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"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
Pandemic, heat, the start of new schooling experiences and now fires! Take care, be safe, ask for help, offer help. This is not easy but this special community always pulls together.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
And off they go with a two-in-one lesson writing a beautiful poem in cursive! Apparently teaching cursive writing fell out of favor in the late 20th century. Was this related to computers becoming ubiquitous? One local parent touts several benefits from teaching cursive writing, not to mention the delight of children in mastering it. I hope you enjoy her persuasive essay!

It sounds like parents and children are going through an adjustment period while finding their rhythm with distance learning, home schooling, or independent studies. Parents are finding that kindergarteners seem to be the most frustrated. Teachers care! Giving them thoughtful feedback can help.
For a while there were prickly conversations among those who were planning to create "learning pods" and others who thought that was elitist, might harm public schools and leave underprivileged children behind. Suki tackles the topic with a measured essay on learning pods.
We've been listening to parents and teachers discussing and sharing online resources and have compiled a list of their recommendations. Many are local, others from all over the country. Some resources offer a complete curriculum, others cover a specific topic like science or history and perhaps the most fun of all are unique, unusual mini-courses on all manner of non-traditional topics. This online learning industry is a growing business! Parents have lots of choices for meeting individual needs. Here's the list: Online Resources Local Parents are Discussing and Using

You deserve a relaxing weekend. Make it happen! Parmalee
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The Benefits of Cursive
by Sabrina Max
Do you know that there are only 14 US states that require cursive writing? California is not one of those states.

While I believe in the practice of unschooling, I do implement and teach the fundamental skills our children need to learn to be successful. One of the most fundamental skills I practice with our children is learning how to write.

Learning to write with pencil/pen on paper is becoming a lost art in these moderns days of technology. Without learning to print and/or write in cursive, children are missing out on developing and strengthening some of their fine motor skills.

I introduced my children to writing in cursive at the ripe age of 5 years old but it's never too late to introduce it. Furthermore, without learning how to write in cursive kids are not learning how to sign their names or read important historical documents like the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights.

So while school curriculums (originally aka curricula) may teach children what to write, they do not teach them how to write. A fun and exciting way my children practice their writing is to write to family and friends. Using this practice has taught them penmanship, how to address an envelope, and how to read other people's writing. I believe that not teaching our children how to write in print and/or cursive has the potential to stunt our children's future success. Let me know if anyone has children that would like to be added to our pen pal list.

From the British Dyslexia Association:
“The most widely recommended handwriting style is called continuous cursive. Its most important feature is that each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the paper — and consequently, each word is formed in one flowing movement.

The key advantages to this system are:
By making each letter in one movement, children’s hands develop a ‘physical memory’ of it, making it easier to produce the correct shape. Because letters and words flow from left to right, children are less likely to reverse letters which are typically difficult (like b/d or p/q). There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower case. The continuous flow of writing ultimately improves speed and spelling."

Sabrina Max is a local mom who homeschools and runs her own business. You can find her on facebook!
Calling home school pods fundamentally racist won’t help education equality

I’m sure you’ve noticed all the scary articles about how so-called “homeschool pods” are going to undo all the small amount of racial equity that our public schools have been able to put in place.

Need a refresher? Here, here, and here are the top three hits I got.
This argument rests on three premises that I dispute:
  1. Only white parents will set up pods for their kids’ learning
  2. Only affluent parents can afford to have a teacher or other educated person supervise the learning
  3. These pods have to function separately from the public school structure

The assumptions behind these premises are really quite awful when you think about it:
  1. Non-white parents are submissive to authority, have no personal networks, and are not fit to guide their children’s learning
  2. Parents who make less money are by definition less fit to guide their children’s learning, and are not creative thinkers who can pull together resources available in their communities
  3. The public schools are screwed. Run!
Learning “pods” are not new
First, let’s do away with this idea that by creating a hip new word for it, affluent white parents fleeing the public schools have come across a brilliant idea all on their own.

Sorry, learning “pods” are just a pandemic-era iteration of something that teachers, parents, and students have been doing for ages. It’s always been the case that people learn better in smaller groups. When that’s not possible, such as in a large public school, good teachers create learning pods within their classrooms. Involved parents create learning pods of their own children (if they have enough) or with families they know. Teens instinctively create study groups that, yes, have a social function, too.
(Aside: Please forget what the bean counters tell you: social interaction has always been an intrinsic part of a good learning environment. Without the R in recreation, no one would bother to learn the other three R’s.)
Pods aren’t new to homeschooling, either. I created learning pods when I was homeschooling my kids. We called them “clubs.” Other parents did, too. And I will point out that non-white, non-affluent parents have always done this. Creativity in learning is not an exclusive club.

Learning pods are not exclusive of school
All of the examples I gave above come from families who were attached to public schools in one way or another. We don’t have to run screaming from the public schools because they can’t offer us everything we desire in a learning environment.

In all the years we homeschooled our kids, we were always attached to a public school program. We had a 100% free teacher to advise us. We had some financial support for resources, and a 100% free resource center where we could access materials, make photocopies, and get support. None of that has changed.

Public schools should encourage pods, not assume they’re racist
While kids are not in the classroom, teachers shouldn’t resist pods—they should help parents organize them. Teachers can continue their mission of equity in education by working extra hard to include the kids who might fall through the cracks. In our county, that’s not only kids of color, but also English language learners and rural kids who need a 30-minute ride from a parent to take part in physical activities.

If you are homeschooling and forming a pod, draw on your basic decency
If you have just left the public school system—for whatever reason—and you are an affluent, educated, and/or white family, you can do your small part just by being decent. Or if you are staying in the public school but forming a pod to support your own kids, again, be decent.

By that I mean simply look around you and see who is not being included. Just as a decent host would do at a party, scanning a room to see if anyone looks uncomfortable or lonely, look around your school community and reach out. Offer a spot in your pod to a kid whose parents work too hard to help their kids with homework. Offer your expertise to help other families form pods. Talk to your child’s teacher and principal about encouraging pods within classes to offer extra support.

We are facing lots of hard problems
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Our country has failed at a national level to lead a reasonable, consistent public health response. Our weakened public school system is teetering on the edge of collapse. Our communities are in anguish over the growing understanding of racial inequity built into our systems at the lowest level. We may be facing economic distress that dwarfs the Great Depression.

Really, learning pods are not the problem.

Learning pods are a very small part of the solution.

Suk Wessling is a local mom, author, teacher and musician who thinks a lot about matters which affect families and offers her insights for our consideration!
Family Events
Who’s Awake When You’re Asleep? Friday, August 21 at 10am – Big Basin - Learn about all the amazing ways that animals survive at night!
Bird Behavior - Saturday, August 22 at 10am – Henry Cowell, Take a close look at behaviors of acorn woodpeckers, Steller’s jays, and Anna’s hummingbirds in the Sandhills. Learn about feeding behaviors, why they skip, hop, and jump, and how they protect themselves and their young.
Marvelous Murrelets - Sunday, August 23 at 10am – Portola, Learn about a day in the life of the marbled murrelet, the challenges they face, and how you can help protect this marvelous bird!
August Junior Ranger Programs at Big Basin every Friday Details
All the Farmers Markets!
Just picked, fresh from the farms to you, and often musical entertainment and special, delectable eats for foodies! Details
Winchester Walk with Spirits Tour
Evenings Weds - Sun, 8pm, Winchester Mystery House launches a new outdoor evening experience that explores the legendary estate’s supernatural lore. Details
Prepping Your Child for the New School Year
August 20 @ 6 - 7:30pm, Strategies to Work with Attention and Working Memory for Attention or Working Memory Weakness - Presentation Series with Michelle Mason Via Zoom. From 6:00p.m.-7:30 p.m. To receive Zoom link, meeting ID and password contact Sonia Plageman at (831) 423-7713 or splageman@spinsc.org. Free Details
Triple P 8-week Virtual Group: for families with children 2 – 12 years old - Fridays @ 3pm - 4:30 pm, Check Details
Food Trucks & Pop-Up Kitchens at the Grange, Thursdays 4 - 7pm
Come out and support a sustainable food economy! Food truck and pop-up kitchens at the Live Oak Grange source ingredients from Monterey Bay Area organic farmers and ranchers. Details
Nature Journaling Workshop for Teachers and Parent-Teachers - Wednesdays 12-1:30pm beginning August 19 - Learn how to teach Nature Journaling! Join our weekly discussion and idea-sharing for teachers, home school parents, and other educators interested in teaching nature journaling skills. Details
We are launching The Museum At Your Side — a collection of hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging videos to connect you with nature and science wherever you are! Friday, August 21, 2020 | 6-7pm, Zoom Webinar | Register for link to Zoom Webinar, Details
Join us at The Art Factory Aug 24- 28 - Yvette keeps track of 2020 Summer "Favorites" as rated by the kids and packs the week full of them. This is always a creative closure to a memorable Art Factory Summer. Details.

Read about Yvette's new Art History Classes here. Fall online class registration begins NOW! Details
Tales to Tails - Mondays 3:30-4pm, Register! Santa Cruz Public Libraries Details
Redwood Forest Steam Train, Roaring Camp, Daily 11 am, 12:30pm, 2pm, masks required. Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad and the forest. Details
West Cliff Food Truck Summer, August 14 @ 3- 8pm.
West Cliff Food Truck Summer The local food trucks combine with local bands to make it a great night out for the whole family. Details
Independent Study programs In or Serving Santa Cruz County
School Re-Opening Information


Distance Learning Only for K-12 Schools for 2020-2021 School Year, County Guidance Read the entire letter> > >

Independent Study programs In or Serving Santa Cruz County List > >