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FUNschooling, Fall Fun, and Crazy Libs!

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 20, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 45 October 20, 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
-- FUNschooling!
Helpful Tips
-- Fall Fun
Website Winners
-- Crazy Libs
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

[The following article is the 2nd of two very personal article about
homeschooling the special needs child. In this account, JoJo
shares her discovery that a child can even be gifted and still have
special needs. She also shares some tips for the style of teaching
she adapted to meet this son's needs. Enjoy! -- Heather]

by JoJo Tabares

"I am a goofball by nature so it's natural to introduce a little fun
into almost everything I do. I love to entertain and make people
laugh. Homeschooling my daughter was fairly easy. She is very
bright, had her preferences but was fairly adaptable to any learning
environment. However, when I began formally homeschooling my
son, 'Mr. Ants-in-the-Pants', FUNschooling became not only preferable,
but necessary!

When my son was about a year old, my daughter and I began to
notice some odd behaviors. He would scream if we put his bare
feet down on the grass, throw a purple fit if there was a tag on his
shirt, had to take off his socks, told us his hair and teeth hurt
when we tried to brush them and generally seemed to have a tough time
concentrating on most things. I really thought there was something
wrong with him and began scouring the internet looking up things like
'Why does my son run, hold his ears and scream when we enter a
restaurant?' And stuff like this:

At the age of two, I had to keep careful eye on him in order to avoid
choking. Mr. Ants Pants was naturally inquisitive. After taking a
bite of something, he would spot a fly on the wall and find it so fas-
cinating that he would forget he had food in his mouth. All of a
sudden, it would become necessary for him to remark on his 'fly
findings', but before doing so, he would take a deep breath in order
to get a good long ramble out and...! We came very close to needing
the Heimlich maneuver. At this point, Mr. Ants Pants could spend 3 or
6 hours on the computer playing educational games, but had a hard time
paying attention when we gave him directions. Eating was still a 2 hour
activity! (eat a bite...notice a fly...eat a bite...run to get a toy
...eat a bite...play with the carpet...eat a bite...hit himself over the
head with a new object to see what it felt like!)

My research turned up something I hadn't considered before. My
son was gifted! I knew my kids were very bright, but I hadn't con-
sidered this possibility. I discovered something else that day. Mr.
Ants Pants had Sensory Integration Dysfunction (in his case too
much sensory input to process correctly) and A.D.D. type symp-
toms. Boy that explained a thing or two!

At the age of three, he decided he just had to play my daughter's
third grade computer program. I told him it was too hard for him
but he INSISTED. After asking me every two seconds (two solid
hours!) for help in order to read the instructions, I finally told him
that I had to do some work and would have to help him later. I
thought he would get bored or frustrated and give up. NOPE!
After a while I realized that he was doing well with it! He was
listening to the program read the words that were printed in the
instructions and following along. A short time later, I found him
reading other things. So at the age of three, he taught himself
to read!

After one last encounter with Math Acrobatics, FUNschooling
began full time at our house. Everyone knows that you can't pay
attention if you are fidgeting so I told him to sit on the couch as
we did our math lesson that day. He started off in a sitting position
and then he leaned over on his side. As the lesson progressed,
he put his feet up on the back of the couch with his head down
hanging off the couch. Soon thereafter, he rolled over on the other
side and eventually wound up in a position I can only describe as
resembling Mork from Ork! After telling him to sit still numerous
times he ended up falling off the couch and hitting his head on
the coffee table. Lesson over!

Back I went to the internet to find a better way to teach Mr. Ants
Pants! In researching giftedness and A.D.D., I found several
tidbits that helped me to formulate a FUNschooling plan for my
son. Here is a list of tips for teaching highly distractible children:

1. Allow Them to Respond Orally. -- Many ADD children (especi-
ally boys) have a hard time writing. Allow them to answer orally
in order to facilitate learning the material and worry about hand-
writing and writing skills when they are old enough to focus and
their hand eye coordination is better.

2. Integrate Motion into Everything You Can. -- Some children
just cannot focus unless they ARE moving. Allow your son to
bounce on a ball while reading or walk around while answering
or use unit studies where they can involve as many of their 5
senses as possible in the activity.

3. Put Up Visual and Auditory Blinders. -- Some kidlettes work
best when there are no distractions. Turn off the TV, move them
into a quiet room, get rid of the fly!

4. Make things FUN! -- Use humor whenever possible. Make
lessons into a game. Use unit studies. Involve crafts. Get
their entire mind and body involved in the learning! Studies
show that humor helps kids focus and when they are having
fun they learn more.

5. Don't Do Everything in Every Book. -- If you do use a text,
feel free to skip things! Gifted kids find repetition boring and
get easily distracted if they are not learning something new.
ADD kidlings find repetition boring and are easily distracted by
it as well. Remember, this is homeschool. You can decide
how much stuff you want to do!

6. Give Your Child a Checklist of the Day's Assignments. --
These kids need to know how much time they are going to
spend doing what. They need to understand what they will be
doing so they can tell how much longer they have until they
can relax.

7. Watch Your Teaching Tempo and Time. -- Teach in short
bursts of maybe 20 or 30 minutes and take frequent breaks.
This allows the kids to blow off steam and regroup for the next
subject. This is especially helpful for the younger kidlings!

Humor breaks down barriers, facilitates learning and just makes
things more fun! All schooling should be FUNschooling but it is
especially important for kids with focusing issues, learning dis-
abilities, gifted kids who are easily bored and shy kids who need
to be shown that things aren't as frightening as they may appear!

Happy FUNschooling!"


JoJo Tabares is the author of the 'Say What You Mean' series
of curricula on effective communication skills. Her humorous and
Christian approach to this subject has made her a sought after
speaker. She runs a Yahoo support group for Christian home-
schooling parents of shy, gifted and ADD children, and hosts the
semiannual Carnival of FUNschooling on her blog, Communication
FUNdamentals, the home of the 'Misadventures of Foot in Mouth
Man'. JoJo lives in Southern California where she homeschools
her two children. For more info on JoJo's FUNschooling tools and
links to her other ministries, visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com


Do you have comments to share? Please send your emails to:


Here are two lovely comments I received regarding Holly Hoffman's
article last issue:

"Holly's positive outlook and approach facing four boys, all of whom
have special needs causes me to rethink my own attitude. Given her
example, surely I can be more patient and positive with my one son
who does not warrant a specific label but who can nonetheless push
patience to the outer limits. Accomplishing that I can then extend
that same patience to my daughters as well." -- Mother of 3 in NY

"A cool drink *and* a cool breeze on a hot day! Life is hard, but God
is good! Thanks so much for Holly's encouraging article!" -- Aleta S.



Helpful Tip

"Fall is a time of harvesting. To help teach this concept we drove
into the country and watched farmers harvesting wheat. We talked
about the many ways wheat is used and discussed the different
ways wheat has been harvested over the years. We also incorpor-
ated the story of Ruth into this lesson. When we arrived home we
made our own yummy 'Haystacks'. The following recipe has only
2 ingredients and everyone can get involved.


Large Bag Chow Mein Noodles
2 pkgs of Butterscotch Morsels

Melt the Butterscoth Morsels over low heat. Do not overheat. After
morsels are melted remove from heat and add the bag of Chow
Mein Noodles. Stir until evenly coated. Spoon onto a tray covered
in waxpaper. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. They are then ready to
eat!" -- Elizabeth in NC


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

Website Winners

Crazy Libs -- http://www.rinkworks.com/crazylibs

"One of my favorite ways to teach and reinforce the parts of speech
is with Mad Libs(R). This website offers lots fun fill-in-the-blank,
'crazy libs' for students. Some are original stories, while others are
from classic books like 'Green Eggs and Ham' and 'Tarzan'."

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a question about homeschooling boys and was wondering
if anyone has experience with teenage boys. Mine isn’t a case of
rebellion or laziness, but I do think that my son’s brain fell out. You
would be glad to know that we have since found it. I hadn’t really
thought about it, since we have moved past that stage, but today I
was talking to a lady whose son seems to have similar symptoms.
Around the 7th-8th grade year, our otherwise bright sons were un-
able to complete simple tasks that only a year before were doable.
For example, during math problems they would switch from addition
to subtraction during the middle of a calculation. Just a total lack
of focus. Week after week, problem after problem. When the prob-
lem was presented to them they could see what they did wrong
but had no clue as to why they had made such a major error. Has
anyone else experienced this in the prepubescent years? Could
you point me to an article that specifically addresses this topic?
Any help would be appreciated." --Denise W.

Our Readers' Responses

"We have homeschooled our soon-to-be 14 year old, the youngest
of three boys, since first grade, and have experienced the same
problem. Rest assured it is normal and will pass. Their energy is
totally spent on development with little left for brainpower. Try keep-
ing lessons short during their best part of the day and focus the rest
on physical activity. Routines are very helpful now as it allows for
success without too much concentration. Try not to expect too
much during this temporary mental regression but do not let it slide
into a lack of discipline or excuse making either. I use this stage for
lots of review and subjects of particular interest to them which pro-
vides some much needed self-motivation. With math make sure
they check their work before you do as part of the assignment by
doing reverse operations or other method if possible. That way there
is more motivation to get it right and the mistakes are more obvious
to them which is what's most important anyway. After several times
of correcting the same mistake it will finally sink in." -- Pamela in FL


"While I am not a homeschooler I carefully watch over my six chil-
dren's education and supplement when necessary. I chuckled when
I read this letter. My second son began a growth spurt between the
age of 12 1/2 and 13 1/2 - in fact he grew 8 inches that year. Alas,
he too lost his brain during that time. I used to tell him that I would
pick him up after school because even though we have lived in the
same house for 12 years I was sure he would get lost. This would
make him smile. He couldn't even remember if he had a substitute
teacher in a certain class that day. It was not just his schoolwork
that suffered. I remember going skiing with the kids and when we
went to leave my son said that someone had mistakenly taken his
boots and left some other ones behind. We drove home (an hour
and a half away), he walked in, saw his dad's boots (which were
similar to his), looked at me and said, 'I guess those were my boots'
-- Ughhhhh! Anyhow, I spoke with one of our local doctor's wives
as their son also went through a rapid growth spurt. Their experience
was the same. I am not sure if there is a correlation between how
much they grow in a certain time and the degree of forgetfulness but
this would make for interesting research! My son is now 14 and was
accepted onto the academic team for grade 10. He is quite mature
for his age and very responsible. SO hang in there!" -- Gaye

Answer our NEW Question

For Night Owls...

"I have a question I am almost embarassed to ask. However,
after polling some other homeschool moms, I realized I am not
unusual. Maybe it's just taboo to admit it. A little background -
I work in children's ministry full-time with my husband, work a
janitorial job 20 hours a week and homeschool 4 kids, ranging
from pre-schooler to 17.

Anyway, here goes. I can't seem to EVER wake up in the morn-
ing at a decent time. Because of the ministry we have a lot of
late nights, so I know that is part of the problem. Plus the fact
that Daddy thinks every night he is home is party night and we
should all (including the four year old) stay up and watch classic
movies with him, arrgh.

I can't blame him completely, though. When I was a little girl my
parents had to work at waking me up on Christmas morning, I was
such a sleepy head! Even if I do manage to get awake by, say,
8:00 a.m. (which might as well be dawn to me) I tend to feel so
down and depressed I just roll back over. It's strange, I care des-
perately about getting an early start the night before, but couldn't
give a hoot the next morning. This may seem silly to some morning
people, but it is a real issue for me. Our schooling ends up suffering
because it is always so rushed. Evening is not a time to catch up
because we don't have enough evenings at home (another hot
topic!) How do the other 'night owls' out there deal with this prob-
lem? Help!" -- Janette


Calling all night owls -- do you have a remedy for Janette?

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 - Too Many Activities, Daddy Time, Night Owls
Previous - Special Needs, Dyslexia, Galloping the Globe!

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