Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Disadvantages of a One Size Fits All Education

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend that I used to go to school with.  She was concerned that the school that her daughter goes to was affecting her in undesirable ways.  Her daughter is quite academically gifted for her age so has been given extra homework to do.  So, at 7 years of age, her daughter is spending a significant amount of time out of school hours doing extra work.  She has become quite competitive and, as there are also other children allocated extra work, her daughter does not want to get behind.

Her learning has become a duty and a competition and, at such a young age, she has already lost the joy of learning for its own sake.

As I watch my almost 2 year old use every opportunity to learn more, and LOVE doing so, I wonder how much of her joy and creativity will be stripped from her if she is delivered to the school system.

The public schools that most kids attend have several disadvantages compared to homeschools. The main idea of one curriculum for all the students and one teacher for an entire class brings the possibility of individual attention to each student to near zero. Some children who require special attention in these classes may end up failing due to the ‘one size fits all’ education system. Here are some of the main disadvantages of this schooling system.

·         Bigger class sizes: Most public school systems have large class sizes. In these classes many students do not receive the attention they need. Most studies show that homeschooled children often outscore public school students. Another study shows that classes with less students score better than classes with more students. This clearly shows that more personalized attention leads to better results, and homeschooling provides students with much more one-on-one attention than is possible in public schools.

·         State determined rules: In public school systems, the state usually determines the rules for the school. This does not consider the fact that some children are different from others. Some children suffer in this system causing them to perform more poorly than they are capable.

·         Same curriculum for all: Public schools have the same curriculum for all the students. Usually some students are stronger in math while others are good at literature. The same curriculum sometimes causes problems to a student whose only choice is to go into a field of literature while he has to take up math which he finds useless for his cause.

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·         Common grading system: The public schools grading system is very much separated from the students. Each student should be scored individually, keeping in mind their abilities and weaknesses. Some grading systems can be very tough on the morale of some students.

·         Common pace of teaching: In a class of 30 students, all are taught the same thing at the same time and are given the same time to assimilate and understand the new concept. Each student has a unique curve of learning which takes different lengths of time to capture a new concept. If the required amount of time is not given to a student, then he or she will not be able to learn the subject well.

·         Common method of teaching: Among all the students, some learn better from books, some learn better by listening to lectures while others learn better by doing activities on the subject. When a teacher teaches at the same pace, some students may find it hard to learn as the teacher’s method of teaching varies from the students way of learning.

·         Competition towards success: Public school systems, with their common curriculums and grading system, usually end up creating a sense of competition among students. Though this may sometimes be good, this is generally detrimental to the students. When the competition gets tough, some students resort to malpractices during tests. Excess competition among students can not only occur in studies but also in sports, events and other interpersonal arenas.

These are some of the considerations I will be pondering as my daughter continues to grow, learn, develop and enjoy the process of learning simply because learning is fun.  I hope to be able to continue to nurture her creativity and quest for knowledge and skills.

Raising a child is, after all, a parent’s most important job so, whatever my decisions, she deserves my full attention and devotion while I make them.

Tips on Getting Pregnant

Trying to get pregnant? While, for some, getting pregnant seems to be the easiest, most natural thing in the world, for others it presents more of a challenge.

And, if you are having trouble conceiving for some reason, it will most certainly feel like everyone else is falling pregnant all over the place, even by accident.

What can you do to increase your chances of conception? Also, how can you provide the most beneficial environment for a healthy conception?

A quick search on the internet, or a browse through one of many quality information products available, will alert you to many tips and treasures on things you can do to increase your chances of conceiving a child. I will discuss several of them here.

Firstly, let me state the obvious. If you wish to get pregnant, you need to free yourself of contraceptive measures. Come off the contraceptive pill, put away the spermicide, have any IUDs or contraceptive implants removed, and cease any contraceptive injections. Then, be patient as the contraceptive measures you have utilised up till this point leave your system. Some women may even require a couple of years for their bodies to normalise after being on, for example, injected or orally administered contraception.

The next step is to focus on getting yourself to the healthiest condition possible. This will not only assist conception, but it will also give you the best natural chance of carrying a healthy baby until full term.

How can this be achieved? Firstly, if you have any questions regarding this, any confusion, or any medical conditions, I suggest you see your Naturopathic Doctor or General Medical Practitioner and discuss your pregnancy plans. Your Practitioner of choice will be able to better advise you on any required tests or alterations to your medical treatment. You may also need to alter medications. This appointment should be undertaken prior to attempted conception.

Other ways to maintain your health and boost your conception chances include taking vitamins specifically tailored for the needs of conception and pregnancy. These will help to ensure that your body has the required supplements to support conception and pregnancy, particularly if your diet is lacking in some way.

Your diet is of particular importance during this time. If you are not motivated to ensure a healthy diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains normally, use your desire for a healthy conception, pregnancy and birthing as the motivation you require.

It is also of upmost importance to eliminate and manage stress when you are trying to conceive. The link between higher stress levels and difficulty conceiving is recognised by many health care professionals, even if they are not sure exactly why.

Once you have prepared your body for possible conception, you need to ensure that you are actually doing what is required to get pregnant, and at the right time. Conception involves having sexual intercourse with the man ejaculating inside the woman. For the sperm to be available to fertilise a woman’s egg, the intercourse must also take place before, or during, ovulation. A woman generally ovulates approximately 14 days before her next cycle is due. Spermatozoa can survive inside the woman for 3-7 days, making conception possible during this time.

The difficulty is, then, predicting exactly when the woman is likely to ovulate.

The easiest ways to predict impending ovulation is the utilise one of the ovulation prediction kits available in supermarkets and pharmacies. They include tests that detect the rise of luteinising hormone in the urine, or an increase of oestrogen in the saliva. These tests signal that ovulation is imminent, and intercourse in the time immediately prior to ovulation will yield the best possibility for conception.

I found these ovulation sticks particularly easy to use.  My challenges were in taking the next step, however, due to being on call for the ambulance and having call outs for emergencies at any time of the day or night.  As soon as my ovulation stick showed a rise in LH (Luteinising Hormone), indicating that ovulation was imminent and that my husband and I should seal the deal, so to speak, the ambulance jobs would come in thick and fast.

Another method of tracking ovulation is by charting the woman’s basal temperature. This requires the woman taking her temperature every morning, preferably before rising. It is important that it is done at the same time every day and by the same method (e.g. orally, rectally, vaginally). This temperature is then charted. A rise on the temperature chart signals ovulation. If the woman’s temperature stays elevated for more than 18 days, it is likely that she is pregnant.

I was too inconsistent in taking my temperature for this method to be truly useful, especially when I often had to jump out of bed when the work mobile went off, to attend a patient somewhere.  If you are methodical in your efforts, however, this is a very useful tool to predict ovulation.

I also had a little tester for my saliva which is also supposed to detect changes in estrogen levels to predict ovulation.  Unfortunately I had no success whatsoever in detecting changes in my spit using the little magnifying glass.  I would love to hear from anyone who has had more success with this method.

Suggested sexual positions for improved chances of conception include man on top and man from behind positions, using gravity to assist with conception. Woman on top positions are less effective. Some women also swear by the benefits of raising their hips after ejaculation, keeping the potent fluid inside the woman for as long as possible. The easiest way for her to do this is to lay on the bed with pillows under her bottom for some time after lovemaking.

If you’d prefer not to make the baby-making experience so regimented, another suggestion is just to enjoy lovemaking with your partner frequently for the two weeks post menstruation. Forget that you are trying to conceive, and utilise this time to increase your bond together. After all, it is hoped that you will soon be sharing the job of parent together!

It is generally suggested that couples trying to conceive try for from six to twelve months before seeking assistance. This recommended window of time, however, is generally smaller for women over 30, and particularly for women over 35 years of age.

My final bit of advice for this post is to not let the end goal ecclipse the process.  Make sure you enjoy this time with your partner or husband.  In the grand scheme of things, the time spent trying to conceive is, for most people, insignificant compared to the time you will spend being a parent.

Soon, if this is your first child, you relationship with your spouse is going to be very different, and certainly less carefree.  Unless you have a baby who is particularly helpful by sleeping long stints at  a time, and I wonder if babies like this really exist (!), you will find that you will have to plan, and sometimes even time, your sexual encounters with your spouse.  And, as your child ages, and naps/sleeps less, the more challenging this may become.

And, if you add more children to this equation, it becomes even more of a juggling act!

While very few people would trade their little blessings for an unhurried love-life, take this time to enjoy the freedom that you and your spouse currently have.  When you get the good news that you are, indeed, pregnant, the case may be very different!  (Although still wonderful!)

 

Go Go Gadget Breasts


My little girl Gaia is spoiled.  I let her have free reign over my breasts.  They are there if she is hungry, thirsty, wants comfort, or just needs to know she still has access.  I still let her at them even though I have experienced the occasional nip or worse.  I know that the milk I have to offer her is the best thing in the world for her, and I love that I am her mother and it is my labour of love to give it to her.

Gaia seems to think that my breasts are much more flexible and stretchy than they are in actuality, although if she has her way they might end up that way.   I had no idea what I was in for when I resolved that I would breastfeed my children for as either as long as I could or as long as they wanted.

I never in a million years pictured my daughter doing acrobatics, full 360 degree turns, rolling from front to back, back to front, all while still attached to my breast and sometimes still actively suckling.

I told my parents about it numerous times, and they seemed to understand what I was explained to them, but when they actually witnessed my little blessing balancing on my breast using only her teeth for grip, head down while sticking her bum in the air and having her legs straight, swaying her hips from side to side like she is mastering a dance move, they were stunned.

“Is she still feeding?” I was asked.  “Apparently so.”

Her latest trick is to manoeuvre me so that she can feed while still watching ABC for Kids on television.  For her it must be the ultimate luxury to be positioned in front of the telly with a breast in her mouth.

Personally I had hoped that Gaia wouldn’t be very familiar with the TV for a while yet, but I am now at work and I can’t dictate how my husband fathers his daughter.  He has his way, just as I have mine, and I have to admit that he’s doing a pretty good job.

Gaia is happy, well fed, has a sense of humour, and gets plenty of one on one time playing with her Dad.  So what if ABC for Kids is on in the background.  Some of it she really enjoys watching, she dances to the music, and the goodnight hour on Giggle and Hoot is her signal that bedtime is nigh.  And, having the TV on certainly doesn’t stop her from going off to explore or play elsewhere, or to engage her Dad in a game or exercise.

Having Giggle and Hoot on, however, does encourage her to try to manipulate our positions during a pit stop feed so that she can have the best of both worlds – warm, sweet milk on tap at the same time as passive entertainment.

Kind of like her dad when the soccer is on, especially if England is playing, and he has a beer in his hand.

And, like her Dad, when she finishes her drink, she makes a satisfied exclamation “Ahhhh!”

That’s my girl :-)

Early Signs of Pregnancy

I’d been a paramedic for almost 15 years before I tried to conceive so, in theory, I was well versed in the signs of pregnancy.  After trying for more than a year to get pregnant, however, that “knowledge” didn’t stop me trawling the internet for “new” signs and symptoms that I might have finally been successful as I eagerly awaited the absence of a period.

Alas, I did not find any special tips, tricks, or magical information that could manifest a pregnancy for me.  For those of you as desperate and frustrated as I was becoming, here is a guide of what to look for to tell that you are pregnant:

Early Belly Bump

During pregnancy, the pregnant woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. For the woman who is actively trying to conceive, she will often watch her body like a hawk for any changes that may herald a successful conception.

The confusing this is, however, that if you are pregnant, you may experience many of these signs and symptoms, or you may experience none at all. Some women report the commencement of these ‘feelings’ within days of conception, while others may be a couple of months pregnant before they notice anything different.

And, to confuse the woman even further, all of these symptoms can have other causes, or may feel like an impending period rather than actual pregnancy. Fortunately, if you present with several of them together, the chances of the cause being “pregnancy” increase.

Early signs of pregnancy include:

– Sore, swollen breasts – An initial reaction to your body’s surge in hormones may make your breasts increasingly tender to the touch. In most women, this will ease as their bodies become accustomed to new hormone levels.

– While we’re on the subject of breasts, darkening of your areolas may signal successful conception or a hormonal imbalance. It may also be left over from previous conceptions.

– Increase in frequency of urination may also indicate pregnancy. This increase occurs after the embryo has implanted in the womb and the hormone production of “human chorionic gonadotropin'”(HCG) commences. This should settle after the first trimester, but the need to urinate will increase again as the baby becomes larger and pressure is put on the bladder.

– Fatigue is a common complaint, with high levels of the hormone progesterone making your feel tired.

– Cravings for particular foods can indicate a pregnancy, but can also be experienced by some women pre-menstrually. Cravings can also be psychological, or indicate that a particular nutrient is lacking in your diet.

– Chloasma: this is the official name for those darker areas of pigmentation that pregnant woman can present with, particularly to the face, but also tracking down the centre of a pregnant woman’s belly in a line. Chloasma is a by-product of hormone changes, and can also be caused by the contraceptive pill. These areas of darker pigmentation may fade somewhat after the pregnancy, but are permanent. Consistent use of sunscreen will minimise their appearance.

– Nausea, a.k.a. ‘morning sickness’: May occur as early on as a few days after conception, take a few weeks to present, or may be absent all together for a lucky few. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur any time of day or night. Women also often experience changes in taste, and may complain of a metallic taste in their mouth. Some remedies that may assist with coping with morning sickness include fresh ginger, and eating frequent, small meals before hunger kicks in.

– Spotting: Many women experience a little bleeding about 8 days after conception as the fertilised egg burrows into the endometrial lining. This is often referred to as “implantation bleeding.” It is usually pinkish or brownish, and may be accompanied by mild cramping.

– Your basal body temperature remains high. You will only notice this if you have been charting your basal body temperature, such as to predict ovulation. If your temperature remains elevated for 18 days, you are probably pregnant.

– Missed period. If your period doesn’t come, especially if you are usually pretty regular, it’s time to take a pregnancy test.

– A positive home pregnancy test. These are pretty reliable these days so, if you get a positive result, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the good news. Congratulations!