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The Wonderful Flexibility of Homeschooling

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 05, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 77 October 5, 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!




Guest Article
-- The Flexibility of Homeschooling
Helpful Tips
-- Whose Hormones?
Winning Website
-- Hunkin's Experiments
Reader Question
-- Occupational Therapy
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

The Flexibility of Homeschooling
by Barbara Frank


I've always appreciated the flexibility of homeschooling, and never
more than during this past summer. At the end of July, after nearly
10 months on the market, we received an offer on our house, with the
buyer requesting possession less than four weeks later.

Of course, we accepted the offer, thrilled at the chance to finally
get on with our lives. But we had no idea just how crazy it would
be to try to move 19 years of stuff accumulated by our family of six,
not to mention two businesses, in such a short period of time. As a
result, we are now the renters of a house with a garage full of boxes,
plus two storage garages in similar condition. I'm having a hard time
finding just about anything.

But we're managing, and I can't help but think how much harder this
whole process would be if our kids were in school. They would have
had to start school just a week after we moved here. They'd need
school supplies, clothes and all the other 'necessities' of modern
school attendance, whatever they are these days (after 20 years of
homeschooling, I don't even know!) I would have had to find time to
register them at their new schools and attend whatever parent meetings
they require.

Instead, all I've had to do is find the two specially marked boxes
filled with their school books and start school. No, we don't have
all of our reference books on the shelves yet, nor have I been able
to find my lesson plan book. But we're just sitting at the kitchen
table, working a day at a time, and things are going fine. In fact,
adding 'school' to our daily routine has made our new house seem very
much like home.

While it's been a big help during our rushed out-of-state move, the
flexibility of homeschooling is also noticeable in the little things
that happen on any given day. Last night, noisy storms swept through
our area. Our 14-year-old, who has Down syndrome, has always been
terrified of storms. At the old house, he'd cry out for my husband
and me and, being in the next room, one of us would hear him and com-
fort him. Now he's in a room upstairs next to his sister's, while
we're downstairs, so we didn't hear his cries last night. But his
sister did, and she comforted him and calmed him down. However, he
was not able to go back to sleep, so he played and drew pictures
quietly in his room until breakfast time.

Soon after breakfast, he fell asleep on the living room sofa. Now,
if he were in school, I'd have had to wake him up and put him, drowsy
and probably cranky, on the bus. Instead, I just left him to sleep,
and spent the morning working with his sister. He awoke shortly
before lunch, rested though still groggy. By the time lunch was over,
he was in much better spirits, and we were able to have a productive
afternoon together working on his lessons.

That's just one small example of the flexibility of homeschooling.
Many homeschooling families have experienced it by being able to take
vacations in the fall, when tourist areas are less crowded because
most families are back in their schools and offices. It can be seen
in the relief of a mom who can stay home with her new baby instead of
dragging the poor little thing around while she takes her kids back
and forth to school and its related activities. It's very appreciated
by the dad who is able to take a child with him on a business trip,
and the grandparents who can bring their grandchildren home with them
for a two-week visit any time of year they wish.

That flexibility must be a big secret to outsiders, though, because
people always seem to think we homeschool moms have such demanding
lives. Shows what they know!


Copyright 2007 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth children
ages 14-23, a freelance writer/editor, and the author of 'Life Prep
for Homeschooled Teenagers', 'The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to
Homeschooling', and 'Homeschooling Your Teenagers'. To visit her
website, 'The Imperfect Homeschooler', go to:


Do you have a special experience to share about the flexibility of
homeschooling? Please write and we can share it with our readers!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net

*Put "homeschooling flexibility" in the subject line please.


Piano Is EASY For Kids

Start piano at home with your child.
Put the numbered stickers on your piano.
Read music with our books.
A great way to get kids started.
Come see all the fun songs you can play!



Helpful Tip

Boys in the Midst of Change

One of the most useful articles I've ever recommended for under-
standing boys and puberty, especially in relation to the changing
teacher/student relationship, is entitled 'Pubermania'. We also
affectionately call it 'The Rooster Article'. Take a moment to
read it at our HomeschoolingBOYS.com site:


This contribution to our HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group (below)
combines this understanding with a fresh and unique approach!

Turning the Tables

"One gal I know says to her kids right before they reach this
stage, 'Over the next year, I'm going to go through some changes
and I'm just not going to be the same person that you know. I
want you to understand that I still love you and that it will pass
with time.' Of course it is really the kids going through the
changes, but she said after their hormones level off a bit they
come to her and say 'Ya know Mom, you were right. You were dumb
and crazy for a while -- I'm so glad you're back to normal'. ROFL!"

-- Sheila - HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group member


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

Winning Website

Hunkin's Experiments -- http://www.hunkinsexperiments.com

Engineer Tom Hunkin has provided hundreds of cool cartoons that
will have you experimenting with food, light, sound, clothes, and
a whole lot more! Most of the experiments use things you already
have around the house. He has even included a 'trick' experiment -
all of the experiments work except for one - can you find it?

-- Cindy at www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 9 year old dd whose gross and fine motor skills need help!
I don't know whether to take her for an evaluation with an occupa-
tional therapist or if there are exercises I could do with her at
home during the day to strengthen her hands and arms. She is not
good at cutting paper. She eats like a 3 year old. It's a night-
mare to watch her eat soup. She can eat with a fork and spoon...
but she still wants to hold the spoon like a baby does. She knocks
her drink over a lot. As homeschoolers, we don't have access to a
therapist -- unless maybe insurance would pay. The other kids notice
that something isn't quite right and they shun her. It breaks my
heart and I want to help her 'catch up' with her peers but I don't
know how. Do any other moms have any advice for me?" -- Laura

Our Readers' Responses

"Greetings Laura! Does your daughter have a known medical condition
causing this problem with her motor skills? If so, then insurance
would likely pay for an occupational therapy evaluation and treat-
ment. You could also ask for one through the public school system as
well. I know home schoolers who've gone through the public schools
(here in Maine) for speech and reading help for their home schooled
children and it's been a positive experience for them. Insurance
often helps with preliminary testing and your public school system
may provide any therapy needed at no cost to you.

If you've not yet had a medicaI evaluation for this delay in her
motor skills, that is definitely the place to start -- and the
sooner, the better. I suggest you first talk with your family
doctor about this and then pursue an evaluation to first rule out
any underlying problems. This could include some neurological test-
ing and evaluations by occupational and physical therapists. You
first need to know what may be hindering your daughter's motor
skills before you can find and apply a working solution.

You sound like a concerned mom who loves her daughter. As a nurse
and home schooling mom myself, I urge you to have this evaluation
done soon so that your daughter can improve her skills as much as
possible and so that she doesn't needlessly suffer from others shun-
ning her. It sounds like they need an object lesson, but kids can
be very hard on each other, and you may need to intervene/advocate
on her behalf.

Be encouraged! Recognizing a problem is half the battle." -- Betty


"It sounds as though your daughter may have dysgraphia or another
neurological problem. Your daughter should be evaluated by a pedi-
atric neurologist. Your insurance will pay for this and most insur-
ance companies will pay for doctor prescribed occupational therapy.
My oldest son has this problem. He is 20 and we've worked through
his problems with therapy and modifications. He's now in college
and doing well. Our doctor emphasized the importance of beginning
computer keyboarding early. She'll need the skill in order to be
able to complete her assignments in a timely manner without major
frustration and to keep up in college later." -- Shawn M.


"Most definitely take her to see not only an occuaptional thera-
pist, but also a physical therapist as well. Also please look
into things such as sensory intergration dysfunction. Your ques-
tion did not indicate if she had sensory issues or not, but it
would not hurt to examine that as well. Have her evaluated for
speech and language issues as well. My oldest child had fine/gross
motor issues, visual motor intergration issues, as well as sensory
issues (applesauce and glue were definite 'yucks' to him). As he
grew older, he was diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability.
We definitely work with our son at home to help him tackle the
issues of fine and gross motor. He takes martial arts. We have
him write in cursive (which is more fluid in movement than print).
We provide many coloring and cutting activities. We gave him a
pair of hand grips so he could strengthen his hand grasp. He also
takes guitar (which requires him to grip his pick so he doesn't
drop it). My husband throws him a football/baseball to help our
son catch things. Make sure your daughter has physical activities
that require her to cross midline (from one side of her body to the
other). Most importantly, bolster her self-esteem in what she is
good at (as depression can become a factor due to loneliness and
low self-esteem). However, do this with balance as she may want
to limit herself and stay where she is comfortable (which can be a
detriment if it hampers her ability to try new things). I wish you
the best of luck and support." -- Elizabeth in Virginia


"I am a homeschool mom of two with a 20 year background in special
education in the public schools. What I learned from the OT and PT
experts that I worked with may help you. First of all, know that
if you want to develop small muscle control in the hands and fingers,
you first must develop the large muscles of the shoulders and arms.
To do that, put writing paper on a vertical surface. By taping your
child's paper to the wall to have her paint, write, etc., it forces
her to use those arm and shoulder muscles. When working on a desk
or tabletop, a slanted surface is best. You can use a 2-3 inch
binder set on a large book to elevate and slant the surface she is
writing on. On a warm day, have her use a bucket of water and a
paintbrush to 'paint' (wash) the brick or siding of the house or
porch. It is fun and it works those muscles! She can make water
pictures using the brush, and when it is dry, it disappears! To
develop finger dexterity, break crayons into two inch pieces and
have her use those. Also, use a pencil about two inches long. This
forces those fingers to work. As far as using a spoon is concerned,
take time away from the dinner table to work on it. Is she having
trouble holding it because it is too narrow, or is she unsure of the
correct way to hold it? After teaching the holding pattern, practice
on something stiff and easy to spoon - such as a pudding cup. If the
spoon handle is too narrow or small for her to hold, build up the
handle with several rubber bands wound around it. Use short practice
sessions and work up to harder things to eat, such as a thin soup.
Work out non-verbal signals to help remind her of what she is learn-
ing so that you can communicate to her during dinner without embar-
rassing her.

Gross motor skills can be worked on in the course of outdoor play.
If you have a large tree in your yard, put up a tire swing and start
with 5-10 minutes of swinging everyday. It helps organize the brain
to get ready to learn. Rebounding is great for a low impact, fun
way to improve balance. An exercise ball is inexpensive, but can be
used in so many ways. I would have her sit on it to do school work,
during dinner, watching tv, etc. It forces you to use your core
muscles to stay balanced. A strong core is essential in developing
gross motor skills. Hope these ideas help!" -- Tennessee Mom of 2


"Laura, I identify with your struggles and broken-heartedness. I
have two children with ADHD, sleep disorders, and learning disabil-
ities. One also has facial and vocal tics. Our first step was for
their pediatrician to refer them to a neurologist, who uncovered
some of the roots of what you describe as 'not quite right'. The
neurologist then made other appropriate referrals. I know people
like to avoid labels, but I and my children were relieved to have
answers so they could receive appropriate help. As children grow
older the issues appear more pronounced, and their peers do notice.
I have chosen to have my children 'labeled' and helped, rather than
let it go.

For your child it does not sound like a matter of muscle strength,
but more visual-motor, especially if you notice problems in the area
of writing. There is so much help out there these days; you just
have to find it. Just pray about where to start the process. It
may take time, but don't give up. Your daughter's sense of accom
plishment is so important. In our home, we focus on progress (not
perfection or even correctness). What may seem like small successes
can be a great boost to your child's sense of contribution to her
family, community, and world.

My children have become very compassionate toward others who struggle
and are able to help (comfort) others with some of the help (comfort)
they have received. I still have discouraging moments but when I
reflect on years past, I am encouraged by the progress made.

May God richly bless your journey with the precious life He has
entrusted to you!" -- K.


"My son is 9. We started occupational therapy last spring and we
are still continuing on until they release us. Our primary doctor
referred us, and the insurance is paying all costs. Let me start
at the beginning. He was evaluated by an occupational therapist
through the public school and found to have low muscle tone. 'Low
hypotomia' (the official word), which I then understood effects
handwriting, coordination, the odd gait he has when walking, etc.
We actually started with pediatric physical therapy to build up his
muscles first and proceeded with OT at the same time. We are done
with PT now. When we go in for OT, they still do physical exercise
with him before the OT activities to keep him alert. It has made a
huge difference for us. If your insurance won't cover it, there
are many things you can do at home. I suggest working with her
physically first. Even if you went for an evaluation to know for
sure, they would leave you with the exercises to take home. Some
activities we do are playing with silly putty (hiding small toys
in it and finding them again), visual activities involving copying
patterns correctly on a dry erase board, weight bearing activities
and games, listening to music with a strong rythm, balancing on one
foot and then the other; the simple activities are almost endless.
If you did some research on it you would find some good tools to
use. By the way, we pulled our son out of school for the same
reasons -- not getting the help he needed for one, and being made
fun of because he was a little different. You are doing the right
thing. It would be good to find some simple ways to build up your
daughter's confidence." -- Tammi in Washington State


"Two of my children have received Occupational Therapy. I would
call your insurance to see what they will cover, and then set up
an evaluation. Our insurance covered 30 OT visits per year. One
of my sons went for an evaluation for gross and fine motor skills.
OT helped him tremendously. He went as far as he could with the
OT and then we saw a Developmental Pediatrition. He has Develop-
mental Coordination Disorder and will always have areas of struggle.
I'm so thankful I can homeschool him. He does struggle with making
friends because he is different.

Have you talked about your daughter's issues with a doctor? It
might be helpful for her to see a Dev. Ped. as well." -- Vickie


"Here are a few things you may consider. If you have insurance,
then a doctor can refer her to see an occupational therapist. We
are a military family and our insurance will pay for my son's
occupational therapy (he also has motor skill problems and is 3)
until he reaches 'school age'. Once he is school age, it will be
mandatory for us to use the school district for all of our therapy
needs. Pertaining to your daughter, the school district may be
able to send someone to your home so that she can receive this
necessary treatment. I know we want to separate ourselves from
the district so that we can control our children's education, but
also I do know that some insurances require one to use school
district resources and in all actuality we have the right as our
children's parents and as taxpayers to use these resources avail-
able to us. If you do not want to seek out a therapist, I have
seen activities to develop motor skills online. Examples would
be to place coins in a container with a coin slot in it and have
her use the thumb and index finger. Another would be to use
kitchen tongs or ice tongs and pick up cotton balls, pom poms or
something of that nature. Here is a link that looks like it has
some good ideas. http://members.tripod.com/~imaware/fmotor.html

I know with time, patience and practice your daughter's skills
will improve." -- Anissa in Texas


"My son has Aspergers which comes with many fine and gross motor
skill problems. He is 20 and having trouble writing and cutting
food still. I took him to an occupational therapist. She acted
kind of upset that I hadn't taken him in before and said it was
harder to retrain than to train right the first time, so you might
think about that. I believe occupational therapy will help him.
We had so many other doctors appointments and issues to take care
of that I just hadn't gotten him there yet. You might also ask
a primary doctor for their advice and referral. Also, because of
my sons disabilities, he has been on BCMH insurance which covers
O.T. -- so you might check into seeing if you are elgible for that."
-- Betty E.


"I am a pediatric occupational therapist as well as a homeschooling
mom. It sounds like you should get an OT evaluation. I would ask
the pediatrician to write a prescription for an OT evaluation due
to gross motor and fine motor delays and request the evaluation
from the public school. I'm in California, and that is an accept-
able way to get funding for therapy here as homeschoolers. Other-
wise go through private insurance if you can." -- Shelly

Answer our NEW Question

"We are fortunate enough that our local library does have Rosetta
Stone for free online, but there are no instructions. I was wonder-
ing if anyone that has bought it or is using it from another library
could tell me how to use it! I did two lessons, both only about 15
minutes to check it out, but I don't know how it's supposed to be
used to be most effective." -- Elizabeth in PA


Do you know the answer to Elizabeth's question?

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

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