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Quick 'Come-backs', Grammar Fun, Year-Round Schooling

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, March 02, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 17 March 2, 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
-- Quick Come-backs
Helpful Tips
-- Grammar FUN!
Winning Website
-- A Great Clipart Site
Reader Question
-- Year-Round Schooling
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Quick 'Come-backs' for Derogatory Remarks

A reader writes:

"One thing that helped me early on in my homeschooling was an article
in which the author compiled a list of answers to typical comments from
skeptics. It's been several years since I read that article, and I
doubt that I could recall them specifically, but it helped to give me
a mind set of how to respond to people who were hostile to home-
schooling. In the intervening years, I've developed my own repertoire
of come-backs, and I'm guessing that a lot of your readers have also.

It might be fun and helpful to ask people to submit some of the
negative comments they've heard, and the responses they gave (or wish
they had given -- sometimes the right answer comes to us later!), or
heard others give. I know it was helpful to me when I was a rookie,
and others might benefit from it also." -- Mary Beth A.


That sounds like a great idea, Mary Beth! How 'bout it, everyone?
Send in the 'negative' comments you have heard... and your best
come-backs. I'll print them in an upcoming issue! -- Heather

Send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

Needing inspiration to come up with some of those dumb things
people say? Write some 'come-backs' to the ones on this page:



Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Grammar Fun

"I gleaned this basic tip idea a few years ago from
http://www.homeschoolingboys.com and thought to myself, 'this is
too good not to pass along'. This is my version of today's visual
and kinesthetic tip of the day,

Learning or practicing your 8 parts of speech.

You grab a paper bag or a bowl of some kind and gather the kids
around you. In your most excited voice tell them that you have
a cool game you want to try out, just to see if it works (this usually
grabs my boys' attention). Tell them, if they do not already know,
what a 'noun' is and then ask them to take the bag or bowl you
give them and go get, say, 6 nouns. They bring them back to you
and you make sure they are all nouns (and are all still safe/alive/
unbroken, etc.) ;-)

Next, you take the 'adjectives'; define the word and ask them to
describe the 'nouns' they brought to you using as many adjectives
they can muster up.

Follow these with 'pronouns', using yourselves this time. Have
each child stand and shout out 'I'm a he' or 'I'm a she', 'yours',
'ours', 'hers' and use the pets, too, only call them 'it'.

Now you have 'verbs' and 'prepositions'... perfect for those more,
shall we say 'active' children in our midst. Let your kids show you
what they can do (you decide if this is an inside or outside activity!)
Call out directions like IN, OVER, UNDER, ON, BETWEEN, BEHIND,
fancying yourself at a square-dance. Good times!

This leaves you with 'interjections', 'conjunctions' and 'adverbs'.
The best way I can think of to practice these parts of speech is by
talking them out loud together. Have one child begin a sentence and
playfully interrupt him or her with an interjection or a conjunction.
Make absolutely sure this child knows they are going to be interrupted
and it's nothing personal, or nobody will have fun and you might have
to pull out your photo albums from yesterday again (just kidding).

'Wow' that was a great sentence, 'oh, my' you are a great speaker,
'ouch' that pinches, 'whew' I thought I wasn't going to understand
you, 'hurrah' we are really getting this! are some wonderful

Keep your kids laughing with the constant barrage of 'conjunctions'
while they try to keep a straight face. They start a little made-up
story, BUT Mom keeps interrupting AND making it hard to start
OR finish the story BUT she keeps the game going YET to help
them learn.

Tell your children to speak, loudly, quickly, politely, poorly etc.,
for the 'adverbs'.

Hope this helps beat the blahs... and makes grammar fun!"


Kristina Campbell is a homeschooling Mom of two boys, ages 12
and 10. She has a B.A. in English, loves to write music and create
art with her husband of thirteen years. She has published some
of her poetry and is currently finishing a study guide for the novel
Cheaper by the Dozen. You can visit her blog at


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

Winning Website

Clipart ETC - http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/

Enjoy browsing this site for clipart in a variety of categories such
as alphabets, famous people, animals, countries, the arts, history and
more. Click on the site map to see their broad range of topics. This
is a great site to use for finding timeline figures! The clipart is
free for educational use and each illustration is made available in a
variety of file types and sizes.

-- Cindy, HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"We are currently in our 3rd year of homeschooling. Our schedule
is 9 months on and 3 months off during the summer months. Lately
though I have been considering year-round schooling. Can anyone
share their schedules with me? We choose to go with assessments
for our children, which is always been done in the summer, so do I
just present what they've accomplished thus far? Also, do the
children go on to the next grade in September or January? What
else do I need to know about year-round schooling that I may not
know? I would appreciate anyone's help on this subject." -- Tracy

Our Readers' Responses

"We have always schooled year-round. This year, we started a
much more organized plan of schooling 6 weeks on, 1 week off.
I call the week off, my mental health/sanity week! I NEED that
time to get organized and so forth. On our weeks off, I always
schedule at least one field trip, which also counts as school.
I use the weeks off to organize the stuff that goes neglected
while we are busy with school.

We also take off 1-2 weeks for our two main religious holidays
This gives us a nice summer break when we visit the U.S. each
summer for 3-4 weeks. The summer break is not so long that
the kids forget everything." -- Negin in Grenada


"Our schedule is school Monday through Thursday -- and Friday
is catch-up,errand and field trip day. We take off from Thanksgiving
week to New Years and also take several weeks in the summer off.
During Vacation Bible School at church we have a week of 'school
lite' and the kids of course have no school during their week of
summer camp. This actually works out to a little more than 180
days, so I have built in flexibility for sickness and 'mental health'
days and other special opportunities that may turn up. This schedule
has worked well for us for several years now." -- Debra B.


"I live in a state that requires quarterly reports so I divided up my
year into four three month quarters. I turn in my reports September,
December, March and June. My new year starts on July 1st,
although I really consider my year to begin in January or so, and
make big changes in our studies then. But for the sake of the
paperwork that is required I do all the end of year reports and testing
in May for their end of year. It makes things less confusing.

As far as routine, we 'school' 4 weeks and take a week off all year
and then we are done in the end of May. We take June off and
then begin again in July. We may or may not actually hit the books
hard until August or September, just doing some math so they don't
forget. I try to ease them into it every year, adding something every
time we come back after a week off. I keep track of their schoolish
activities and write these down in my planner, sorting them into
subjects. I call it my 'unschooling' time! So we really ARE doing
year-round schooling but they have no idea!

We save the most of the book work for the winter months when we
can't be outside as much, and then we carry a full schedule of
subjects. I don't worry about how much time we spend in each
subject as we school year-round even on the weekends sometimes.
It all evens out and we end up doing way more than is required. This
sort of a schedule really frees you up to play with the time and take
an extra week off when it is needed." -- Jenny S.


"We live in Pennsylvania, which is one of the most strict states for
homeschooling. If we get our letter of intent in by June 30th we can
begin counting our 180 days on July 1st. I start then with season
approporiate things and lots of science -- bugs, animals, ecosytems,
gardening. Then in the hottest times of the day we do indoor school
things so we are ready to go back out for the evening. I log our 180
days required and then we just keep going. I take breaks, but they
are never scheduled. We take them when we need them. Recently I have
been very sick, so even though we haven't done a lot of book work, we
are not behind. With no breaks we would be done in March; with breaks
we have plenty of time to play with for the school district's
schedule! This allows me to count from July 1st to mid June. Even
if we do no book work I count a lot of days with computer games,
reading aloud, educational board games, etc. In other words every
day is school so we have the ability to take any time off when we
really need to." -- Sandy in PA


"We school year-round, and we love it! We go eight weeks on and
two weeks off. During the summer we do four-day weeks to allow
an extra day for lawn and garden work. Having frequent breaks
prevents burn-out. Shorter breaks make it easier to get back into
our routine when we start back, and we rarely spend time reviewing
forgotten material. We can take vacations during off-seasons when
we can find lower rates and have less crowds and traffic to deal with.
There is a lot of flexibility built into this schedule. If we need to
take a day off for any reason, we simply take it out of our two-week
break. As long as we do forty days within ten weeks, we know we're
doing what our state requires.

I try to see that our breaks come when our farming season is busier
during planting and harvest times. Then we can help in the field as
needed without agonizing over missed lessons. We also take a
couple of days during breaks to cook some meals for the freezer
and to do some deep cleaning, which I normally can't find the time
to do.

We start our year in January and usually have finished our required
number of days by mid-to-late November. Then we skate through
the Thanksgiving and Christmas season without worrying too much
about school. Since we do not observe the public school's grade
level system, and we use an ungraded curriculum, we don't concern
ourselves with what grade the children are in. They simply progress
at their own pace.

I have also heard of the following year-round schedules: three weeks
on, one week off; forty-five four-day weeks, and seven weeks off
throughout the year; nine weeks on, three weeks off. Try to find
something that works for your family's situation." -- Mary Beth A.


"My family has been year-round schooling for the past two years
and to me, it offers more flexiblity. What we do is take one week
off (the first week) of every month. That's a week to catch up if
need be or catch up on house work -- or go on field trips or vacation,
whatever! In our state, we have to have 180 days logged and it
works out with days to spare!" -- Nikki in GA.


"All the public schools in our area are year-round because of the
large volume of kids. Each track varies but they all go 9 weeks
on 3 weeks off, with all tracks off for 3 weeks in July and the week
between Christmas and New Years. The year goes from the end
of July until the end of June.

Doing it for homeschooling however, I personally would lean more
toward a '10 weeks on and 2 weeks off' schedule so I could have a
slightly longer summer break and accommodate things like church
youth camps and family reunions that tend to frequent those
summer months." -- Sandy G.


"The first thing I do when making out my schedule is get calendars
that cover the school year. I then go through and mark out the
days we definitely want off (for example we take off for Gospel
Meetings, VBS, 3 weeks for Christmas, etc.) We also don't do
'partial' weeks. If there is a holiday in the week that we want to
take off, we take the whole week off (July 4th, Labor Day, etc.)
This makes it easier to figure the days. I then choose a date to
start school, typically in June. I start marking in weeks of school.
We choose to not go more than 5 weeks in a row without taking
at least a week off from school. From there I count up how many
weeks we have of school (in Indiana we have to have 180 days).
If we still have too many weeks we just go through and choose
some other weeks to take off.

As for when the kids change grades -- we have our 'end of the
school year' in May and typically start in June or July. We have
been doing year-round schooling for 5 years now and I am amazed
at how much strain it takes off our school year. Just when we all
start to get some 'burn-out' we have a break! It is still the same
amount of days; the breaks are just spread throughout the year
instead of just in the summer." -- Martha in Indiana


"We go year round -- it takes the pressure off. I move my son to
the next level when he is ready for it but for the paperwork the state
requires I just tell them he is in what ever grade they would have
put him in.

We judge our year by August to August since we have a big
vacation then and it makes a nice line. We also do about 1-2
hours 5-6 days a week of formal sit down workbook school. The
rest of the time is projects, unit studies, unschooling and normal
kid stuff." -- Mia F.


"We use a modified year-round schedule. September (after Labor
Day) through May (until Memorial Day), we have school 5 times a
week, full schedule (according to state requirements). We take
holidays whenever Daddy is off work, as well as the day after
Thanksgiving (frequently out of town). We have only a short break
for Christmas, but you could take a longer one if you liked. In
summer, we start with a week-long break, then have 4 weeks of a
modified schedule (2 basic subjects/day, with at least one of them
being easy), then a week break, then 3 weeks of the modified
schedule, then a week break, then 3 weeks of the modified schedule,
then a week break and we're usually back to Labor Day. Our reasoning
is that by doing this, the kids still get a lot of time off in
the summer (part of which is spent caring for our garden), but the
basic subjects still stay fresh in their minds so we don't have to
spend a month or more on review in September. We don't make a
great deal of progress during the summer, but we don't regress,
either. If I had to report on progress, I would report as of May, I
think. Other things to consider: Burnout is more common, at least
in our house, which is why we came up with the modified schedule.
Vacations are harder to arrange (again, having a week off makes it
easy to move that week whenever needed). You need to decide
if you want to calculate the summer in your required hours or just
have them be bonus for educational purposes or to compensate for
extra missed days during the regular year." -- Martha R.


"We have 7 children and homeschool 6 of them (9th grade to pre-
school). We homeschool September to June. If they finish their
work early, I give them 1-2 weeks off of all work (regardless of what
month they finish) and then we move on to the next grade level.

In July and Aug we still do math because that is of great importance
to our home of 6 boys and one girl." -- Michele M.


"We started our first year-round schooling on August 7th of last
year. We go for 9 weeks, then take 3 weeks off. Between the
school years, in the summer, we have 7 weeks off. This year
we will finish on June 15th and we will start the new school year
on August 6th. We love our schedule. It prevents burnout for
both children and teacher/parent."

Answer our NEW Question

"After 5 years of homeschooling under a large cover school (250
families), another homeschooling mom from my church and I have
decided to start our own cover school through our church. Our
church is very excited about this possiblity as are we. I am seeking
any advice from others who may have tackled this task and would
like any tips/pointers. What would you do differently? What would
you do the same?" -- Catherine in Alabama


Do you have some help for Catherine and her friend?
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: year-round schooling, schooling year round, summer schooling, homeschooling year round, teaching parts of speech, grammar games, year round school schedule, homeschool support, home education tips, homeschooling encouragement, advice, help

Next - What do YOU Say to 'Those' Questions? (Part 1)
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