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Summer Schooling, Drama for Kids, Trustworthy Book Lists

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 26, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 21 May 26, 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!



  Guest Article
  -- Summer Vacations
  Helpful Tips
  -- Drama for Kids
  Question of the Week
  -- Your Questions
  -- Your Answers
  Editor's Pick
  -- Flashcard Exchange
-- 15% Off Coupon!
  -- Subscriber Information
  -- Sponsorship Information

       Guest Author, Barbara Frank

What I Did On My Summer Vacation…… School?

It will be summer before long; time to put away the books and
dig out the suntan lotion and the beach toys, right? Well, maybe
for you, it is. But for many homeschoolers, summer vacation
doesn’t really exist.

When I first began homeschooling, we took the summers off.
The neighbor children were on vacation from public school and
my children wanted to play outside with them. That worked well
for a few years, but as the neighbor kids got older, they started
sleeping in until noon, so my children didn’t have anyone to play
with until after lunch. Also, I came to realize that taking the
summer off of school meant that we did an awful lot of review in
September. It seemed like wasted time.

When you think about summer vacation, you realize that it’s not
carved in stone. It’s a habit we developed from all those years we
went to school. Back then, having the summer off was one of our
rights, a reward for spending the previous nine months locked up
in school---we would have staged a revolt if summer vacation had
been taken away from us.

But the truth is that it’s just a tradition, and each of us needs to
think about whether it works for our homeschooling family. My
experience has been that some years it worked, and some it
didn’t. We have tried different yearly schedules based on our
needs. It is so nice once you realize you have that freedom!

For example, when spring came one year I realized just how far
behind I was on housecleaning. (You’ve probably experienced
how homeschooling can take over your life, leaving your other
responsibilities neglected.) The window treatments were dusty,
the kitchen cabinets needed to be reorganized, the kids’ winter
clothes were still taking up prime space in their dresser drawers
and closets…the list went on and on.

Every time I noticed one of these neglected areas, I felt guilty,
and overwhelmed by the thought of finding time to take care of
them. Each week was just too busy—there was no time.  But it
was stressful noticing these things and not being able to do
anything about them.

Finally, I decided not to waste any more time that spring won-
dering how I’d get those things done---as I noticed them, I wrote
them down and forgot about them until June, when I assigned
one task from the list to each Monday of the upcoming summer.
We took off school that summer, and after I accomplished the
assigned chore each Monday, I enjoyed the rest of the week,
happy that I’d done something that had long bothered me. When
fall arrived, my house was much cleaner and we were rested and
ready to start our schooling again.

But that was just one year. There were other years when we did
school all summer. The kids slept in, spent the hot and humid
mid-days inside, doing school in air-conditioning, and went to
the pool or ran in the sprinkler in the afternoons. Come Septem-
ber, we needed no review, and even took some time to go on
vacation, visiting areas in Wisconsin that had been crammed
with tourists during the summer, but were now quiet, with bargain
hotel rates to boot. September weather is always nice there; we
returned rested and happy.

Another year, we took off three weeks during May. We drove to
Florida to see the shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, then visited
other areas of that beautiful state. There were no crowds because
the spring-break revelers had long-since gone back home, as had
the snowbirds. There was very little traffic, and we found great off-
season rates wherever we went. It was a wonderful vacation.

We continue to keep a flexible yearly schedule, trying to go with
whatever works for us at that particular point in time. For the past
few years, we’ve been doing school four days a week year-round,
with a week off here and there and two at Christmas. I use our
Friday off as a catch-up day; since the homeschool group we
belong to does its field trips on Fridays, we do occasionally have
a five-day school week. We continue to take off-season vacations,
finding them to be low-stress and low-cost. How long will we keep
this schedule? As long as it works.

Once you realize that three months of summer vacation is just a
tradition, you can enjoy the freedom of looking at the year differ-
ently. As your family grows and changes, you can arrange the
year so that it will work for whatever is going on in your family at
that time. If you have a baby in March, you can take off April
without guilt. If relatives are coming for a long-awaited two-week
visit in October, you can take that time off to enjoy it with your
loved ones. Some homeschoolers take off a few weeks in May to
put in their gardens; how about taking off the month of December
if you really like to bake, decorate and celebrate the Christmas
season? Let yourself break away from the public school calendar
you were raised with, and you’ll find all sorts of interesting possi-
bilities arise.


Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth
children ages 13-22, a freelance writer/editor, and the author
of “Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers” and the new eBook,
“The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling.” To
visit her Web site, “The Imperfect Homeschooler,” go to


Feedback on this article? Write to:  heather@familyclassroom.net



      Helpful Tips

Drama for Children

This tip about a site with plays for kids came from one of our
FIRETIME Notebooking group members, Michelle in Oklahoma:

"Check out http://www.playbooks.com -- Their plays are color-
coded for each part and they have several reading levels available,
and even some plays with many levels in the same play. We
have done two with our family -- the two free ones one the site.
They are versions of the "Ugly Duckling" and "Rumplestiltskin."

The FIRETIME Notebooking group is located at:

      Last Issue's Reader Question

"I would like to find a book list that is trustworthy - one that
has good books that are not filled with swearing.  Is there
such a thing out there?" -- Karen

      Our Readers' Responses 

Two of our readers recommended the same site:

"Debra Taylor Hough has a twaddle free book list at this site.
There appear to be a number of other articles that list good
books.  Good books are out there, you just need to dig a little
harder." -- Brenda, WA

"Check out this great web site. I've used these lists for my kids
reading for a long time. This is a great resource." -- Debbie in DE

The website is: http://www.homehearts.com/living_books.html


"For adult books here is a list of gentle reads." -- Sandy


"I have several "books about books" that I use on a regular basis
to choose each year's literature assignments. Some of my favorites
are The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, Honey For a
Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt, Great Reading by Terry Glaspey,
Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson, and for high school and
above, Invitation to the Classics edited by Os Guiness." -- Regina B.


"Build your own list by asking friends, family and support groups
that you may be on for referrals. Ask the children's librarian at
your local library, too. Lastly, typically older books will have less
foul language usage than newer books." -- Carolyn


"Try http://www.chinaberry.com --  The books they review are
excellent, and the reviews are such that you can really get a feel
for what the book is about. I highly recommend them." -- Linda in CO


"I have found a wonderful curriculum that has an excellent book list.
It is the Robinson curriculum that has many wonderful books."


[Editor's note: There is a YahooGroup where you can get book
recommendations and discuss this topic in depth! It is a
wonderful group of 1,000+ members and run by a very close
friend of mine. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bookroom ]

A Thank You Note!

"Thank you to the ones who answered my question about my
7th grader. I am learning a lot as I read all I can about home-
schooling and taking advice from "seasoned" homeschoolers.
I am going to take your advice and relax. We are going to move
her on and try some new techniques. Be in prayer for us as we
enjoy this homeschool journey!" -- Tracy

     Answer our NEW Question(s)

This week I am posting questions from 2 different readers that are
about early homeschool education. If you have advice for one of
these moms... or both... please send me an email!

Our first question comes from Leanne:

"My question is in regard to when to start homeschooling.  I have
a 4 year old daughter, her birthday falls in October.  If she were to
go to public school she wouldn't start this year but the following.
We are planning on homeschooling her.  In the opinion of other
homeschooling moms out there would they start this year or wait
until the following year?  I don't want to rush her, but I am unsure
of what to do.  I would appreciate any advice in this matter."

And our second question comes from Anissa:

"I haven't noticed any articles about when (or what age) the home-
schooling routine really begins. My triplets just turned two and
we already read a variety of books, recite the ABC's and count to
10... among other things. I suppose I have already started them
on the road to their education. My question is at what point did
your children begin to place sounds with the letters and when did
you start noticing things were "beginning to click?"


  Do you have some words of wisdom for these moms?

  Send an email 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.

      Editor's Pick

Flashcard Exchange

This looks like a great site and appears to be free! They claim
to have over 4 million printable files of flashcards in all kinds of
subjects... and for all ages!

"The world's largest flashcard library."


Beloved Books Online - 15% OFF!

If you haven't visited my online store before, this is your
personal invitation! Audio books make WONDERFUL
birthday presents... and they are great for summer road trips!


If you send me an email, I'll reply with a secret coupon code
for 15% off your first purchase at Beloved Books. :-)

Email: heather@familyclassroom.net

When in Michigan, please drop in for a visit!
(Directions at the website.)
     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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  newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
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  as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
  become a part of this ministry!


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  questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
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Next - More on 'Summer Schooling' and When does Homeschooling Begin?
Previous - Making the Grade, Meeting Their Needs

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