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What Your Child WANTS to Tell You

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, August 04, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 31 August 4, 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
-- Lost Art of Storytelling
Helpful Tips
-- Dyslexia
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- Rocket Science 101
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

The Lost Art of Storytelling
by Jill Novak

"Our children may be able to articulate their
experience to a tee, but being able to write it
on paper is another story. Still, we follow a
method that consistently turns out children
who hate to write."


They say that storytelling is a lost art. Well, I don't believe it.
The ability to tell a story isn't lost as much as the ability to
listen to a story being told. In our world of 'instant this, instant
that', young children’s conversations get lost in the shuffle. All
kinds of electronic gadgets compete for our attention, and the
immediacy of life robs us of the ability to focus. 'In one ear and
out the other' could very well be a catch-phrase to describe the
amount of concentration we give to our children’s conversations
on any given day. But what if those conversations were worth
their weight in gold? Would we listen closer? Would we train
our ears to 'perk up' instead of 'tune out'?

Children are always telling us what matters to them. They can’t
help it. They’re born with the desire to give shape to their experi-
ences and share them, so why do adults take their conversations
for granted? Our children's oral storytelling skills are the very foun-
dation of their ability to write confidently later in life. Narrations
of an event or comments about things they like -- these detailed
accounts -- are worth committing to paper at an early age. But
who's going to do the writing?

We've been led to believe that writing begins when a child gains
fluency. Actually, we often make the mistake of expecting a
child to write before he gains fluency. Our children may be able
to articulate their experience to a tee, but being able to write it on
paper is another story. Still, we follow a method that consistently
turns out children who hate to write. We force them to sit, and
they obediently struggle to put words on a page. If they get a few
sentences down in their own handwriting, we exclaim, 'Oh, that’s
wonderful!' But look at writing from your child’s perspective. How
would you like to have 200 words or more of your experience
stored up in your mind only to be able to crank out ten or twenty
words to describe it?

Think about it. How many skills do you teach your children by
actually doing them? Dressing, brushing teeth, tying shoes, and
eating are just a few tasks we help children learn until they can
take over for themselves. The skill of writing shouldn’t be any

Sit with one of your children at the breakfast table (it doesn't
matter how old he is -- if he struggles with writing, try this). Get
out a Mead composition book or a piece of paper and a pen. Ask
him what he’s thinking about. Listen. You'll be surprised at what
comes out of his mouth. Write the words down for him. Read
them out loud when he’s done. Ask him if there is anything else
he wants to 'talk' about. He might be surprised that you don’t
want to do anything else but listen, that you value his words
enough to write them down.

If you have a lot of children, take them aside one at a time. Sit
and listen to their hearts. The words will come, trust me -- but
you do the writing for a little while, until they can do it on their


[Excerpted from 'The Gift of Family Writing' by Jill Novak]

Jill writes:

"The Gift of Family Writing is the culmination of eight years
of discovery -- the journey of how our family began writing
together and the joy we’ve experienced along the way. It’s
bursting with examples to help you and your family capture
your life stories as they happen; and it’s packed with practi-
cal tools and ideas that will inspire your children (even the
most reluctant ones) to value their personal experiences
and write about them creatively. If you feel that writing isn’t
your strong point, you’ll gain confidence from this method,
and so will your children. The Gift of Family Writing is filled
with examples of journal entries, essays, and writing styles
for writers of all ages, by writers of all ages. If you’re looking
for a way to make writing a natural part of your everyday life,
you’ll love this book…and your children will too!"

Jill Novak received a degree from the American Academy of
Art in Chicago before designing children’s books for David C.
Cook Publishing Company. She and her husband Robert
have been married 27 years. They are the grateful parents
of five children: Claire 20, Eric 15, Elizabeth 11, Anna 7, and
Nicholas who is with the Lord. Together their family has
founded Remembrance Press, publishers of The Gift of
Family Writing, The Girlhood Home Companion, The Pebbly
Brook Farm Journal, and Becoming God’s Naturalist. Jill is
an inspiring workshop and conference speaker. Visit their
website http://www.giftoffamilywriting.com to learn more
about writing and drawing from life.


Comments about this article? Send your emails to:



Helpful Tip

Here is a great tip "mined" from a March 2002 issue of our
Homeschooler's Notebook. It is definitely worth repeating!

"Our daughter had quite a bit of difficulty in reading when she
was younger, due to dyslexia. Fortunately, early on I came
across an article on this subject that said simply using a thin
sheet of colored plastic (you need to be able to see through it)
over the text being read would "straighten out the words"
visually for the brain. You need to experiment with different
colors -- yellow didn't work for my daughter, but red did. We
use a plastic report cover, and she can slip most papers into it,
or she lays it over whatever she is reading. You could also cut
up smaller pieces to highlight text in paperbacks, and smaller
books. We are happy to report that by doing this, her reading
has improved so much over the years (she is now 15) that she
can now read most things without the plastic sheet." -- Sue


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

Last Issue's Reader Question

Sandy wrote last issue...

"I have a question that I am hoping to get some insight from
your readers. I have been homeschooling my children and I
really think they enjoy the freedom and knowledge it gives them.
Our biggest problem has been that they really miss having the
instant friends that school provides. I have 5 kids on a fixed
budget so running around town or paying for expensive classes
is not practical. The neighborhood kids tend be at school and
then after school run off to dance, piano etc. My kids tend to
get bored and lonely. How have others handled this situation?"

Our Readers' Responses

"I have a hard time addressing the problem of homeschool
isolation as well. I have an only child, so it's even more crucial
that I find friends for him. If you have a support group in your
area, that is a great place to start. I did not have that in the
area I was in. So I started a homeschool play group and met
a couple of other really nice families through this. Now we have
play dates, etc. with each other,still have the play groups and
park days now and then." -- Ann C.


"We belong to a very small church, without many kids in it. We
started giving free classes and not just to homeschoolers but
available to the whole community. First I am a singer, so I teach
voice (most of my class is Moms). My mom reads music and
plays piano so, even though arthritis keeps her hands from play-
ing she can still teach. Our worship leader plays guitar, bass
and drums so he offers that. Next we put the word out over the
homeschooling email that we were looking for someone to teach
dancing within a Christian setting to christian music. We expect-
ed some folks who, perhaps, had done some dancing when they
were younger that would show us how to two step or something.
What we got was an "on-fire' christian college dance teacher,
who is an expert in ballroom, country and Latin dancing who
says she has always dreamed of what we are doing!!

Other classes we have had were: sewing, canning, pickling,
crocheting, knife sharpening, several baking classes and basic
cooking classes. (the kids would cook for our church on Wed.
evenings when we have the freedom from addictions program)
I've done "school programs" where the kids got performance
experience. Today we have a chiropractor who is coming to give
a class on Bones and Muscles. The point is that if you look
around there is always someone who has knowledge of some-
thing useful and if you put out the word you can get people who
are willing to teach what they know to your kids. By providing
free classes you help other homeschoolers as well as yourself
and provide a safe place for socializing as well. Also, our daugh-
ter is involved with "teen court" where she is a lawyer against
or for kids who have committed juvenile crimes. It gives her one
hour a week where she gets to learn to deal with extremely
worldly kids. But its nothing I can't "deprogram" later. Call your
local city government and see what kind of programs they have
that educate as well as mingling with other kids.

Your kids will not perish if they don't have friends around all the
time. Having to have friends around constantly is a fairly new
concept. Kids used to work much more and their social center
was the family and church. It made them more mature and self-
sufficient. One of the things we want to teach our kids is that
the world does not revolve around them. They need to see the
bigger picture and do what’s best for the whole family - which
includes you! Their education should not just be about YOU
loving sacrificially. So if they are stressing you out and not con-
sidering how hard it is for you to get them to events etc. then
they are being selfish and need to be shown how to think in a
more loving manner."


"I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone! I'm really
glad you asked this question, too, because I have often asked
myself these same things. We do try to do as much that is free
around here as possible. I do think doing a sport for a season
is a really good thing. Here, soccer is $50 a season, which is
pretty reasonable. Is there a homeschool group you could be a
part of? Is there a homeschool mom around with similarly aged
children that you could meet at a park? Of course, church is
also a good place to socialize. I do tell my kids that finding a
true friend is often a hard thing to do and takes time, and that
God has given them their siblings to be playmates and friends
(sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't). I find that when
they are feeling down about not having friends their age, I try to
get them away from the house for awhile; go to a park, go on a
nature walk, etc. I'll be interested to see what others think and
do about this! You're not alone." -- Jill T.


"I understand the need for low cost activities for kids that will help
them form friendships. It seems we have to stretch my husband's
income further each year as the cost of living increses, but his
salary does not. We have found scouts to be great for our kids as
both have been able to cover the cost of almost all activities,
including summer camp by selling either Boy Scout popcorn or
Girl Scout cookies. As an added benefit, both have learned a lot
as they have worked on merit badges. The youth group at church
has been great as well, and we applied to the YMCA for a scholar-
ship, and received it, which allows both kids to participate on the
Y swim team year round - fun, friendships and PE all at once."
-- Regina in Arkansas


"Hi Sandy -- Extra curricular activities like dance class and karate
can be costly but there are other ways for your kids to make friends.
My daughter felt lonely after our first year of homeschooling. We
didn't know too many homeschoolers and there weren't a lot of acti-
vities near us so we ended up creating our own. Here are some of
the things we did:

:: Start a homeschool girls/boys club with activities each week/month
:: Offer to teach a class in your home
:: Join a fellowship or support group with activities each week
:: Start a fellowship or support group if there is none nearby
:: Contact local homeschool ISPs or support groups to see if they
have park days or field trips
:: Contact the YMCA or other local community group/churches to see
if they have activities for youth.
:: Get involved in AWANA or other Church activities like theater or
ministry or helping the local community
:: Organize a theater group, put on a play with local kids, start a
craft class, etc.
:: Go to your local skating rink or roller rink or library to see if
are free or low cost activities planned.
:: Look for a co-op group in your area. Or start one!
:: Ask your local movie theater, gymnastics, karate, dance studios
if they have special discounts for homeschoolers. Many do!"

-- In His Service, JoJo Tabares http://www.ArtofEloquence.com


"We have joined a local home school co-op, this is a school
environment once a week. It includes the whole family, and the
moms take turns teaching different classes. You could start
something like this on a smaller level or check to see if there is
something like this in your area. We only pay $30/semester,
this is because the moms do the teaching. The kids learn alot.
We offer all manner of classes, from art and math, literature, or
science, "girl's club", PE, and boys sports. Some of the dads
even get involved when they can. I have several friends who
have started their own group with only three or four families.
This has worked better for their family, and they have made very
close relationships. They choose themselves what they want
to teach the kids and each mom can teach something she is
good. They meet once a week or bi-weekly." -- Deborah G.


"We take advantage of several of the libraries in our area. They
are always offering free classes such as arts & crafts, juggling,
zoo animal appearances, etc. During the school year, they are
usually after school hours, and during vacations, they are in the
morning. Also, many zoos, museums, etc offer a discount rate
for a 'teacher' and most let 'homeschool teachers' take advantage
of the discount." -- Graceann


"Why not get a local group of homeschoolers together at a
church or playground nearby once a month? Our home school
group meets at lunchtime once a month and everyone packs a
lunch. The kids then get together and each one that wants to
showcases something they have learned about that month. This
gives the kids an opportunity to see what the other kids have
learned and maybe pick up a new interest themselves. They
also get to practice their public speaking skills. Afterwards, the
kids play games, go outside and play on the playground at the
church or have a game of touch football or kickball. During this
time, the moms also meet together for fellowship and support,
something we home school moms don't get often. By the way,
the way we got started was totally word of mouth. Two moms
got together and then told other moms they knew, who told other
moms they knew. No advertising or effort involved! At the end of
the year, the kids each do a big project and we let others come
and view them. It is a great time for the kids and mom too."


"Join a homeschool group! You'll meet up with other families and
be able to make effective trips around town. Also, start hosting
an event at your own home, that way other homeschooled children
come to you! I started doing this. We have a music/art club at
my house once a month for about 2 hours/meeting. I teach the
music part and the other moms take turns teaching an art lesson.
It's worked great! Not only do my children get to meet with other
children, but they get some sort of educational lesson as well. A
few meetings they all just played together out back instead of
doing an art lesson." -- Amy


"We are blessed to have many homeschooled kids in our church.
This year we've even taken it upon ourselves to form a group that
will meet once a week during the day. Until now however we've
been on our own. We tried a couple of homeschool support
groups and hadn't been able to find one that worked for us. I
came to realize though that with four kids they already had a
ready made play group. Yes, they like having friends outside the
family. But it has been very important to my husband and I that
we nurture their relationships with each other. They don't need
20 superficial friends when they can have a few of quality and if
those few of quality include their siblings so much the better."
-- Fran in Washington


"We started homeschooling when my son entered middle school.
His first reaction was not encouraging. He didn't want to be away
from his friends. Since we are very involved in our church and in
Boy Scouts, he has lots of friends there. Check with the neigh-
borhood children to see if any are involved in free or inexpensive
group activities (4-H, First Lego League, etc.) where you can
share transportation duty with other parents." -- Sherry A.


"The best thing you can do for yourself and your children is join
a homeschool support group. Most groups are very inexpensive
and offer the opportunity to network with other parents. Our
group has a monthly "Park Day" (2nd Friday of the month) where
we all get together at a local park. We bring our own lunch
(some bring fast-food) and this gives the moms a chance to talk
and the kids a chance to meet new friends. The ages that attend
our Park Day range from teens to just months old. Once they
meet others "like them" you can work out other social activities
during the month that meet your budget." -- Mary in Florida


"Start a playgroup for homeschoolers in your area! Pick 2 local
parks with playgrounds, and alternate weeks to meet there (we
like Fridays for park/playdays) or pick 4 local playgrounds and
rotate through a monthly schedule. Let your homeschool support
group know ( you MUST belong to a homeschool support group -
the best way to make those "instant friends" you referred to, for
you and for your children, but in a homeschool setting.) Cost to
meet at a local park/playground - free! Pick ones close by, since
gas prices and limited budget are considerations. Younger kids
can play, older kids can bring board games, or hold a book club
at the park, Moms can visit and share support and ideas!"
-- Monique in Texas


"My only child would say, "Oh, my gosh!!! How lucky they are ---
five kids!!!" I've been homeschooling Dorie her whole life; she's
11 now. Its mostly the two of us during the school day, with
occasional playdates with other homeschoolers. But because I
work part-time in the evenings, I don't have the time or resources
to do a lot of running around, either.

Dorie is naturally social, so we homeschool (read that as "hang
out") at a bookstore one day a week, where we are around others
throughout the day. She's in Girl Scouts, which is low cost, and
in her sunday school at church. Truly, this seems to provide
enough child to child interaction for her. We also have friends
over on Saturdays/Sundays whenever possible. Our homeschool-
ing is mostly interactive, though, so she isn't ever in "solitude,"
unless she's reading or playing. The interactions at school that
children experience aren't very deep and meaningful, anyway.

I don't know how old your kids are, but perhaps if you have a
homeschool group where you can have occasionally playdates,
that would help your kids will more connected with others. In the
meantime, tell them Dorie and I encourage them to play, play,
play together!!!!" -- Marla J.

Answer our NEW Question

"Does anyone have a recommendation for a strong, discipleship
Bible study we could use with our 13 year old daughter? We
would like to use this as part of our coming year's curriculum.
Thank you." -- Jacqueline in AL


Do you have a suggestion for Jacqueline?

Please send your email to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Editor's Pick

Rocket Science 101

This is a fun interactive from NASA! Build and learn about
different rockets.


(requires flash plug-in)

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