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Would Life Be Different if YOU Were Homeschooled?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, September 24, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 74 September 24, 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
-- If YOU Had Been Homeschooled
Helpful Tips
-- Teaching Cursive Writing
Resource Review
-- Biblical Festivals
Reader Question
-- Caring for Grandparents
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

What if YOU Had Been Homeschooled?


"After starting to homeschool our children, I often wondered about
how my life might have been different if my mother had homeschooled
me. Perhaps in a limited way, she did. I knew how to read before
kindergarten because she read to me constantly and I assume taught
me, though I don't remember formal lessons. I think I learned more
from birth until compulsory education laws institutionalized me,
than from all the time in elementary school, by simply living life
by my mother's side. My earliest years in a classroom were, as I
remember, annoying and boring. But since my mother had only been
allowed to finish grade school in 1920s England, she had a high
regard for education and begged me to work hard and be happy there.
I dearly loved my mother and so I complied. However, this did not
diminish my longing to stay home with her. In kindergarten, I
walked home during recesses. My tearful mother tried to explain
why I could not come home. My teacher was then assigned to chauf-
feur me back and forth in her car, but it was concern for my mother
that kept me from dropping out."

The above is an excerpt from an editorial article by Jane Boswell,
printed in the Home Educator's Family Times.

She encourages us to think about 'What if we had been homeschooled --
how would our lives be different?', even if the "what if" questions
have no actual answers except in our imaginations.

I was adopted as an infant, and no longer have contact with my
adoptive mother, but the very elements that seemed to bring down our
relationship in my teen years made for a very imaginative and creative
childhood. She was always firing my imagination with ideas of grandeur.
"We could be like the Trapp Family Singers" she would say as she
strummed her guitar and taught us harmonies. Her love of the theatre
put me in early dance and drama classes. I'll never forget playing
Bambi and Bambi's mother in one group class. Having my mother there
with me is what made it such a wonderful memory. What if I had been
homeschooled? I just don't know. I hated school after 2nd grade when
my parents divorced. Well, it was a gradual thing, I guess. Maybe I
really didn't hate it until 7th grade when the loneliness and despair
was combined with the meanness of other students picking on a fat girl
with buck teeth.

But living the life I did was part of my personal decision to home-
school my own children -- if I ever were to marry and be blessed
with them! As an adult in my early twenties, I saw these incredible
moms at the church I attended, which was made up primarily of these
amazing young families and then single wanderers, of which I was one.
I practically revered these moms with their bandana head coverings,
long skirts and combat boots. And their children!! I had never been
around such well-behaved and interesting children. I was hooked.

So, my decision to someday homeschool was, in my understanding, an open
rebellion against my years in prison, isolated from my mother. I longed
for time with her, although I doubt I realized it then. I was bored in
school and confused about the 'gifted' label (I was only just barely
gifted, according to IQ tests... LOL) and going to a little trailer in
the school parking lot for 'resource room' time when I was supposed to
be self-motivated to explore this little isolated world of stuff that
was supposed to make me show my giftedness... I just don't know WHAT it
was for! I felt lost and without direction. But I digress.

Homeschooling, for me, probably would have allowed me to not only
explore new interests, but develop some to begin with! I was so worn
down by the daily expectations of the public school routine, without
the personal nurturing or guidance of a mentor (mom?) who could have
helped me discover my strengths, that I am certain I never reached my
potential as a young person. Of course now I daily overdose on oppor-
tunities and creative adventure as an adult, but this is mostly because
I'm being homeschooled myself now and I can't seem to get enough of
this wonderful freedom! Sometimes I have to remember this is for my
kids. ;-)

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter! -- Heather


If you'd like to read the whole article by Jane Boswell, follow this
link: http://www.homeeducator.com/FamilyTimes/articles/14-5article22.htm


Do you have your own thoughts to share about the question "If YOU Were
Homeschooled"? Please write!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Teaching Cursive Handwriting

"My oldest will be 9 years old in December. He can write in
manuscript but not that well or very small. I finally decided
to just drop the manuscript, but then was faced with the task of
finding teaching materials for cursive! What I found has worked
very well for him, and his manuscript is even improving some! I
used a set of free worksheets from http://www.kidzone.ws/cursive
to introduce the letters, and then downloaded a cursive font
called SchoolScriptDashed (it was free as well) to my computer.
I use it to make custom worksheets for him to use for practice.
That way I can very gradually reduce the size he is working at,
and totally control the content. Right now I do his sheets in
grey so he can easily see his writing. I have made up sheets
that combine tracing words (for form perfection) and blank lines
after for him to practice forming the word himself.

Once he gets that down, Evan-Moore has some great books for
'daily writing practice'. You can view them (the entire book!)
online at their site. They contain short lessons for Monday
through Friday, being a review of sorts or a poem kind of thing.
While not being overtly Christian they are clean and wholesome.
One thing I really like about them is that the content is very
educational -- they write days of the week, months of the year,
names of inventors, geography terms, and more. The book ends
with a 'book' that they put together of insects from A to Z.

They have both contemporary and traditional cursive and manu-
script available. There are two different formats; a book that's
meant for being copied, and a pack of student books that are
meant to be consumable." -- Rachel (HomeschoolingBOYS group)


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

Resource Review

A Complete Guide to Celebrating Our Messiah in the Festivals
by Susan Mortimer

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


Seldom does a book I choose to review end up changing my life.
However, as I read this book I felt my soul quickened as I began to
learn that the feasts that God ordained were 'appointed times' set
aside by our Creator for us to celebrate Him and to point His follow-
ers to His ultimate gift, the Messiah. Each feast has either been
fulfilled by the Messiah or points to His future reign. In fact, in
Zechariah 14:16-17 we learn that someday all nations will celebrate
the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

Celebrating Our Messiah in the Festivals contains 688 pages filled
with fascinating teaching and details of what some might term 'weighty'
subjects, presented in an easy-to-understand format. The author has
created this book with both Christians and Jews in mind. She outlines
each feast and constantly points the reader to the Scriptures. Susan
also provides many helpful tools, including an explanation of the
Jewish calendar and how the feasts line up on our current calendar
system. I am impressed with the care and detail Susan has used to
explain things, and with the huge variety of examples and teaching
ideas she provides. Much of the information presented had never been
opened up to me in church. I found in studying the festivals so many
things in the New Testament take on even deeper meaning. As I read
the Scriptures more carefully, I began to have even more appreciation
and understanding of God's amazing love for us and how all the pieces
of the 'puzzle' fit together for His glory and our good.

There are several topics covered in this guide, including detailed,
clear presentations of each of the festivals appointed by God
(including the Sabbath), along with sections covering Jewish Studies,
the Hebrew Alphabet, and the Books of the Bible. Each section has
background information, how the feast points to Messiah, recipes,
ideas for celebrating, insights from families who celebrate the
feasts, songs, games, activity sheets, crafts, short plays and much
more. The words 'Complete Guide' could not be more fitting! This
resource is packed, and ideal for teaching our children about the
roots of our Christian faith.

I have found this guide to be a huge blessing for our family! We
are currently learning about each of the fall feasts. Then I plan to
cover some of the year-round studies including the Hebrew alphabet,
books of the Bible, reasons for the Law, and the Sabbath. This is
not a book which points fingers, or claims that all Christians should
begin to keep the feast days. Susan is careful to make the distinc-
tion between legalism and choosing to follow God's directions out of
a pure desire to worship Him and know Him better. Many will use this
as a one-year study - it can even be used as your Bible curriculum.
Some might decide to continue to 'keep the feasts' beyond their year
of study. Either way, Celebrating Our Messiah in the Festivals will
lead you and your family to know and love the One who loves us most!

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"What do you and others do when a loved one becomes critically
ill and you are the one in the family that takes care of that
person? My dad became critically ill 17 months ago. He has been
in the hospital and rehabilitation center. It looked as though
things were going to calm down so that I could have a normal
school year this year as last year we had to work around hospital
schedules. Two weeks ago he took very ill again and is back in
the hospital. School had to be put on hold. I am unsure how to
handle this since it has been ongoing. We were able to get our
days in last year since we school year round. The problem is that
again this year I feel that I am slighting my son. Anyone else
had to deal with this? If so, what did you do? Thanks so much."
-- Janet

Our Readers' Responses

"My parents lived 500 miles away, and as their health began to
fail, they needed our help more and more. We spent much time
traveling, and much time neglecting not only school, but other
responsibilities at home. This went on for several years. Now
that my parents are gone, I am so glad that we were able to do
what we did, and would not hesitate to do it over again if given
the chance. Yes, we fell 'behind' with our schoolwork, but it
was a small price to pay for what we gained: time with our
parents/grandparents; teaching our children to respond to the
needs of others; enabling my parents to stay in their own home
longer; and much more. At times I, too, wondered if we were
slighting our children; but now they are eager to help elderly
or handicapped people and do so with competence and compassion.
When we have spare time in town between appointments, they choose
to go visit in the nursing home. The lost years were somehow
redeemed, and they are doing fine in their academic work.

Remember that as life presents itself to you, the Lord is simply
showing you what curriculum He wants you to use. It would appear
that your curriculum this year is tending to your father. You'll
be amazed at how much your son will learn if you involve him in
that service, and I believe you will have no regrets." -- Mary Beth


"After loving and caring for a live-in Dad with Leukemia and trying
to homeschool I realized one thing. I was not giving my children
less education, but more; there is nothing greater than love --
just set the example just as God did -- John 3:16." -- Tracy


"Boy this note really hit home for me! My husband and I had a
two year period in our lives when we lost 9 people close to us.
This included my Dad, his grandfather, two pastors, and even an
employee of my husband's. This was a very difficult time for our
homeschooling family. There were times when nothing in our lives
could be called normal. I struggled with continuing to homeschool
my kids, but could not figure out a way to send them to school and
adapt to the travel needs of our family at the time.

I began journaling to document all that our family was going through,
and found that my kids were amazingly learning in spite of our family
circumstances. They also gained an increased compassion for people
who are sick, or the grieving family members. They increased their
understanding of the medical profession, as well as the legal pro-

I learned that even though they fell a little behind in some formal
subjects, when we were able to pick them up again, they gained the
skills quickly. At this time they are all testing at or above grade
level in all but one subject (spelling). Funny how they are all
lacking here, but everything else is up to par.

Please be encouraged. Your son needs to spend time with his grand-
father at this time along with you while you deal with your father's
needs. Strengthen your families bonds. This is the most important
thing. I will be praying for you!" -- Sheri


"Janet, I would encourage you to take smaller bites of time to work
with your son. I have been homeschooling my son for 8 years and was
working a full time job most of the time. We simply schooled every
day (even Saturday or Sunday if necessary) and went year-round but
just schooled 1-2 hours a day. We took his reading with us if we
had appointments, errands, etc. He was just tested and is above his
grade level. Take advantage of teachable moments and you can do it!"
-- Lori in MI


"I have not been in your situation; I do not have experience from
which to speak. I do, however feel strongly that the loving care
and attention you pay your father is worth so much more in terms of
education than any book can hold. You're not slighting your son if
you are an example to him of patience, selflessness, caring, and
unconditional love. You say 'school' has been put on hold? Not
really -- he's just learning a life lesson far greater than anything
put to paper. Besides, what lesson are you teaching him when you
put everything on hold to care for your dear father? A lesson he'll
never get elsewhere. God bless you, and your family, in this diffi-
cult time." -- Trish M.


"I know it must be difficult being the only one taking care of an ill
family member. I used to get frustrated with interruptions (whatever
they might be) in our schooling. I finally realized that some of the
most important lessons my children will ever learn in life are these
'interruptions'. Just being with you caring for your dad can set
such an incredible example for your son. Our family lives a 'life-
style of learning' -- meaning we are always teaching and learning
with whatever circumstances we are encountering. We are a family of
ministry and service to others and there are times when I wonder if
we will ever get a day to stay home and just read or study. But then
I see how my children respond to life situations and how they interact
with people and I am proud. They can only learn these things by
seeing us as we live out our life. Use this opportunity to teach your
son unique lessons and look for ways for him to learn during this time.
Some examples would be learning about caring for elderly, illnesses,
compassion, prayer, serving others, etc. I'm not sure how old your
son is, but time spent helping you care for his grandfather can never
be replaced. Blessings to you." -- Karen D.


"It's been almost three years since my mom passed away. When she was
originally diagnosed with cancer I decided right then and there that
school could wait. I'm not saying we didn't try to squeeze in lessons
here and there. I remember the boys working on their 'book' work
sitting on the floor at the end of her hospital bed. As time passed
and she was in and out of the hospital, or treatment centers, 'book'
work became less and less important and spending time with Grandma
became priority #1. I reasoned it this way: They could learn their
times tables any time, but they would never be able to get this time
with their grandmother back. Once she was gone, she was gone. School
would be waiting for their return. The difference it made in my son's
life was just a God-sent blessing. They learned to deal with a very
difficult situation in a Godly way. They also learned that death and
dying are as natural a part of life as birth. They were little men
as they cared for their grandmother's needs, physical, emotional, and
spiritual. These lessons could never be taught out of a book. They
don't write curriculum for real life. Once my mother left to be with
Jesus, we took a break from even trying to do 'school' for a while and
focused on taking care of each other. My mom's illness covered two
school years for us, and one school year with me trying to start life
over without her. My boys now have compassion; they believe one hun-
dred percent that Jesus is the truth, the life, and the way, and any
shortcomings they felt in their education are being addressed this
year. You can do it. God is giving you the respondsibility to care
for your Dad. Grab hold of that situation (as hard as it is) and make
the most of it. Focus on teaching your son the things that don't come
out of books, walk beside him and together you two care for him.
School work will still be there when this season is over. You're not
slighting your son, and are giving him an immeasurable opportunity to
serve the Lord!" -- Trish


"Janet -- I am in a situation where I have felt like this also. Not
quite as serious as yours, but if I were in your place I would really
try and remember why I chose home schooling and then make my decisions.
I have really worked around my situation because I feel like it is
very important to me to home school. It has been great that others
have offered to help in my co-op, so I can have time to do what I need
to do. Reach out to others and ASK for help even if it means them
helping with school work. We have done work in doctor's offices and
even in the van. I am determined to teach my kids at home. I will be
praying for your situation." -- Millie J.


"Hi Janet -- I can relate to taking care of an elderly relative and
also home schooling a child.

I am a single mom who works nights to support myself and my daughter.
I had an elderly aunt who became ill with too many ailments, including
Alzheimers, to list. I had to find a way to put her into a nursing
home and then within a year she passed away. Also during that time,
my father had open-heart surgery and I had to take care of him during
his recovery. I taught my daughter about a lot of health issues during
this time. I made it a unit study and used words pertaining to differ-
ent health issues that I was dealing with. Science and reading can
also be introduced along the same lines.

Home schooling definitely took a back seat to everyday tasks and
appointments. The experience of all of this was much more important
than 'book learning' in my opinion. My daughter was at my side through-
out all of it and I feel that she's grown because of what she saw. She
was a big help to my aunt and to my father. I let her choose whether
she wanted to be with my aunt at her time of death. She declined, but
I did tell her what happened (I was the only one who was at my aunt's
side) when she died and my daughter was in awe of it all. It was such
an honor to be present at her bedside and I passed this feeling to my
daughter." -- L.

Answer our NEW Question

"I am looking for a good program to teach my 17 year old Spanish. Can
anyone suggest to me what they have used and why or why they did not
like it? Has anyone used Rosetta Stone Spanish or The Learnables?
Thank you." -- Sandi


Do you have a recommendation or experience to share with Sandi?

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

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Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

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