Monday, September 15, 2008

Black Walnuts: In the Beginning

A few posts back I mentioned that we are starting to harvest the fruits of the black walnut tree. We are only in the first phase of harvest, but things are going well.

Here is a perfect black walnut, fallen from the tree, wrapped in its thick green husk.

You need to get the husk off, and the fastest and easiest way to do that is to run over them with your car. I know that sounds funny, but it seems to be the universally accepted way to do this. It helps if you have a gravel driveway, like we do, or else the walnuts can shoot out from under your tires and take out a window or an onlooker's eye or something.

Next, put on the gloves and peel off that husk. There is a juicy brown liquid inside of the husk which will stain your hands and clothing, so you have to wear something you absolutely don't care about. Then you discard the husks in the trash as they can't be composted.

Then, you set them in the sun to dry. This is a very important step, as failure to dry the nuts will result in a moldy mess.

When they're dry, you can bring them inside, place them in a net, and let them cure for a few weeks in a cool, dark place. Once the nuts are cured, you can crack them and extract the meat. If you sell the meat directly, like at a farmer's market, you can make a nice profit on the side. But our black walnut meat is just for our baking pleasure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is Dyscalculia?

Parents, Home Educators, and Teachers,

Does your child have trouble with math? I mean, very basic math?

And, you know there is nothing wrong because your child has trouble mainly with just this one subject? Your child might be five, fifteen, or twenty-five, and just doesn't get basic math concepts. They have difficulty telling time, counting money, figuring out multiplication tables, and you can just forget algebra. They can't understand written directions, read maps, and often can't recall the steps of how to do something just minutes after you have show them.

In fact, their short term memory in general is pretty bad.

You can't figure it out. Your child is not "dumb". In fact, they are ahead of everyone else in language arts. They actually achieve high scores in most things...just not math. Maybe they need to apply themselves more? Maybe they're just not paying attention?

Maybe this doesn't describe your child, but it describes YOU.

I need to tell you that your child may have an insidious learning disability that is actually more common than Dyslexia. It is insidious because it affects their ability to visually process numbers only, so your child excels in most other subjects, causing frustration and wonder. Your child's IQ is actually normal or higher. They are likely creative, poetic, and good with second languages.

They may have Dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects the visual processing of numbers and is recognized in the DSM-IV manual as the numerical cousin of Dyslexia, but Dyscalculia has not received nearly the same amount of attention and publicity.

4-6% of the world's population has Dyscalulia. Scientists are only now learning to effectively identify this learning disability.

They know it is likely caused by a malformation in the parietal lobes of the cerebral cortex. In other words, unless you have suffered head trauma, you are simply born this way.

As a Dyscalculic, I am deeply anguished when I meet teachers who are completely unaware that this learning disability exists. No one should have to spend years and years as I did, feeling stupid, until one day, well into college, a math professor expressed that a numerical learning disability might be a factor. If you think that anything I said here applies to one of your children or to yourself, then please take a moment to explore some of these links and educate yourself about Dyscalculia. The more you know, the better you can find learning startegies that will help your child.

One minute video about Dyscalculia:

How a Dyscalculic sees numbers:

I believe homeschooling in particular offers a unique advantage in identifying and working with learning disabilities. All that is needed is an awareness.


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