes like it shows on T.V. Each class period (or at least the ones she took this semester) allots a certain amount of the class period to the lesson and the rest is spent however the kids choose. Some choose to study the material. Some do the homework before they go home. While some pass notes, meet each other in the bathrooms, or goof around in the classroom.

In school, there are no paintings to discuss, or Barton Springs to swim in, or skating rinks to skate. No hangout afternoons wandering down to Sonic.

So which is best? It depends on what you want. If you are the type who  really enjoys interacting with people, school is the place to be. If you are not that interested in people but you want to see and do things in the world, then being trapped in a school all day for 5 days a week, is not a good plan for you.

Alyssa felt like her situation was ideal. She had done a lot out in the world. So she had that under her belt. But she had felt that interacting with a handful of kids every other day just wasn't enough for her. School gives her plenty of people to talk with - and her past as a homeschooler actually gives her a lot to talk about!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lady Panthers!

It's Texas, so we have Drill Teams. I know other states have drill teams too - but not the way Texans do it! Football is King, and Drill Teams are the female part of that equation.

When Alyssa first thought about going to High School, joining the drill team was huge on her Wish List. She watched football games and half-time activities. She knew that her years of dance and competitive cheer would help her if she ever were to try out for the drill/dance team.

So, last month, she came home with the forms. Dance/drill team tryouts would take place over three days after school. They would be taught a routine, work on their splits and their turns, and learn all they could for the 3rd day - the actual tryout.

Alyssa's P.E. coach is also the Dance/Drill Team Coordinator. Early on, she told Alyssa that she had a good shot at making the team.  She would let the girls who were interested in trying out go to another room and practice their splits and turns.  She and four or five of her friends were excited about trying out. Coach MacDonald emailed me telling me more about dance team, how she liked Alyssa, and how she hoped she would do well. She felt that Alyssa needed a core group of well-supervised young ladies as friends, and thought the drill team could provide that.

So off too Target we go to buy the obligatory black dance pants and tank top.

Monday, Day One, rolls around and Alyssa and her friends run off to the gym. They are all given the routine and allowed to practice. They're put in groups of about 15 each. The officers of the drill team then are supposed to pick the top 4 in each group. (There were 55 trying out.) Alyssa was one of those 4 from her group of 15. Having been in Competitive Cheer certainly helped her with "Showmanship." She could smile, and look happy, regardless of how she really felt about her performance. This really made her feel great, being pulled out from the group.

Then a few new groups comprised from the top four of each original group performed together while the others watched. Then from each of THESE groups, the top four were chosen. In the end, Alyssa was one of the Top Four chosen from the entire group. That was pretty exciting. She said she couldn't really even look at the other girls, it made her nervous. They weren't all that thrilled for her. Still she pressed on.

After Day 1, Parent Meeting time. Discussion of costs and expectations. Cost is about $700 with the possibility of an additional $1000 if they take a trip to Los Angeles or somewhere like that. The team has done this in the past. When the parents winced at the money, the coach reminded them that nearby schools charge as much as $1500 and there are several extra expenses and trips along the way.

So Day 2 goes by well. No singling out, just performing and performing.

Day 3 - we have to get a Sports Physical and then she makes it back just in time for try outs. Alyssa doesn't know the other three girls in her group. But they head on into the private audition room with the judges. Alyssa asked the Coach to make faces at her so she keeps smiling. She thought it would help her with her nerves. She is good in groups, but when she is performing by herself or with small groups, she gets nervous.
Her kicks are high, her splits are low, but when she does her turn she loses her balance. The coach asks, "Alyssa, would you like to try that again." "Yes, ma'am."  She can't even remember if she did it right the second time, but she thinks she did not. It didn't matter, she didn't lose her balance, and even if she turned wrong, she planted her feet and didn't budge.

So that turn issue worried her all night.

The next day at school, she and her friends went to look at the list of who made it. Her friend covered up her name. Alyssa pushed her hands away and sure enough! There was her name on the list. She made the Lady Panther Dance Team!

Next semester, her schedule will have to change around so that all new Lady Panthers - called Lady Cubs - are together in 2nd period. This will be fun!

Shhhh! Is that "Sexting?"

Sexting is making the news a lot these days. You know what that means, right?  When someone sends naked or semi-naked pictures through their cell phones?  Anyway, because I look at my daughter’s text messages from time to time, I’ve seen this first-hand.  Boys often are asking girls to “Send me a pic.” When I asked her, “Would just a cute picture of you be what he’s wanting?” She laughed. No, that was not what he was hoping for. He would possibly SETTLE for that, but in her words, “His phone is probably FULL of naked pics from girls.”

 In fact, Alyssa and a boy her age, were looking at each others’ phones. He had at least 10 pictures of girls - even though he wanted to be exclusively her boyfriend.  The pics ranged from pretty shots of the girl’s face, to full body shots, to girls in cut-off’s with the zipper open, revealing a thong.  He immediately deleted all the pics, but he reminded her, “Girls just send them! I don’t even have to ask.”

So that’s their dilemma. While we tell them, you know if you send something it could get spread all around, they are up against girls who do not hesitate to send them.   That’s not a new dilemma though, it’s just taken this exponential turn.  As women, we can remember girls who were willing to do more with guys than we were. That has been around forever. But now, with the internet and texting, you are not limited to the girls in your neighborhood. Nor are you limited to how a person looks in real life. Girls can look like fashion models in their photos but not in reality. This just seems to take the competition in their minds to a new level.

Have you seen the new MTV commercial campaign, A Thin Line? With regard to sexting, their point is that a thin line exists between sending something to your boyfriend, and sharing it with the whole school. Odds are, relationships will end, someone will get mad. And then what was sent in privacy can live on and be used against you forever.  They have a variety of GREAT 30 second clips about sexting and cyber-bullying. You should watch them with your kids!