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HomeSKILLING, PS to HS Transition, Moneyopolis!

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, November 17, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 53 November 17, 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
-- Home-Skilling!
Helpful Tips
-- Making Spelling Fun
Website Winners
-- Moneyopolis
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Have you considered home... skilling?

A member of our 'Homeschool Country Living' email group may
very well be the originator of the new catch phrase -- 'homeskilling'.
She wrote in recently about her family's style of home education:

"We are Mennonite and live in Oregon on 2 1/2 acres but are getting
ready to move at the end of November onto 3 1/2 acres with a larger
house and all the outbuildings we need.

Here we refer to our education as Homeskilling. We believe that
education in life skills is more important than book learning,
although we DO use a math book and encourage reading and writing.

We make our meals from scratch, buy all things in bulk, grind our
own grains, make our clothing (with the exception of socks and
shoes, but we are working on those), knit, crochet, quilt, sew,
garden, can and raise or grow most of our own foods. (I refuse to
make my own toilet paper anymore!) :-)

We make our own soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc. My husband
and son make wooden toys and games while the girls and I make
dolls and pincushions."

Wow! Isn't that is an extraordinary life? I have often wondered
how in the world folks could actually call that 'simple' living, but
I also know it was my own quite romantic notion to get out to the
country a few years ago so my boys could have 'real' chores like
chopping wood and tending animals. We did enjoy goats and
chickens for a season and we have wonderful memories of fresh
milk and eggs. That was about the time I started our Homeschool
Country Living group. http://www.hscountry.com

We still live on 10 acres in the country with no regrets! The boys
still chop wood and we love our woodstove. I've been a bit lazy this
year and haven't fired it up yet, but I think this Sunday will be the
season's 'grand opening'. (The first firing has always been Mom's
job because I'm the one who read all the books about woodburning
and learned just how to fire it so that creosote doesn't build up.
In 6 years we haven't yet needed a cleaning!)

Now, how about city-skilling? We have 'homeskillers' in the city, too!

Elaine in NJ, a Homeschooler's Notebook reader writes:

"Our son, Nathan, is almost seventeen, and we've homeschooled
him all of his life. He's in classes with some other homeschoolers
this year and is taking a college art class. He's also doing algebra
at home with Dad, but that's not all that he does at home with Dad!

When Nathan was two and a half, he was watching Dad cut some
angle iron in the back yard. The angle iron was bouncing as Dad
cut, but not for long. Nathan walked up and held on to it, helping
the job go a bit smoother. That was just the beginning of things!

The Christmas Nathan turned five, Dad started buying him 'real' tools
- decent ones, that would build him a useful toolbox. He taught him
how to use those tools, and included him in very project he worked
on, whether it was carpentry, plumbing, electrical, home appliance
troubleshooting and repair, whatever.

When Nathan was about nine, he learned how to completely strip
and rebuild a bicycle (right down to replacing bearings), and then
totally overhauled his own (earned himself a Royal Ranger Merit from
that, too!). When he was twelve, my dryer quit turning. Dad wasn't
home, but that didn't stop 'the boy'. He took the back off the dryer
and removed the broken pulley that was the culprit. After I got a
new one, he replaced it. Voila! Working dryer!

One of the most unique areas that Dad has been training Nathan in
is the machine shop. Nathan has made pen and pencil sets with
Dad (from several woods, and from Corian counter top material), and
helped with fabrication of many different replacement parts for various
things. In the past few years, all three of us (yup, Mom got pulled in,
too!) have begun creating working model steam engines - machining
steel, aluminum, acrylic, Lucite, and Corian again. We exhibit our
engines at Model Engineering Expos, and Nathan's work gets rave

Like most boys we know, Nathan loves building with Legos, too. He
has, over a period of a couple of years, created a working model of
an overhead shaft driven machine shop. We take this to the Expos
as well, where young and old, guys and gals, love it! In fact, more
pictures are taken of that shop than of any of our engines (there are
currently nine).

Nathan also used Legos to create a sculpture for a teen Fine Arts
competition. Unfortunate, unforeseen circumstances prevented his
sculpture from being actually entered at the national competition,
but it DID qualify."

And how about another worthwhile family project... like building your
own log cabin? 'Woman of Many Logs' in Alabama writes:

"I home schooled my 3 boys. One graduated in 2005 and went off
to be in the military. We started this old fashioned log home before
he graduated. We have paid as we went and are just about ready
to get the electricity started. This is the link to our blog:
It starts off where we are now and has 21 other entries to the left of
the site that take you back to where we started. All 3 of our boys
learned the old fashioned ways of working hard long hours, daybreak
till dusk, bugs, worms, injuries, all about installing windows, building
doors, how a mess-up from one person on a team can cause big
problems, and all the ups and downs of building a home yourself.
One of our twins who is 13 works harder than some grown men we
know. What a great project this was... and so much schooling
throughout the whole deal. Still have lots more to teach, and each
one of our children have learned to operate every tool needed for each
job, and as you can see in the blog, all of them did a lot of work. One
day they will be able to tell their children the stories we cherish of
the way things went on the house WE built!"


In my family, we make 'homeskilling' a priority by dropping everything
else when a wonderful 'skilling' opportunity arises. A few months ago
we scheduled the removal of a large dead tree near our garage. The
company we called in was Tregilgas Tree Service, owned and operated
by a young man who was homeschooled and has studied his trade
for several years. (In fact, Wesley politely declined the offer by his
parents for a graduation open house. He had too many customers to
take that day off work and frankly didn't need the 'income' tradition-
ally derived from such affairs! -- a true entrepeneur.) When Wesley
arrived at our home with his assistant, he took the opportunity to make
the job into a wonderful learning adventure for my boys, explaining the
process used to manage the falling tree step-by-step. After amazing
the boys with a calculated and controlled perfect fall, he took the time
to teach them some impromptu physics principles with a little game
of tug-of-war. It was a priceless day!

I think I will start using this new 'homeskilling' idea to describe our
style of home education, too. :-)


Oh! In case you are wondering about Sister Lori's 'recipe' for
making your own toilet paper, she said she'll post it soon. But
for those who are just DYING to get going on this project, she
does say it contains recycled paper pulp and dryer lint and is
almost like making your own writing paper, but a bit softer. :-)


Do you have your own style of homeskillin' ? :-)

Please, please share!!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Spelling Game

"I have found that children often learn best when they enjoy what
they learn. For my three sons, science is their favorite and then
history (imagine that!). Their least favorite is writing and spelling.
They struggle with getting their thoughts onto paper and spelling
is almost non-existent! Well, that was true until recently that is.

Do you remember playing hangman? While in the toy store the
other day, I found a non-battery form of hangman. As I stood there
looking at this box, thinking about how all we use to use was pencil
and paper - it dawned on me.


It is really simple. You use the same rules as hangman except
you will have to create a word bank for each of your students' grade
levels. (Mine are 9, 6 and 5). The players select cards from the
opposing players stack. If the children have learned their words,
they have a much better chance at winning. Plus, the younger kids
are being exposed to the older kids' words without being stressed
to spell them.

It has worked great in this house. With the spelling abilities
increasing, their writing is beginning to pick up speed -- and no
more 'Mommy, how do you spell ...?" -- Kathy in SC


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

Website Winners

Moneyopolis! - http://www.moneyopolis.com

As the name implies, this is a math/money skills game. Designed
for older students, players demonstrate math skills in the context
of real life money matters. Developed by Ernst and Young, the game
is set in a simulated town. While trying to help a stranded space
traveler who can’t save enough money to fix his spaceship, students
learn important concepts and are asked to apply that knowledge as
they advance through the game. Due to some of the math skills
needed, this site is probably best used with kids age 11 and up.

[Review courtesy of http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com]

Last Issue's Reader 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

Our Readers' Responses

"When I started homeschooling 3 years ago, my son (then going
into 6th grade... what would have been middle school) wasn't happy
about the idea. His biggest concern was that he would miss his
friends, many of whom he'd been with since kindergarten. Even as
our school year started, he wasn't happy with the idea; a few months
into the school year, though, he was enjoying it. He has friends at
Church and is involved in Scouts, so the friend issue (even though
they are different friends) resolved itself. Now, at the beginning of
our 4th year (9th grade, what would have been high school, with all
of its 'perks'), he enjoys homeschooling and doesn't want to go back.

Both of us get frustrated at times, but overall we see so many advan-
tages. Luckily, one of his closest friends is also homeschooled, so
he sees automatic advantages when they can have sleepovers even
on a 'school night'. We are able to work on Boy Scout merit badges
within the school day, which not only gives him opportunities to
complete a greater number, but also allows us to spend time on
'field work' (an archaeology lab, numerous field trips, etc.) instead
of trying to squeeze it in on weekends. Other advantages he enjoys:
guitar lessons during the school day; running errands, instead of
sitting with his books all day; the school day can be long or short,
depending on his own work habits; he gets to plan his daily schedule
(I assign his daily work, but most of the subjects can be done in any
order that he chooses). If you help your daughter realize some of
the advantages of homeschool verses public school, perhaps her
attitude toward it will change.

As far as 'grades', I don't really use them much. In Virginia, we have
a 'religious exemption' option for homeschooling, which I use. Under
this exemption we do not have to report to the school system. I do
keep a portfolio of his work each year, including samples of work
and quizzes/tests. When we check daily work, I have my son re-do
anything he got wrong... we don't 'grade' it. When he does tests or
quizzes, he still corrects his mistakes, but we don't count the cor-
rections toward his 'grade'. I simply keep these in his portfolio. If
he does poorly, I have him review and work on the problem areas, and I
may have him redo the test/quiz. Since you are not in public school,
I think you should have the option of covering the material again and
allowing her to do a 'make-up test' to get a better score; even in
public school students are sometimes allowed to retake tests. The
beauty of homeschooling is that you are the teacher, principal,
school board, etc. You can make your own rules." -- Sherry A.


"Hang in there, sweetie! My daughter was a straight 'A' student at
a small private Christian school when I brought her home. She was
doing well and was popular, but her class was dwindling and she
was not being challenged at all. Most of her day was spent reading
while waiting for her class to finish their work. She didn't mind
because she loves reading, but she was bored some of the time
each and every day.

She wasn't sure what to think of this 'homeschooling thing', but she
was willing to give it a try. It was something new and so at first
she was fine with it. I did have a little trouble getting her to do
her best work. She was used to sliding by as the teachers all knew
she was smart. I didn't let her get away with sliding, but that's a
whole 'nuther story!

By the end of the first year she kind of wanted to go back. When
asked why, she really couldn't pinpoint anything of substance. First
she said she didn't know, then it was having other kids around her all
day. She did have friends, but she had been used to having them around
all day and talking with them at lunch time. I asked her if she
preferred being bored and wasting her time in class while the other kids
caught up. She said definitely NOT! I asked if she would at least give
it another year. Just one more year. She agreed. The funny thing is
that after that year, she really didn't want to go back.

What we found was that when a child has been used to the 'social-
izing' of traditional school, it can be a hard concept for them to get
used to not having a bunch of kids around all day. She really didn't
get much of a chance to talk to them during the day because talking
is discouraged in school! Even at lunchtime she didn't get as much
of a chance to talk because they were eating and then running around.
It was only for an hour each day too, but she didn't think of it this
way because she had all the kids around all day.

When you bring a child home from traditional school, we found that
there is a need for them to adjust to things being 'different' -- not
necessarily bad -- but different than what they are used to and com-
fortable with. After realizing that my daughter was a very social
creature at that age, we decided to have her join some activities that
would give her the feeling of having kids around all day in smaller

We joined a co-op where all the kids were in a classroom setting for
a few hours one day a week. It had a social hour for lunch just like
the traditional school, only it was just once a week. This helped her
transition. We put her in more outside events like gymnastics and
karate and church events. She began to feel these things fill the void.

Know what ended up happening? Eventually she decided that she
didn't need all those kids running around her all day long. She learned
to do things on her own and feel more comfortable in her own skin
and with her own company. She is now a very social creature who
is comfortable being alone in her education and recreation. She has
the best of both worlds now! What is even more exciting to me as
her mom, is that she got closer to the Lord in that time. Her faith
has grown and she is more comfortable alone because she knows
she is NEVER alone!

We have a very close relationship now and she is a very independent,
strong and unique individual because she doesn't rely on a group of
friends to tell her how she is to dress or act to be in the 'In Crowd'.

I always told my daughter that we would pray on it and try it for that
year and then re-evaluate homeschooling afterward. This gave her
a feeling that it wasn't forever, should she not want it to be, and it
gave her a feeling that her experiences and input mattered to my
husband and myself. That made a big difference in helping her feel
good about trying it just one more year. Praying you and your dear
daughter will find your way!"
-- JoJo Tabares - http://www.ArtofEloquence.com


"I have been homeschooling for 8 years and my daughter is in 7th
grade this year. She has never been to public school and we are
facing the same type problems. Maybe it is the age and not really
home school vs. public school?

If not, maybe try discussing the pros of homeschooling and ask her
what you could do together to make it more fun and interesting. We
are actively involved in a support group, so my daughter is around
all ages of children frequently.

But I have noticed that when I make sure my daughter has enough
social time with other homeschooled girls her age her attitude is
so much better and she works in school so that we can be finished
in time to get together with other homeschoolers in the afternoons.
Keep up the good work! You WILL get there!" -- Gina


"I have been a home teaching mom for 20 years. I have three grown
children who were taught all the way through high school. I am now
teaching my two daughters who are in the 7th and 10th grades. It
isn't always easy but the rewards are worth it. I am wondering why
you took your daughter out of the public school system. You men-
tioned that she had a 4.0 score, but remember that was when she
was doing public school work. The public schools tend to teach
work that is easier than what you would find in the homeschool
curriculums. Maybe she is getting a C average because she is
actually learning. The work may be a little harder. I would give it
more time. If God wants you to do this then He'll take care of your
daughter. He sure does care for your daughter's education. He has
a plan for her life and he knows her better than anyone else. I
encourage you to enjoy your daughter. Take her out to Starbucks or out
to lunch. Tell her how special she is to you. Grab your camera and
just go outside and take some random pictures. Get them developed and
scrapbook them together. Have her make her own yearbook! How cool is
that? She'll begin to see that kids in school don't get to do this.

Make sure that she has time to be with friends. She needs to be out
more at this age. Maybe she goes to a youth group? This always
helped our kids.

I know that you can do this. Don't give up! This will just tell her
that she wasn't worth the battle. One day she'll thank you for all
that you've done." -- Karen


"Boy it's hard to adjust from public school to home schooling isn't
it? We pulled our middle daughter out of public school after 5th
grade elementary school. She begged to come home with her little
brother until she got her wish; then she began begging to be allowed
to go to the neighborhood middle school with her friends. We insisted
that she stay home through middle school which means she does most of
her work on her own. We had a hard time teaching her to take advantage
of her learning. She had to take charge and make sure she was actually
learning it not just for a test but for life. While we are still
working on attitude (it must be an adolescent thing!), she is doing
better with her academic subjects. I have also spent more time with
her. She is not the type of student who works well alone -- she needs
attention from me and her father as well as time with friends.

We have had to work hard to get her involved with other homeschooled
kids her age so she could have some company. She is involved in the
local homeschool aquatics program and for awhile took piano from a
neighboring homeschooling family. She gets involved with the math
competition and the social events that our support group provides.
Next year we plan on her joining a group to study science and/or
English as those are my worst subjects to teach.

I know that the lives of homeschoolers are busy ones but maybe you
can arrange times for her to get together with other families (maybe
one of the moms in your support group bakes and is willing to teach
your daughter how to make desserts, or someone who sews could
teach a small group how to sew or quilt). Classes like this not only
provide lessons but also company. What are her interests? Could
you get a small group together to focus on these once a week or
twice a month for a semester? (ex: if she likes to read poetry, maybe
you could offer poetry or oratorium contests where your homeschool
friends could meet once a month to recite there favorite poems or
Bible verses or speeches. You could start out just with your family
and later open the class to other families.

I bet as she gets more involved with her learning and takes responsi-
bility for her own education, the attitude will adjust and she will
learn to like home schooling." -- Anne Marie


"I am wondering what reason your daughter gives for wanting to go
back? I have experienced this too with two of my boys that I have
homeschooled. Get to the root of her request and perhaps you can
solve the issue at home. My oldest just really missed socializing
with kids his age. He was in public school until 4th grade and was
very outgoing. When he came home, we moved shortly thereafter
so he didn't have friends already. Once we got him involved in
community sports, a homeschool co-op, church activities, etc., he
was much happier and liked being at home.

My other son asked to go back to school at different times because
of the workload I was giving him. At one point he constantly com-
plained of being bored at home because we were able to 'do school'
in a few hours, but then he had no one to play with until the afternoon
when the neighborhood friends got home from school. So I filled his
day with lots of 'fun' things -- computer games for math, art supplies,
travel videos from the library, or Discovery Channel stuff related to a
place or topic we were studying, involved him in planning and cooking
dinner, etc. He was much happier with a full day of 'structured'
activities." -- Michelle in Illinois

Answer our NEW Question

"Our children are African American and we are not. It seems that
most homeschool materials do not include African American history
or culture beyond slavery. Stores seem to carry items on the same
few people and events. Can anyone help me find good resources
that will help me educate my children about their rich cultural
history? Thank you!" -- L.L.


Do you have some helpful recommendations for our reader?

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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