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Differing Dispositions, Nibble Trays, Relaxed Homeschooling with Special Needs

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, April 21, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 16 April 21, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!

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Notes from Heather
-- Various Dispositions
Helpful Tips
-- More on Snacks
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Picks
-- Little Gardeners
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information


What kind of learning disposition does your child have?

Choose one:

1. Likes learning activities that are short or like games.

2. Likes using workbooks or doing timed drills.

3. Likes learning centers, labs, or field trips.

4. Likes to work in small groups or do projects with others.

5. Likes activities that allow him or her to use imagination and/or
creative thinking.

If you chose:

#1: You may have a child with a Performing Disposition. Since staying
focused on material that you are not interested in is difficult for
you, having 10-20 minutes of instruction or study followed by 20
minutes of "processing time" is very important. When doing homework or
any kind of lesson or study, frequent breaks are necessary. People with
a Performing Disposition are probably the most misunderstood in
traditional classroom and work settings. They usually need to move
frequently and they learn better if they can "experience" the lesson.
They are often labeled hyperactive or ADHD (attention deficit
hyperactive disorder).

#2: You may have child with a Producing Disposition. You are likely to
enjoy being focused for long periods of time. You probably don't mind
sitting at a desk, taking instruction, keeping schedules, and doing
exactly what you are asked to do. Clear explanations, guidelines, and
due dates are very important since you need to be able to plan ahead
and keep things organized. Producing people are usually "ideal"
students and employees.

#3: You may have a child with an Inventing Disposition. You don’t mind
being focused for long periods of time as long as it is your own
project. In fact, when you are working on a project of interest, you
are likely to lose track of time and resent it when you are interrupted
or asked to stop working. Inventing people need to set aside time to do
things that "must" be done—that they don't enjoy doing,—so that they
have lots of "open ended" free time to pursue their own projects. In
classroom situations, these people are frequently labeled ADD
(attention deficit disorder).

#4: You may have a child with a Relating-Inspiring Disposition.
Everything you do is more enjoyable and easier to do if you can work
with others—in a small group or with another person. The interaction
with other people, the discussion, the group problem solving, and sense
of cooperation keep you interested and participating in the learning
process. Many of these people are Auditory-Verbal Learners, needing to
talk things out and discuss in order to understand and retain

#5: You may have a child with a Thinking-Creating Disposition. People
may say that you are a "daydreamer" or that you are unfocused. Wonder
and imagination—seeing things in a new way—keep you interested and
participating in the learning process. You are probably a Visual
Picture Learner and possibly a Hands-On or Sketching Learner. Doodling
or drawing could facilitate comprehension and writing. The ideas of
Thinking-Creating people can seem "off the wall" or unrelated to the
subject. These students are also often labeled A.D.D.


The quiz above was excerpted from a new article by Chris and Ellyn
Davis of Elijah Company. Chris had a HUGE impact on my early ideas
about educating my sons! There website is a very valuable resource and
I recommend taking the time to read their past e-journals and order
some of their audio CD seminars. (Christian perspective.)

The rest of the article can be found here:



Also -- if you enjoyed the article last week about teaching gifted
children, here are more books for recommended reading. (Special
thanks to Melanie H., a devoted reader and friend, for putting this
list together!)

"Growing up Gifted" by Dr. Barbara Clark

"The Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults"
by Dr. Edward Amend

"Losing our Minds; Gifted Children Left Behind" by Dr. Deborah Ruff

"Sparks of Genius" by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein.


Send YOUR comments and article suggestions to:



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

Last week I shared some advice that was offered for feeding hungry
children throughout the day. Here is more reader input on that topic!


"As a registered dietitian, I love the idea of the nibble tray! No
artificial colors and flavors there! One word of caution... don't get
fooled about the beverages; kids need lots of fluid if they are
active. One 100% juice box a day is fine, at least 2 cups of skim
milk, and lots of water!! Sports drinks are not necessary unless they
are in an all day tournament, but even then, healthy foods and water
can replace what they lose."

Happy Homeschooling!
Mary Sue Sanderson, RD, LD
pediatric dietitian and homeschool mom


"I completely agree with the Hobbit theme for my two constantly hungry
children, and they are girls! We always joke that they are like
Hobbits with the 2nd breakfast they 'need'.

First, I give them as many fruits and veggies as they want. I have
found that a well balanced snack makes all the difference, so I try to
have 2 or 3 food groups eaten at these snack breaks. This really seems
to be the best way to fill them and seems to be most satisfying to
them. I know that I can get about 2 hours before the next 'I'm sooooo

I know we all know this but I try to stay away from chips, candy, and
other junk food. It doesn't fill them! So instead: Yogurt, apples,
granola, raisins, cheese, crackers, snack crackers (Goldfish), pears,
string cheese, etc." -- Michelle in Oregon


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

Last Issue's Question

"We've been homeschooling our 12-year old for a year now. He suffers
from anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder not so much that
strangers would notice right away, but definitely enough to affect a
carefree family lifestyle for those around him. Homeschooling has
definitely improved the "stress" situation to the point where we now
take three steps forward and two steps back, instead of not moving
forward in life at all.

My question is simple: How do you "unschool" or "relaxed school" an
anxiety/OCD distressed child? Having been in public school through
grade 6, our son prefers a structured "school-mimicking" situation, but
doesn't do any better with this stress-full style of learning at home
than he did at school. As any of you that have experienced such
disorders will know, catering to the fears and stressors is the last
thing you should do. That's why unschooling would be better for him,
and we feel he'd truly benefit from it, if we could only get it to work.

Your articles for "allowing a child to follow his natural learning
instincts" have inspired, but not helped me in the past because
unschooling requires a "natural curiosity" that our son just doesn't
display. He has no hobbies that require his full attention or a long-
term commitment, and if left to follow his own learning interests, he'd
never get anywhere. He is too consumed by his thoughts to open his
mind to the world and see all the possibilities that lay before him, so
unstructured unschooling seems impossible for us.

Does anyone know how to inspire or encourage the unresponsive anxious
child to want to grasp onto knowledge on a continual basis? I'd
appreciate any input!" -- Jamie in Western New York

Our Readers' Responses

"Have you thought about the Charlotte Mason approach to teaching? That
is how I homeschool my children. I have a 13 year old and an 8 year
old and then also 4, 2, and 7 months. We do not use text books for
anything other than math. We read what we call "living books" which
are much more interesting than textbooks. Through living books we
study history (especially with biographies and historical fiction),
social studies, science, and much, much more. I have the children
write "copy work" from materials they are reading and from the bible.
This teaches them grammar without using a workbook and making
mistakes. I loosely use the Sonlight Curriculum as a guide for what we
study. I may add or subtract material they recommend and use my own
time frames. This gives us a direction instead of unschooling. I like
a little structure as do my children and we seem to accomplish more
when we have a guide. But I am not so rigid as to miss an opportunity
of interest when it occurs. If someone is curious about something, we
may stop what we are doing and focus on that a bit. Or we may add it
to what we are doing. Charlotte Mason also strongly encourages nature
study and that is fun hands on activity for my children. For example,
we found a chrysalis attached to our garage door. It happened to fall
off, so we brought it into the house and taped it to a stick and put it
in a jar (with a lid that we punched holes in for oxygen). The
children discovered a beautiful swallowtail butterfly in the jar a few
weeks later and we released it in the back yard. Now that is hands-on
science. I would encourage you to use some structure, but don't feel
like you have to stick to a timeline. Also, what is the best kind of
education for your child? and what do you want him to achieve before he
becomes an adult? I happen to think (for my own children) that if they
are well read, are sufficient in mathematics, can think critically,
know how to find information, and LOVE TO LEARN then I have set them
upon a path that will give them a lifetime of learning. I hope this
will encourage you to approach teaching your child differently than the
public school experience he has already had. I'm sure you can respark
you child's desire to learn and enjoy the journey together." -- Cherie


"I think that perhaps what your child wisely craves is some stability
in the form of structure. I don't think that he should mimic school at
all, that's not what I mean by that, but children feel so much more
secure if they have a predictable schedule without too many unknowns,
in which the path to success is clearly defined each day. That way he
doesn't have to worry about everything so much. Unschooling is
attractive, however, it may be more suitable for you than for him.
You can set up a routine for him that suits you both and incorporate
times of creative study, perhaps in the form of unit studies, to help
you both enjoy the excitement of learning. Other subjects like math
and music are much better done in a systematic way, and if subjects
like that are in their place in the routine, it may help things run
more smoothly and be less anxiety producing for him. You might want to
observe what he responds to best, the more creative parts or the more
structured, and set it up to suit him and help him feel safe. Also try
to observe your own reaction to the different modes, and try to keep it
stress free even if it's not your preferred style." -- Christine


"Hi Jamie -- My situation was a bit different, but I too have a son who
came out of the public school system with his natural curiosity
squashed, and a very strong opinion that learning was boring and
unnecessary. If I could do it over again, I would change a lot of
things. First of all, I have since learned that children coming out of
the public school system need a year to "decompress" and recover. I
think for our kids with extra needs, it may take even longer. A relaxed
approach can be very helpful, but as you know, when that curiosity
isn't there, you can't leave it all up to the child. You need to
carefully direct his learning. I wish I had put away the workbooks and
concentrated on reading out loud to my son, and doing more hands-on
or life projects. First of all, reading out loud is a great way to learn
without realizing it. Pick really good books (the kind termed "living
books" or classics) Books by G.A. Henty might be a good place to start.
Search your library for biographies and topics that might interest your
son. Look through homeschool catalogs for ideas of other books to read.
You might make a timeline, and add the book title or main character at
the appropriate place, or have your son write a brief (1 paragraph)
summary of the book, and file it in a binder by date. I had my son
write the date and location at the top of the page. (i.e. early 1700's
Scotland) Eventually, your son may express an interest, even a slight
one, in a topic or time period you are reading about. Explore that
direction with him. I was so glad to see an interest, I jumped all over
it, sent my son off to the library to find out more information, and he
backed off in a hurry - "too much work, not worth the effort" - like
putting a seedling outside in harsh weather. Secondly, spend time with
real life projects. Go to the grocery store, and have him keep track of
the cost of the items you buy. Compare unit prices for different size
containers. Give him a set amount of money, and challenge him to buy
all the ingredients needed for dinner. (this takes careful planning on
your part so you give him a realistic budget) Plan and plant a garden.
Have him figure out perimeter for the length of fencing, area - how
many plants will there be room for. If possible, help him build a
raised garden bed - great math skills (measuring, volume, perimeter,
area, etc.), as well as construction. If you don't have room in your
yard, perhaps a nearby nursing home or day care center would be
grateful for one. (You can find books at the library with directions)
Let him go to the store and figure out the cost of materials, soil,
plants, etc. Consider other projects of potential interest: car care -
changing oil, tires, washing/cleaning outside and inside, etc.,
volunteer at the local humane society (ours requires the parent to
attend with children under 16), plan a camping trip - and go, even if
only to a nearby county or state park. Get involved in some type of
sports - biking, swimming, or team sports. Try something unusual, like
geocaching or orienteering, fencing, or disc (Frisbee) golf. Look into
clubs like 4-H, military cadet programs, etc. have him obtain a map of
your area, plot out a course (figure out the mileage, estimated time,
rest stops (an ice cream shop?), and hike or bike it.

Expose your son to a variety of hobbies - you can't make him inter-
ested, but he may find something he enjoys. For my son, it was building
models with his dad. He seemed to need the support/encouragement and
enjoyed the social aspect of it. Look for the educational aspects of
daily life - including household chores such as laundry, cooking,
cleaning and washing dishes.

Most importantly, build (or rebuild) your relationship with your son.
Work on character issues and virtues, and enjoy this time. It passes
all to quickly." -- Laurie


"First of all, I suggest this mom read Kathryn Stout's article, "Help
for the Anxious Child" found on her website:


Scroll down until you see this title. In fact, there are many
encouraging and helpful articles this mom may enjoy reading on this
site's page.

I am assuming you are a Christian. I have found no greater "tool" for
family problems than prayer. It sounds like this child may have some
sort of oppression that needs to be bound by the spiritual authority
that all believers have - the power to take control over evil in the
authority that comes from knowing Jesus. This may happen instantly or
it may take time - praying and speaking authority over this unhealthy
spirit to quit harassing and tormenting in Jesus' name. I know this
sounds radical, but until I exercised this authority and power in my
own family, I continually saw one of my children so bound by fear and
anxiety that his childhood was being robbed of him.

This child may enjoy the Bible that comes in comic form - I think it's
called "The Picture Bible". It is NOT babyish. My son found GREAT
comfort in reading God's word in this form. He fell in love with God's
word this way and treasured the day he got a regular Bible (a regular
translation). He still reads his Bible faithfully and finds great
comfort, love and power in it.

For my son, I more or less "did" unschooling. He LOVES history -
particularly modern history. I let him watch the history channel (per
my approval - as not all on the history channel is fit for him.
It wasn't until the end of 4th grade that he started writing and drawing
comics. This was his writing and creativity outlet. I waited on some
more "maturity" before beginning formal grammar and the like because
this was a high stressor for him. I read to him, still. He hasn't
come to a place of enjoying reading on his own, although I have him
read a short chapter aloud every day to help him with this skill.
It's amazing how much one can learn simply by reading! I know he'll
eventually enjoy reading. I was so much like him. We play lots of
card games and board games. This is learning! As for math, we took it
slow and easy. He was "behind" in grade level terms, but is now
amazing in his math skills and "up to par". He is relaxed and
enjoys his time at home and with me. He plays hard with his friends.
He is getting more worry-free!

An idea comes to mind. Since this child seems to "need" a public
school-like structure; perhaps give him a page per subject of workbook
type material and sneak in the enjoyable stuff. He'll learn and
hopefully become more confident and relaxed. Hope some of this helps
and encourages."

Answer our NEW Question

"I'm homeschooling 3 - my oldest 13 year old daughter has always been
at home. I have a 4 year old daughter in pre-school - home school. My
son is 7 years - school is great - but then he is so bored when he is
done. He's very social and it is exhausting trying to meet his needs.
He's in karate - and we have friends - he has a couple of friends who
come over - but he wants friends every day and makes me feel guilty
about it. He hounds and hounds as if I have nothing to do other than
meet his needs. What can I do?? Any advice??" -- Debbie


Do you have help for this mom?

Send your emails 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.


Gardening with Kids

Do you garden with your children or would you like to
get your children involved in the garden? Do you have
questions about gardening with children?

One of our readers, Katina Mooneyham, is a homeschool
mom of 2 and hostess of the "Little Gardeners" forum!

Some wonderful articles she has written can be found here:


And here is the "Little Gardeners" discussion board:


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

Here is the link to sign-up!



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