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Bugs, Nature Journals, Busy Toddlers

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, September 08, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 36 September 8, 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
-- A Bugged Summer!
Helpful Tips
-- Homeschooling Dad
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- Nature Journaling
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

[I really enjoyed this "end of summer" article and I thought you
all would too. Next issue I'll share about how my homeschool
co-op class is coming along... Wednesday was our first day and
my *own* son loved it, so I guess I passed the opening day test!
Our week-long camp was great, too. I'll post some pictures as
soon as I'm fully recovered! This weekend I'm heading out to a
2-day homeschool convention put on by the CHESS group in
Lansing... and I'm typing this at the ballet studio! Aaaaah... the
hectic fall schedule has truly begun. I find myself struggling to
cut out the extra stuff, but I'm equally thrilled about enjoying all
that life has to offer our family. See you next week! -- Heather]


Bugged by Life's 6-Legged Lessons

by Rose Godfrey

It has been a summer of adventure, learning, and only one trip
to the emergency room. Summer presented our homeschooling
family with different opportunities to learn the lessons life has to

My son, for example, learned what happens when you slip but
don't slide. Brian and I learned how much it costs when a child
breaks an arm. We all learned that used coffee grounds mold
after 3 days in the filter.

Summer also presented a chance to learn about entomology and
human behavior.

Earwigs - or earbugs as my daughter calls them - creep me out.
Finding two in the shower one morning was unbearable.

I've read that males and females are basically the same, but I
don't believe it. In an informal study conducted here at home, I
have observed that my five girls and I all have similar reactions to
bugs. Brian and the boys react differently from us. The baby, also
a boy, still eats everything he encounters, so he is not included in
our study.

First,a definition. For the purposes of my not-so-scientific study, a
bug was defined as either an actual insect or a spider. This was not
the place for the eight-leg vs. six-leg discrimination. My research
revealed that a girl's reaction to either creature was statistically
the same.

The definition of bug also included dust bunnies, pieces of dirt that
are shaped like bugs or any irregular paint splash or shadow that
may look, even for a moment, like an insect, spider or other creepy-
crawly organism.

I've learned that if you deal calmly and rationally with a bug in the
bathroom, you are likely to be a male. If you deal calmly and ration-
ally with the female who just left the bathroom screaming, you may
be a saint.

In the interest of scientific discovery, I offered my children a summer
challenge. I wanted them to discover any useful function performed
by earwigs. If I saw earwigs as beneficial, I might come to appreciate
them. Did they, in fact, have a purpose in life?

The girls looked at me in disbelief. One son took up the challenge. I
think he just wanted to earn the prize - a trip to the arcade, on me.

My son soon informed me that earwigs eat waste. He considered this a
useful function, and I conceded that it sounded fairly beneficial.
I just wish they did not consider my shower stall to be the Moonlight

Ed learned about male and female earwig behavior, and his eyes
brightened as he informed me that earwigs have wings. I had never
considered that earwigs might be able to launch themselves and
come at me. I could listen no more. So much for science.

My 6-year-old rushed in carrying a yellowing leaf this week,
reminding me that fall is just around the corner. Some summer
lessons have been more useful than others. Now it is time to settle
into the new school year, gather pencils and empty notebooks,
and look ahead to more formalized learning. But first, I owe my son
a trip to the arcade.


Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom of
eight kids. She can be reached at the following email address:



Do you have some homeschool musings to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Homeschooling Dad

"I wanted to get my husband involved with our son's education
without putting pressure on him. I asked if there was a topic he
wanted to learn more about or teach our son about thinking that
summertime would be a great time to pursue this venture because
there were no expectations (we don't do structured schooling in
the summertime). Astronomy -- my husband has always been
interested in the activities of NASA, of space missions, research
& discovery. 'Life got in the way' & he never pursued his passion,
but now was his chance; now he didn't mind 'taking the time'
because it was no longer just for himself but for our son's educa-
tion. I envisioned a month-long unit study -- he had other plans.
They went to our state's planetarium for a lecture & came back
with a membership! They went to a local astronomy club for a
demonstration, & came back with plans to purchase a telescope.
My husband & 8 year old son have spent summer nights, lying on
the lawn, looking up at the sky & identifying the stars, constella-
tions & a passing comet. It is so wonderful to see them together,
learning together, growing closer together. I had assumed the
'astronomy unit' would be finished before 'the school year' -- I am
now realizing that this may grow into a lifelong passion -- for both
of them." -- Tricia, NH


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

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have three children, a 7 year old, a 5 year old, and a 14 month
old. My question is how to deal with the interruptions invariably
posed by an infant while homeschooling. We have given it a trial
run this summer and as long as the baby was napping, everything
went smoothly. When she was awake, the instruction seemed
disjointed and disorganized and took much longer than I wanted it
to. However, we have gotten a lot accomplished. My 5 year old
has learned to read in about a month and a half of focused atten-
tion. The baby is VERY active, resists a nap schedule and is not
as willing to entertain herself as my older two children were. With
homeschooling, housework and other activities to fit into a day, I
am having a hard time seeing how we are going to get much
accomplished! I am trying to combine the instruction for the 5
year old and 7 year old as much as possible, but there are some
things a second grader and kindergarten age student can't do
together. Any suggestions will be much appreciated." -- Jennifer

Our Readers' Responses

"I can understand how difficult it can be trying to juggle schooling
with a toddler. Yes, at this time it may be difficult to teach some
subjects (like history) together.

Consider teaching health/safety with the two children together.
Cover bike safety as you are riding together. At the grocery store
talk about the food pyramid and a healthy diet. About the time of
the next dental visit, borrow books about dental health (to read to
everyone). All three children are present and will be learning at
this time, but not doing "book work".

At this time, try having one child play with the toddler while you
teach a mini lesson to the other. They then can switch. Some
of the activities that they can do with the toddler would be simple
puzzles, reading, or playdoh. Look at the reading as practice for
the older child." -- Heidi


"All my children had to learn that they would need to be comfort-
able spending time by themselves. I then used this time for bible
reading, phone calls (I work part time), cleaning, etc. This time
was for only 30 minutes maximum but it let them know life is not
all about them.

So, you can get a gate and keep the baby out or a high chair or
playpen and keep the baby in with you. Regardless, I suggest
giving the baby his/her own special items that he/she can only
use during this school time -- books, toys, crayons, or paint if
you are adventurous.

I have young children too, and they do not need to do school
work for much more than 15 minute increments anyway. Lastly,
I often put my youngest down for nap even if she refused to sleep
but it was helpful for us to have that break. Yes, sometimes she
cried, but it was not hysterical crying. She is fine and well-adjusted
now. I often gave her books in the crib." -- Michelle in Oregon


"You could try having the baby do school along with siblings. Set up
her own special area nearby, with her own stuff, like coloring, play-
dough, toys,etc. and give her stickers on paper and make a big deal
out of how well she does. All children want to be included and hear
how good they are doing." -- Angie A.


"I think you've already discovered how much you can accomplish in
small bites. Even your 7-year-old doesn't need to do focused work
for long periods of time. So I would suggest that you use the baby's
nap times -- even if they're short -- for structured teaching. The
things the older children are able to do independently, they can do
while you tend the baby, but you would still be available to help if
they need it. I do believe that a 14-month-old is old is ready to
begin learning to wait for attention and to learn to entertain herself
for short time spans (start with one or two minutes and increase it by
thirty seconds each week -- you could even set a timer and she can learn
that when the timer goes off, she may come to you for something).
You might consider having a toy or activity for each day of the week
-- something she could do in her high chair or on the floor next to you.
She would only be allowed to use those things while you are teaching
the other two, so that they would be fresh each week. Some exam-
ples would be crayons or washable markers and paper (you can buy
a roll of butcher paper or newsprint and let her decorate a piece
slightly larger than your table -- it becomes your tablecloth for the
next few meals); big Legos or Lincoln logs; tapes of good music; "Sewing
cards" for small children (you can make your own from the styrofoam
trays that meat is packaged on); books, along with a tape of you read-
ing the books; puzzles suitable for her level; empty thread spools or
huge beads and yarn; Wikki stiks or Chenille stems; balls or bean
bags of various sizes -- maybe a big piece of cardboard with a hole for
her to throw them through; clay or Play-dough; etc. Every once in a
while give her a smile and a cheerful word, and let the other children
give her attention, too. Especially let her know when you're pleased
with what she's doing. There's no reason she can't sit on your lap and
watch you work with the other children, as long as she understands
that she must sit still and not interrupt. Do continue to try to teach
the 7- and 5-year-old together as much as possible. The 7-year-old
might be able to help the 5-year-old sometimes, and take a little bit
of your load. Also, be sure the children are helping around the house
as much as possible. We usually underestimate what young children
are able to do. Most of all, cherish the treasures these days hold for
you. My children are now pre-teen and teen age, and they are a
delight, but oh, how I do miss those days that you are enjoying now!"
-- Mary Beth


"Our youngest daughter was 21 months old when our oldest began
kindergarten. I set up our school room in the girls’ playroom. This
helped some, as the little one could play while I was working with our
older daughter. I also bought learning cards and small books that the
youngest could look at while sitting on my lap -- which was where she
was most of the time. This helped me to keep the little one occupied,
while still giving my oldest my full attention.

I also use a small plastic tote box to store all of our school books and
supplies in. That way, if necessary, I can move 'school' into another
room. For example, we would often start school at the kitchen table
while the baby finished breakfast.

There are many challenges with home schooling more than one child
but the rewards are immeasurable. For example, my youngest daugh-
ter is now 3 1/2 and I am amazed at how much she has learned just
from 'playing school' along side her big sis!" -- Jo in Virginia


"I too have 3 children - boys 7 and 5, and a girl almost 2. I have used
a combination of approaches. We do as much as we can while she is
sleeping, especially of the things where they need to concentrate more.
I've also set up a play area near us where she can play if she chooses.
Each boy also sometimes plays with her for a bit while I work with the
other one. I have also collected things she can do in her high chair to
be with us at the table - washable markers, larger math manipulatives,
stacking toys, and puzzles with just a few pieces. I also sometimes aim
her snack time for then, too. The other thing I do, which makes teaching
harder but is so wonderful to be able to do as a mother, is just pick
her up and hold her in my arms while I work with her brothers - just
make sure she can't reach to rip the pencil out of his hand!"
-- Elouise in Canada

Answer our NEW Question

"I just started homeschooling for the first time this week with my
13 year old daughter. She is Bi-Polar and has ADHD and sometime
around 2pm she runs out of steam and starts to get frustrated with
her work to the point where she just sits there and stares at it and
'flatlines'. Breaks don't seem to help, nor does changing subjects.
I can't get her to talk to me about what exactly is frustrating her
either. Has anyone else experienced this and how do you work
through it?" -- Deana


Do you have some help for Deana? Send your emails to:



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

Nature Watching and Journaling

Want to go on a nature hike but don't know where to begin?
Start with this website!!


Not only do they include a detailed list of what to bring, you will
also find a huge resource page of printable journal pages on this
secondary page on the site -- you don't want to miss either page,
so I'll include both links:


This is a wonderful website and quite a find! I'd love to hear from
those who make use of it. Perhaps we can do a feature soon on
nature journaling. Please write with your ideas!! :-)

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net

Please put "nature walks" or "nature journals" in the subject line.

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All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
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