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Mountain Rescue, Reluctant Readers, Gaps!

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, July 07, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 27 July 7, 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
-- Defining Moments
Helpful Tips
-- Reluctant Readers
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- More Fireworks!
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information

Notes from Heather

Defining Moments... Defining Education

My second oldest son turns 14 in 8 days, but he won't be home
for his birthday. He is spending 2 weeks in Jackson, Mississippi
studying (read "dancing and discipleship") with Ballet Magnificat.
It is his first big trip away from home and I really miss him! He's
not one to call home, so I just grin and bear it.

By coincidence, my oldest son turns 16 in 3 days, and he also
won't be home for his birthday. He's in another Jackson -- Jackson,
Wyoming -- in the midst of a 2 week hiking vacation with another
family who has invited him for the second year in a row..

A few days ago I got a phone call. Evidently there had been an
accident in the mountains and Ben had acted very heroically to
get help for the victim.

He and Bill, my friend Jim's brother, were on a day hike in Hurri-
cane Pass near Jackson Hole (in the Grand Tetons). Bill is in his
40s and is experienced in mountain climbing. They had already
hiked about 8 miles in, but missed a boat they expected to take
back, so they had started back along the trail.

Expecting to hike just to the boat and then eat, Ben hadn't eaten
yet that day. Also, on one climb he had lost some of his drinking
water and they knew they were going to run short.

They weren't too concerned, however, because they knew the trail
back and they just needed to get back before dark. But having
mostly salty foods (jerky, etc.) they didn't eat so as not to get
thirstier than necessary.

As they were crossing a snow field, using their ice axes for stabi-
lity, Bill suddenly slipped and started falling. He "self-arrested",
using his ice axe to catch himself, but then began to fall again.
A second time he stopped himself, but then he began to fall for a
third time. One the third slip, he toppled and began sliding face
first down the mountain. When he finally stopped his face was
smashed into a rock and bleeding. He had cuts and bruises all
over his body.

Ben quickly made his way to Bill, sliding on his stomach down to
where he had fallen -- about 30 feet below. Bill immediately let
Ben know he was okay (even though he really wasn't) so that
Ben wouldn't panic. Ben could only see blood all over and didn't
realize at the time that most of the injuries were confined to his
face. I think his life flashed before his eyes!

Ben was very glad to have the main first aid kit along -- by Divine
Providence alone. He went to work on Bill, utilizing the training
he received over 2 years before through Civil Air Patrol -- so deep-
ly ingrained he recalled it easily. Once Bill was stabilized, they
began the arduous trek back. Bill was in severe pain, so Ben
gave him Tylenol and changed his bandages several times.

When they were a mile from camp, Bill told Ben he could go no
further. He was just too weak and in pain. Ben left him on the
trail and hurried on alone. When he reached the base camp,
only Jim's wife, Lori, was there. Ben dropped his pack and
jogged back to find Bill. By this time he had walked and jogged
17 miles that day over rough terrain. He was at his physical limit,
but had to go on and he knew it.

When Ben got to the place where he had left Bill -- he was gone.
He couldn't believe it! Had he become disoriented and wandered
off on his own? There was only one thing Ben could do -- and
that was to walk the mile back to camp again.

Upon arrival, he and Lori borrowed a car to go and find a ranger.
On the road a vehicle approached and Ben said he really prayed
it was a ranger. Not only was it a ranger, but he had Bill with
him! They headed for the hospital.

Bill was treated for a broken nose and fractures to the cheek
bone. He received 7 stitches for a deep gash below his eye. The
frame of his sunglasses had cut into his cheek, but the lense
was broken and had probably saved his eye by acting as a shield.
He had cuts and bruises all over his body, but he was in good
shape otherwise.

Later that night, Ben couldn't eat -- although he was hungry. He
couldn't keep anything down and he was shaking. All in all, he
had walked 18 miles... with no water for the last 4 before reach-
ing camp. The adrenaline he had been running on finally wore
out. But in the morning he was fine.

There are moments that define for me what education really is.
This is one of those moments! It was Ben's passion for learning
about survival skills, search and rescue, first aid and CPR -- that
prepared him for this very important life adventure. It was true
education -- deeply learned, deeply digested. And the know-
ledge was there for him when he needed it. The physical training
gave him stamina and confidence to go way beyond his normal
physical limits.

Bill is very grateful to have had Ben along on that hike. He almost
had gone alone. Ben had to guide Bill back on the trail. The
bleeding and pain caused Bill to nearly be walking blind. Ben
kept his cool and went into rescue mode.

I'm very proud of my son. Thinking about other scenarios for how
this could have turned out is pretty scary. It made Ben think
about how much he loves his family and how grateful he is for the
life God has given him. It gave him a good lesson in the fragility
of life. As a young driver-in-training, it will make him think more
about safety on the road. This experience can't be bought in a
box... and it doesn't come from a textbook! He knows now he is
not invincible. Short of a personal life and death experience such
as this one, it is hard to convince a teen of that fact.

Oh -- and the next day he spotted a wolverine! Supposedly they
haven't ever been spotted in that area. A photographer who works
for both National Geographic and the New York Times was on
hand and confirmed the sighting based on Ben's detailed descrip-
tion of the wolverine's unusual hinged joint in the legs and the way
it moves, etc. His study of field guides and familiarity with North
American mammals really paid off! The park service took a report
about it and they will be forwarding it to the appropriate agency.
They took Ben's phone number and said to expect a phone call
about it in a few weeks. They were very interested.

And I must mention one other interesting item! Ben was shopping
in town at a t-shirt shop and neatly re-folding t-shirts as he looked
for one in the right size. (It really bugs him when people leave a
mess -- he didn't get this trait from his mother! Haha!) Anyway, a
lady came up and must have assumed he worked there. She
asked for his help in finding a certain size. He said "yes, ma'am"
and began to look for what she needed while he continued shop-
ping for himself. She had gone to another area of the store when
Ben found what she was looking for. He brought it to her, near the
check-out clerk and a manager who was standing nearby. The
lady thanked him and then complimented the manager on what a
fine staff he had working there, especially THAT young man. The
guy said, "Um... thanks... but he doesn't work here!" Then she
said, "Wow... well, he ought to!" The manager turned to Ben and
smiled. He told him he has a job there if he wants it. Ben told
him he lives in Michigan, so he'd have to pass. But he had made
a sale and was pretty proud of it.

Teachable moments... defining moments... to me these are the
elements and evidence of a real life education. On the days when
I'm just not sure we are doing "enough" I will remember this trip
and breathe a happy-mom sigh of contented relief. :-)

Thanks for reading my story... and enjoy the rest of the newsletter!


Do you have comments about this story? Please send your
email feedback to:




Helpful Tip

This week's tip is about encouraging older children who are
reluctant readers. It is from Diana Waring's website!


"One of my favorite stories is from a homeschool mom here in
South Dakota. She told me that her oldest son (in high school)
was very resistant to reading, and that was why she had decided
to homeschool him. On the first day of homeschool, when
"reading" time arrived, this wise mother set a magazine before
her son to look through. Now, she didn't choose just any maga-
zine. No, she very carefully found the one that would pique her
son's interest - a brand new issue of a farm machinery magazine!
(Remember, this is South Dakota.) Then she told her son that
his assignment for that day was to tell her about one of the new
farm machines that was shown. With a twinkle in her eye, she
confided to me that though he could savor the pictures to his
heart's delight, he wouldn't be able to tell her much about his
favorite new machine unless HE READ THE CAPTIONS!! After
a few weeks of this delightful experience, her teenage son
became an enthusiastic reader... of farm machinery materials!
(But at least he's reading...)" -- Diana Waring


Do you have an idea or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Reader Question

"We have just been 'given' a precious 13 year old granddaughter
who has some large gaps in her education. Because of her back-
ground she has missed a lot of school being now in the 5th grade.
I am homeschooling her and need to know how to find the gaps in
her foundation. Can anyone help?" -- Patricia R.

Our Readers' Responses

"I also have a 13 year old who has missed much just because the
other 3 were born to me later in life with two of them being very
ill. I spent the years from age 4 to age 10 overwhelmed and barely
hanging on to each day. My daughter took up the slack. She took
care of me and as a result her education suffered.

My plan has been this. I started with a spelling curriculum which
would carry her all the way through (I chose Spelling Power) and a
math curriculum (I chose Saxon) and I started her at the beginning
of both because if she misses any rules etc in either one of these
areas it will be difficult for her to go on.

However, if there was something she obviously already knew we
skipped through it. I found out that, evidently, from her helping me
so much, she had already learned a great deal. But, for instance,
somewhere in there she never learned to divide. She knew her frac-
tions but we had to spend a week on long division. In the 5th grade
book, once we got past long division, she went through 63 pages in
one day, proving to me page after page that she understood every-
thing they introduced. We hope to get through the 6th grade book
by the end of summer and possibly get her up to the end of the 8th
grade book by the end of the school year next year.

Once she finished "Spelling Power" we did a few things such as
"common spelling mistakes" type books but mostly writing. I told
her that she would have to pay me a quarter for every misspelled
word that was sent out on her email and she has asked if she can
be given the grocery money to see how well she manages a
month's pay. (This one makes me sweat a tad...)

As for everything else, read - read - read! Her - you - Grandpa....
whoever. Point out and discuss everything you see of value on the
TV. And don't "do" for her. Teach her how to "do" for herself. You
would be surprised just how much a kid can learn simply from you
having a "homeschooling mentality" -- everything is a learning
experience!" -- Deb


"My thirteen year old son had many " gaps " also after falling be-
hind in public school and due our own failings, (divorce,move,etc.).
He was at a fifth grade level in math. I'm not sure sure what he
would have tested at in his other subjects. Anyway, I have found
some things that have been very helpful. First and foremost,
prayer has been my best guide. Getting on to curriculum, Develop-
mental Math has been a huge blessing. My son has struggled
with math since second grade. We had tried several different
curriculums, but like you stated, knowing where to start is hard.
Developmental Math offers a diagnostic test, so you know exactly
where to start. It is self-paced and self-teaching. My very non-math
son has been able to take these and "fly" through them, actually
understanding what he is doing. When I think he might already know
the material I copy the unit test and give it to him first. If he
makes an A, we skip that section. It has really boosted his broken
self-esteem. I also recently came across an English program that
has s similar format and includes character lessons. It is called
Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. They have a website, so you
can check it out. We have just begun using it, but I forsee having
good results. As for science,history,etc. I would just look over
some scope and sequences and decide what you believe are the
things she should know going into adulthood and start covering
them in a less schoolish, more relaxed way. It will give you time
together to talk, create, and bond, all while learning." -- Kandyce


"One idea: Go through the books "What your ------ grader should
know". You'll fly through most things or you'll find that she has no
interest in an area, but every now and then will find something
essential AND interesting to her.

If there's no interest in something, it's wise to look for some other
opportunity for her to learn that information, say, in a unit study.
You know how it goes... she wants to do something, but first has
to learn the prerequisites.

I tried this with one young lady and it fell flat. What really worked
was to follow her interests. She's picking up spelling by writing
stories for her favorite cartoon character; social skills by partici-
pating in small groups in the public ministry work; learning basic
study skills in her personal Bible study with a mentor; learning
basic chemistry from a "making goop of many kinds" kit. It usu-
ally works better to let the kid decide what she WANTS to learn
and then help her to be ABLE to do what she wants. It's kind of
like unschooling, but it works well for kids who are behind."


"I have an 8yr we are adopting with learning gaps. I found the
testing and material from A.C.E. to be wonderful. You don't have
to do an entire year to catch up. You can take each booklet or
PACE as needed. Here is the link to the testing site:


And a link to their main site:


From here you can click on a drop down menu on the right and just
choose curriculum as needed. The testing was a cinch, it was the
ordering and maneuvering on their site I found a little difficult.
Hope this helps -- I know how frustrating it can be." -- Kandi


"First I want to say there are always gaps -- you can't possibly
teach everything. Having said that there are some great books
that give lists or evaluations of what a child should know in each
category. Check your local library or book store for the education
and teaching section. The biggest one that comes to mind is:
What Your [First, Second, Third, etc.] Grader Needs to Know.
You can even teach just from this book!" -- Michelle in Oregon


"I found "Calculadder" an incredible help. The child does 1-4
minute timed quizzes to find the math gaps. They can retake the
tests until they master them. It is short, efficient, and the
child doesn't lose heart or get overwhelmed.

Secondly, for concentration, I still use this small book in
highschool. "Listen My Children" has 3 levels. You read a 3-6
sentence story to the child and they repeat it back. The beauty
of it is its simplicity and logic. They used adjectives that the
child has to concentrate on to repeat it back successfully. We
do 1-3 per day and he wants more. It takes maybe 3-5 minutes."
-- Constance N.


"I realized the youngest of my four children was suffering some
real gaps in her education due to my preoccupation with the needs
of her older siblings. The answer for us came in the form of
Christian Light Education. They offer diagnostic testing you
administer yourself which very accurately pinpointed the weak areas
in math and language arts that needed to be worked on. After 17
years of using the same curriculum, I switched this past year!
I even took their teacher training course. It was just the shot
in the arm I needed and I have seen great improvement in those weak
areas of my daughter's. This might not be the answer for everyone,
but I sure feel it is worth mentioning." -- Marion S.

Answer our NEW Question

"I began teaching cursive writing to my three children as they
each entered second grade. Unfortunately, I never followed up
by enforcing the use of cursive in their schoolwork. Now they
all prefer to print. I am wondering how other homeschool families
approach this -- how do you get your children to use cursive?
(I know it is a valuable skill to have, especially if planning to
attend college where note taking is so much easier in cursive!)
Thanks for your help." -- Kathy G. in California


Do you have some wisdom to share with Kathy?

Send your answer 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.


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Editor's Pick

Fireworks Fun

Didn't get enough of fireworks this past week? Well, here is a
fun site for your kids to design their own fireworks display to
view online! You can pick the colors and styles... and then
place each one on a timeline grid to go off at intervals -- or pack
them altogether to go off all at once!


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Here is the link to sign-up!



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