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Natural Learning - A Curriculum-Free Conversation

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, June 18, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 48 June 18, 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
-- Natural Learning Conversation
Helpful Tips
-- The Whine Glass
Resource Review
-- A Fun Early Math Game
Reader Question
-- Website Creation Software?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

[I wanted to share an email that was sent in to our Homeschooling
Boys group in response to a mother who felt deftly inadequate when
continually confronted by new friends and acquaintances with that
standard homeschooler ice-breaker -- "So, what curriculum do YOU
use??" Enjoy! -- Heather]


Natural Learning vs. Curriculum

"I am not using a set curriculum and I cringe whenever anyone asks
me what curriculum I use. I get the feeling that they believe I am
truly not educating my children when I tell them that I mostly use
the library. I can pretty much guarantee how the conversation will

'But what do you use to teach spelling?'

'I just use the words they spell incorrectly and make their lists
from that.'

'But how do you know that they are learning the right words?'

'Oh, they are learning all the spelling words they need to know.
This way spelling is catered to each individual boy and is more
interesting because he sees the need to learn to spell the word.'

'What do you use for phonics? You need a curriculum to teach them
to read.'

'Actually I just use library books and books we have here at home.
I make up word family lists from words they stumble over in their
reading and teach them to read that way.'

'But you need a curriculum to know that your teaching phonics
correctly. You need some sort of guide.'

'Oh, well, I have found the books 'Teach a Child to Read with
Children's Books' by Mark B. Thogmartin, Ph.D. and 'A Home Start
in Reading' by Ruth Beechick very helpful resources. But really,
I have noticed that when the child is ready it just clicks -- like
with talking, walking, and potty learning does when they are babies.'

'But you need a curriculum!'

'This way is working for our family. So how is your garden doing?'

'But aren't you afraid they'll get behind?'

'We are getting red beets and strawberries from our garden right
now. What have you all picked?'

The internet is my refuge as well as Ruth Beechick's books. Talk-
ing to other moms who don't use curriculums and reading Ruth
Beechick's writings help me see that I am doing fine with how I am
teaching my boys.

Children learn good language arts skills just from copying good
literature and writing from dictation. They learn to spell best
from their mistakes. History means more to my boys from a variety
of real books written from different perspectives than from a dry
history text. I am going to be using Jeannie Fulbright's 'Exploring
Creation with Astronomy' as a science text this year because my 8
year old saw it and thought it looked neat -- but we had been doing
fine using library books and putting together our own thing as we
followed his interests. Math is another subject that I use a text
in (I use Ray's Arithmetic) but I also use felt and a felt board,
games, math related library books, and lots of real life opportuni-
ties there as well!"

-- Susan M. in PA (a member of our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group!)

Want to read more from Susan? Her blog is here:

And you can also visit her brand new 'Natural Learning'
message board community here:


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

The Whine Glass

"If your kids are like mine, as perfect as they may appear, they
sometimes have problems with whining and lack of motivation. Here
is an idea that might be useful.

My son has always been a whiner so to wean him of this we will be
using a wine glass filled with 100 (or how ever many you care to
part with) pennies. Each time he whines we take out a penny. At
the end of the week he gets to keep what is left." -- Sandy


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

Resource Review

Go=Figure - The Adding and Subtracting Game

For more information or to order: http://www.nomadsgames.com

When the math game 'GO=Figure' arrived in my mailbox, I found
myself wishing I had a game like this when my children were younger.
Designed to reinforce addition and subtraction skills, GO=Figure
is an easy-to-understand game consisting of a deck of playing cards
and a square spinner. There are two ways to win, either 'Everyone
is a Winner' with the game being over when everyone has played all
their cards, or 'Individual Winner' with a winner being declared
when they are the first player to have played all their cards.

To play, each player is dealt several cards (the number depends on
how many are playing). These cards are placed face up in front of
them, so everyone can see each player’s cards. The remaining cards
are placed in a draw pile and the spinner is placed so players can
spin to get their operational sign, either addition or subtraction.
On their turn, each player uses cards that have been used to make a
starting math problem such as 1 + 2 = 3. They must use the spinner
with each turn to determine whether they are using their cards to
create an addition or subtraction statement. With a goal of getting
rid of all your cards, players can use as many as three cards per
turn, but each turn will rely on the number(s) used by the previous

The game moves fairly quickly, but patience will be needed for play-
ers as they wait for their opponents to 'figure' what cards to use.
I like that the playing cards for each player are face up; that way
an older sibling or parent can give suggestions so the child isn't

Sometimes educational games aren't always FUN games. Thankfully, the
creators of GO=Figure have given us a game that is both!


This resource review was brought to you by Cindy Prechtel, author of
'Using the Internet in Your Homeschool -- Over 850 Websites to Help
You Effectively Use the Internet to Enhance Learning!'

Read more about this fantastic resource here:


Last Issue's Reader Question

"I would like my daughter and I to learn how to put together a web
page. Is there any software that would help us to do this? Thank
you." -- Sandi

Our Readers' Responses

"Don't buy expensive software! Try using About.com or a similar
site to help you build a website.

I really like About.com but shop around for free help." -- Susan


"My first response was... hire a web designer! I have no time or
patience for web design. I am 'HTML Illiterate and Technologically
Challenged'. So, of course, I run an online business! I do so at
the direction and by the grace of God... and the help of a qualified
web designer! :-)

But if you are willing to learn and want to take the time, it would
be a wonderful skill to have. I have the book 'HTML for Dummies'
and it seems quite well written. You might make a class of it!
More power to you! Those with this skill are often needed by those
of us who are the HTML Dummies!"

-- JoJo Tabares - http://www.ArtofEloquence.com

Answer our NEW Question

"I was just wondering if I should have my 7 year old start to
memorize math facts. She can, of course, count but only auto-
matically 'knows' 5 + 5 is 10. She needs to add the others --
even small quantities. Any suggestions on if this is a good age?

She says she doesn't like Math but she does. She is resistant
to the work side of it (work avoidance)." -- Michelle L.


Do you have some practical advice for Michelle?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers @ familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

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!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening

Check out our schedule of daily chats and jump right in! :-)


[Note: This ministry is geared toward Christian parents, but all
are welcome. You may need to download a Java program to utilize
this service. Email Luanne @ educationforthesoul.com if you have
any technical difficulties.]

Our Searchable Newsletter Archive

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
or search on a specific word or phrase in issues all the way
back to January 2001! Just go to this link:


Interactive Email Group

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community, we have set up an email loop at YahooGroups called

Here is the link to sign-up!



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newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
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as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
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Tags: natural learning, curriculum-free, unschooling, delight directed learning, child led schooling, interest based education, Jeannie Fulbright, Ruth Beechick, math games, website building software, teaching kids website building, learning html, tips

Next - Leap of Faith, Electro-Chemistry, Math Facts - When?
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