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Just a Gopher Skinner, Homeschool On Our Own

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, March 24, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 24 March 24, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)


"Have You Taken the Kids Financial Future Index Yet?"

By analyzing your answers to 12 simple yes/no questions
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Notes from Heather
-- Just a 'Gopher Skinner'
Resource Review
-- The Squiggles Series
Reader Question
-- Schooling on My Own
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Our Unique Children Used for God's Glory

One of our faithful readers, Mary Beth, forwarded me a really
encouraging letter from Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler. My sons
and I had the pleasure of meeting Little Bear Wheeler a few years
ago in the Chicago area. If you ever get the opportunity to see
him, it is an experience you will never forget! The year we saw
him he was doing a living history portrayal of Alvin C. York.
We have also enjoyed all his videos and audio historical devotions
over the years. His knowledge and love for American history is
very contagious. :-)

Few realize that, as a boy, Richard really wasn't amounting to
much academically. Few could have foreseen God's plan for a
ministry based on his love of history and the outdoors. But few
would disagree with the conclusion that his ministry/business is
a huge success. He has impacted thousands of lives!

Here is an excerpt from the email he recently sent out:


"'All of us are fitly made, uniquely made', according to Psalm
139. The past 30 years have really been a testimony of my
inability -- of what I can't do -- not what I can do. It's a test-
imony of how wonderful God is to use a 'retarded gopher skinner'
like myself, and prepare a work for me to bring Him glory. I
didn't learn to read, write, or spell until I was twelve, but I
could sure skin gophers well. God took what I could do, not what
I couldn't do. He created and fashioned a ministry around these
inabilities and abilities with its costuming, drama, and my love
of history -- His-story.

Nowadays, wherever I travel in ministry, parents often share with
me -- at times in desperation -- that they have a son or a daugh-
ter that doesn't fit everybody else's idea of 'normal'. They feel
like misfits or that they've done something terribly wrong. Maybe
they don't have proper reading skills or good study habits. Though
I didn't learn to read until I was about twelve, I finally recog-
nized that the Lord gave me a fascination with history and a gift
to be able to share that interest. Back then I had no idea that
the Lord was preparing me for ministry while I was enjoying all
those 'out-of-the-ordinary' things I did know how to do. That's
how I am able to encourage parents that God has a plan and purpose
for their children as well, with unique gifts and callings that
might not fit into the traditional classroom setting. They can
also learn other skills God can use for His glory and for ministry
to others in the future. 'For we are His workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that
we should walk in them' (Ephesians 2:10)."


Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler and wife, Marilyn, have been
married for 35 years, and have had the unique privilege of having
home educated their three children, Noelle, Aimee, and Joshua,
in the 'mobile classroom' of our forty-eight United States, as
well as overseas, via the national and international evangelistic
ministry of Mantle Ministries. You can visit "Little Bear's"
website for a complete listing of home educational resources,
speaking itinerary, and information concerning Mantle Ministries
at: http://www.mantleministries.com.


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Resource Review

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

The name of this product line comes from the random doodling
many of us do when we're bored or just feeling creative. The
creators of the Squiggle series have come up with a way to use
a child's natural creativity and channel it so that their dood-
ling is educational! They've created a whole line of activities
and games that allow kids ages 4 to 7 to learn while they create.

The Alphabet SQUIGGLE board game introduces the upper case alpha-
bet in a fun and interactive way. Players move along a path of
letters. Each time they land on a letter, they find its match
along the outside border of the game board and then trace it or
write it from memory on a piece of sketch paper provided. Then,
if they're feeling creative, they can write a word that begins
with the letter, or even create a little 'doodle' drawing of some-
thing that begins with that letter. For instance, they might land
on 'C'. They write or trace the letter, and then they might put
two ears on top, add eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers to make a cat.
The addition of drawing, along with tracing or writing, improves
small motor skills, which are important for young children just
learning to write. This easy game is ideal for young children
just learning their letters; older children might be a bit bored,
however, if they like drawing, you might get more mileage.

I know parents, especially homeschool parents, are often on the go!
You can keep little hands busy with Alphabet SQUIGGLE On-The-Go.
This special travel edition introduces and reinforces the alpha-
bet. The whole thing is self-contained and easy for small hands
to hold. There is a thick pad, with faint lines on each tear-off
sheet, and an alphabet spinner attached to the top of the card-
board holder. Children spin and the write whatever letter the
spinner points to. Then they can write a word or turn the letter
into a picture. When they're done with their new creation, they
can tear off the top page to reveal a fresh writing surface.

Not content to just focus on the alphabet, there are lots of
creative, innovative, and educational products with various
themes in the SQUIGGLE series. You can see the entire product
line and find a retailer near you when you visit the creator's
website: www.randomline.com.


-- Reviewed by Cindy at http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I currently am homeschooling my daughter through the local
school district. She is in Kindergarten, though she tested in
1st grade for most subjects. We use their curriculum, and we
meet with a teacher once a month to discuss our progress. The
problem is, she is bored with their work, and I am having to
supplement heavily just to keep her interested and learning!
I am doing so much outside research and finding so many mater-
ials for her, I almost feel like why am I bothering with the
school anymore?

The problem is, my husband is worried about me going solo. He
doesn't trust that I can make sure she covers what she needs to
cover without the oversight of the teacher. I just can't even
figure out an approach to start the discussion with him, because
I am so close to the subject, that I can't seem to be objective.
I make it a point to show him what we did that was 'school' and
what we did that was what we wanted to do -- outside studies,
and he can see how much I do. Can anyone recommend an approach
or a resource that I can show him that we are and can continue
to meet her educational needs, without the need for the school?"
-- Beckie

Our Readers' Responses

"Beckie -- We have found that an alternative approach to this
is cyber-charter school. My husband is the exact same way and
we compromised with this. The cyber charter is funded through
your school district, but you are allowed to move at the rate
of your child's learning. If you finish kindergarten in February,
then you start first grade in March. Take summer vacation -- and
pick up where you left off in September. We can supplement if
we'd like, but haven't really needed to yet. You can check in
with a teacher like you are doing once or twice a month, and
'turn in' assignments via mail/email for grading. They send you
curriculum, a computer and printer, money for Internet fees, text-
books, and supplies (depending on the cyber-charter school).
There are many out there, tailored to each state's standards. We
like www.connectionsacademy.com because they are located in multi-
ple states and don't require you to attend an in-person seminar
to sell up their school. They will send you all the info via mail
or you can find it on their website. Google 'cyber charter' and
your state name and you will find more options for schools (presum-
ing your state allows cyber-charter). Good luck in your search
for a happy meeting ground with your husband." -- Christin


"If your husband's concern is that you won't be diligent enough
to see a lesson plan through without a teacher to oversee you,
perhaps you can take the summer to show him that *his* oversight
would be accountability enough. Set a few goals; keep it simple
-- remember it is summertime -- and show him that you can meet
those goals and report to him faithfully.

If, however, the concern is that you won't *know* what needs to
be covered, do a Google search of 'scope and sequence' and you'll
find several different lists of what to learn at each age/grade
level. This could serve two purposes for him: 1} To show him
that each curriculum, each state, and even many school districts
will have their own different plan for what to present at each
age level, so some variety is acceptable. 2) It will help you
both to develop an outline of what you want to cover, so you can
then search for resources to meet those goals in ways that suit
your daughter's interests and learning style. You could even use
it as a checklist to make accountability to one another easier.
One of the things I appreciate most about homeschooling is that
learning can be a JOY, not drudgery, when we are free to meet the
needs of each individual student instead of reducing everything
to the least common denominator." -- Luanne in TN


"As a former public school teacher when 'No Child Left Behind'
came out, our school did many hours of putting down the curri-
culum that we used in minute detail for some of the requirements
of that legislation (every lesson plan had to include a standard
that we were supposed to cover). I do not know what state or
district you are in, but I am sure they probably had to do much
of the same thing. Nice thing about my old school, Fayetteville
Public Schools in Arkansas, was that it is available for anyone
to look at on the internet. Perhaps your school (or a larger
area school if your school is small) has the same thing. If you
go to your district's web site, look for something that is a link
to their district curriculum. Here is Fayetteville's:

So, in order to encourage your husband that you can cover the exact
material yourself without a 'live' teacher, you can show him the
exact curriculum guide that teachers use and even print them off
(or put them in Excel to save ink!) and write the dates every time
you happen to cover that standard for your child during that year
-- and plan your lessons accordingly. Each department calls these
things by different names -- Math is called 'Profile of Progress'
and Science is 'State SLEs' -- but just click around and you'll
find the list of all the things Kindergarteners or 5th graders
are to cover, etc." -- Melissa J.


"Beckie, I can remember a time when I had many of the same ques-
tions your husband has. One book that helped me was Sally
Clarkson's 'Educating the Wholehearted Child'. Available from
www.wholeheart.org, and many homeschool vendors. If you know
any homeschool families, you might see if you can arrange for one
of the homeschool dads to visit with your husband." -- Mary Beth


"Hi, Becky -- Both you and your husband have your child's best
interest at heart. Here are a few suggestions --

1) Join a local homeschooling group. There you both will meet
families who are homeschooling and your husband will be able to
meet other homeschooling dads.

2) Attend a Homeschool Conference. It's a great place to 'see
the big picture' of homeschooling, to meet veteran homeschoolers,
get encouragement.

3) In my state (NH), we can have a certified teacher assess our
year's work as our end-of-the-year evaluation. This evaluation
assures the town that our son has made appropriate progress for
his age and ability. Our evaluator is a homeschooling mom who
happens to also be a certified New Hampshire teacher (it's amaz-
ing how many teachers leave the teaching in schools to homeschool
their own children!) Perhaps you could find such a person in your
area who could 'mentor' you and lay your husband's fears to rest.

4) Involve your husband in the education of your child -- I
wanted my husband to be involved without 'overloading' him. I
asked if he'd like to teach our son about his (my husband's)
favorite subject -- astronomy -- over the summer. No pressure
-- just for fun; that was 3 years ago! And they still study the
stars together!

5) Pray together for guidance. Praying together is such a gift.
God bless you as you make these important decisions about your
child's education." -- Tricia

Answer our NEW Question

"Our 8th grade daughter is in the process of finishing up 9th
grade Algebra 1 and 10th grade Apologia Biology. She has already
completed Physical Science and a 9th grade vocabulary course.
When I begin to keep her High School transcript, how do I include
course work that was completed in Junior High? Thanks in advance."
-- Kate in NC


Do you have some direction for Kate?
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.]

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