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Stay Tight with Your Teen, SAHM vs. Working Mom, Spy Alley Game Review

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, February 19, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 14 February 19, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Staying Tight with Your Teen
Helpful Tips
-- Free Multiplication Game
Resource Review
-- Spy Alley Game
Reader Question
-- Working Outside the Home
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

This week I'm taking a break from my series, "A High School Plan",
but I want to share something from a mom who is in our email group
at HomeschoolingBOYS.com. Her email advice compliments what
I was sharing in the last issue about relationship maintenance and
communication during these crucial years. What I do with my boys
is very much the same as what Jen shares. For those with girls,
just translate as best you can! ;-)

[Note -- If you want to read the series and/or you are missing parts,
you can find the issues in the archive at: www.FamilyClassroom.net ]


Start When They're Young... to Stay Tight with Your Teen

"The best places I've been able to get my son to talk to me are in
the car when it's just to the two of us, working together or late at
night in bed. I also try to watch for opportunities to bring subjects
up that I want to talk to him about. I ask lots of open-ended
questions and try not to overreact if I don't like his opinion.

When we're watching a movie or reading a book together, I use the
subject to find out what he thinks about it. I'll ask, 'How do you
think they feel?' or 'I don't think I would like to be treated that
way'. I try to be casual as if it doesn't matter whether he answers
me or not then wait to give him time to think and then answer.

Once in awhile, when I really want an answer, I'll start out by telling
him this is a mom question. I'll say, 'You just have to live with this,
but I need to know what you think. I'm asking because I really care
about what you think'. I never ask these kinds of questions when
we could be interrupted or when anyone else is around.

Dad has a big influence on this too. My husband will watch for
negative and positive things coming from our son. When it's negative
he'll just say something like 'How do you think that made them feel
when you said that?' or 'did you really need to say that?'. If it's
positive, he'll commend him for saying the right thing like, 'I'm
really proud of you for what you said or did' or 'he must feel really
good after you said that'. Most boys really want to please their dads.
Just having dad comment on their actions is a big deal. My husband
is very good at not overdoing it too.

I also use other people's actions to point out what I do or don't like.
I'll say when I'm proud of someone or disappointed in them. If it's a
big deal to me, I'll sound like my mom and say 'You had better not
ever do something like that!' ;-)

I think it takes patience and time to help boys share what they're
thinking. They will not just answer you automatically. You have to
earn their trust and spend time with them one-on-one so they're
comfortable enough to talk. My husband started when our son was
born, lying in bed with him at bedtime and reading or talking to him.
Now that he's a teen, they lie beside each other and talk in the dark.
Our son is comfortable because that's the way it's always been. In
the quiet of the night, he feels safe enough to trust his dad with
what he's thinking. Dad never laughed or belittled the little boy
worries, so now he has the right to hear the young man's worries
too." -- Jen


Reader Feedback

"I was reading your newsletter and as usual I got so much from it.
It just put things into perspective. I needed a reminder to focus on
the importance of parenting -- period. And this issue (2/16) said it
all. These years have/are passing so quickly and it's really easy
to get caught up in the 'hurry' of it all. I really needed to refocus
and get back to the 'relax' mode of enjoying each other's company
and let the other things fall where they may. God Bless you for
touching me today. I sure needed that. Thought you'd like to know
how one Mom feels about your input." -- Jennifer in CA

[Thanks so much, Jennifer!! It does bless me tremendously to
hear that my ministry with the newsletter is having an impact on
readers! Makes it worth all these late nights!! (((hugs))) - Heather]


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Free Multiplication Game to Download


"This site is like playing a video game but it teaches the multipli-
cation tables. My boys love it. This site is free then the owner
offers you a better version for $24.99 (I think). However, you can
stay with the free version if you choose to. We paid the $24.99
because it was worth it to me because all 3 of my boys played it and
learned the multiplication tables using it." -- Deanna


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

Resource Review

Spy Alley
For more information or to order: www.spyalley.com


Move over James Bond! Thanks to the makers of Spy Alley,
everyone can join the world of suspense and intrigue!

One time was all it took for Spy Alley to move to the top of our
family's "Favorite Game" list. Utilizing deductive reasoning,
strategizing, and a bit of bluffing, each player works to hide their
identity while acquiring the spy tools needed to win the game.
In this game everyone is a spy - each from a different country.
If you're the French spy, you'll need to collect the French spy
equipment, marking each piece with a peg on your playing card.
Of course, to keep everyone guessing you'll also want to
purchase items belonging to other nationalities and mark those
with pegs on your card too. In this fashion, when another player
looks at your card it is hard for them to tell which spy you really
are. Collect all your tools (password, disguise, codebook and
keys) and head toward your Embassy in Spy Alley…but watch
out, someone might decide to guess your identity. If they're
correct, you're out of the game and THEY get all your money,
items and the opportunity to use your identity instead of their
own. The game is made all the more interesting with the addition
of "free gift" cards, special spaces on the board and more.

Spy Alley usually takes our family of four about an hour to play.
It can be played by 2 to 6 players and is ideal for kids (8 years
and older) and adults. In fact, this is one game where adults
really have little advantage over the kids, making it even more
fun for everyone. Spy Alley is made of durable materials and
is easy to set up. The game rules are surprisingly simple and
yet there are so many twists and turns that it can become quite
suspenseful. One of my favorite things about Spy Alley is that
it's a different game every time you play -- and that's a good
thing, since my kids ask to play at least once a week!

-- Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am going to start a new job (first one I've had outside our home
since my husband and I started our family), but it's not an 8 to 5 job.
Here's my situation: I will be working for an insurance company,
selling policies, almost every day, but my schedule will not always
be the same. I have been wanting to homeschool my son for a long
time now but not certain I should now, and the job is too awesome
to pass up. My son is 5 and would be starting kindergarten this fall.
I also have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. My husband is military and
works the graveyard shift, but his schedule is likely to change. He
also has training every now and then, but I will not schedule my
appointments on those days. He will keep our kids during the day
and will sleep when I am done working, then get up and go to work.
Do any of you work and have a husband that works as well? If so,
how do you homeschool around your schedule? I need some advice,
motivation, or just someone who has a situation like mine to tell me
how they do it." -- Sammie

Our Readers' Responses

"Marilyn Howshall, in her book 'Wisdom's Way of Learning', describes
how she set up blocks of time which could be shuffled around to
accommodate her husband's always-changing work schedule. I'm not
sure I recall the exact titles to these, but you'll get the idea.
She had 'Table Time', which was structured academics; 'Chore Time',
which was household tasks; 'Family Read-Aloud Time'; 'Productive
Free Time'; 'Community Service'; and 'Bible Time'. When her husband's
shift changed, she would scoot her and the children's schedules around
to fit.

I don't have a paid job, but because of my husband's farming operation
(completely unpredictable), and other circumstances, no two days are
alike, and I wake up in the morning not knowing what's facing me. I
have learned to be flexible, and to have a clear set of priorities so
that if I can't get everything done, at least I will accomplish the
most important things.

I hope I don't sound meddlesome, I must tell you that no job in
the world is as awesome as that of discipling two precious children.
Someone else can sell insurance, but you are the only one in
the world who can mother your children. There will always be job
opportunities, but this season in your children's lives is a one-time-
only offer. Please don't pass it up." -- Mary Beth A.


"You can do this Sammie! I have been working for 4 years now.
It is a home-based business, but that is both good and difficult -- I
won't go into that here. My husband has a full time job also. We
are also both counselors/therapists -- aside from my home-based

I had a toddler when I started and a kindergartener too. You can
do this, but there are a few things to consider: organization and

First communication: my husband and I have a family calendar with ALL
appointments on it. The human brain can only really remember 2 weeks
at a time. So, I plan and review (each Sunday) the upcoming week with
my husband. I go nowhere without my calendar and if I don't have it
for some reason then I don't promise anyone anything.

Next, decide when 1) your appointments are and 2) when you will
have school -- this is called Time Blocking. There are 3 main
sections to the day -- morning, afternoon and evening. If something
doesn't get done that day it goes to the top of the list for the next
day. I schedule all other appointments (doctor appointments, play
dates, etc.) around these 2 priorities.

Organization: make sure you have a calendar/day timer -- but no
more than 2 (one for you and one for the home -- more than that
and you will miss something). Get colored highlighters -- I can't
handle more than 2 colors -- 1 for business and 1 for family. Color
code your calendar. There are great books on getting organized. I
have found that I love piles but it makes it hard to find things -- if
a pile develops it is probably time to find a file folder and put those
things in a labeled place. There are more things you will discover
that work for you but that is the gist of it. Any more and it would
make this email too long.

You can do this but it will take some trial and error. If you are
doing the above and talking to your husband regularly, he will be
able to help give you feedback about things, particularly if you feel
overwhelmed. Chances are you probably will, but that is only
because you are doing something new. Hang in there!"
-- Michelle in Oregon


"I have been there and it's not a pretty place! Problem is, you
can't do everything all the time. I am a homeschooling mom of 6
children, ages 21 to 6. I have had children in public, private and
homeschool. Have you prayed about this? We really DO have
our children for just a short time, and there will be a trade off.
You cannot do everything. Take it from someone who has worked
with children and been home, the job will get MOST of you. By
the time you come home, the Job (no matter what your hours are)
will get the best part of you.

I would recommend -- if you have prayed about homeschooling and you
feel led to it -- then forget the job. Even if it meant taking
food stamps or whatever you have to do. Sometimes it means
being content with what your husband makes -- and being creative
-- to make it all happen. Your children need you, and you are the
best person to give them an education. Someone or something
might replace you, but it is never God's best. After all, He chose
YOU to be the mother!! I have personally grown, matured and 'got
it together' much more since having children and being creative
from NEED! I can do much more with less, because God is
blessing me and I am trying!

I regret the time my children were in public and private schools.
Without going into detail, it overall has not been a good experience.
Also, with my son, and most younger students, they need nightly
help with homework. By the time I helped with homework, I might
as well have homeschooled them for a little more time! I have 4 of
the 5 school-aged children homeschooling, and I cannot tell you
what a peace I have had these last 2 years homeschooling vs.
an outside school.

The biggest problem I have is with my senior high school son, it is
appalling how ill-prepared he is for life and what little knowledge
he has. Skip the job, stay home and homeschool and do the
absolute best job you can. There is plenty of encouragement on
the web for stay home moms and low cost savings. God bless!"
-- Ann F.

Answer our NEW Question

"Not new to homeschooling but readjusting to having them home
again. How do you all get it all done? The first time around I had
three. I was homeschooling with a baby in the womb and one at
our heels. Now I have three in public, two home and four childcare
children on our heels. I know this is the right decision for us, but
feeling once again like I am not getting it all done. How do you find
time to get all the necessary stuff done? We are bringing all our
children back home after this year and the thought of that right now
makes me nervous. I can hear Lynn saying, 'this is YOUR school'
-- and I hear the Word saying 'be anxious for nothing'. I just need
some suggestions on time management." -- Stacy


Do you have some practical advice and/or encouragment for Stacy?
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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Tags: homeschooling tips, multiplication game, Spy Alley, homeschool SAHM, WAHM, working moms, Marilyn Howshall, Wisdom's Way of Learning, table time, chore time, time blocking, homeschool schedules, home education tips, encouragement, support

Next - The Books We Read, No-Cost Rewards, Time Management
Previous - High School Plan (Part 5), Reluctant Writer Ideas, Progressive Phonics

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