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Making the Grade, Meeting Their Needs

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 19, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 20 May 19, 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!



Notes from Heather
-- Making the Grade
Helpful Tips
-- Feeding a Family
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
A Reminder
-- Our Free Trial
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information


Making the Grade... or Not?

Be sure to read the answers to last week's question sent in
by Tracy. The responses were especially full of wisdom and
I think there are tidbits of good advice that every homeschool
family can apply!

These sentiments are also echoed in an answer to a question
in a recent online interview with a blogging homeschool dad:


(Excerpted from EducationNews.org)

"An Interview with Henry Cate: Why HomeSchool"
April 17, 2006 - Michael F. Shaughnessy

Question: "How do parents ensure that their children make
adequate annual yearly progress?"

"Different parents have different ways. One of the beauties of
homeschooling is you can be flexible. My wife and I use
standardized testing as a way of monitoring academic progress.
However, this is one of many data points we use. Standardized
testing doesn't measure developmental readiness, profound
thinking, writing skills, understanding of complex historical
events, character development, or self discipline. For example,
we had a daughter who was a late reader. In second grade,
she tested at below grade reading level. Because we have a
family history of late reading, I didn't worry about it. During this
time, we listened to hundreds of hours of books on tape. About
the time our daughter turned nine, everything changed. She
was now ready to read. That year she tested at a 12+ reading
level and was reading 60 chapter books a month. If we had
focused on meeting the grade level requirements, we would
have ruined her love of reading and caused ourselves
unnecessary frustration.

In some states homeschoolers are required to have their chil-
dren tested, or evaluated. It is important to remember that
parents who make this incredible effort to teach their children
are more motivated than almost any public school teacher to
make sure their children learn."


Henry Cate has an excellent blog about homeschooling:


Check out yesterday's entry (Thursday, May 18th) detailing some
"typical days" from Susan Wise Bauer's homeschooling
experiences -- co-author of "The Well-Trained Mind". After reading
her entries you should feel really good about YOUR days. ;-)


Please send any feedback to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tips

For those who need help planning a garden to feed a "typical"
family of six -- here are some helpful guidelines!

"How Much Would You REALLY Need to Plant?"

40 lbs. of Spinach – That’s one 90 ft. row, three 30 ft. rows or
six 15 ft. rows. You’d need to freeze almost 80 of those little
square packages.

40 lbs. of carrots – One 75 ft. row or three 25 ft. rows. You’d
need to succession plant (plant your seed every few weeks)
in the spring and late summer.

48 lbs. of sweet potato – That’s one 80 ft. row, two 40 ft. rows or
four 20 ft. rows. You’d need to can 48 pint jars or 24 quart jars.

40 lbs. of winter squash (including pumpkin) – Thankfully, since
winter squash is usually large, this will only require a 10 foot
row. Winter squash also keeps well (hence the name “winter
squash”) so you might not need to do quite as much canning or
freezing. No one our forebears relied on this vegetable to get
them through the winter months.

120 lbs. of tomato (whole) – One 100 ft. row (which is way too
long for most gardens). Break it down to five 20 ft. rows.
You’d need to can 60 quarts.

48 lbs. of peas – This would require you to plant 300 feet of
rows! That’s fifteen 20 foot rows. Wow. I’ve never managed
that particular feat. You’d need to freeze 24 two pound bags.

120 lbs. of green beans – That’s a 200 foot row, or ten 20 foot
rows. Who eats that many green beans? You’d need to can
120 quart jars or freeze 60 two pound bags.

72 lbs. of sweet corn – Another 200 foot row, or ten 20 foot rows.
You’d need to can 36 quarts or freeze 18 two pound bags.


Okay -- maybe you don't need to take the plunge to
self-sufficient living all at once. But one can dream! :-)

Special thanks to Lisa, of New Harvest Homestead newsletter,
for this this bit of fun math! This was excerpted from her
March/April 2006 edition.

Get your FREE issue! Just email Lisa at NewHarv@aol.com
and make your request.

And when you write, please be sure to thank her for being a
new sponsor of our Homeschooler's Notebook newsletter!


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homeschool families?

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Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 12 year old in 7th grade I have home schooled for the
last two years. I pulled her out of public school in 5th grade due
to the "teaching impaired" there. She is really struggling with
quite a few subjects including English, Math and understanding
concepts in Literature and retaining facts in Science and Social
Studies. She doesn't do to well on her tests and quizzes on
most of these subjects. I am positive she missed the mark on
some early learning skills in her earlier grades. My question is:
Should I promote her onto 8th grade and continue on or keep her
back in 7th grade and try a different curriculum next year? I don't
want her to feel any of this is her fault or that she has done some-
thing wrong. She still has some of her "public school" mindset
and I don't want her to think she has "flunked". My husband and I
would really appreciate some advice on this. Thank you." -- Tracy

Our Readers' Responses

"With my four kids, missionary travels, learning disabilities, etc.
it seemed we were never really "on grade" in all subjects. Some
we were ahead on, some I felt behind. Guess what? Every single
kid in public school has the same problem if you count every
possible subject. Do not sweat the grade label. Avoid going there
as much as possible. If someone asks, give vague answers that
reflect a strength and a weakness. Grades levels are an arbitrary
way to deal with groups of students. You have one student! You
also have the opportunity to build mastery in each subject to the
level you and your child find appropriate. Yes, at some point your
child will start making decisions about what she wants to learn
badly enough to push herself. This is when you can step back a
little and be proud. By the way, I do some tutoring in the public
schools, and I currently have some 8th graders who are sweating
their EOG exams. Their math book has them doing high school
level algebra without enough practice to have mastered the basic
skills that should have been hammered in instead. What grade
level should they assign these poor confused kids?" -- Donna


"The beauty of homeschooling is the ability to meet the individual
needs of each child. I would strongly suggest that you officially
move your daughter to eighth grade, but scrap the curriculum and
focus instead on your daughter's strengths and weaknesses. You
will have difficulty finding a prepackaged curriculum that meets
each of your daughters' needs, so make your own. Get out of the
traditional school mode, and be creative. Consider the areas that
she may not have mastered - then address those areas. It doesn't
matter if it was a third grade skill - just add it to your schedule,
without making a big deal about it. Consider changing your test-
ing format. One of the traps of public school is learning material
for the purpose of testing well, instead of for the joy of learning.
Memorizing dates and facts is less helpful than gaining an under-
standing of time periods, and main events. Read lots of books.
Make a timeline. Identify locations on a wall map. Let your
daughter retell events/stories, either orally or in writing. If your
daughter is a hands-on learner, be sure to include projects. Do
science experiments - there are lots of books with simple experi-
ments that can be done at home. The IEW writing program is
excellent for teaching writing step by step. It is a bit daunting to
buy and implement all by yourself - check around to see if any
homeschool groups in your area offer a seminar, or support group.
Otherwise, there is an online group that is very helpful. See
<http://www.writing-edu.com/> for more information. You may
also want to try Daily Grammar <http://www.dailygrammar.com/>
for free, short grammar lessons. I really like Math U See for math,
because it incorporates many learning styles and includes enough
review that concepts are not easily forgotten, without being overly
repetitious. Also, its levels are not specifically grade linked, so it
wouldn't be obvious to your daughter if you weren't working on
"grade 8" material. <http://www.mathusee.com/> There is a
placement page on the website where you can download tests to
see what level your student is at. Finally, I would challenge you
to consider what you really want your daughter to learn. How
many specific facts do you remember from school? What informa-
tion do you use on a regular basis? What do you do if you don't
know something? Perhaps you will decide that you want to work
more on character issues (responsibility, diligence, cheerfulness,
etc.), relationships (with God; family) and learning how to learn -
and where to look for information, and focus less on learning
specific dates and bits of information. Relax, have fun, and
remember to teach to your daughters strengths and interests as
well as to her areas of weakness." -- Laurie


"Without knowing the whole story I would suggest that you NOT
hold your daughter back, but rather hold back her subjects. For
example, my son had a hard time with reading. By PS standards
he would have been held back in 1st and possibly 2nd grade.
What we did was just handle each subject individually. In his
case I read his history, science and such to him and he answered
the questions orally. So, he was only "behind" in reading and not
everything. For help on her retention problems, try giving her
assignments in small, workable, bites. Two of my students had
retention problems and this helped them a lot! Sometimes they
would only read 1-2 pages and do 4 or 5 questions. This made
for less whining on their part and they were better able to retain
the information in the smaller quantities. As for testing... some
kids just do not test well, but using smaller assignments some-
times helps with this as well." -- Martha in Indiana

Answer our NEW Question

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out there?" -- Karen


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if our readers can help you out.


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To begin, look for the "sign-up" link under the member login area
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Feel free to share with other homeschooling parents you know, but
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See you next week!

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If you send me an email, I'll reply with a secret coupon code
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Email: heather@familyclassroom.net

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