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Hands-On Work, Burn Out, Christian Kids Explore Biology

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, November 13, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 52 November 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!




Notes from Heather
-- Hands-On Work
Helpful Tips
-- Math Story Problems
Resource Reviews
-- Christian Kids Biology
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Way back in the summer of 2005 I wrote a blog entry about my boys
working with their dad to lay a hardwood floor in our home. Looking
back, I see it really was a wonderful opportunity for hands-on 'real
life' learning. I thought I'd include it here in the Notebook to
inspire some of you to share your similar experiences!


"Today my 9 year old son is laying hardwood floor upstairs. All by
himself! My husband -- Jim -- is tired. His knees need a break so
he is taking today off from working on it.

You might wonder how this all began!

We have an unfinished Cape Cod style home. The upstairs has been
waiting to be finished for the past 5 years. It is *almost* there! We
decided to get the floor laid and just wait on the bathroom. My husband,
had done the insulation, drywall, electrical, etc. over the past 2
years, with help from my oldest son. The only real thing standing in
the way of the boys' new bedrooms was the flooring decision.

Once we decided on the hardwood floor -- (we've enjoyed real wood
floors in previous homes and my husband suffers from allergies/asthma
so carpeting is not an option) -- Jim picked up the bundles of wood
from Home Depot.

He was told by the guys at Home Depot that hardwood floors are to be
installed with a pneumatic staple gun that rents for $35 a day. I don't
know what inspired me to say it, but I suggested just nailing the floor
and then sinking the nails with a punch. He actually took my advice...
I'm not sure why. ;-)

Well, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Once Jim started on the floor, all the boys that were home wanted to
help... and the youngest ones got involved first! (My oldest, Ben, is
in Wyoming right now on a hiking/climbing trip.)

At first my husband let them help by banging the planks into each of
the previous plank's grooves. Jim was pre-drilling holes into the oak
planks so that the nails would go in easily. Then Valentine (almost 5)
began setting the nails into the holes. Eventually Gabriel (7.5) started
doing the nailing and then sinking the nails with the punch. Angelo
(9.5) even did some drilling! After awhile, Carman (13), took a turn at
some of the jobs. It took awhile before he was even curious enough to
peek upstairs!

The floor is halfway done... and it is a beautiful, professional job.
All my husband is doing is sawing the end pieces... and drilling. But he
couldn't keep up with the boys anymore so he ended up just doing the
drilling after the boards were laid on the floor. He pieces it out...
the boys move the pieces into the right places, pound them together,
place the nails, hammer in the nails, and sink the nails with a punch.
What a team!

I love how my husband is relaxed enough to let the boys work side-by-
side with him. It will be quite a sense of accomplishment for them when
it is all done. He and the boys also worked together to build all the
bookshelves for my store in 2003.

Jim remembers his father saying that he and a cousin had laid a hard-
wood floor when my father-in-law was only 12 years old. Now *my*
boys will be able to tell their children one day what they did when
they were young!

If we had rented the 'modern' pneumatic staple gun, it would have been
a shame. Due to safety precautions with using a tool like that, the
boys would have missed out on most of the fun, old-fashioned hard
work with the most basic of tools. And all the 'sweat equity' will
make some wonderful memories!"


Here's a link to a related article at HomeschoolingBOYS.com by my
friend Sara Colvin: http://familyclassroom.net/hsboys/articles/22.html

Do you have a similar hands-on learning experience to share?
Please write! Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Help with Math, especially Story Problems

"I taught 1st grade in the public schools for many years and I
LOVE teaching. I am retired now and I need a place to vent my
ideas! In teaching students who lack a background in some area,
retreat to the basics (the most elementary basic). Example: If you
are teaching story problems, first go back and teach one-to-one
correspondence, and make sure that the child knows the name of
the symbol, 1,2,3 or 4, and count items. Sort items into groups of
1,2,3, or 4 (Such as 3 blue logos or 4 black buttons). Then make
pictures of a simple addition problem. Make sure that they know
what the plus symbol (+) means and read the math problem aloud
(that makes it a story problem.) Use dominoes and write addition
problems from each domino. Graduate to 3 one-digit math calcu-
lations (such as 3+4+2=?), making sure to always use concrete
objects to show the concept and make it into a story problem. Use
toy soldiers, etc. to enhance story problems so that they become
natural. Older students sometimes have trouble with story problems
and if one picks out the relevant numbers in a story problem and
matches them with concrete items it solves the trouble. You can
use this concept with any math equation story problems." -- Janice


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

Resource Reviews

Christian Kids Explore Biology -- Reviewed by Cindy Prechtel

To purchase visit: http://ww.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com

Written for grades 3 to 6, Christian Kids Explore Biology (CKEB)
begins by having each student set up a notebook for use throughout
the year. This allows them to keep their own record of learning.
Author Stephanie Redmond has done an excellent job organizing
the text in an easy-to-use format. There is also a materials list
provided at the beginning of each unit. The units consist of lessons
covering a specific area of biology such as basic biology, cells,
plants, birds, classification, mammals (land and aquatic), anatomy,
reptiles, insects, and water creatures.

Each lesson in CKEB has two parts, ‘Teaching Time’ and a ‘Hands-
On Time’. If you do each on separate days as the author suggests,
then you'll be spending about 1 to 1 1/2 hours studying the lesson
each day. Part of this time is review of vocabulary terms, discussion
and additional reading by the student. A big part of this course is
supplemental reading by the student. Thankfully there is an appendix
with an extensive list of books and videos to go along with each
lesson topic. After reading the text during the Teaching Time, students
are supposed to list vocabulary words (those in bold lettering in the
lesson) and define them.

Throughout the book there are many neat experiments and projects
for the ‘Hands-On’ portion of each week's lesson. I was a bit dis-
appointed to find that several ‘Hands-On Time’ sections simply require
the student to research and write about a topic or are comprised of
the end of the unit review, rather than doing a more fun, hands-on
activity. Speaking of the unit reviews, these wrap-ups give mom a
way to measure mastery and understanding. The questions may be
answered orally, or in writing by photocopying the quiz for the student
to complete and place in his notebook.

There is so much packed into this course! The lessons in CKEB provide
a solid framework, while giving you plenty of flexibility to tailor
your science studies to meet your educational goals. After spending
a year with this curriculum, you may never want to use a science
textbook again!

This is a very abbreviated version. To read the complete review, visit:

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I'm sure you all experience burn-out from time to time. I am in my
14th year of homeschooling. I homeschooled my first born from
beginning to graduation last year and I have three more kids to go.
They are 9th grade, 6th grade, and 2nd grade. So, as you can see,
I have a long way to go. What I'm experiencing now is more than
burn-out. I love my kids and totally enjoy having them home with me
everyday, I just wish I didn't have to homeschool them. We have
changed our curriculum and that has helped a bit. We have lessened
the amount of running around with activities so that we're not so
hurried and stressed. I know that God has called me to homeschool my
kids, so what else can I do?" -- Noreen

Our Readers' Responses

"We've been homeschooling for 15 years and from time to time I've
experienced the same feelings you are now. Our oldest is a junior
in college, our second son graduated last June and will be taking
some college classes starting in January. We also have a freshman
in high school and one in kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten! There
have been many times when I was tempted to just throw in the towel
and quit. However, like you, I knew God wanted our sons at home.
There are several things that have encouraged me to 'keep on keeping
on'. One is Galatians 6:9 -- 'And let us not grow weary while doing
good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.'

Having graduated 2 sons I can certainly see the truth of that verse.
We are very close to our children and enjoy a friendship with them
that I'm sure we'd be missing out on now had I quit years ago. Our
2 older sons are walking with the Lord and love Him and His word.
They both scored above average on the ACT and our oldest is doing
very well in college. He knows how to study and apply himself and
is a disciplined student. From what I hear, the students around him
that didn't have the advantage of being homeschooled struggle with
their studies.

During those times of weariness I'm honest with my kids, and the
Lord. I tell both my kids and the Lord how I feel and ask the Lord,
with my kids praying right along side me, to help me stay focused
and give me the strength and desire to keep going. I have that verse
printed on a recipe card and have it hanging on a cabinet in the
kitchen where I can see it throughout the day!

There are younger homeschool families watching us and I remind
myself of that. What kind of encouragement would it be to them if
we quit? Another verse that helps is 2 Tim. 4:7 -- 'I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.'

I want to hear 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant!' I have a
long list of scriptures written out in the back of my bible that are
there to encourage me to keep going and from time to time I'll just
sit and look them up and pray for the motivation and energy I need.

Sometimes I'm not so 'spiritual'. Sometimes I just picture the end
of the Lord of the Rings movie, 'Return of the King', where Frodo
and Sam are struggling up Mount Doom to destroy the ring. They
had to push themselves beyond what they could endure and just
do it. There are times in life, whether we are homeschooling or not,
where life is hard and you have to take it one minute at a time and
'just do it'.

Do you have a hobby that refreshes you? It really helps if you don't
allow your kids and teaching to be your WHOLE life." -- Judy


"I am only in my first child's 3rd grade year, but it sounds to me like
you need to change your curriculm to maybe *no* curriculm! I use
a combination between unschooling and choosing my own books
and resources based on what my children are interested in and what
we need to cover. If it doesn't sound fun it won't be fun to teach or
learn. I remember how uninteresting some of the lessons were in
public school for me and I don't want to repeat that! I don't want to
be boxed into a pre-planned curriculm either, so I make my own! We
have a good time with it.

Also maybe you should take a break. A long break. We can legally
start counting our school days on July 1st in Pennsylvania, so we do.
Anything I can get in from then on or anything that counts we write
down. We are on day 90 of our 180 day mandatory year right now!
I planned to count July, off in August for canning, then off again in
December for Christmas-type projects. Then off in June because we
can't count days then. But because we are so ahead we have time
to play with. I've been pretty sick the last two weeks; we skipped
some days; no loss, we are ahead. Also, this way when Spring fever
hits we can drop everything and just get outside! We save the heaviest
book-type work (which for us isn't really heavy) for the winter months.
I think we basically homeschool year-round. My children are thriving
in this schedule!" -- Sandy


"I am a homeschool mom of three who has been at it for seven years.
I can understand how you are feeling. I found that being around my
children all the time can be a double-edged sword. It can rewarding
and draining at the same time. I decided to change things around my
home this summer. I became a lifeguard. I looked for a job that would
be fun, and I could also bring my children with me. It was a great job,
and it mentally helped me get ready for the school year. Another
benefit that I recieved from this job is it got me around other people
for a change." -- Deanna


"Homeschooling is great, but you need a break! Public school teachers
get 2 days off a week, how about you? I think joining a homeschool
co-op would help you with burn-out. Is there anyone close to you that
you could trade classes with? Or perhaps start one up. Also make
sure your weekends are fun, not work." -- Chris B.


[Editor's note: A few years ago when I was serving nearly full-time
as a counselor in our Homeschool Encouragement Center
<http://www.HomeschoolChat.us>, I would encounter many burned-out
moms much like yourself. My best advice was to send them to this
web page: <http://homeschooloasis.com/help_article_1st_page.htm>
Barb Shelton takes you by the hand, slowly leading you back to the
basics, bringing clarity... and sanity! It's good for everyone to read,
whether you are experiencing burn-out or not. *Christian perspective*.]

Answer our NEW Question

"I am a mom to 3 daughters. We are currently homeschooling 7th
grade and Kindergarten. We homeschooled for half the year last
year. My oldest daughter has been in the public schools and is
wanting to go back. She was also a 4.0 while in the school system
but she is not doing good so far this year.....she has several C aver-
ages. I guess what I am asking is... has anyone had this problem...
and how long will it take her to get past the public school syndrome?
I love having them home but sometimes get really discouraged...
PLEASE give me some tips and suggestions. Looking forward to
hearing from you." -- Tammy in KY


Do you have some wisdom or encouragement for Tammy?

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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