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Dawdling, Special Needs, and NEWS!

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, September 29, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 39 September 29, 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
-- New Monday Edition!
Helpful Tips
-- Speed Work
Website Winners
-- A Great Blog
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Announcing our New Monday Issue!

Starting Monday, October 2nd, look for a second issue of our
Homeschool Notebook each week! Our Monday issue will be
following a similar format to our Friday issue -- just more of the
same great advice and encouragement from our readers!

Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors for allowing us to
fully double our efforts to support, encourage and bring practical
advice to a community of homeschooling families around the
world! If your company would like to become a new sponsor,be
sure to contact Kista (marketing@stretcher.com) as soon as
possible. In a few days she will begin taking reservations for the
first quarter of 2007... we are sold-out for 2006! :-)

I am overwhelmed with the encouraging responses I receive from
readers who enjoy the newsletter. Since taking over for Lynn
almost a year ago, I have really come to enjoy writing and editing
for you. I look forward my quiet moments each week when the
younger boys are tucked in bed so I can work on a new issue!

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from a reader this past
week that really blessed me:

"I really enjoy your e-newsletter! This is my 23rd year of home-
schooling, so I get kind of bored reading some homeschooling
stuff because I've seen it so many times. I consistently find good
info in your 'zine though."

Wow. 23 years! That is so awesome!

Well, I'm looking forward to starting out next week with our brand
new 2nd issue and I hope you are as well!



Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Speed work

"When our older children were little, we had at least one dawdler.
I will not name any names to protect the sweet little one, but this
child moved like an absolute snail. I am happy to report that all
three of my older children are now fast, eager workers who actually
love to work, just like their parents! However, ten years ago, when
I had six children twelve years old and under -- and more work than
I thought I would ever get done, it didn’t seem like any of them could
work fast enough to suit me.

One of the ways we taught them to become faster workers (and to
see the benefits of working speedily) was to have speed work ses-
sions. We did this many ways, but we began by showing them how
quickly a job could really be done. One evening as we sat around
the dinner table at the end of the meal discussing what we would
play and do that evening, one of them remarked that we wouldn’t
have any time because the kitchen was such a wreck from the meal.
Ray and I looked at each other, and the challenge was on!

We told the children that we knew that all of us together (that’s the
way we always cleaned up meals when we had all younger children)
could get the kitchen completely cleaned up in five to ten minutes.
(I must note here that we always used freezer meals at the time, so
the kitchen was never really a “wreck.” We had an entrée in a 9 x 13
glass baking dish that had been in the freezer; some vegetable, fruit,
and salad bowls; and each person’s table setting. We might have
had a bread pan or vegetable pan, but it wasn’t like we had counter-
tops filled with dishes and food from the meal preparation.) Anyway,
Ray and I told the children that we knew all of us could clean it
(including sweeping the kitchen and dining room) in under ten minutes,
and, furthermore, Daddy and Mommy could clean it all alone within
fifteen minutes.

'No way!' they exclaimed. 'You guys can’t clean this alone in that
short of time.' So we did. We rolled their chairs back from the table
for the 'show', set the timer, and got started. Their eyes got bigger
and bigger as they watched us run around and clean. They cheered
us on. We made a big show of it. And before the timer went off, Mom
and Dad had the kitchen clean, including sweeping and spot mopping!

From that day on, dinner clean up took on a whole new dimension.
Suddenly, it wasn’t the big job they had always thought it was. Dinner
clean up could really go fast if everyone worked their very best all
the time -- and the evening was free for reading, playing, singing, and
family time.

Another turning point in teaching our children to work diligently came
when Ray arrived home from work to toys and things out everywhere.
We all worked together to put them up, and then he called all of the
children into the family room for a little 'lesson'. He set the timer
for five minutes and called out things from various parts of the house
for the children to get and bring to the family room -- favorite dolls,
a cup, a certain book, a napkin, etc. When the five minute timer went
off, he reset the timer and had all of the children race around to put
those items back. The children had the things put away in less time than
it took to get them out and bring them to him! Another lesson learned:
it doesn’t take any longer to put something away than it did to get it
out -- so put it away!

By the looks of things around here lately, it’s time for some of those
early lessons to be taught to the little boys! In the meantime, we
need to remember the importance of building these habits and skills
early in our children’s lives. Our older children can work circles
around most people their ages. They all get so much done in any
given day that it is absolutely amazing. They have excellent time
management skills and work habits that I pray my younger ones will
also 'catch'. All of those early days of training our children really
do pay off in the long run!" -- Donna Reish


[Editor's note: I just got to meet Donna at an intimate gathering of
homeschoolers in Lansing, Michigan -- the "Heart of Homeschooling"
convention. She is an incredible lady!! She is also the author of the
curriculum, 'Character Quality Language Arts'. Donna's children are
equally fascinating. Soon I will be featuring an article about how one
of her grown sons CLEP'ed out of an entire college degree!]

Donna's main website is: http://trainingfortriumphhomeschool.com


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

Website Winners

Free Stuff for Homeschoolers

Here is a great blog from Julie Nott (Old Schoolhouse Magazine)
that is just what the title implies!


Watch out... this one is addictive! :-)

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am a mother of four surviving quintuplets who are now 13 years
old. This is my third full year homeschooling all of them. I began
with two the previous year. They are all in the seventh grade. One
of my daughters is blind and needs all of her materials adapted for
her. We have all been an integral part of making that happen.
Another of my daughters has 'extreme' difficulties processing infor-
mation and staying focused during the school day. A third daughter
wants to just 'get by', and my son is bored most of the time and
seems to be in a big hurry to get all his work done by noon so he
can have the rest of the day to flit away. Here's the problem. As
you can imagine, the first two daughters mentioned need most of
my undivided attention, so I find myself at the end of the week angry
with myself for not having created an exciting and more adventurous
learning time for the other two. I feel undisciplined, unimaginative,
and generally overwhelmed by what I believe I should be doing as
opposed to what I am actually doing. I should be bringing to the
classroom subjects like Spanish, Home-Ec., Science projects,
typing skills, map studies, etc. and I can't even get all the 'basics'
in. I tend to feel like a failure because I'm overwhelmed by the two
who need the most attention and not attentive enough to the other
two. What I want is to be more organized and creative, yet I feel
that I don't have what it takes to be on this level. Other home-
schoolers in my area are a part of co-ops or homeschooling associ-
ations where they have their kids join others in a more 'class-room-
like' setting, but I feel I can't join them because I lack the time to
put into preparation for others what I can't seem to do for my own
'classroom'. I'm at the point of throwing in the towel. HELP!"
-- Jill in NC

Our Readers' Responses

"First, don't be so hard on yourself. Children with special needs,
regardless of what they are, do require more time, effort, patience,
etc. than others. The basics are just that ... basic ... what all of
us 'need' to know. Everything else is 'extra'.

If you feel it is necessary to add other learning opportunities, you
might be able to find other ways to do it. Home-Ec could be plan-
ning and cooking occasional meals or making craft or sewing pro-
jects. Earning and budgeting money are valuable life skills that
your children might be motivated to learn, since they also get an
immediate benefit; perhaps they can do special chores for pay or
do odd jobs for relatives, neighbors, or friends.

As far as the co-op, perhaps you could come up with a non-tradi-
tional 'subject' to teach on a Saturday or other non-school time:
how about an age-appropriate scripture study if co-op members
are of the same faith; cooking classes; painting -- art, walls, furn-
iture, etc.; gardening, etc.. Think about your hobbies and talents
and go from there. In exchange, perhaps at least your other two
children can participate in 'extra' subjects. Do you have a relative
or friend who can take your other two children on field trips or to
'classes' (music, dance, karate, swimming, etc.) while you work
with your children who most need your attention? Maybe even
better, is there someone who can give the extra attention occa-
sionally while you do other subjects/activities with your other two?

Home school doesn't mean that we have to do everything ourselves.
We should look for help or resources as we need them. Look for a
support group, where you might meet parents with children the
same age. Even though your children are too old for a 'play group',
they might enjoy getting together for learning and fun. I hope you
won't throw in the towel. I wish you the best." -- Sherry A.


"Bless you!!! You seem to be doing a wonderful job, just by
bringing them all home!!! Find computer programs that offer sub-
jects your strong learners can do on their own. This also incorpor-
ates their typing skills. Let them work together to figure out prob-
lems, etc. They need to be fostering that individual learning, and it
sounds like they are good at it anyway. Do the best you can and
get encouragment from your community group. Maybe you could
make Fridays field trips only... to give yourself a break and make
the learning experience hands on. Your strong learners could write
about their experience the next week by typing or writing, and that
covers English and typing or writing practice. You are doing fine.
Sounds like you're trying to get too much in. They are home to
learn to love learning. Remember its NOT quantity, but quality that
makes learning a lifelong desire! You can do it. ONE DAY at a
time! When we are weak, HE is strong!!! Ask the Lord for wisdom
every day. If I look too far ahead, I always get overwhelmed. Take
it slowly." -- Molly in NC


"I know about the stress you are talking about. I have two girls
with special needs who take a lot of my attention, two girls who are
mostly self-motivated perfectionists, a four year old boy and a boy
who is almost twenty-two months old.

Even in the public schools not all classes last the entire year. Some
don't even occur every day. I can remember alternating between sci-
ence and social studies in the sixth grade (PS). In the seventh and
eighth grades (again PS) we spent one quarter in Art, one in Home
Ec., one in Industrial Arts, and one in some other class which I don't
recall right now. In high school my typing class wasn't for an entire
year. You get the idea. Perhaps you could set a period of time each
day for 'extra currricular classes'. During that time you could either
do different classes on different days or spend a set number of days
on each subject." -- Brandi O.


"I think it might help to know that other mothers have struggled with
the problem of feeling guilt for not doing more for their children, even
if those mothers don't have children with any special needs. And yet,
in a sense, each child has special needs. I had one with obsessive
compulsive disorder who drove me to distraction and who refused to
do most of the lessons he was assigned. Today he is a productive
young man with his own business. And he did learn to spell, read,
write and do all the things I tried so hard to teach him but which he
fought against all the way.

There are only so many hours in a day, and we only have so much
energy to go around. Just do what you can humanly do and try not
to feel guilty. I think we homeschool mothers tend to judge our-
selves by what we think we are suppose to be doing, and compare
ourselves, or our children, against what other homeschoolers are
doing. Each family's situation is unique. We need to stop compar-
ing ourselves to the successes of others. Easier said than done!

I have homeschooled for going on 19 years now, and I think I have
carried more than my share of guilt over this or that which I thought
I should do and which didn't get done. We started out with 9 chil-
dren and now have two left who are homeschooling. I have two
married daughters who are homeschooling their children now, so I
feel like I should be taking their children some of the time just to
help my daughters out. I am also a farm wife, so there are other
obligations I must meet besides homeschooling.

So in my situtation, as it has always been in our homeschooling,
sometimes life IS the school. We just have to be creative in seeing
the lessons that are in each day's events and keep the persepective
that everything cannot be bookwork in a homeschool. Sometimes
school has to be child and interests led, and then we moms have to
look at those pursuits as 'school'.

I have suffered guilt many times because I could not get around to
everyone, esprcially when we had 9 children schooling. But I had to
concentrate on helping those who were just learning to read, and
then try to work around to those who might need my attention.

Look at it this way: You are there for your children if they need you.
Sometimes they just have to do things on their own. Life is not about
making everything fun and games for our children. There are lessons
in everything. We just need to have the right expectations for them
and expect them to at least be accountable for some of those things.

Sometimes have to lower our expectations of what we can do, as
well as our expectations of what we expect our children to do. We
have to keep a balance between what is realistic for our children as
well as for ourselves as homeschooling mothers. And then some-
times we have to raise our expectation of what a child should do
and not let them just get by with no accountablity. It's surprising
how much a child can learn on his own, once he/she has been given
the basics in math and reading. The world is literally at their

Sometimes we have to let our children lead out and let us know what
it is they would like to accomplish. This is harder, perhaps, when a
child is young, than when they are older. But even then, when a
child is given some freedom to choose, they come up with many
creative learnig situations that they wouldn't have if all their time
was scheduled up.

Sometimes siblings can help each other... or distract each other!
Maybe while you are helping the two who need you the most, the
other two can be assigned to help each other do spelling, or work
together on writing or math.

The big thing is be realistic about your time and energy. Only you
know what things you have to do during a day, besides doing school-
work. You need time and energy to do those things, as well. When
I had small babies, I would get depressed because all I could do was
baby, because each one had colic for three months so I never got
enough sleep.

It was all I could do to hold the household together, and read to the
children, or listen to them read to me, and have them help with the
baby and the household chores. I knew that eventually the baby
would not be so time intensive and we could get back to more
planned activities. But I have never been able to do all that my mind
can dream up and plan. I just don't have that kind of energy or time
to carry those ideal things out.

But I have graduated 7 from our homeschool and they are all intelli-
gent, productive and wonderful people despite my failings in being
able to do everything. And yet, I still carry a sense of guilt because
I wasn't all things to all people all the time!

Guilt is not good if it causes you to feel like a failture and give up
when you could, in reality, be a stablizing influence for good in the
lives of your chldren. After all, the most important thing is not aca-
demics, but to be able to cause your children to maintain a sense
of wonder, creativity and joy in learning throughout their lives, and
to give them the basics so they can do that. As they mature, they
can take responsibility for learning anything that they did not gain
under your tutelage. Knowledge is everywhere!" -- Jeanette S.

Answer our NEW Question

"I homeschool my two sons, ages 14 and 8. This is our 5th year,
miraculously. I really believe it's what God wants me to do, and
I'm thankful I'm able to do it without having to work outside the
home, etc. I was diagnosed with MS almost 4 years ago, and my
symptoms vary. Mostly I don't sleep well sometimes, I'm extra
tired, etc. I feel very unorganized, like I'm not accomplishing what
I'm supposed to, or I fear that they are not learning what they're
supposed to. My 8 year old is very energetic, and my teenager is,
well, a teenager. I try to do unit studies with my youngest, but it
seems like I never get anything done. He is very easily distracted,
can't sit still for long periods unless he's playing a game or watch-
ing TV, and he absolutely hates workbooks like Alpha Omega
we've tried. I know they are learning all the time, but I'm talking
about basic skills. He reads very well, but he doesn't like to write
that much. I'm afraid he's going to get behind in math because
all he wants to do are online math games. Is that enough? My
oldest son works mostly on his own, so I'm not too worried about
him. They're very healthy, very bright children that I thank God for,
but I find myself getting easily stressed and frustrated because it
never goes like I plan it. How does everyone stay organized and
on schedule?" -- Angela A.


Do have personal experience or wisdom to share with Angela?

Please send your answer 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!

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