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Those Pesky Gaps (Conclusion), Studying the USA, Character Re-Energizing!

By Lynn Hogan

Added Friday, September 23, 2005

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 6 No 38    September 23, 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: Guest Author: Bonnie Duncan
--Those Pesky Gaps - Conclusion
Helpful Hints
-- Studying the USA Tips
Question of the Week:
-- Child Hurt by Insensitive Peers and Adults
Reader's Response
-- Character Re-energizing?


A quick reminder. I am on a vacation with my dear hubby, so I
will not be available by e-mail this week. Be patient and when
I get back, I'll be trying to catch-up as quickly as possible!

Since I am out of town and since this reader took the time to
write this great article, I thought it would be a perfect time
to include her article on Educational Gaps! Bonnie's biography
is at the end of her article!

I am a retired public school teacher and I also had a private
school for twelve years. I am 82 years old and have raised a
large family. I have run into- and sometimes solved- a lot of
problems regarding teaching. May I make some suggestions
about the "gaps" you wrote about?

First: consider refraining from following the current fad for
starting children's formal education too early. It has been
proved - so I have read and so I believe- that children whose
"book learning" begins at age seven or eight will soon catch up
with those who start earlier, and then will surpass them.

Consider this: God did not do anything without a reason. He
created a period in a person's life which we call childhood.
It was not done lightly. It is a time for learning to speak
his parents' language; to crawl, walk, run, and climb; to eat
by himself (in stages); to begin to dress himself, and the
biggie- to use the potty!. He learns to be a social person. He
is born wanting physical contact with parents. Then, he learns
about himself (Where is baby's nose?). And then he begins to
learn that there are other persons in his life.

Very importantly, he begins to learn attitudes toward both
himself and others. He establishes self concept, good or bad.
He learns either to enjoy the company of others or to be a
"loner." These are just a few of the important attitudes and
ideas he should be learning.

Allowing a child to be a child does not mean that he is not
learning facts and concepts. In fact, that period is a natural
time for him to learn such concepts as nearer-farther, over-
under, big-little, and top-bottom. Children who go to public
schools usually have to be taught these concepts as part of
their formal learning while children who are allowed to grow up
a bit in their homes learn them without realizing it.

A child who is allowed to be a child learns the concept of
quantity without either him or his parents realizing it. ("You
may have only two cookies now. It is close to mealtime." And,
"Where is your other shoe? There is only one here." ) You might
be surprised at how many children come to public schools
without knowing that books are to be read from left to right
and top to bottom of a page. MANY do not know that letters
stand for sounds, as strange as may seem to us. A child who
grew up to age six or seven in a home will most likely have
been introduced to reading books for fun. If not, he will have
at least asked, "What does that say?", pointing to a cereal box.

I wrote this to illustrate some of the ways your child is
learning naturally, even though not in a classroom.

When I first got out of college I was a full time substitute
teacher for two years. I learned then, and have had verified
through the years, that children come to school anxious to
learn. In fact, you can't keep a small child from learning.
Second graders still love school. Third graders like school,
mostly. Fourth graders begin to be fed up with school. I
taught sixth grade more than any other. By that time they look
on school as a prison term.

Of course, these statements are generalizations. But you will
find most home schooled children are different!

If you have home schooled for awhile there are certain
criticisms you almost certainly will hear. One will be, "What
about your child's socialization?" Since socialization means
teaching one generation the mores of the former generation, and
since that is probably the main reason you are home schooling
your child, you don't have to worry about answering that. (If
the questioner happens to be your mother-in-law, however, you
will need to have an answer ready.)

But what questioners really are worrying about is his learning
to be sociable. There are two parts to this answer such a

One: .Public schools are crowded, impersonal, and strictly
scheduled, and provide very little opportunity for developing
social relationships. One year when I was teaching the sixth
grade, on the first day of school a boy whispered to me, "You
see that boy across the room? We have been in the same class
ever since kindergarten." I asked, "What is his name?" The boy
answered, "I THINK it is Tommy."

After being in the same class for six years!

The second part of the answer should be, "I provide opportunity
for him to have plenty of social contact WITH PERSONS OF ALL
AGES. That way he will grow up to be socially competent,
balanced, and confident, and also gain wisdom from association
with mature people.".

My contention is that a child reared and educated at home will
naturally avoid certain "gaps."

As for gaps in lesson content, there are several considerations.
In developing the order of presenting basic concepts, each
writer must choose from several possibilities- sometimes many
possibilities. It has been my experience that all have "gaps."
If that were not true there would be no need for a
teacher/coach after a child learns to read.

An example: many educators prefer to study addition fairly
thoroughly before introducing subtraction. Others want to
teach addition and subtraction at the same time. There are
things to be said for and against both approaches. I have not
developed a real preference for either one, but it is important
to understand the philosophy of the writer of the teaching
material you use. Don't become discouraged or frustrated,
though. They both "work," with patience and persistence on
your part.

I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend one curricula, but I
have not made one yet! (Yes, that is vain.)

As human beings, we will not find perfect solutions to most of
life's problems. But if you attack your concerns with patience
and a positive, encouraging attitude, you will be a good home
Do not let nosy neighbors, deeply concerned relatives, or un-
aware friends make your decisions for you.

And most important of all, do not compare your child's progress
with that of your neighbors' children. Teaching your child at
his own rate and with concern for his way of learning is your
goal. Otherwise, why not let him go to public schools and not
be concerned if he graduates from high school unable to balance
a checkbook. That is a skill he may not need anyway.

I am Bonnie Duncan. I was married to an electrical engineer for
55 years and raised five children. I taught in public schools
for twelve years and retired to homeschool my grandchildren for
twelve years, successfully.



I began studying the states with my Kindergartner. To begin with,
we constantly looked at the map of the US and I called out
states and pointed to them. We began familiarizing ourselves
with the map. Next we learned the states that along the border
of the US and left the inside of the US blank. (I thought this
was enough for Kindergarten .) Now my daughter is in First
Grade and I have printed out a State fact sheet from
homeschooling at About.com. We fill out the forms at the rate
of twice a week. This will last us the entire school year. We
place these in a binder. To add to this Unit Study, I had my
daughter draw pictures of famous landmarks in America. She drew
pictures of the Rocky Mountains, The Great Tetons, Mississippi
River, Niagara Falls, Fort McHenry, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone
National Park, etc. We punched holes in them and places them in
the binder where they belonged as well. My DD is such a hands
on person that this worked great and was a painless way for her
to memorize these landmarks. For Second Grade, I plan on
expounding on the information that is already learned and focus
more on state placement and the capitols of each state. Each
time we learn something new, we will add this information to
our binder.. I love the binder method in Unit Studies because
it is a perfect way to show progress in her academics as well
as serve as a self made encyclopedia.- The Becks


My 5 year old is already half way done with 1st grade. She
absolutely loves learning! I sometimes have to bribe her to put
the books away at the end of the day! The problem begins
however with other moms and children, homeschooled and public
schooled, that look at my daughter with an ugly green eye. The
parents accuse me of pushing my daughter too hard when in
reality my daughter pushes herself. She is reading on a 5th
grade level (self taught) which makes her peers jealous of her
also. She came home from an activity one day crying because of
being called geek and nerd when they saw her reading a novel
and even the children's parents do this! Now my daughter is
embarrassed and pretends not to know anything (in public)
because she has seen how cruel others will be to her if she
shows her intelligence. I haven't discussed this at length with
her for fear that I may make the situation worse. How can I
handle this situation and what pep talk should I have with my
daughter? Even though she is book smart she is still at the
emotional level of a five year old. All advice is greatly
appreciated. - Rebecca


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!

We have just gotten back into school and all of a sudden my
child's less than positive character traits are showing themselves,
big time! Any suggestions for improving this situation quickly?

Summers have usually been a time of being happy-go-lucky and a
lot of times it's hard to get back into the routine. I like to
ease back into our routine by doing half-days of school in mid-
August and that has seemed to help with my children's attitudes
and school mindset. But I also think all children regress in
behavior at times to see exactly where their parents stand as
far as what they can get away with. It may also be a growing
time emotionally for your child. I'm not sure how old your
child is but one of my children became a teenager over the
summer and I can definitely see some changes going on...some I
like and some I definitely don't. But the key for us has been
communication. In a relaxed setting, I have explained to him
what has not been right and what we should do about it. That
has seemed to help immensely and he also knows I haven't
changed my stance on what I expect from him as far as school is
concerned. You might also want to bring in your husband.
Sometimes what we as mothers can't do, a father fills the need
in a "man to man" sort of way. - Karen

I'm guessing on a few things, but your son is
probably fairly young, and perhaps you picked a starting date
for school and jumped in with all the subjects every day. I
have a hunch he might be a kinesthetic learner. If I'm
accurate in some of these perceptions, I would suggest that you
take a day or two off -- do some productive things, but nothing
that resembles "school" -- clean his dresser drawers, make some
cookie dough to put in the freezer, do some reading aloud, take
a nature walk, do some arts or crafts, etc. Then start again,
only one or two days a week, and start with a subject that both
of you enjoy. After a week or two, add a subject, or do three
days a week, and gradually ease him into his school schedule.
Use as many hands-on, activities as you possibly can, and let
him move while he's working. Study topics geared to his
interests and his talents. Spend some time on character issues
if he needs that more than academics. It will be time well
spent. Then, to prevent this from happening again each year, I
strongly suggest that you examine the possibility of year-round
school. There are endless possibilities for ways to do this;
our family goes eight weeks on and two weeks off. We never
really get out of the routine, but frequent, shorter breaks
give us just the refreshment we need, when we need it. We
don't have to spend time reviewing when we start up again.
I also remembered an article from The Teaching Home about
"Orientation Week". The article should be available at
www.teachinghome.com/newsletters/newsletter130.cfm. It
might be very helpful for you. - Mary Beth

Next - College Prep, Backyard Animal Observation
Previous - Filling the Gaps (Part 2) and What to Do with an Energetic 4 Year Old?

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