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New Year's Traditions, Science Kits, Passion-based Learning

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, December 30, 2005

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 6 No 50    December 30, 2005
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2005 Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

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



Notes from Heather:
-- Happy New Year!
Helpful Tips
-- Science Supplies
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
Reader's Response
-- Your Answers
Heather's Picks
-- Preschool Curriculum


Happy New Year!

This year we have friends coming from the Chicago area, so we
are busy cleaning and preparing extra beds, putting extension
leaves on the dining room table, and painting the walls. Yes,
painting walls! We haven't had house guests since we moved in
5 years ago and we definitely needed an excuse to do some fixing
up around here. It will be an interesting few days with 10 children,
4 adults and ONE bathroom!

In the last issue I asked about your New Years' traditions! As we
celebrate the change of year from 2005 to 2006, here are a few
ideas from our readers to make the occasion more meaningful.

... and now I'll go back to my cleaning. ;-)


From Rebecca-Jean:

New Years is a special time for us. It's like turning over a "new leaf."
During the day of New Years' Eve we take special measures to make
sure the house is especially clean and that there are no dirty clothes
in the hamper for New Years Day. Just a little thing we do. If the
house is clean and no laundry on New Years Day then that is how
it will be the whole year. HA! Yeah, right! Nice try! It is nice to
dream and it is fun, in all, just to pretend. Puts a twist on cleaning.

We always make homemade pizza on New Years Eve too. And my
kids love to make their own mini pizzas. (I think they just like to
make a mess but that's okay... they are having fun.) Also they
make their own noise makers and decorations throughout the day.
They even make confetti... do you know how quiet they can be and
how long they can be quiet making that stuff? If you need a few
minutes to think let the kids tear up paper!

Throughout the evening we tune into the different things on TV that
show what the year was like and for many years we were able to
pull off the New York New Year's Countdown (we are Central time
so that would be 11pm for us), but then "someone" taught my kids
how to tell time and that was the end of that. ;-)

At midnight we light off some fountain fireworks in our backyard and
listen to all the other maniacs set off firecrackers and such. It gets
really loud sometimes. But it is fun.

After all of this mom and dad are beat, so we go off to bed.

On New Year's Day we make sure we wake up early because, as I
said before, what ever we do on New Year's Day will determine how
things will go for the new year. We then have the grandparents
over for dinner and just relax for the day.


From Amy

We take a New Years picture! One of my favorites is in our photo
album as a pop-up! My husband had to stretch his arm out, as we
don't have a tripod and we were laughing and my husband's face was
kind of big, but it is probably our best!

Also, instead of the usual 'resolutions', we will go a step further and
write down our goals:

Spiritual - what can we work on to change ourselves for the better?

Family - maybe it is to spend more time with them doing low-cost
activities together.

Financial - what is really crucial to our living and what can we work
on, like lowering debt!

Physical - this one I really need to work on!

Mental - Is there anything you have wanted to learn or try? I was
proud of my husband when he checked out some Japanese
language cassette tapes to listen to while he drives. You are never
too old to learn 'new tricks'!

Social - Depending on your amount of activities, but what social
activities might you want to join? Sometimes we might need to
decrease in this area.

Personal - what goals do you want to work on for your personal self
-- just for you?

I try to do this often throughout the year and check on my progress.
This is also helpful for your kids to do with you and later on they will
be ahead on how to accomplish personal goals.



[Here's your chance! Send YOUR ideas along to

I wanted to pass along a website that I recently found out about. It
is called HomeTrainingTools.com. It is a science supply website.
They may have a catalog, but I'm not sure. What I found interesting
is that they sell packages with all of the supplies for the experiments
in the major science curricula. So if you use Bob Jones or ABeka for
science, and (like me) you go to do an experiment, but you're
missing one of the ingredients, and you don't have a clue where to
find it, this solves that problem. I thought there must be some catch,
like they only sell kits for junior high and high school. They have kits
for even the ABeka Kindergarten science. The kits give you every-
thing you need for the whole year. I just thought this was the neatest
idea and had to pass it on. Go check it out if you've ever wanted to
do more of the experiments but you can't seem to get your act
together to get all of the things together before you need them. I
know I'm not the only one! -- Kanoa in VA


Send your ideas to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Do you have a great website to recommend to others?
Send your ideas to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net


Have you a question for our readers to help answer?
Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if a wise subscriber can't help you out.

This Week's NEW Question

Working at Home / Schooling at Home

"I would like to hear from some moms out there that are trying to
run a husband's business or their own from home and with boys.

The problem (as you aleady know) is when that phone rings those
boys, as if on cue, begin warrior training, flying through the house,
swords flinging, battle cries, etc.

Please share some insight. I have a friend who has 4 boys and is
thinking to save the business she has to put the kids in public
school. These boys are 8, 6.6 and 4... yes, twins.

Not that it goes away as they grow older, but fresh insight would
help as some of mine ARE older. Of course no more restraint, but
the "look" is enough to silence them." :-) -- Carolyn


Do you have an answer?
Send your responses to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Question

"I have homeschooled in different ways for about 8 years. I have a
17 year old in public school, who plays on his dad's school basket-
ball team. I also have a junior in college. I homeschooled both of
them for several years, but am now only homeschooling my 13 year
old. He is the challenge of my life, but I am content with home-
schooling him now that I know about unschooling. Since we aren't
the "average" family with multiple kids at home, no TV and great
enthusiastic learners, I'm having difficulty. He has always fought
learning of any kind, especially when he was in public school for 3
years. I ended up bringing him home due to migraines that grew to
a daily fight. He is good on the computer and we have done
computer "games " for years. We also play games such as
Monopoly and "Borderline" ( a WONDERFUL geography game).
He's finally reading to me daily (only for a few minutes) and will
practice cursive writing a sentence or 2 at the time. He loves
movies, so I search for educational ones often. He plays a game
on the computer causing him to read and work on his typing skills
daily. As far as researching things on his own, there is NO desire,
unless its about paintball guns or go-carts. He's very good with his
hands and very coordinated in sports, etc. It's hard to get him out
of the house to museums or anything exciting. On a good note...
his joy has increased 100% since leaving public school, but he has
very little confidence in his "knowledge" even though I tell him how
smart he is often. I need practical information about how to
increase his appetite to learn, reasearch, read and write. Thanks
for any suggestions!!!" -- Molly D. in NC

Your Responses

[NOTE: My publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product, activity, or suggestion.]


Wow you sound like a wonderful mom. Thanks for listening to your
child's heart. I have homeschooled for 17 years with two in college
now and one in the United States Naval Academy, and two left at
home. One of the most important concepts which I have learned in
childrearing/homeschooling is the power of the questions which we
ask to our children. Our power lies not in what we tell our children
to do, but in the questions we ask them and our willingness to listen.

For example, "Son, where do you want your homeschooling to take
you? listen.... What do you see needs to be done regarding your
education? listen.... How can we best cover what you need to learn?
listen.... By the way, what DO you think you need to learn for your
grade level? listen....

My biggest problem was in shutting my mouth, biting my tongue, and
really listening. He intuitively knows the answers at this age, and I
bet a dialogue of questions and listening will help direct him. We
have used Calvert with all five kids, but Alpha Omega Lifepacs were
very good too for the oldest who was a slow learner. All went into
public school at about 7th grade. God's blessings to you dear
mother. -- Martha in Bainbridge Island, WA


If your son likes playing games with you, what about trying trivia
games? There are so many different sets out there, covering
different subject areas and different times in history. I've found sets
of cards inexpensively at thrift stores and yard sales, and with a little
creativity they can be used with any trivia game board. While this
obviously won't cover every 'school' area (including the writing), it can
casually encourage him to use his reading skills and could help you
show him how right you are about how 'smart' he is! -- Elaine in NJ


Your 13 year old son sounds a lot like my oldest son did several
years ago. He was only interested in airplanes. Nothing else. He
did not enjoy writing, math, science or any other subject until I gave
in to some wisdom Raymond Moore (from the Moore Foundation)
shared with me one day at a seminar. Mr. Moore encouraged me to
get creative and let him study about airplanes while incorporating it
into other subjects. We studied every aspect of planes that we could.
He read about planes and wars (history and science), he wrote stories
about planes (language arts), he drew planes (art), he studied about
how planes could fly (more science). I would read stories to him and
his brothers about planes. We visited museums, airports, etc. During
his 9th grade year he told us that he was going to be a pilot. I laughed
because I knew how "afraid" of dangerous things he was. He never
wanted to ride a motorcycle, 4-wheeler, or horse. He went to the
extreme to be careful in the activities he chose to do.

To make a long story short -- when he turned 16 years old he dual-
enrolled at our local community college to take aviation classes. He
graduated high school last year and continued classes at the college
this year. He plans to transfer to another college in the fall to pursue
a career in mission aviation. I never would have dreamed that all the
studies we did about airplanes would matter so much. His professors
and instructors have been amazed at his knowledge of planes. He
wouldn't have been as advanced in college if we hadn't let him follow
his desires. I truly feel that the prayers we prayed for guidence have
been answered. God knew exactly what our son will spend some of
his life doing. He is the one that put that desire in his heart
and opened doors of opportunity to us.

I would encourage you to seek creative ways to incorporate your son's
love of paintball and gocarts. Have him dictate stories to you at first,
then eventually have him write them. Does he enjoy drawing? Have
him illustrate the stories. (If he doesn't like drawing check the library
for one of those "How to draw..." books.) Have him figure out what
makes each one work the way it does. Maybe he could take a
paintball gun apart or a go-cart apart and rebuild it. For math he could
figure distances of various types of paintball bullets, speed of the gocart,
how to finance one if he doesn't already have one.

Do you have a local support group or 4-H club? Maybe he could lead a
class about what he learns. I have found that peers during these teen
years can be a great thing. For us, it put the competive fire under my
boys to do their best when they knew that they would be sharing things
they had learned with others. Our support group offered public speaking
classes, a writing co-op, and 4-H clubs. Guess what my oldest son
always spoke about or wrote about? Airplanes! The lady that led our
writing co-op asked me one day if my son ever wrote about anything
besides airplanes! I watched him go from being bored and uncaring
about his schooling to delighting in every aspect of learning. In college
he is thrilled about his education. I truly don't know he would have had
his love of learning if we had not pursued his favorite things. -- Dee in NC


Your son is just the final gift you are in need of. I appreciate your saying
you have given up some of the "shoulds" of schooling! I appreciate your
allowing his schedule to let him grow beyond the childhood fears he has
kept harbored. Listen to your son. I am learning that if I, an old "trained
public school" teacher just listen to our sons, they will confirm what is
being heard in my heart. It is not an easy task, I know. It is not always
a happy one, but God has given that boy everything he needs to grow and
prosper and make His Daddy happy! That it is your privilege to nurture
and admonish him as he gets to that goal is a great gift. I appreciate that
you are walking well into it. Expect the rewards at the end of the vision,
they are on their way. Savor each day, each act of learning and continue
to build on those as you have stated you do. Challenged? Different?
Same word, different spelling. -- Sybil


Maybe you thought of this but what about starting with what he likes.
Go-carts, paintball guns, etc and have him get books on that and build one
or join a group that builds/rides them. I have found that this is the easiest
way to get the kids to participate. This may well lead to other areas that
are of interest. Don't worry to much about him not thinking he is smart.
13 years old is a tough age especially for a boy (well for anyone really),
and he will eventually be able to see his strengths with your help. There
are different types of intelligences, and he may think (and he may be right)
that he is not smart in one area but it is helpful if you can show him what
area he is bright in. Check out "The Way They Learn" by C. Tobias. Build
a go-cart, or whatever will help with this. I know I have no idea how many
things work -- I am grateful someone does. My garbage disposal just broke:
$99.00 minimum. -- Michelle in Portland, Oregon


"Letter of the Week"

Looking for a fun, lightly structured way to begin doing school with
your preschool aged child? Check out this FREE 38 week online
printable curriculum written by Katrina Lybbert:



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