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Managing a Home Library, Scheduling Apologia Science, Single Dad Teaching


Added Friday, February 17, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 7   February 17, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - 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!

Directions for subscribing and unsubscribing are below.



Notes from the Editor
-- Bookin' - Part Five
Helpful Tips
-- Using Apologia Science
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Picks
-- Lapbooking Tip!
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information

Notes from Heather

Bookin' - Part Five

Now that you have been collecting books for your home library,
the next question might be "where do I KEEP all these books?"

Most home libraries grow in small increments, adding a new
bookshelf as needed.But with a little forethought you can take
the time to plan your library in advance.Things to consider
include the depth of your shelves (many times a purchased
bookshelf has deeper shelves than are needed for the books that
will be on them) and where you will be putting the shelves; will
you be putting them all in one "library" room together or will they
be scattered throughout your home?

For our home library I originally hired a friend to build very sturdy
shelves out of birch plywood and then painted a neutral off-white.
These free-standing units, about 6 x 6 feet with a divider in the
center, are easy to move and will stand the test of time.However,
the initial investment was substantial.If I had it to do over, I
would follow the design for simple pine shelves in Jan and Gary
Bloom's book, "What Should We Then Know" -- a book about con-
structing, furnishing, maintaining, and enjoying a home library.

Some families choose to organize their home library according to
the Dewey Decimal System.Others opt for the Library of Congress
classification system.For my home library, I use neither.Instead I
consider the most obvious and natural way to arrange our books
according to our family's reading habits.

Our books tend to be arranged according to the room they are
most often used, the age of the child who would most likely need
to reach the book, keeping books in a series all together (for ease
in locating), keeping certain topics together when it seems more
more important to have it that way -- and plain common sense.

The special picture books I will most likely be reading to the younger
children go on the highest shelves on a shelf just for picture books
in my bedroom since I tend to read books like these with the little
ones sprawled on my bed.The lower shelves have books they are
free to handle on their own, and quite often a second, more tattered
copy of one of the "special" books from above.

I keep easy reading books as well as field guides and other books that
can be browsed or read in a short amount of time in my walk-in closet
which serves as a time-out area.That way these books are handy for
the child who is stuck with nothing to do but wait for his punishment
to be over.It is amazing how they don't ask to come out and often
stay longer since a good book is hard to put down!

My biography section is the most organized section of my library and
the one I am most proud to show off to friends.I have one 6 x 6'
shelf full of biographies alphabetized by the last name of the person
who is the subject of the book.Besides the books in a series, which
I tend to keep all together (Landmark, Cornerstones of Freedom,
Messner Milestones of Freedom, We Were There, etc.) all other
non-fiction history books are grouped by subject. I keep historical
fiction together, by author (but not alphabetized), fiction such as
animal stories, adventure stories, etc. together by subject, grouping
authors within these sections.Craft books, Christian living, and special
holiday books are some of the other sections on our library shelves.

The boys have some shelves upstairs in their bedrooms, as well, for
books they like to browse often or they have received as gifts.They
also keep books they have personally invested in so mom doesn't
claim them when they are ready to move on someday!:-)

Any way you decide to organize your family library should make sense
to you and your family's reading habits.Taking the time to plan will
save you time and money in the long run.The only rule of thumb is
to get those books out of boxes and onto shelves so they get seen
and used!

This is all I am going to write about home library building for now.If
you have enjoyed this short series of articles, please drop me an email
to let me know!I'd love some feedback if any of my information has
been helpful to you.

If you want to learn more about building a home library, there is a
good YahooGroup you can join.It can be found at this link:


Happy bookin' !!



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

"I just wanted to let everyone know that there are some great helps for
scheduling Apologia's science programs available at Donna Young's site:


I was thinking about having my oldest son start on Physical Science next
week and the lessons plans/suggestions are great.Everything is broken
down for you, so you don't have to figure out how much your student
needs to do each day.If you aren't familiar with her website, you should
be!:-)There are tons of free forms and teaching ideas for almost every
subject area!I have it listed in my book, "Using the Internet in Your
Homeschool", and readers regularly comment how happy they were that
I included this site, since they had never heard of it."-- Cindy Prechtel

[ Thanks, Cindy! -- Cindy Prechtel is author of "Using the Internet In Your
Homeschool".Her website is:www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com ]


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

Last Issue's Question Was...

"I'm a single dad who works from my office at home.I plan to begin
homeschooling one of my children after this school year (4th grade).
I am now considering homeschooling my two younger children
(K and 1st grade), also.What would be the easiest and least time
consuming way to do this so that I can both teach them and have
time to do my job?Is there a way that I can teach them all the same
subjects at the same time?I would like to use the Classical Educa-
tion model, but feel it would be too time consuming considering my
circumstances.I'm concerned about teaching them all in a fairly
limited time and also keeping them busy so that I can do my work
while they are with me all day at home.We do have to report to the
school district, so unschooling would be more difficult to pull off
(besides not really being my personal 'style').Is there anyone else in
a similar circumstance that can give me some guidance?Or anyone
at all who has suggestions for me?Thanks in advance." -- Eric

Our Readers' Responses

You might want to consider Switched-On-Schoolhouse (SOS) by Alpha
Omega Publishers. It is a Christian-based curriculum and is done com-
pletely (100%) on the computer. It goes from 3rd to 12th grade, but
does have a computer-based phonics program (Color Phonics) for chil-
dren who are not yet reading.Don't be put off by the fact that it starts
at a third grade level, as some younger children who read fairly well on
their own can begin a subject or two (such as math and/or language)
earlier, rather than waiting for their actual "3rd grade" year.This would
enable them to move at a less rushed pace and get comfortable with
the style of the curriculum before actually "entering" 3rd grade.

As a parent, I appreciate it for several reasons ...

1) Since it is 100% computer-based, it is self-grading. Our family has nine
(yes, nine!) children and I do not have the time to go through each work-
book, one-by-one, to check whether or not they've written the correct
answer.With SOS, as a child enters his/her answer, it is automatically
graded and they are able to move on with the next question or lesson.
This is a very nice feature because it allows the student to move at his or
her own pace without having to wait for mom or dad to grade their com-
pleted work before moving on to the next lesson.As with all computer
programs, there is an occasional glitch, but the programmers have given
administrator privileges that enable the teacher (parent) to re-grade a
problem area as they see fit or necessary.

2) The curriculum can be set-up and scheduled in conjunction with a
school calendar that you have set according to the school year you would
like your family to have. If something unexpected comes up that would
normally cause a child to be out of school (such as a death in the family,
or similar urgency), with a few clicks of the mouse, the teacher can reset
the calendar and completely update the curriculum schedule.

3) It is cost effective. The program is designed to accommodate five
students at one time, or you can use the same curriculum as each child
progresses in age.No more throwing away "used" workbooks! Also, if
you have less than five students, I highly recommend setting yourself
(the parent) up as a student also and going through the lessons as you
have time. This would allow you an opportunity to get familiar with the
inner workings of the program from the student's point of view and
occasionally discover any "glitches" before your children do.Also, if you
are concerned about your children spending too much time in front of
the computer monitor, the program does allow you to print out pages
from the lessons of your choosing.

4) Finally, you mentioned having to report to the school district.
Switched-On-Schoolhouse keeps it's own records in the system. It
monitors the amount of time a student spends on each lesson as well
as all of the scoring and grading that is familiar to schooling. Again, with
a few mouse clicks and a nearby printer, you can have all of your students
records at your fingertips ready to hand in when necessary.

I realize that our household situations are vastly different ... us with nine
children and you as a single parent. However, I want to also tell you that
a very good friend of mine (a single mom who worked from home) used
this program with her daughter and appreciated it for the same reasons
that we appreciate it.If you are interested and want to check it out,
Alpha Omega will send you a sample disk for no charge. You can learn
more online at http://www.aop.com/sos -- Bon


I have been divorced since my daughter was 2, she's now almost 9.I
have home taught her exclusively (K-3rd), and plan to continue as long
as it is the best choice for my family, perhaps until college.I work as a
nurse so with 12 hour shifts and weekends, she's with a home school
family about 2 days a week where she does review-type math and prac-
tices handwriting, reading etc. You may want to consider networking
with other local homeschooling families for support and brainstorming.In
my state the parent needs to teach personally more than 50 %, so this
works. It's hard, I'm tired, but the investment in the relationship is worth
it.For an easier and less time consuming curriculum, I would recommend
Five in a Row -- www.fiveinarow.com -- as easy and involving all your
students, and the older can use the stories as a springboard for more in-
depth study and work. It covers all subjects, even bible and cooking (plus
math, language arts, science, fine art, social studies, history, and more).
A good math curriculum for your older student like Abeka Math is a great
choice.You'll need some handwriting and phonics for your little ones.
We spend lots of time at our library and have a very supportive librarian
who is very helpful.

Regarding classical education I have been involved with Classical Conversa-
tions (trivium) for the last year and have been blown away at the ease of
content presentation (both to the presenter and to the students and a
wide range of ages from 4 years to 11 years). I am involved with 3 other
small families and we meet once a week for the morning, but only 24
weeks out of the 37 week school year.These amazing students learn so
many facts and so much content in the few hours we are together it is
well worth taking the time to do. We cover grammar, math tables,
science facts and experiments, Latin, history (through Veritas Press history
cards), fine arts (both music and art with artists), and more.I cannot
highly enough recommend their basic curriculum and most all of the
products found on their web site.This is an area where your 5th grader
could review the topics from the last class with your littler ones.You can
find out more at www.ClassicalConversations.com -- Kathleen in CA


There is a curriculum I heard about through a lady who works for the
umbrella school where I have my daughter enrolled. Your situation sounds
a bit like the inventor of this curriculum, who is a scientist who has home-
schooled his six children. The web site is www.robinsoncurriculum.com.
The lady I spoke with is using it and loves it.Personally, I don't think it's
for me, but I thought it might be something you would be interested in.
It is supposed to be a complete curriculum and it's all contained on 22 CD
ROMs.The initial investment for this K-12 curriculum is small compared to
other curriculums, but keep in mind you have to print all workbooks and
other material.Hope you find something that works for you! -- Maria

[Editor's note:There were others who wrote in suggesting the Robinson
Curriculum, although no one had actually used it.They all thought it
seemed to fit the situation, though!Thanks to all who wrote in.]


I also work from home.I only have one child (2nd grade) so this was
relatively easy for me.I set up my office and school in the same room.
My son has his own desk space and my husband's laptop if he needs it.
He can work independently but I am still available for questions.

We use Learning Language Arts through Literature (this is a great pro-
gram) very little prep time.You would need one book for each grade
level, but you could reuse for next grades and only have to buy a
student book.

We use Veritas Press for bible and history.I recommend getting the
CD as it is cheaper and easier to use.This could be used for all grades
although it only starts in 2nd grade so the range from 4th grade to 1st
may be difficult.Very little to no prep time.It uses cards with work-
sheets and projects that vary in difficulty for a wide variety of ages.
-- Shannon in SC

Answer our NEW Question!

"This is only my 2nd year homeschooling - but I'm part of a won-
derful homeschool group full of people who have helped us to be
successful.At our next "Mom's Breakfast", I would like to suggest
that we do a "project fair" next year.I've heard of them done by
other bigger homeschool groups - ours is only about 30 families -
and it sounds as if it would be a really worthwhile event, and a lot
of fun, to boot!So I was wondering if anyone has any experience
with organizing this sort of thing.If so, I would love all the advice
I can get - because from my experience, when someone has an
idea like this, that someone is usually the one who ends up doing
the work!I would like to be as prepared as possible with answers
to any questions when I present it at our meeting in March.Thank
you." -- Kim from OH


Do you have advice for this mom?
Send your responses to:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a burning question that you can't ask just anyone?
Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if our readers can help you out.


Heard about lapbooking, but not sure where to begin?One of our
readers, Cyndi Kinney, has the solution.She and another mom
have designed some "ready made" lapbooks and are offering them
at their website!


What a great way for a reluctant "wannabe" lapbooker to learn --
you'll have a pre-made example right in your hands.Thanks for the
tip, Cyndi!I love to encourage entrepeneurship and it looks like you
have hit on a great idea!

Interactive Email Group

In an effort to help our readers become more of an interactive
community, we have set up an email loop at YahooGroups called

Please sign-up for the group and take our poll, even if you want
to go "no mail" for the loop.This will help me to understand what
ages your children are, how you school, etc.(The information will
be kept anonymous and private, of course.)

Here is the link to sign-up and take the poll:



There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
marketing@stretcher.com with "Homeschoolers-Notebook"
as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group!Feel free to send any
contributions to HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

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