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Writing Contest, Twist on Scrabble, Early Social Skills

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, March 19, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 22 March 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
-- Writing Contest!
Helpful Tips
-- A Twist on Scrabble
Resource Review
-- Heads Up! Helping
Reader Question
-- Early Social Skills
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

NEWS FLASH -- This just in! :-)

$200 Prize from Sylvan Dell - Just for Homeschoolers

Sylvan Dell, a children's book company whose publishers
homeschooled their own 3 daughters, has JUST announced
an exciting contest EXCLUSIVELY for homeschool children!

Sylvan Dell is offering a $200 prize and the possibility of the
manuscript being selected for publication.


-- Eligibility: Students must be homeschooled. There is no specific
age range, but manuscripts should be written by students working
at the upper high school level.

-- Manuscripts should be written for one of the following age ranges:
3 to 7, 4 to 8, 5 to 9 or 6 to 10. Authors should be mindful of age-
appropriate words. A good way to estimate your manuscript’s reading
level is to use the "readability statistics" tool in Microsoft Word.

-- Manuscripts should either have educational value or involve nature,
animals, science or math in a manner that would enable Sylvan Dell
editors to build an educational supplement from the manuscripts.

-- Manuscripts should not exceed 1500 words. Picture books are
typically less than 1,000 words, so novels and short stories will not
be considered.

-- Please do not send manuscripts about pets, babies or holidays.

-- As this is a writing competition, illustrations accompanying
manuscripts are not desired and will not be considered.

Complete details can be found here:


It looks like they publish some really nice books, too!


Do you have feedback about our newsletter?

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

(Remember the 'Twist on Monopoly' tip Jan in Missouri sent in for
our last issue? Here is the second part of the email her daughter
sent her... with a twist on Scrabble! -- Heather)

Scrabble Your Way To New Vocabulary

If you want your children to learn new words while having fun pick
up a scrabble game and scrabble dictionary. I have a dictionary
for each of us. To begin with, we take a few minutes to look up our
words. Then after your turn -- while others are taking their turns --
you look up your new word. Once everyone gets the hang of it, you
have to have a word when it's your turn or lose your turn. We look
up our words, place our tiles then read the definition.

(Tip attributed to Donna G. in GA)


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

Resource Review

'Heads Up! Helping'

Available from www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com

'Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working with ADD, ADHD, and
Other Children with Challenges'.

The subtitle above describes this book so well! Written by a home-
school mom who has "been there, done that", 'Heads Up! Helping'
is destined to be a blessing to many homeschool families. Melinda
Boring is incredibly authentic as she shares her journey of home-
schooling her three children, two with ADHD and sensory issues.
She not only draws from her experience as a homeschool mom, but
also from her experiences as a professional speech/language
pathologist. Without looking through rose-colored glasses, Mrs.
Boring encourages us to not only rejoice in each child's uniqueness
but also gives us practical ways to tackle the day-to-day struggles
these children face. Scattered throughout are illustrations by her
children that add to the practical, down-to-earth quality of the book.

Though not diagnostic in nature, 'Heads Up! Helping' does include
characteristics of various learning challenges and gives VERY
practical advice for dealing with, and even overcoming, these issues.
Some of the topics covered are: auditory distractibility, visual
distractibility, helping other caregivers/teachers to work WITH you
and your child, sensory seeking and avoiding, the fidgeter, the
hyperactive, the daydreamer, adapting and modifying curriculum
and much, much more! Because Melinda is passionate about
helping families, she has developed a website with additional articles
- she even has a question and answer section.

Even though I do not face many of the issues addressed in this book,
I did take away an appreciation for those children with unique learning
challenges AND I picked up a few ideas to implement in my home
that have already made a difference. I'm thankful to have stumbled
onto this important resource and I believe this book is going to make
a huge impact on the lives of countless families!

P.S. The author’s website (www.headsup.com) has many other
resources designed to help parents and children succeed at learning
and life!

-- Cindy Prechtel, HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am writing for a friend. Her 5 year old son is quite bright! He is
reading very well and has a fabulous grasp of math concepts,
shapes, colors, etc. Academics comes easily to him. On the flip
side, he is very immature socially. He still tends toward parallel
play and often wets his pants as much as 5 times a day. He is
maybe at age 3 in his social skills. Also, he is very strong-willed and
stubborn. He is completing his second year in a 4 day preschool
and is an only child.

The parents do not know what to do with him! He would be ruined
in public school and most private Christian schools are too rigid
for their comfort. Homeschooling seems to be their best choice.
On the other hand, he needs more interaction with children. We
would like your options on choices as well as curricula. Thanks!"
-- Tequita

Our Readers' Responses

"Homeschooling is NOT just being at home - all alone - all by
yourselves - all the time. That's where people SO miss the boat
so many times. There are SO many more opportunities for a
homeschooler to be out and about with OTHERS - interacting with
them - for more things than you can imagine. There are community
classes, lessons for music, art, specialty classes, group lessons
in a homeschool support group, co-ops, physical education
opportunities, field trips galore (way too many to list - ANYTHING
can be a field trip, getting together with other homeschoolers, etc.
Opportunities are limit-less for a homeschooler; we have SO much
more opportunity available to us to get involved, to be 'socialized'
than any public school or private school child because THEY are
ONLY in the classroom for hours upon hours.

Blessings as your friend figures out what works best for her child
and her family. HOMESCHOOLING has so many different looks
and feels - it is not the same for everyone." -- Charity in NY


"He may be demonstrating stress from being in a school setting.
Take him out of it and give him the 'mama' love and time he needs.
Join a homeschool group and get together with other moms who
have children that age. Under the watchful eye of you, you can
guide him and his 'social skills' will improve. My favorite cure for
socialization is time with mom and dad. Remember -- do you want
him to learn how to behave from you and God or a room full of 5
year olds? I know my answer!" -- Sandy


"My first thought would be -- upon what is the belief built that this
child needs more interaction with other children? He has had 2
years of such interaction 4 days a week. Has it helped him learn
social skills?

My other thought is to wonder whether the social and other problems
you are seeing may actually stem from him being in so much contact
with other children? Perhaps he needs more time on his own, in
solitary play, since some people are introverts by nature and do not
thrive unless they have time to recharge in this way. And/or perhaps
he needs more time with adults, in a higher adult to child ratio.

With respect to curricula, I would ask - how has this child learned
what he already knows? Did they teach him to read in preschool,
or did he learn this on his own? Some children learn best if they are
allowed to 'teach themselves'. Having to follow someone else's idea
of what they should learn and when they should learn it becomes
restrictive for them, and they soon become frustrated and stop
wanting to learn.

In my experience with my own 2 children, who are now 21 and 14,
having to follow someone else's academic agenda quickly resulted
in them becoming *more* stubborn and strong-willed. On the other hand,
when I facilitated their natural learning from books and real life,
according to their individual interests, they flourished." -- Marie


"I agree that homeschooling is their best answer. Because both of
my children missed the public school 'cut-off' for kindergarten, they
both started when they were almost 6. We had some of the same
immaturity/social skills issues, but both were academically ready
by the time they were 5. I was working when my older son was at
that age, and he was in preschool. I was home when my younger
son was at that age, so he was at home with me. I don't believe the
interaction with children made any difference. Actually, my younger
son is more mature (even now, 10 years later, and 6 years difference
in ages) than my older son; is this just his personality... we don't
know. I'm sure your friend's son isn't the only child his age who is
less mature; being around other less mature children won't help him to
be more mature. If social interaction is important to your friend, I
would suggest play groups with neighbors, church members, friends, etc.
or getting involved in a homeschool group for occasional activities,
field trips, etc; he could even try music or other group lessons or take
part in little league sports. Public school can damage children (I speak
from experience) and those who are 'different' for whatever reasons
are the ones who will be most adversely affected, so I would highly
recommend homeschooling." -- Sherry A.


"I just have one quick comment. I have found that children who spend
more time with adults and less time with children actually mature
faster. Your friend might look into homeschooling and becoming
involved with a homeschool support group or play group for weekly
interaction with other children." -- Kandyce


"My heart went out to these parents. I, too, have a stubborn, strong-
willed (yet highly intelligent) first born, and have experienced many
of the same struggles. I remember crying myself to sleep many a
night, feeling like a failure as a parent. I cannot say whether home-
schooling is 'an answer' - it took me nearly four years to commit to
homeschooling. I will just share with you a couple of things that were
shared with me from a dear homeschooling friend when my oldest
was quite small. It helped me tremendously.

What causes a child to mature? Is it something that just happens as
the child gets older, or is it something else? I believe that maturity
is developed by structure, consistent training, and individual

Children mature as they accept the small responsibilities we give them
and as they learn to respond correctly to the authority God has placed
in their lives. A five year old can probably not be expected to wash
the supper dishes, but he can certainly start learning to make his
own bed, clean up his toys, help fold laundry, etc. As he accepts
responsibilites and learns that life is not all about 'me' or about
playing, he will begin to mature." -- Melissa


"Our oldest daughter does not have an outgoing, social butterfly type
personality even today at 13. When she was younger it was much
more pronounced and she hated any new environment, especially if it
involved a lot of people. We were worried about homeschooling one
who was so painfully shy because we thought (and had been told)
that for her to be better socially she needed to be around people a lot.
After much prayer my husband and I were still firmly convinced that
homeschooling was the correct choice for our family and we went
ahead. My daughter was not cloistered away (we had church, MOPS, etc.)
but she definitely had a lot of time with just her little sister and
her mom. Looking back I think that being alone with people who love
her unconditionally and allowed her to be herself (warts and all) has
helped her socially far more than plunging her into a world that scared
her. She has a firm foundation and knows that there are people who
she can always count on. She is still a shy girl but she will hold her
own in a debate. She won't bend when something goes against her
convictions or her friends are trying to get her to do something she
knows she shouldn't. (A strong will can be a good thing if directed

I can't remember the exact song but I heard one recently where a
parent is singing that he wants to give his child roots so he can find
his wings. I think that is what has helped my daughter more than any
'social training' could have ever done. If given the opportunity to
lay down roots and be secure with his family that little boy will find
his wings when he's ready to; then he will soar." -- Fran in WA

"Has she had her son evaluated? My son is 4 years old and is also
very intelligent, but very immature socially. About 6 months ago,
he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. Having him
evaluated, diagnosed and treated has really helped him progress.
Now nobody meeting him would ever know he has issues. I know
services differ from state to state, but I would recommend they
check with their pediatrician or public school to see if they could
get him evaluated. More information can also be found at
www.sensory-processing-disorder.com ." -- Sue K.


"I wonder what brings you to the conclusion that he needs to be
with other children? If interacting with them is a negative experience,
why put him through such stress? Is he ready for a strong peer
environment? If not, then the home environment is where he belongs.
If it were my child I would begin addressing the behavioral issues
and closely monitoring his interactions with purposeful play dates
with friends and occasional classes in the community. As parents
our role in introducing our children is vital and is our job. Five years
old is young, and since he has a grasp of the basics -- reading, math,
etc., perhaps he needs time to develop his social skills. I find any
books by Raymond Moore very helpful in introducing homeschooling
to parents. Part of the home school environment will be teaching a
child social skills -- at the child's pace and his/her ability to handle
certain situations." -- Julie in Illinois


"I would suggest that Tequita's friend read 'Hold on to Your Kids:
Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers' by Gordon Neufeld.
This is an excellent book that debunks the myth that kids need to
be around other kids in order to learn to socialize, particularly for
parents of an 'only child'.

Regarding (home)schooling, Neufeld has this to say:

'... (A)t least initially, peer-oriented children also tend to be more
schoolable... School takes children out of the home, separating
parent-oriented children from the adults to whom they are attached.
For such children the separation anxiety will be intense and the
sense of disorientation at school will be acute... (T)he elevated
anxiety it provokes interferes with learning. Anxiety dumbs us
down, lowering our functional I.Q. Being alarmed affects our ability
to focus and to remember. Anxiety makes it difficult to read the
cues and follow directions. A child simply cannot learn well when
feeling lost and alarmed.

'Children already peer-oriented by the time they enter school do
not face such a dilemma. In the first days of school in kindergarten,
a peer-oriented child would appear smarter, more confident, and
better able to benefit from the school experience.

The parent-oriented child, impaired by separation anxiety would,
by contrast, appear to be less adept and capable - at least until
he can form a good attachment with a teacher... (I)n the short term,
peer orientation appears to be a godsend. And it is undoubtedly
this dynamic that research taps into when discovering the benefits
to early education.

'In the long term... the positive effects on learning of reduced
anxiety and disorientation will gradually be canceled by the
negative effects of peer orientation. Thus follows the research
evidence that early advantages of preschool education are not
sustainable over time.

'Interestingly, home-schoolers are now the favored applicants of
some big-name universities. According to Jon Reider, admissions
official at Stanford University in California, they are desirable
applicants because 'home-schoolers bring certain skills - motivation,
curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education - that
high school doesn't induce very well.' In other words, preschooled
kids may have the best head start, but home-schooled kids have the best
finish.' (236-8)

This little boy needs to re-attach with his parents (ways to do this
are given in the book). His intelligence will not be harmed, but his
maturity level will no doubt increase." -- Carolyn


"My four-year-old son is similar to your friend's son. He is an only
child, quite bright, and very lacking in social skills. He does not
play with other children, but watches them and stays as far away
as he can. One thing we have done with him is to enroll him in a
karate class. The class he is in has mostly older children. Karate
gives him a chance to interact with other children in an environment
that is structured and fun and that he feels safe in, and it is also
teaching him self-control and helping with the strong-willed side he
has. He has started talking with the other children, but is not ready
to play with them yet. I'm sure that with time and exposure, he will
be able to play with them when he is ready. You might suggest to
your friend that she find a class that is structured but fun, just one
class, where her son can be active and have fun with other kids but
not be forced to play unless he wants to. Otherwise, she might want
to just keep him home where she can work with him to expand his
knowledge instead of stifling his joy of learning by sending him to
school. If she keeps him home, there are so many things she can
do with him. The important thing is that she should allow him to
move at his own pace and have fun!" -- Krista B.


"This kid sounds like both of my sons! It sounds like he might have
Asperger's. My 11 year old son does.

There are lots of opportunities out there for home schooled students
to interact with other people. My 2 special needs children really
enjoyed the day camps at the Y for special kids.

I would also say, it may be that he is a late bloomer in the social
skills department. My daughter who is now 12 was a lot like him
as far as her social behavior. School subjects were difficult as she
has a language disability. She was parallel playing for about 8
years. She interacts much better now, but is shy. I tried to make
her more social, but all it did was frustrate both of us. I did,
however, try to teach her some different non-verbal communication skills
that she was lacking. She still needs breaks from being around
other kids at times. That's just her personality. Not everybody is
designed by God to be what we think of as normal. There are some
people that are energized by social interaction and others that are
emotionally drained by much of it. (I am one of those!) If he is
emotionally/socially like a 3 year old, there is nothing wrong with
him playing with the younger kids. There is also nothing wrong
with him playing by himself alongside others. If he is still doing this
in a few years and does not seem to ever notice others at all, there
is a problem. Lots of boys and girls play by themselves and it
does not bother them. Some would like more social interaction,
but they have no idea how to start. This is where a parent can
really help. Teaching things like looking people in the eye and
smiling at them, saying hello and asking if they might play with
someone -- those are good places to start." -- Nancy T.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have been homeschooling for 12 years and have been married for
26 years with 4 kids. My widowed father who is currently disabled
has lived with us for the past 17 years. About 1 year ago my
husband walked out on us and does not intend to come back. He
still continues to provide for us financially. I was able to get a job
at a local hospital on the 3 to midnight shift. I continue to pray for
God's will in my life. My oldest is ready to graduate homeschool
and is already attending a local community college.

My youngest (the only boy) is going to be 12 soon. I am confused.
It would 'easy' to put him school and forget about it. I feel a lot of
pressure from 'well meaning' friends hinting at putting him in school.
I even get hints that my marriage might have failed because I
homeschooled. (That was not the case - he was involved with a third
party.) Instinctively, I want to surround my kids in this stressful time
yet I also feel torn about creating such a 'mama's boy'. After
parenting 3 girls I really don't have a frame of reference for boys.
Any suggestions?" -- Barb G. in NY


My heart goes out to Barb!! I know our readers have encouragement
for her. Please email answers 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: teaching vocabulary with scrabble, ADD, ADHD, special needs homeschooling, Melinda Boring, natural learning, real life learning, delight-directed learning, interest based learning, sensory processing disorder, homeschool support, home education tips

Next - Single Moms and Boys, A Twist on CLUE, Map of the Nile
Previous - What do YOU Say to 'Those' Questions? (Part 3)

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