Review of a Pencil Sharpener

So you read the title and your thinking, seriously Peters? Your gonna write about a pencil sharpener? Well, truth be told I’ve been looking for one of the old-fashioned librarian pencil sharpeners for quite a while and haven’t come across an antique one which is built much sturdier than the ones you find today. In the process I’ve come across what could be the Three Musketeers of Bad Pencil Etiquette. First there is the ultra expensive electric wonder, followed by the mid-priced hand crank splitter and last but not least is the free, never reliable little cutter that couldn’t with no backing – you know the one that sheds all over because it’s doesn’t have a capture and of course your kids cut their finger because the blade is exposed. It was so bad that two years ago I said out loud during school one day “I wish I had a decent pencil sharpener!!” ….and E got me one for Christmas… it ate through batteries and that was about all it ate, never sharpened a pencil – but it made a great game of “Watch the Pencil Spin”…. ok enough ranting… let’s talk about this pencil sharpener we were asked to review….

So the pencil sharpener came in the box no directions…..and this is how the process went….

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…it took them quite awhile to figure out how to use it… their engineering skills were put to the test…. now my kids fight over who gets to sharpen pencils… they volunteer (gasp I said the word!) to sharpen and the points on the pencils don’t break off inside the sharpener. What I also thought was a great idea, they sell replacements parts when you need them. So instead of disposing of the entire item once the sharpener dulls, you can just replace the blade, the catch tray, or even the clamp. Great way to reuse instead of replacing the entire unit. The unit is also so quite…you don’t even know it’s in use.

We aren’t going to tell you how exactly to use it because that would spoil all the homeschooling fun! ❤ However, my daughter did say to mention that it helps if you “put your left hand no top of the gadget to hold it down a bit so it doesn’t wiggle.”

This is an amazing tool that is a must have for any home school family or teacher. I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a simple need met by a quality tool. Check out Classroom Friendly Supplies for one of these sharpeners today…. they come in green, blue, red, black and even pink.

Happy Sharpening…….*******************EcoMom22 was given this product to review. All opinions shared here are my own as well as, in this case, the twins and were not influenced in any way by the product provider. Please read our full site disclaimers & terms of use here.*******************

Educational Choice?!?

I have been fairly quiet as of late on here due to the political sandstorm which has been taking place over the past few months. I’m fairly pragmatic when it comes to politics and I choose not to define myself by a party, but to weigh each individual decision on its own merits. In other words I try not to “vote my party” but rather make an educated decision based on verified facts.

One thing I was dismayed by was the lack of ability to have more choices on education up for discussion. Charter Schools were on the ballot here in WA – and since it didn’t pass the first three times – let’s just force the issue once more and beat the voter into submission and put it on once more, along with backing it with a few million dollars by the Gates Foundation. Well, it worked, and it passed by 51% and now there are rumblings of attempting to have it overturned. People – WAKE UP – ALL OF YOU are missing the point!

Parents and teachers alike are dismayed with the state of public education in the State of WA. Our school districts are in such disarray that more and more parents prefer educational choice to provide their children a solid future, rather than just accept what is available to them. Why do the choices have to be – public, private or charter? When does Alternative Learning and Homeschooling get recognized and added into the mix as an important component in educational choice?

Children have a natural instinct and fundamental desire to learn. Their curiosity drives everything they do and they are passionate about life. This changes if their put into a cookie cutter platform and they aren’t given the educational opportunity that works best for their learning style. Once that voice is silenced and they find that no one is interested in their curiosity or has the time to answer their questions their development begins to dwindle and overtime just shuts off. This is how learners end up having behavior issues, getting labeled as ADHD, drop out of school and have a host of other behavioral issues.

Everyone must be held accountable for not labeling these children, but taking a moment and truly understanding what they need to be successful.  Don’t you like it when you have the tools to be successful? Don’t you ask at home or in the workplace for what you need? These kids can’t ask for what they need and too many people are ignoring them.  Let’s not squelch a child’s learning because a teacher has a classroom of 32 students and doesn’t have “time” to answer them. Let’s not assume every person who doesn’t want public school for their children can afford the financial burden of sending them to private school. Let’s not assume that all those scholarships which are being given to families which cannot afford private school should be shoved into charter schools so only the wealthy can go back to attending private school. Let’s not assume that online alternative learning is the “arch” enemy to public schools and give them a little support instead of continuing to fight them at every turn and cutback every ounce of support. Let’s not assume that every child should be homeschooled. And let’s certainly not assume that every child with a behavioral issue in any school has ADD, ADHD or is just an ill behaved child – ask yourself – what did I do to support that child’s learning? Do they truly have a psychological issue or am I just looking for a scapegoat because I’m too busy to be accountable.

I believe we all should be held responsible for children’s education and resolve to do what it takes to educate today’s youth as they are tomorrow’s future doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, presidents and speakers of the house – one choice is not the answer.

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it.” – Maya Angelou

Parent/Teacher Role in Home Schooling

While I love the fact that we home school, being new to this I have struggled with the boundaries between the parent and teacher role. I want to be an excellent parent and when I think of that I think of someone who is compassionate, caring, encouraging, loving, kind, and supportive; challenges their children, supports growth, requires respect and good manners, but allows freedom and independence while encouraging alternative thinking. Aren’t those the very same qualities I would look for in an excellent teacher? Yes.

Over the last seven months of home schooling, I’ve learned that there is a blurred line between teacher and mother. I always thought they would be well defined. Prior to becoming aware of this I allowed myself to go over without transition into the role of teacher. Murphy’s Law number one, without a bit of a defined change there is chaos. I would feel overwhelmed by wanting to answer every question, pay attention to every whim, listen to every story, read every emotional queue and sometimes that just isn’t reality. Now I say to the girls, we are starting school, I need you to put on your student hat, raise your hand, wait for others to speak and we will address each need one at a time. This I feel is a teacher role, not a parent role. As a parent, I juggle 100 balls up in the air and deal with them all at once and hope not one falls. As a teacher, I must recognize the difference between vying for Mom’s attention and true needs for assistance and support. I find by explaining to them that we are now in a student/teacher situation eases their transition as well. It generates a verbal definition of transition and helps them to respect each others learning boundaries. As my daughter says “no questions are bad questions” and I agree, but learners need to encourage each others growth – not have  a competition to see who can speak the loudest to get the attention first.

Some naysayer will say ‘don’t you provide that same time and attention as a mother?” The answer is yes, I do, but defining boundaries during school makes all of us more successful. As with life; work, home, education, family – everyone has boundaries and transition it’s part of life and it gives us room and energy to evolve.

“Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson