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A Beginner Asks: 'What do YOU wish you had known then?'

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, April 02, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 26 April 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
-- More Reader Feedback
Helpful Tips
-- Light a Candle
Resource Review
-- A Handy Resource!
Reader Question
-- Just Beginning
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

More Reader Feedback

-- On Come-backs --

"Heather, I know you probably don't want to continue this
indefinitely, but Helen B.'s Come-Back reminded me of one I
heard once:

Q: How long do you plan to homeschool?

A: As long as it takes my children to teach me everything
I need to know.

I developed another response very recently when we were confronted
with the idea that keeping our children out of school was 'costing'
the school all that state money. I was able to share with them that
by keeping our two children out of school for 12 years we will have
saved the taxpayers over $264,000. (It costs about $11,000 per year
per child in our district.) Homeschoolers in our state are saving
taxpayers $115,000,000 per year based on conservative estimates; the
actual figure is probably closer to $175,000,000." -- Mary Beth

-- On Shy Children --

"I just finished reading the answers to last issue's shyness question,
and I wanted to say that our 5th (out of 6) child was always called
shy because she did not 'warm-up' to people when she was young. (She
is now 7.)

I always felt she should be shielded from well-meaning comments about
shyness, and well-meaning pressure to make her respond. (This is
easier to see after 16 years of parenting and 4 previous children.)
As I studied her, I realized that she was not shy -- she was 'self-
contained'. She was capable of engaging when she felt comfortable,
but usually she CHOSE not to. I always made sure she heard me say
this to people when they said she was shy. ('She is not really shy;
she is self-contained'.) She is still quiet, but we have avoided the
label of 'shy'.

As she got older, I gently began to expect her to respond in
situations where common courtesy was required. Sometimes we talked
about how it was impolite not to say 'Thank you', etc. to people.
She quickly became better at this.

Now, at age 7, she enjoys being in plays, speaking a part, performing
in musical programs, playing in a group, meeting new people and doing
'show-and-tell' in our co-op classes." -- Jannell in South Dakota


"There is a email support group at yahoo for homeschoolers that
might be of help for those with shy ones. Here is the description
of it and the web address for joining.


HSwithHumor - Homeschooling with Humor
A Christian, whimsical and creative approach to homeschooling/parenting
your shy, gifted or A.D.D. child!" -- Connie in WI

[Editor's note: This group looks good! It is managed by one of our
own readers and contributors, JoJo Tabares! -- Heather]


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

"Here's a good idea from Family Fun magazine about encouraging
your children to read, practice music, or other activities. Light a
special candle while the child is engaged in the activity you wish to
encourage, and blow it out when they are done for the day. When
the candle is completely burned down they get a reward. You pick
the reward, and the size of the candle." -- Rick M. in Michigan
Livingston Parent Journal, http://www.LivingstonParentJournal.com


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

Resource Review
- by Cindy Prechtel

Handy English Encoder / Decoder

If you're working with words, whether in reading or spelling, it
doesn't take long to realize that the English language is full of rules
-- and rule breakers. Harvey Bluedorn has taken some of the mystery
out of our language by compiling the 'Handy English Encoder Decoder' -
subtitled, 'All the Spelling and Phonics Rules You Could Ever Want
to Know'.

Designed to enhance (not replace) your spelling and phonics program,
the Handy English Encoder Decoder cracks the 'code' of our language and
arranges the rules in an easy to access, brief, and orderly format.
The book is divided into two sections. The first, the Encoder, covers
more than 60 spelling rules and their exceptions and also includes a
list of commonly confused spellings and word pairs. The second section,
the Decoder, lists over 200 phonics rules in alphabetical order for
quick reference. Also included in this section are the rules for
dividing words into syllables. The Handy English Encoder Decoder also
includes an appendix listing some suggested spelling and phonics games,
as well as an exhaustive list of homophones (words which are pronounced
the same but spelled differently).

The Handy English Encoder Decoder is one of those books you will find
yourself referring to again and again. Adults and children will both
benefit from having this incredibly comprehensive and indeed, 'handy'
resource at their fingertips!

For more information or to order: www.HomeschoolingfFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I will begin my first year of homeschooling my first of three sons
(all 5 and under) in the fall. I would love to hear what veteran
homeschoolers would say to someone just beginning. Is there anything
you wish you had known then that you know now?" -- Jennifer K.

Our Readers' Responses

"Just relax! Remember that you started homeschooling your children
when they were born - they've already learned so much! You don't
need to spend tons of money or stress out over making them learn...
just look for how learning is happening every day. When mine were
young (6, 4, and 1 when we started), the best thing we did was use
a unit study approach with lots of hands-on activities. We didn't
do school every day, but what we did they remember! We looked for
lots of ways to put learning opportunities in front of them in our
home: Magic School Bus, good books, interesting items they could
play with, works of art, art supplies, etc. My kids found learning
to be fun, and continue to pursue new ideas and skills on their own.
My biggest regret is all the time I did spend pushing things on them
that they had no interest in, just because a book told me they 'needed'
to know it and I was worried. Looking back, I marvel at how much they
have learned! And it's not because I spent tons of time teaching, but
just because we helped them learn as we went along. I would have
relaxed much sooner and much more with the curriculum if I were
starting again." -- Julie


"When the children are doing their work, don't be so concerned about
making your day look like 'school' (ie: the public school classroom).
That's all my husband and I had to go on when we first started. We've
been at this for 8 years now -- and a few years ago, finally 'got it'.
You do NOT have to finish all the problems on the front and the back
of a math page. If your child 'gets it' and can show that he/she
comprehends the info, let them move on. I thought if it was on the
paper, it ALL had to be done. The curriculum we use is geared toward
Christian schools and there is seat work (aka - 'busy work'). It
doesn't have to be done by the homeschooler. ALSO - Our day does NOT
have to be from 8AM to 3PM. When our children are in the elementary
years it will typically take just a few hours to complete their 'work'.
Remember it's almost like one-on-one tutoring, not teaching to a class
of 30 plus students. As your child gets older it may require a longer
day; just be flexible and do what works for your family." -- Charity C.


"Things I wish someone had told me when I started homeschooling:

1. Spend several months, or even a year, educating yourself. Cast
aside your notions about what school is supposed to be like, and learn
what mentoring and private tutoring is all about. You will not need
the group teaching methods which you likely experienced yourself in
institutional school.

2. Don't start too early with formal, structured lessons. Allow your
boys to learn through natural experiences from daily living until at
least the age of 9.

3. Avoid traditional textbooks. Use real books written by real authors
who have a passion for their subject.

4. Identify your children's gifts and interests, and develop a curriculm
around those. Each child should have his own unique curriculum.

5. Be very cautious about choosing a homeschool support group, and be
very selective about which activities to join. If you feel you need a
support group, try to find one which supports the parents, not one which
simply offers lots of activities for the children. Guard your time,
and stay home as much as possible.

6. Look back on your own school experience, and list the things you
studied which were a waste of time, the things which have served you
well, and the things you wish someone had taught you. Plan your sons'
education accordingly.

7. Don't compare yourself to other homeschoolers, or to the public

8. Enjoy the journey!!" -- Mary Beth


"I wish I hadn't subconsciously brought public school mentality home.
I imitated public school and my daughter acted like a public schooler.
She loved learning as all children, but she didn't love proving what
she'd learned by filling out work sheets. Since then, I've discovered
using her love of books and this inspires her imagination and learning.
Now we do literature-based learning. It's so natural she doesn't
realize she's schooling, and she's learning deeper and faster." -- Heidi


"Although I wouldn't consider myself a veteran, having only homeschooled
for the past two years, the one thing I wish I knew at the beginning was
to relax. Homeschooling is more than books and letter grades. Its about
the family growing together. In kindergarten the only school that is
important is basic Language arts and Math, but other than that, let the
child lead. My children (6, 4, and 2) have discovered worms. They spend
hours looking for them and 'building homes' for them. There is more
learned in these hours than in any 'prepped' school work. They learn
teamwork, self reliance and science. It is wonderful to watch them run
up to you with the biggest smiles because they have discovered worms
like wet leaves and not dry dirt. Enjoy your children; watch them and
direct them, but most of all RELAX." -- Stephanie C.


"First and foremost I wish I would have known that my decision to home-
school my son (only child) would cause such a maelstrom with friends,
family and complete strangers. I researched my options for 9 months
while my son languished in public school. I wish that I would have had
some really good replies to the uninformed around me!

Second, I wish I would have know that my son would go from completely
hating himself and refusing to write... to being happy and writing in
only a few weeks of home schooling. You, fortunately, will not have to
have the comparison of 'before' home schooling versus 'after' home
schooling but please remember me when you start having doubts and think
that public school might be a good place for your precious little ones.
Unfortunately, until they change public school from a place of indoc-
trination to an actual place of learning, I can’t justify sending my
sweet, impressionable son there." -- Janice


"Remember, you are a MOM first and a TEACHER second -- err on the side
of mercy. Be sure to differentiate between 'intentional' and
'accidental' behaviors." -- Nancy G.


"All I can say is bravo! I didn't begin homeschooling until my oldest
was in high school. If I had known then what I know now, I'd have done
it from the beginning." -- Sherry A.


"Don't listen to people who try to talk you out of it. My parents were
opposed to my desire to homeschool my children. (My Mom was a teacher.)
Now that they see how well my children have done, they feel differently.

There will be many who try to discourage you, both relatives and even
total strangers. It is helpful to point out to these well meaning people
that socialization is not necessarily a good thing. Much of it is, in
fact, negative. For example, drug usage, pregnancy, sexual diseases,
tobacco use, and vulgar language are not issues I have to worry about.
Peer pressure can have many negative consequences. Children in public
school are forced to only associate with their own age group. The Bible
points out that by beholding, we are changed. Children with their peer
group will tend to become like this group, reflecting values, morals,
and behavior patterns of this group. Children who spend their time with
adults tend to become like those adults. They are pulled upward socially
instead of down to the mass common denominator, and will be more likely
to accept thier parents' values.

My children are happy and well adjusted. They respond socially to all
age groups, and are as comfortable with adults as children. I remember
one day on the beach, when my son asked a lady if he might borrow a toy.
He gave the toy to her little boy and got him well distracted, leaving
the boy's grandfather free. My son then engaged the grandfather in
conversation, and soon the two of them were digging dams and canals in
the sand. The incident showed a subtle understanding of social skills,
and was amusing to me, because my son preferred to play with the adult
rather than the child in this situation. By contrast, my son has a
cousin exactly the same age as he. She came over one day and tried to
get my son to exclude his little sister from playing with them because
she was 'too little'. She had been brainwashed by public school to
believe you can't enjoy anyone's company unless they are exacly the same
age that you are. On the job, and in real life situations, we all deal
with people of different age groups. Segregation is not natural, or'

Believe in yourself. You know what is best for your child. One-on-one
teaching has been proven to be the most effective form of instruction.
Happy days are ahead." -- Karin in Maine

Answer our NEW Question

"Hi, my name is Heidi and I am a homeschooling mother of 3. My question
is this: What do you do with younger siblings who are not ready for
structured learning, and are distracting to their big sister? I guess
I think it's hard for my 7 year old to learn with her 18 month old
brother climbing on her and such. We are a disciplined family in most
ways, but how can you explain to a baby that his sister is in school
right now? We've switched most of her lessons to nap time, but then it
seems I'm competing with dinner and such at that time of day. Then we
have a 4 year old who is ready to start at least some structured
activities this fall. I'm just not sure how to balance it all. Any
suggestions?" -- Heidi in Chicago


Do you have some practical ideas for Heidi?

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: shy children, gifted children, beginning homeschooling, starting homeschool, homeschool newbies, learning styles, homeschool help, encouragement, homeschooling tips, home education guide, homeschooling advice, ADD, TAG kids

Next - Distracted by Toddlers, Ideas for a State Unit Study
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