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Getting Organized... and Welcome Cindy!

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, October 02, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 40 October 2, 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
-- Introducing Cindy!
Helpful Tips
-- Speed Work (Part 2)
Resource Reviews
-- by Cindy Prechtel
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Dear Readers,

Welcome to our very first Monday issue! And we have even more
exciting news!

Due to overwhelming interest in having regular, unbiased reviews of
both popular and also not-so-well-known curriculum products and
supplemental resources, I have decided to add to our editing staff.

This week I welcome Cindy Prechtel on board as our new 'Resource
Reviews' and 'Website Winners' editor. In an effort to bring you
more practical help in both choosing curriculum and finding your
way around the internet, I invited Cindy to be our resident expert!

After observing Cindy's ministry, Homeschooling from the Heart,
for the past 5 years, I formally proposed to her. (Sounds like a
marriage, doesn't it? LOL)

In this first issue I asked her to share about herself and her vision
for her newly created position, so you can read all about it in the
'Resource Reviews' section today.

Thank you for joining me in giving Cindy a warm welcome to our
Homeschooler's Notebook!

Heather Idoni


Do you have suggestions for our newsletter? Please share!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Another Kind of Speed Work!

"We set a timer for everything -- how long before we have to walk
out the door, how long should it take to wash dishes. I had one
friend that would sit with her son and say 'How long do you think it
will take you to do this math page?' -- '20 minutes, okay' -- and she
would write '20 minutes' on the top of the page and they would both
initial it, then she would set a stop watch, and at 20 minutes they
would put a mark, done with the page for the day. Next day -- "How
long to finish this page, same thing -- write time and initial.

At first she said it took sometimes 3 days to finish a page, then the
first time he got the page done in the agreed-upon time, he got free
computer time for the day -- 5 minutes. However, when he got the
page done BEFORE the agreed upon time he got 5 minutes of com-
puter time for EACH minute he did not use on math. He started get-
ting the page done quickly (for the reward -- but he did get minutes
taken away the next day for sloppy or wrong answers. She had to
track the amount of time he was agreeing to (so he would not pad
the time) but his confidence grew and after 4 months she had no
more problems with him dawdling in this area." -- Sandy in Omaha


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

Resource Reviews

Cindy Prechtel writes...

"Each Monday we will feature a 'Resource Review' in this issue,
but today I'm going to share a bit about myself and why I'm so
excited to be contributing to this newsletter.

First, let me say how honored and excited I am to be able to be
a part of Homeschooler's Notebook! I'm looking forward to getting
to know you and sharing some great websites and resources each
issue. My husband, PJ, and I have been homeschooling our two
boys 'forever' in sunny, SW Florida. The boys are now (almost) 15
and 12 years old. We have used a variety of methods along the
way, but tend to be fairly relaxed and delight-driven, especially
during the elementary years.

Several years ago I began a newsletter featuring homeschool
product reviews.


Publishers regularly send me their products for review, so I get to
see and try lots of great materials. I also own a business/ministry,
Homeschooling From the Heart, which offers many great resources
at great prices. When I share a review I can promise you that it will
be thorough and balanced. I know that every curriculum is not
right for every family, so my goal is to give you the best 'snapshot'
possible, so you can decide if a product is right for you.

HS Notebook's Friday feature will be a 'Winning Website'. In 2001
I wrote 'Using the Internet In Your Homschool', which now has
almost 1000 websites all organized by subject area. I keep the
book updated via email for everyone who purchases it; letting them
know what sites are dead and adding new sites with each update.
We use the internet and real life learning, as much as possible, so
I am always on the look out for useful, FREE sites! You can read
more about my book here:


Homeschooler's Notebook is all about YOU! Please feel free to
share suggestions and comments or ask about specific resources
you'd like to see reviewed. I am always happy to contact a
publisher and request review copies.

That does it for this issue! I'll see you again on Friday when
the fun begins with my first 'Winning Website'!" -- Cindy

Last Issue's Reader 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.

Our Readers' Responses

"I am a retired public school teacher and I also operated a private
school in my home. I want to make your life easier -- and your
children happier -- with just a few suggestions.

Do not worry about what public school classes are doing. For
example: even though the pupils are in school 6 to 8 hours (usually),
MUCH of that time is wasted. When I had my private school we met
only from 10 am to 2 pm, four days a week, and we accomplished
a lot more. There were almost no discipline problems, even though
we had pupils with personal problems.

If you give your children a good foundation in reading, English
grammar, and arithmetic (notice I did not say 'math'), they will suc-
ceed in college. The main reason for teaching science, geography,
history, etc. is to give them something interesting to read! I believe
you understand that your children will benefit from any good, useful
teaching you can give them. I am not suggesting that you do not
give them all the instruction you can manage. I think music and art
are basics, even though the smart people cry 'Cut out frills like
music and art to save money'.

Don't feel apologetic about your child who has a different learning
style. One of the many reasons for home schooling is to allow for
individual differences.

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't teach your children. Hang
in there." -- Bonnie Duncan


"As a past homeschooler of 5 children, I had MS as well and slept
a lot. So I can relate totally. What I did was have the children help
make the study plan for 2 weeks. This helped them with their org-
anizational skills as well as letting them see what they were going
to learn in the next couple of weeks. It can also help with seeing
the 'Whole Picture' of what they are studying besides just the day-to-
day work." -- Rose M.


"I too have MS and I home school 3 kids, ages11, 9, & 5. Your con-
cerns sound normal to any home schooler. First of all I want to say
GOOD FOR YOU for doing what God has called you to do. He will
bless you and make it possible. I too never think I get it all done.
But public schools don't either.

Being organized helps, but it isn't always possible with the fatigue
MS can throw at you. Know your body, rest when you need to, say
no more often (without guilt).

I find that on the days I have to go anywhere I am zapped, so I cut
that down. I also find that taking a nap right after lunch has increased
my productivity for the rest of the day. No matter how busy I am, I
know I will get more done if I stop and nap. I have been doing this
since my kids were young. We call it quiet time. For 1 hour between
1 pm and 2 pm everyone takes a book or school work they can do
alone to their room. They cannot disturb me unless the house is on
fire! I turn off the phone and put a sign over my doorbell that says
'Please do not ring bell -- we are napping'. The neighborhood kids
and even the UPS guy know not to ring. I put in ear plugs and sleep
or just rest in my bed or the sunroom. It has made my day bearable."


"I stay organized by writing out my day. I work a few part time jobs
(teaching adult classes, direct marketing business, counselor) and I
homeschool. I spend a bunch of time on the phone or computer and
it can get very overwhelming. I can get lost if not careful!

What I do is called 'time blocking'. I write out my week 1 week at a
time. I fill in by the hours where I will be and what I will be doing.
Every day has 3 time sections: morning, afternoon, and evening.

Then I have a 'to do' list with no more than 12 things on it. If it
doesn't get done that day it goes to the top of the list the next day.

Monday through Thursday, from 8 am until about 10 am, we home-
school -- my kids are 4 and 7. I do not answer the phone or have
doctor appointments at this time.

In the afternoon I feed the kids a snack and then I am doing what is
on my list: on the phone doing trainings, following up with email, mak-
ing calls because something just broke (this week, 2 appliances!),
scheduling appointments, playing a game with the kids, etc.

In the evening, I pack things for my girls' Ballet class, read my Bible
study, make dinner, give baths, make a few more follow up calls, or
whatever is left from the day, etc.

I have a lot less guilt -- and on many days none -- because I know
I gave everyone a little bit of me today, including myself. I did the
best I could. I use to think I was very efficient, but the truth was I
easily wasted my time away. I didn't know, right in front of me clearly,
what I had to do that day. I had an idea but I often missed stuff.
Then I had to play catch-up the next 2 days, because I was almost
late in talking to someone... or making appointments... or buying food
for the household, etc." -- Michelle in Oregon


"I too have a son that gets distracted very easily. I've also had some
very challenging health issues. First, don't try to do too much at once.
Take it slow and in small increments. Your child will retain more
information that way. This year I found a free online curriculum that
my son finally likes. It is called Ambleside Online. There is not much
'workbook' work so he loves it. It is also literature-based which works
well if your child likes to read. I would check it out online and see
if it works for your family." -- Heather H.

[ http://www.AmblesideOnline.org ]


"I too am not physically well, which in turn seeps into my mental
capacities to be orderly and get tasks done. But what I have learned
is this: If you truly believe that God wants you to homeschool, He
will help you, and He will guide you to do what is truly 'necessary'.
I think sometimes we compare ourselves to others and how much they
accomplish, or we have extremely high expectations for ourselves,
but we really need to be content in what God has us do, and do what
we can to the best of our ability." -- Anna


"Angela, I really wouldn't sweat it unless you are not doing anything
all the time. I have been home schooling 4 years now and each year
I get a little bit more loose with my teaching. We accomplish some-
thing everyday and I am now seeing that we can stop and have fun
with something that both my children can do together. When I say
we do something everyday I mean mainly math and language; some
days we might only get math done. We don't follow this pattern every
week though. God has helped me tremendously when I thought would
never fit something in for my 3 year old. It just seemed that they
both were working on Oceans recently without me even planning it. Then
this week we had a visitor from India and needless to say not much
home school done, but God ordered it that we went to the science
center and they showed a movie called The Deep Blue Sea. It's won-
derful to have Him give me wisdom each day! I will praying for you
and your family." -- Millie J.


[Editor's note: For those who are organizationally 'challenged'
there is a wonderful non-threatening email group you can join.
It is just for homeschoolers... and it is called 'Almost Organized'.]


Answer our NEW Question

"I have a question I would like your readers to help me with. I am
new to homeschooling. I have a reluctant 5 year old son who I am
struggling to teach to read. I also have a very smart 6 year old in
first grade and an 8 year old third grader. My question is this: What
do your readers do when they have different grades to each give your
attention when everybody needs you to look at whatever they are
doing? I am easily burdened by their demands, not bad demands,
they just want me to see what they are working on, but I also want
to give attention to my son since he's the one who needs it the most.
Thank you; any help would be greatly appreciated." -- J. M.


Do you have some words of advice or encouragement to share?

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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