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De-Schooling, Nutrition, Co-ops (2)

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 13, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 43 October 13, 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
-- Co-ops (Part Two)
Helpful Tips
-- Nutrition Miracles
Website Winners
-- Science House
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Homeschool Co-ops (Part Two)
by Karen Lange

If your co-op plan is to meet regularly and have more than three
families participate, I recommend having a simple statement of
purpose. I always resisted these types of formalities; I felt it took
away my freedom to be creative and flexible. It wasn’t long, though,
before I realized that a statement of purpose helps keep things run-
ning smoothly and avoid misunderstandings. A few simple guide-
lines and a statement of purpose will clarify your vision and make
sure everyone is on the same page while retaining the flexibility
and creativity you desire.

One teen co-op we participated in was not considered large; we
averaged around 10 to 16 students. We used the following state-
ment of purpose: 'This Co-op is meant to provide enrichment acti-
vities for home/unschooled teens, grades 7-12, in a relaxed, group
setting. Activities are meant to supplement, not replace, other
schooling'. We used this as a guide because we’d have new fami-
lies participate at times. This statement avoided expectations
otherwise; they would know that we were a group of families, not
a school, who wanted to learn and socialize together.

We included the statement of purpose on an info sheet we distri-
buted each year -- it also listed phone numbers, any payment info,
meeting location, and dates. You might also want to include a
brief summary of the co-op’s educational philosophy, such as un-
schooling, classical, unit study, and so on, as it affects lessons.
Some co-ops include a code of conduct to clarify behavior expected
of participants as required by the group and the meeting facility
(such as a church). Also included might be any guidelines pertinent
to your group or setting such as teaching duties, clean up, etc.

We set up a biweekly schedule for the teen co-op for fall and spring.
It was designed to work around family schedules and study time,
vacations, etc. It was also based on the amount of time needed for
projects we wanted to do. We met about 10 times each semester.
Sometimes our scheduled dates would change to accommodate a
field trip. We were flexible and made sure that there was time for
students and parents to socialize.

One parent per family was required to be present and participate in
our activities. This helped ensure that families shared responsibilities
so no one was left with all the work. The parents did the primary
instruction, with teens teaching occasionally and contributing in
other ways too. Sometimes students would work on projects in
small groups and share their research with the rest of the co-op. We
often taught in teams, which helped parents who were intimidated
by the thought of teaching. We used lessons, games, skits, field
trips, and guest speakers, among other things, which provided ample
opportunity for all to share the necessary responsibilities.

Finances for this co-op were handled as simply as possibly. We
collected a yearly family co-op fee of $25, and an additional fee per
semester that varied according to proposed expenses. Fees covered
materials such as lab equipment, field trips, books, copy expenses,
guest speakers, building rental, etc. Generally, the semester fee
ranged from $10 - $25 per student, depending on the number of stu-
dents participating and the above mentioned expenses. Discounts
for multiple students in one family were given. We opened a basic
savings account with a low minimum balance and no extra fees,
with two parents’ names on the account for easy access to the
funds. Any extra funds at the end of the final semester were either
kept in the account to use the next year, and/or for a party, extra
field trip, or something else the group agreed on.

These ideas are merely examples and guidelines for you to brain-
storm with, to help you get started, and to help avoid pitfalls along
the way. If your co-op is going to be small, you may not require
handling finances or a statement of purpose and or any of the
above suggestions. Don’t get bogged down with the mechanics.
When, how, and where you meet is up to you. Consider a trial run
to see how things go and how everyone likes it. Enjoy the time
together, be creative, and keep it simple! Whatever co-op route
you choose, they can provide unlimited opportunities and learning

[Karen Lange is a freelance writer, homeschool consultant, and
creator of the Homeschool Online Writing Co-op for teens. Visit
her website here: http://www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com ]


Send your own 'real life' experiences with co-ops as a 'Part Three'
to this series on Monday! Email with "Co-ops" in the subject line.

Send your emails to hn-ideas@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Nutrition Miracles

"I tried an experiment late in the school year which turned out to
be a miracle. I homeschool my 10 and 4 year old sons, and a 9
year old daughter. My boys are easily distracted and they all often
lose concentration very quickly after breakfast. Needless to say,
after too many frustrating school days and unnecessary tears, I
tried something new. I took each and every ingesitble substance
in the house,carefully read the ingredient labels, and completely
eliminated 'high fructose corn syrup' (HCFS) from their diet. This
was frightening at first because everything contains this poison. I
substituted Pepperidge Farm 15 grain bread; Smucker's all natural
peanutbutter; Polaner All-Fruit jams... I served eggs and Canadian
bacon, organic oatmeal or high-protein, gluten-free, all natural cereals
for breakfast. I eliminated the few processed foods we had. Thank-
fully they love their fruits and veggies!! THEN I gave each child a
teaspoon of high quality Fish Oil (mixed with 1/3 cup orange juice).
I can't tell you the change in behaviour, attitude, concentration and
grades!!! Memory retention was also vastly improved. And, as an
added blessing, my 4 year old's eczema completely disappeared for
the first time in his life!!! I have completely different children -
and we all feel much better without the HFCS." -- Gretchen


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

Website Winners

Science House -- http://www.science-house.org/

This site features online games for a variety of science disciplines,
along with a cool section called 'Counter Top Chemistry'. The
chemistry experiments involve stuff you probably already have in
your kitchen and they can all be performed in there, too. Also,
don’t miss 'Science Junction' for more experiments and interactive
science games.


Questions, comments, suggestions? I’d love to hear from you!
email: cindy@homeschoolingfromtheheart.com

Have a GREAT weekend! -- Cindy

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Thank you for such a wonderful forum for sharing homeschooling
advice and techniques! I have been reading your e-mails for about
a year now and we are now seriously considering homeschooling
our daughters, ages 5 and 7. They are currently attending a tradi-
tional elementary school and we have decided that the public school
system is not the best fit for either child at this time. The girls are
often bored in class and the pace is far too slow during the day, yet
the teachers weigh them down with a good deal of busy work which
lasts all evening. I know their time can be better spent. We all want
to be able to spend more time together and both girls are excited
about the possibility of homeschooling. There is a very active home-
school educators group in my area and I am friends with a number of
homeschooling moms already. I have started looking into the pro-
grams, field trips and suppport the group offers.

I think we will begin our homeschool adventure in January (3 months
from now). What are the most important things we need to know as
we make this transition? What issues should I be most concerned
about? I would love to hear any personal stories about this type of
transition and I sincerely appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank
you!" -- Faye in NC

Our Readers' Responses

"I'd say you are already doing the most important things -- asking
questions and planning ahead. We took our two children out of
public school almost 10 years ago. One of the best things you
can do for your children, and yourself, is to remember that home-
school should not look like public school. (Nor should it look exactly
like anyone else's homeschool). Don't expect your children to sit
at a desk or table and do workbook pages (at least not initially).
Take as much time as you need to get used to being home learning
together. Be flexible. Have fun. Consider learning opportunities
such as cooking together, playing games, walking outside, and
reading lots of good books to your kids. Public schools do a good
job of squelching a child's natural desire to learn. You need to help
your children redevelop the joy of learning for the sake of learning.
I highly recommend Dr. Raymond Moore's books, especially 'Better
Late than Early'. Don't fall into the trap of feeling like you must
teach your child everything, immediately. Do remember that charac-
ter issues are as important, if not more important than academics.
Time spent training your children to obedience, diligence, kindness,
etc. is time well spent, and will make subsequent academic lessons
much more pleasant for everyone. Enjoy the journey!" -- Laurie


"A full school day does not have to be 6 or 8 hours long! I raced
through almost a year's worth of school work when we started
homeschooling. I was afraid they would get behind. (They didn't.)
The first few months are the hardest, with trying to decide on all
the new things, and I bought way too much. More expensive is
not always a better book. Homeschool conventions are worth the
trip and the money when you are starting. They offer lots of expo-
sure to different curricula and classes/workshops.

THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I have found: If they love a subject
(for example, bugs) let them study it! (Even at the expense of
time on other subjects.) Use that love in any way you can to
keep interest in other subjects. Let them learn to love learning
by studying what they enjoy and they will be self-motivated as
time goes on." -- Kandi in OK


"I would suggest really taking them out now! Give them a
deschooling/transition time (1 month for every year they have
been in school), watch them and really get to know them. I have
a 12 year old son that was in school 8 years and our deschooling
time was 8 months. Because of their ages you won't have more
than 4 months anyway, which would get you through the holidays
and give you time to unwind from all of the rushing around as well.

Deschooling was so difficult at first because I was terrified he
was going to become lazy and choose not to learn anything. This
was the furthest thing from the truth! My son already had discon-
nect his first year of 6th grade and then he had to repeat 6th grade.
By the time I pulled him he had just sat in class for close to 13
months and done almost NOTHING! I would fight with him every
night to complete an assignment and if he did then he wouldn't
turn it in. He was telling me that he really HATED school! He
would fight anything he thought was connected to school but if I
was cooking and to double 3/4 cup of water, he would pop off the
answer without hesitation! I knew he was capable but couldn't
understand why he wasn't showing his abilities. After MUCH re-
search I realized he was a KINESTHETIC learner and sitting in
school just to retain and regurgitate was killing him and forcing
him in a hole he wasn't going to fit in. He tested as gifted in
2nd grade and by 4th grade it was 'suggested' that he was ADHD
and that is when he was labeled a 'problem child'.

If you haven't already, I would suggest reading '100 Top Picks for
Homeschooling Curriculum'. There are questions for finding your
child's learning style and what learning method best suits them.
I cried when I realized that my child wasn't rebellious but just

While going through the deschooling period it was so difficult for
me to release control and to stop trying to force a lesson from
everything we did. When I finally relaxed I realized how much I
enjoyed his company and how willing he was to really learn. I
also realized that learning just doesn't come from a textbook and
'x' amount of hours sitting at a table reading. I let him pick what
he wants to learn and he's very willing to learn complex things...
and at times we have easy lessons. Right now he's learning
about Ireland (from The Everything Irish History & Heritage Book).
My point is that he's wanting to learn so many things that I'm
now having a difficult time trying to keep up with him to stay
connected with what he's learning. He LOVES to read now and
that's something he refused to do while in school. The school
required 30 minutes a night reading and he wouldn't even do that!
Now, he reads everything - ALL THE TIME! Everywhere we go
he has a book in his hand!

So then I decided to pull my 7 and 5 year old out of school. I
left them in school because my 7 year old thrived in the public
school setting (one of the few) and my 5 year old was in kinder-
garten which involved a lot of singing and dancing (which is his
learning style). I knew that keeping them in public school was
not the best place for them but I wanted to make sure I could
handle the 12 year old first before taking on all 3 of them. I have
to say that I'm having the time of my life! My boys are no longer
negatively influenced by other kids and they are more involved
with learning through their experiences with the community (my
12 year old volunteers at the Humane Society), sports (at least
2 per season), music (guitar & violin), dance (ballroom & hip hop),
theater, and church to name a few. I love being able to have the
freedom to travel and live life freely without worrying about some-
one else's schedule (school days/hour). You will notice that life
is less stressful when you just let children live and learn!

By the way...since my 7 year old loves working in textbooks I
have only ordered them for him but I find my 12 year old working
with his brother in them as well. When I run through various math
problems or spelling words the 12 year old jumps right in. Sure
it's 3rd grade material but hey, he's sharpening his basic skills
and he's helping his brother to learn!

My youngest is a little mocking bird so if I want him to remember
something all I have to do is ask the other two boys to walk around
repeating it and soon I hear the 5 year old saying it when he thinks
no one is listening.

This is my experience and it may not fit well with your lifestyle but
part of homeschooling is realizing what works best for your children.
Remember - RELAX, LISTEN, AND BE PATIENT!" -- Catherine in FL


"What came to mind right away, is to say: Keep a schedule. It's
too easy to get lazy in the morning. I've been homeschooling my
granddaughters for 4 years now, and they tend to get sluggish; I
have to keep motivating them or taking privileges away from them if
they refuse to get up. The girls were in 3rd and 2nd when I pulled
them; the youngest wanted to stay in public school, but now is
happy to stay home and learn at her pace. The oldest has a lot of
problems and is more than happy to stay with grandma.

Make learning fun. If it gets boring, it will become harder on you
and them. Stick a fun day in every once in a while, learning with
hands-on science or baking for math. There are many things to
keep learning fun.

My girls tend to want to lay around to read. That's okay some-
times, but not always. On nice warm days, take a blanket outside
on the lawn. After their reading, or any subject for that matter, have
a picnic lunch. They'll love it, I'm sure. Or take your school to the
park and do the same thing! Enjoy your children to the fullest.

Socialization is important, but what happens at the schools, at
least around here, is not socializing at all. Other children can be
very mean, something we had to deal with for the oldest because
she learns differently than others. There really wasn't time for the
public school teachers to teach her, so she was still struggling to
understand 1st grade work in the 3rd grade. WE have time to sit
down and really teach. We don't have 30 to 40 children!
God bless you!" -- Jan in Missouri


"I am only going to offer one piece of advice to your question.
Take your girls out of school NOW and enjoy them for the next 3
months. They are going to need time to deprogram from public school,
and you are going to want to spend time getting to really know them
and their learning styles. Don't worry, they will not miss anything.
Cook with them, play games with them, visit your local homeschooling
groups, make arts and crafts with them. ENJOY them, but whatever you
do, don't leave them in public school any longer while you wait for
your start date!"

Answer our NEW Question(s)

[Note: Amazingly, this past week the only 2 questions I received
in my in-box were in regard to dyslexia! I am posting both
Rhonda's and Melissa's emails here together for your responses.]


"My seven year old daughter struggles with reading and spelling.
She does better at math. I've noticed her switching letters around
alot. I know that some of this is common at this age, but I wonder
if it might be that she's dyslexic. She shows other signs as well.
I'm going to get her eyes checked to make sure it isn't an eyesight
problem, but I was wondering what would be the best thing to do.
Should I go ahead and find a curriculum that is better suited for
children with this problem? And what curriculum is out there for
this?" -- Rhonda


"I have been homeschooling for a few years now and everything
has been running pretty well until I ran into problems teaching my
third daughter how to read. I am almost positive that she has dys-
lexia. She often jumbles up her letters and misreads words that
she should be able to read at her age. I think her case is not very
severe as she can read fairly well but below grade level. I was
wondering if anyone has had this problem and what techniques,
curriculum, or resources have been helpful in dealing with this.
Also, has anyone had their child tested for this? I am not sure if
I should have my daughter tested. Thanks so much in advance
for any input you may have regarding this situation." -- Melissa


Do you have some suggestions or a personal experience 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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Next - Special Needs, Dyslexia, Galloping the Globe!
Previous - Co-ops (1), Math facts, Sequential Spelling

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