Archive for category Mary Leppert
By Emerson Sandow
For some reason unfathomable to me, it has become fashionable to (1) not answer the phone and (2) not return phone calls. This is especially true in business, where somehow, people who make a living from communicating to others and being communicated with, think that they can just ignore phone calls and messages ad infinitum. Such an ignoring of phone calls places many businesses in a precarious position, since their e-mail programs – not they, themselves — often determine what is “spam” to be rejected — and what is not. Therefore, many people who try to communicate with a business will not be able to do so. I make it a habit to never patronize a business that does not have substantial contact information available and where someone answers the phone, at least on my second attempt. Those who do not answer the phone do not provide proper customer service, so I will not become a customer.
But, this same strange tendency to avoid contact is also rife in personal communications. We all have become so insulated with our little worlds of texting and Internet voyeurism, that we see human interaction as an interruption!
For those of us who grew up in a world of human interaction and personal contact, not only is this phenomenon perplexing, but somehow, it is not fatal. . . the foundation of our personality is built on interaction with other people and often intimate contact with them. However, for the upcoming generation, this intentional isolation may prove very harmful. Imagine if a massive, long-range power failure occurs. These isolated individuals will break out in a cold sweat at the prospect of having to speak directly with someone. They won’t have texting to rely on, so they might actually have to say “be right back” not “brb”. Will they even know how to utter such brief statements? These same people might have to sit in a group without constantly checking their phones for trivial messages and photos of a friend’s next meal. Que horrible!
The converse of this phone-phobia is true in the worst possible instances — in the customer dis-service that one finds in many retail stores and restaurants. You may be standing in line, waiting to be seated or to pay your bill or to have your purchases rung up, and the phone rings. Now, the employee conducts an animated, often very long conversation with the caller. Or, it may be a business-related call, but that is what the “Hold” button is for. Base-line etiquette dictates that the live people, who were in line before the phone call, should be served first.
Possibly this same sort of issue arose when the printing press made books available to the masses and suddenly, most people began to live in their heads more than they had before. One’s own thoughts can occupy much time within, but reading the thoughts and opinions of others fills the attention reservoir very quickly. It may also contribute to mental health. Too much time “alone” and inside of one’s head can be unhealthy for many people today! Parents have a responsibility to educate their children on proper behavior in these regards and hopefully, at least homeschooled children will not be electronically socialized to the extreme that other children are. . . hopefully. ES
Turning Vaccine Exemptions Into Class Warfare
[Ed. Note: This article is from 2012. However, the heated vaccine debate continues, with a piece in the L.A. Times recently, reflecting much of the anger and ugliness Ms. Fischer refers to, that is coming from the pro-vaccine world. We offer the article to you as a service to aid you in drawing your own conclusions. Visit the NVIC website for current news.]
By Barbara Loe Fischer, President, National Vaccine Information Center, http://www.nvic.org/
It is getting uglier and uglier out there, as angry, frustrated doctors inside and outside of government, work overtime to foster fear and hatred of parents’ making conscious vaccine choices for their children. The latest political dirty trick is to brand parents, who send their children to private schools, as selfish and a threat to their communities because some private schools have higher vaccine exemption rates.
Take pediatrician and California Assemblyman, Dr. Richard Pan, for example. He is angry that many parents and health care professionals opposed AB2109, a bill he authored and pushed through the California legislature this year.  Dr. Pan misled his colleagues into believing that that forcing parents to pay for a doctor’s appointment to beg a hostile pediatrician  or medical worker to sign a personal belief exemption form is all about education.
Educated, Articulate Parents Defending Parental Rights
Medical trade associations that helped Dr. Pan lobby the state legislature included the California Medical Association, Health Officers Association of California, California Immunization Coalition and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In public hearings this year, educated, articulate mothers and fathers stood up to these powerful medical groups and defended their parental and informed consent rights.
In a syndicated Associated Press article, Dr. Pan lashed out at families sending their children to private schools and accused them of becoming too educated about vaccination. Dr. Pan said: “In private schools, these are people who have money, who are upper middle class, and they are going on the internet and seeing information and misinformation.” 
Vaccine Information & Vaccine Exemptions Should Be Free
Dr. Pan is correct about parents “going on the internet” to learn, for example, how he refused in his bill to allow local pharmacists to sign a personal belief exemption form because he wanted to force all parents to first pay for a medical office visit. AB2109 clearly discriminates against parents, who cannot afford to pay a doctor to sign the form.  Why doesn’t Dr. Pan post information he wants parents to have about vaccination on the Department of Health website so parents can become educated for free? 
Instead of admitting his bill is more about coercion than education, Dr. Pan attacked parents, who send their children to private schools. It looks like what doctors and medical trade groups really want to do is bully and punish parents, who hold sincere religious and conscientious beliefs about vaccination, no matter how much money they have or where their children attend school.
Doctors Engaging in Class Warfare
The same week that Dr. Pan publicly played the “class” card, he was joined by vaccinologists Dr. Saad Omer and Dr. Neal Halsey, who echoed Dr. Pan’s bigoted accusation in the same news article. Just like Dr. Pan, Drs. Omer and Halsey put the blame for higher personal belief vaccine exemption rates at private schools, such as the Waldorf Schools, on “wealthy” parents.
Dr. Omer has published a series of medical journal articles profiling parents taking non-medical vaccine exemptions and criticizing state laws that allow parents to take exemptions.     According to the
AP article, Dr. Omer said he “surmised that more private school parents are wealthy and have the time to spread five shots over a series of years and stay home should their child get an illness like chickenpox.”
Dr. Halsey, who I debated publicly in 1997 about informed consent to vaccination,  told the AP reporter that “parents who choose private schools are likely to be more skeptical of state requirements and recommendations.” With that grossly inaccurate generalization, Dr. Halsey attempted to politically stereotype parents filing vaccine exemptions in order to explain why children attending private schools that respect parental rights and health care choices -,like Waldorf schools – have vaccine exemptions.
When doctors politicize vaccine exemptions in order to engage in class warfare, they are crossing a line that reveals more about who they are than the families they are trying to stereotype and marginalize. Dr. Pan, who has assumed the mantle of lawmaker, and Dr. Omer, who enjoys six federal vaccine research grants funded by the CDC or NIH,  and Dr. Halsey, who has funding from SmithKline Beecham and the Gates foundation,likely are not struggling to pay the rent or pay for groceries.
Doctors Want Fewer Medical Exemptions, More Power
Drs. Omer and Halsey are now calling for doctors to deny even more children medical exemptions to vaccination because they are unhappy that states with stricter non-medical exemptions have a higher rate of medical exemptions!   
So let’s get this straight – what Drs. Pan, Omer, Halsey and medical trade groups really want is for state legislatures to grant doctors police powers to force parents to violate their conscience and deeply held religious beliefs in addition to doctors having the power to deny medical vaccine exemptions to children, many of whom are already vaccine injured.
That is a lot of power. That is power without accountability or liability.
Could it be that doctors with financial ties to medical trade associations, vaccine manufacturers and government health agencies are lobbying so hard to severely restrict or get rid of all vaccine exemptions because, every day, there are more and more Americans, who know somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again?
Informed Consent: A Human Right
The human right to informed consent to medical risk taking is a universal ethical principle that should be respected by doctors in every nation, especially in America, where we have a long history of respecting the right to self-determination. Doctors refusing to protect children from vaccine injury and death because they do not want their authority questioned  should not be given the legal power to force anyone to violate their conscience or religious beliefs.
Parents, who have witnessed their children regress into chronic poor health or die after vaccination, belong to every class and every race, religion, philosophy and political party in America. Today, they are joining hands with parents of healthy children and fighting to protect medical and non-medical exemptions that it looks like doctors will try to gut or completely take away next year in states like Arizona,  Connecticut,  Maryland, Oregon,   Colorado,  New Jersey  and many more. 
Please sign up to be a user of NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org and volunteer to work in your state to defend the human right to make vaccine choices for yourself and your children.
It’s your health, your family, your choice.
 Richardson D. CA Bill Restricting Personal Belief Vaccine Exemption Heats Up. NVIC Vaccine E-News July 2, 2012.
 ONeill S. Bill Would Make It Tougher for Parents to Exempt Their Kids from Vaccines in California. KPCC Public Radio (S. CA). Sept. 13, 2012.
 Omer SB, Pan WK, Halsey NA et al. Nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements: secular trends and association of state policies with pertussis incidence. JAMA 2006; 296: 1757-1763.
 Salmon DA, Omer SB. Individual freedoms versus collective responsibility: immunization decision-making in the face of competing values. Emerging Themes in Epid 2006; 3: 13-15.
 Omer SB, Enger KS, Moulton LH, Halsey NA et al. Geographical clustering of nonmedical exemptions of school immunization requirements and association with geographical clustering of pertussis. Am J Epidemiol 2008; 168: 1389-1396.
 Omer SB, Salmon DA, Orenstein WA, deHart PM, Halsey N. Vaccine Refusal, Mandatory Immunization and the Risks of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. N Engl J Med 2009; 360(19): 1981-1988.
 You Tube. Live debate with Barbara Loe Fisher and Neal Halsey, M.D. on ”The Today Show.” NBC March 1997.
 Moyer CS. Medical Vaccine Exemptions for Children Not Always Justified. American Medical News Sept. 10, 2012.
 Stadlin S, Bednarczyk RA, Omer SB. Medical Exemptions to School Immunization Requirements in the United States – Association of State Policies with Medical Exemption Rates (2004-2011). J Infect Dis Aug. 29, 2012 (published online).
 Salmon DA, Halsey NA. Keeping the M in Medical Exemptions: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Children. J Infect Dis Aug. 29, 2012 (published online).
 Fisher BL. The Moral Right to Conscientious, Philosophical and Personal Belief Exemption to Vaccination. National Vaccine Advisory Committee May 2, 1997.
 Fehr-Snyder K. Immunization Exemption Rates on Rise Among Arizona Schoolchildren. The Republic Sept. 12, 2012.
 Seaman AM. More Oregon Kids on “Alternative” Vaccine Schedules. Reuters June 18, 2012.
 Berk H. Vaccine Exemptions for Religious Reasons May Face Stricter Guidelines in New Jersey. Parentdish Mar. 16, 2011.
 IDSA. Increase of Religious Exemption to Immunization Requirements in New York State. IDSA Conference Poster Presentation Oct. 20, 212.
by Barbara Frank
When our family first began homeschooling, I wanted every day to be chock-filled with discovery and wonder for my children. I pictured incredible, mind-blowing unit studies, fascinating books and curriculum, and countless field trips, to get them out of the house a lot. I intended to provide so many worthwhile educational opportunities for them that they would never be bored.
To me, bored children signified failure on my part: Failure to hold their interest, to keep them engaged in learning about the world around them. I had often experienced intense boredom as a child, trapped in a school room. I did not want my children to feel that way.
But no matter how carefully I chose learning materials and opportunities, I couldn’t always find something that interested everyone. Sometimes, someone got bored. After all, people have different interests. To make matters worse, there were also times when we weren’t doing school that they were bored. I dreaded hearing someone exclaim: “Mom, there’s nothing to do!”
I felt it was up to me to keep them occupied and entertained, even though I had so many other responsibilities. When we first began homeschooling, my older children were five and six. We did school in the morning, and in the afternoons I ran myself ragged working at home as a free-lance editor, while keeping the house running and the kids busy. We had recently moved, so I also needed to unpack and organize everything.
This went on for about six months, and then I got sick, and not just for a day, either. I was sick for nearly three months. I had developed a chronic medical condition that was aggravated by stress. I put my editing job on hold, and my husband took over my household duties at night, after work. As for the children? They were forced to entertain themselves, and they did.
It was certainly messier than when I was on my feet, but they would dig out craft supplies and make their own projects. They invented games that they would play for hours. Sure, there were times when they were bored. After all, I was sick and couldn’t take them anywhere during the day. But after a bit of complaining, one of them would come up with something to do, and then they were off.
At least once a day, they would get tired of each other. Then my daughter ended up in her room reading or playing with her dolls, while my son drew very elaborate drawings, some so large they were more like small murals.
While I was sick, they learned to take ownership of their time, to make their own decisions about what to do instead of relying on me. The boredom they experienced was so much more productive than the boredom of being trapped that I experienced as a public school inmate. Since then, the free time homeschooling affords has allowed them to grow so much that now, as young adults, they don’t have enough time to do all the things they’d like to do. They have many varied interests, and are always open to new experiences, too.
As for me, I am no longer the Entertainment Committee, and that’s good, because we now have two more children and a home business. My younger children learned to entertain themselves much earlier than the first two did, because I wised up. My older two children taught me a very important lesson:
Kids must be allowed to get bored. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? What’s worse than a bored kid? Whining, following you around, not doing anything productive or I.Q.-raising. Why on earth would you want a bored kid around the house at all, much less make a habit of it?
Most parents don’t want their kids to be bored, ever. Today’s moms and dads spend many hours and dollars keeping their children busy with sports, music and art classes after school. Homeschooling parents often see the field trips and classes offered by homeschool groups as necessities. They’re afraid to have their kids in the house with nothing to do.
But kids who are allowed to experience boredom occasionally will survive and even thrive, for several reasons: Boredom forces children to be creative. Sure, at first she pouts, complaining there’s nothing to do. But then, out of desperation, she makes up a game using her imagination, or finds scrap fabric and creates a doll quilt. Would she have done that if there’d been a class to go to where the teacher would tell her what to make?
Recently, I watched my younger children playing with their neighborhood friends in our back yard. At first they were content to swing and slide on the play set, but after a bit they got bored with that. They asked me to take them to the park, but I was in the middle of a project and couldn’t leave the house. So they moped a little bit and paced around the yard a while, until someone came up with the idea of being pirates. Soon the play set became a pirate ship, and six kids spent almost two hours using their imaginations and having fun.
Boredom can make a child desperate enough to read. Some children love to read from the time they are small, but an active child has a hard time sitting still long enough to discover the joy of reading. He will only read if there is nothing better to do, and when that happens a few times, he will discover how fast time passes with a good book, and how pleasurable reading can be.
Boredom helps children become more observant of their surroundings. A child rushed from one activity to the next becomes oblivious to her surroundings, but a bored child is looking for something to do, and will pay more attention to her environment. I remember as a child wandering around my grandfather’s garden one day, bored because he was busy, and so I started looking at the different plants. While he worked, I asked about them, and learned a lot that day.
Boredom teaches patience. When my children were small, they took afternoon naps. I learned to use that time to do something just for me, like reading or sewing. (Sometimes, I used it to sleep.) Once the kids outgrew naps, though, I didn’t want to give up my “peace and quiet” time. So we started calling nap time “rest time”. The kids didn’t have to go to sleep, but they had to stay quietly in their own rooms until the clock reached a certain time. They learned to occupy themselves by reading, playing or drawing, and they also learned to be patient until it was time to get up.
Boredom didn’t hurt us when we were kids. Back in the mid-20th century (doesn’t that make you feel old?), we didn’t have the plethora of television shows, toys, and electronics that exist today. Did it hurt us? Not me. Some of the hobbies I have today, like sewing and gardening, are interests that I developed during childhood.
Boredom doesn’t necessarily cause kids to get into trouble. One argument I hear often for putting kids into as many activities as possible is the “It keeps them off the streets” theory. And I agree to a point: If you combine a bored kid or two, an empty house and some matches or a liquor cabinet, you are asking for trouble. But when you homeschool, there is usually at least one adult around, and the environment is usually safe and wholesome, and the responses to boredom are naturally restricted to approved responses.
Boredom allows time for introspection, for getting to know oneself. This is the best reason to allow your child to experience boredom. A child with nothing to do is forced to think about what he likes or dislikes, and where his interests are. He’ll learn to do things because he wants to, not because his mom signed him up to do something, or because a friend was doing it. Boredom gives him time to think thoughts that teach him about himself.
(Sometimes I wonder if people my age have mid-life crises because they jumped into the hectic pace of adult life without ever having time to really get to know themselves and what they wanted to do with their lives. The high school-college-work progression sucked them in too quickly.)
So how do you bring boredom into your child’s life without inciting mutiny? And what about the little ones? How can they be trained to entertain themselves constructively?
It starts with your attitude. As a homeschooler, you’re already “educating” your children, and that’s a full-time job right there. You can’t do that well and keep up with the house and other family responsibilities if you’re the Entertainment Committee, too.
Begin when they’re young. Babies can be taught to entertain themselves in their cribs. Don’t run in when the baby first wakes up. Unless he’s hungry or crying, let him lay there for a few minutes. Keep some baby toys and board books in a little plastic basket in the corner of his crib, where he can find it and dump everything out of it. When your child receives new toys for birthdays and holidays, spend a little time together playing with them. Then pack some away for a rainy day. They will seem like new to her when she sees them again.
Be sure to have art supplies available at all times, especially for older children. We have many books about arts and crafts, and they serve as springboards for ideas. Keep Legos and other building toys handy, too.
If you put time limits on electronics, there will be time left for other things that require more active participation.
Finally, make a conscious effort to limit your children’s organized activities, like sports, Scouts and art classes. We found that one activity per child per year worked well, as it allowed each child to have something of his own, but still left us with enough time to have a family life, and each child with plenty of downtime.
My husband knows I tend to take on too much, and he taught me to weed out the good pursuits and to only go after the best, leaving more valuable time for family dinners and spontaneous learning, and other good things that come to the homeschooling family.
By allowing my children to experience boredom, I have seen them find their creative sides and develop interests in depth. The two kids that taught me the value of boredom are now grown up. Between their jobs, their social lives, and their other interests, they are always busy, and it is hard to recall them saying “Mom, there’s nothing to do!”
Copyright 2014 by Homeschool Magazine.com