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Start with a Plan, The Way They Learn, Make Homeschooling 'Work'

By Lynn Hogan

Added Friday, August 05, 2005

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 6 No 31    August 5, 2005
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2000-2005 Lynn Hogan. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, recommend it to a friend. We all
need to be helping each other with our schools!


Notes from Lynn:
-- Let's Start With a Plan
Helpful Hints
-- The Way They Learn
Question of the Week:
-- Help for a Parent of an Underachiever
Reader's Response
-- Making Homeschooling Work


All righty then, now it is REALLY getting close for some of us
to start our schools back. Have you seen the commercials where
parents are celebrating their children going back to school?
This is your opportunity to celebrate your decision to
homeschool your students. What a great blessing it is.

Now, does this mean that all will go perfectly every day of the
entire year with every student. I'm sorry, no. Does this mean
that every minute of every day will be a huge party? I'm sorry,
no. It does mean that you have the privilege and responsibility
to offer your children the world in one way or another. You get
to teach them to LEARN, not just memorize information. How many
special meals do you have the recipe for? You didn't MEMORIZE
those meals (unless you cook them frequently). Not everything
has to be memorized, you just need to know how to access the
information. Part of what your whole homeschooling journey
should be about is teaching your children to access information.

Here are a few ideas that we used as school was beginning to get
us all focused in the same direction:

1. My older children would sign a contract committing to
accomplishing the expected schoolwork in the expected period of
time. I would allow them to help me come up with the
consequences before the infraction ever happened so that we all
knew what those consequences were. We would also discuss the
difference between doing the minimum and doing their best. Then
each student knew the plan and could choose to make wise or
less than wise choices.

2. Each of my children got to pick something they wanted to
learn about during this year. It could be a skill or it could
be a hobby or it could be a specific subject matter. If it was
not "on the list" within the curriculum I was using, I made
time to cover the information anyway.

3. My husband and I had goals set up ahead of time of what we
wanted our children to accomplish. We knew we would not
necessarily make all of these goals for each child, but we had
something we were aiming for. We chose spiritual, extra
curricular, academic, social and physical goals. We tried to
include the children in the decision making process from the
time they were very young. Getting the 4 year old to "buy into"
learning to tie her shoes can make the process more enjoyable
for everyone.

4. We always tried to find a great way to "kick off" the new
year. In our area, our local water park has a Homeschooler's
Day. We usually tried to attend something like that. It didn't
really get us psyched for school, but it reminded us of the
privilege of being able to do things like go to the water park
after the traditional schoolers had gone back. Reminding all of
us that we were blessed by the opportunity made going back to
"work" on OUR SCHEDULE much more enjoyable.

5. No matter what curriculum we used (and there were many over
our 12+ years of homeschooling), we always tried to bring our
own personalities into things. My daughter was very dramatic.
We tried to give her opportunities to pretend to be characters
she was reading about or let her tell us a story about what a
character was *really* thinking that would make them act the
way they did. With my son, he was more into computer things. We
would let him get on the internet (with supervision) and
download sound effects to go with the plays that he and his
sister would write. Allowing your students to bring themselves
into their schooling can make for much more enjoyable school
days for all of you!

If you took 20 homeschooling moms and put them in a room and
asked them to tell you how their school days went, you would
probably have 20 different answers. Each of us is unique, as
are our family dynamics. I might work part time. My husband may
work nights. You might have a child with special needs. You may
have flute lessons 3 days a week because you have a budding
musician. There are a million variables that make your
homeschooling experience the best for YOUR family and school.

Before you get into full speed with your homeschooling this year,
spend a little time making a plan. You won't necessarily follow
it every minute, but having no plans can often lead to a LOT of
frustration for everyone. You wouldn't go on vacation without a
plan. You wouldn't plan a trip to the mountains without a plan.
This is SO much more important than either of those things.
You are helping your child prepare for his life and future. It's
worth the time to plan.




A suggestion for your newsletter readers, the book The Way They
Learn by Cynthia Tobias. It has provided great insight into how
my girls' brains work and my own learning style, which helps me
teach better. Needless to say, both girls are polar opposites!
This is my second time through the book, but my children have
matured, so it is helpful to see the little changes and be able
to tweak the curriculum a little in their favor, and also know
where to challenge them a bit. - Cheryl


I have a gifted 10 year old who doesn't want to be gifted. If
you tell her she's smart she gets mad, and says she is average.
Her test scores, reading ability and academic progress
indicates that she is anything but average. While she is
working above grade level, she has no motivation to excel and
does the least amount of schoolwork she can get away with. I
constantly have to get after her to get her work done. I don't
want to push her but I would also like to see her take pride in
achieving excellence. How do I spark her motivation and desire
to learn? How can I make school exciting? Even when we do fun
things like experiments and field trips she doesn't want to do
the educational side (log books, observation, reports). She
seems bored by it all. - Susan


NOTE: my publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product or an activity. You make your own
decisions about how these responses might work in YOUR school!
I have an 8 year old boy, a 12 year old girl and a 16 year old
girl. What would your readers say are the top 3 things I need
to know, do or have to make this work?

Be flexible, involve them in decisions, and if what your using
is working, great; if it's not...throw it out and find
something else. Homeschooling benefits the child. They can
learn the way they like, not the way the teacher runs the class
of 30+ students. Michelle

Congratulations on your decision to home school! The top 3
things you need to know are:
1. Know your state's laws
regarding home schooling. Your local school administration
would be a good place to start looking.
2. Know that you will
have good days and bad days and the bad days will NOT be the
end of your effectiveness as a home school parent. God, when
asked through prayer, will give you a fresh start each day.
3.Know that each child learns differently and what works for one
will not necessarily work for the others. When that happens it
doesn't mean YOU have failed, it means the curriculum has not
met the needs of your child and there is another one which will.
4. (I know you only wanted 3, but I couldn't resist...) You
WILL get the hang of home schooling and there will come a time
in the not-to-distant future when you realize that it is going
smoothly and you and your kids are actually having fun! - Barbara

I started homeschooling when my children were similar ages.
First, remember that they are used to traditional school and
do not know anything else. You will have a period of time when
you are all getting adjusted to homeschooling. Just remember,
it does not have to be school at home just like traditional
school. Be flexible and let them follow their interests.

Secondly, go over their subjects and decide how many days a week
each will be covered and when you plan to finish that subject
in your school year. Then figure out how many pages or lessons,
etc. they need to cover to complete the subject in that time
frame. Next, write for them a plan for how much they need to
work on each time the subject is studied so that they can be
accountable for their own work. This gives them some
flexibility and you more freedom to not have to hound them.
You both know what is expected. Now the kids can decide if
they want to start the day with math or reading, etc. and how
much time they want to spend on it. If they get distracted,
school takes longer that day. If they work consistently, they
get done quicker. And you are always there to help when they
get stuck.

Lastly, be flexible. Allow for field trips, community projects,
family breaks and life to happen. Remember you do not have to
do school like the traditional schools. Allow your kids to
have specialties and participate in fun projects that will
cement their learning. Also do not expect to feel like you
know what you are doing for the first couple of years at least.
It takes time to work out your unique family's homeschool.

Good luck. You will not regret it. You also will reap so many
rewards as individuals and as a family. - Mary

Next - New School Year Over-Load, Free Materials from NASA
Previous - Reading Has Gone to the Dogs, Creative Writing Help

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