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Are You Paying Attention?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, June 06, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 45 June 6, 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!




Guest Article
-- Are You Paying Attention?
Helpful Tip
-- BBC Free Language Courses
Winning Website
-- World's Biggest "Show & Tell"
Reader Question
-- I'm Afraid He's Not Learning
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Are You Paying Attention? (Part One)
-- by Karen Lange


Are you a good listener? Do you follow directions? Are you a
patient person? Is it just me, or does society as a whole lately
seem to have trouble paying attention sometimes? I'm including
myself here -- I can be preoccupied, distracted, and just plain
not in the mood to pay attention. I think many of us have been
there: sort of listening to people, all the while formulating
in our minds what WE will say next. We speak before we think;
or jump to conclusions before learning all the facts.

What's the cause? Are we too busy? Are we products of an instant,
microwave, 'hurry up' society? Are we too self-involved? In my
case, all of these can be true. I can be too busy; I am used to
making popcorn in less than three minutes, you know, and I do
get too wrapped up in my life sometimes. This results in my lack
of attention and consideration.

Do you ever find yourself in the same boat? It is motivation enough
to try and resolve these issues within ourselves; naturally, we
want to treat others as we wish to be treated. But have you noticed
how character flaws and other issues seem magnified when we see
them in our kids? That is sobering!

I am sure you've been on the receiving end of someone's lack of
attention or impatience. I have, and I try to view it as an oppor-
tunity to build character. It does make me wonder, however, about
our society as a whole. I've done office work for a contractor and
have heard comments from customers who did not take time to read
their bill thoroughly. If they had, most times they could have
avoided the aggravation and a phone call. I've also worked with
adults and children that did not take the time to read directions.
It is easier to let someone else do the work, answer the questions,
or troubleshoot for them. I'm not opposed to asking questions,
being inquisitive, etc. However, there is a difference between this
and simply not taking the time and responsibility to figure things
out. Have we become a society of dependents and enablers?

Again, I admit, I've fallen into this pit all too often. I've
gotten a bill in the mail, initially didn't understand it, and
almost made an impatient call. When I'd look it over more carefully,
I'd usually figure it out. At the very least, I'm more informed
and calm if I must call. I've had my share of moments where I
haven't followed directions, nor wanted to, and gotten someone
else to help me, knowing full well had I taken a few moments I
probably could have figured it out. And, regretfully, I have not
always been the most attentive listener. (What, did you just say

I am sure that you, like me, consider yourself a wonderful work
in progress. But for the grace of God, we would all be in pretty
bad shape. As we are works in progress, so are our children. How
can we equip them to pay attention, to have good critical thinking
skills, and to use wisdom and Godly, common sense?

Teach them to think! This is easier said than done, I know, but it
can be done. We must think every day, whether helping the little
ones with math, grocery shopping, or studying literature with the
teens. If our children know how to think and solve problems, they
will be ready for anything as adults.

One of the biggest ways to help them is to be a good example. So
no more ripping the cell phone bill into shreds and stuffing it in
the trash if you don't understand your charges! Just kidding, of
course -- none of us ever get upset over a little thing like a
cell phone bill.

Let the kids see you trouble-shoot and work through daily issues.
Hmmm, the lamp isn't working. Is it plugged in? Did the light bulb
burn out? Is the bulb screwed in properly? Consult the trouble-
shooting section of appliance manuals when necessary. Enlist the
kids' help and ask questions designed to help them think through
situations as they arise. Children are naturally curious; use this
as a catalyst when problem solving. Balance this with common sense
and age-appropriate discretion of course; it wouldn’t make sense
to have your toddler changing the light bulb. But, as they grow,
they can watch the older ones solve problems and learn too.

Teach them to think before they speak. Okay, many of us adults are
still working on this one too. This is something that you can
discuss with the kids as situations arise, and encourage them in
even after a situation is dealt with. Encourage them to consider
others' feelings before their own. This can often deflect an argu-
ment, or diffuse a tense situation.

Here again, with discretion, we can share with our kids how we
work through issues. Describe, for example, how you resolved a
situation with a mail order company, when you were charged the
wrong price. Explain how, with a pleasant demeanor and good problem
solving skills, you were able to work it out. Teach them to pray,
too, before attacking a problem. Divine wisdom is always there for
us, all we need to do is ask and trust that God will help us.

(To be continued -- in Monday's issue!)


Karen Lange and her husband Jeff homeschooled their three children
grades K-12. Karen is a freelance writer, author of 'The Only Home-
school Co-op Booklet You Need to Start Your Very Own Best Co-op
Ever!', and instructor of The Homeschool Online Creative Writing
Co-op for Teens. Visit her website: www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com
Or email her at writingcoop@yahoo.com


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



Helpful Tip

Free Language Courses Online

I found a website with free language courses for French, German,
Spanish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese (that includes tones),
a little Polish, a little Japanese, a little Russian, some Arabic,
and several others.

You can browse the online course (this requires a free download
of Flash Player) or you can sign-up for a 12-week lesson delivered
by email. There are games, worksheets, tips and guides to slang.

This is all free from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).

You can access the website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

-- Mrs. Dani


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

Winning Website

The Instructables - www.instructables.com

Presented as the "World's Biggest Show and Tell", this site has
contributions from people all over the world each providing
step-by-step instructions for making or doing almost anything.
Categories include arts, crafts, food, games, home, kids, life,
pets and more. I'm not saying every project is for everyone, but
there lots of great summer "I'm bored" activities just waiting
to be discovered on this cool site.

-- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I home school my ten year old son, always have, but now it seems
like we are not accomplishing anything. He struggles in math,
hates to write, and just wants to play computer and video games
all of the time. I'm afraid he's not learning all that he should.
Any suggestions?" -- Angela

Our Readers' Responses

"When my daughter hit 5th grade, we unschooled for a year. Not
really on purpose, and she did Easy Grammar and math that year,
but everything else we kind of put on hold. I had run out of
inspiration and she was having an interesting year.

However, she found all kinds of interesting things to learn with-
out my help. I let her pick out books to read or movies she
wanted to see. She developed an interest in poetry. She ended
up learning some history anyway, and some science. She won the
homeschool spelling bee that year, and the science fair (both in
her age range), and she was a runner up in the state zoo poster
contest for endangered animals, not to mention doing a project
on Madagascar for the homeschool International Night.

So, she had a great year without having much formal school at
all. If we had skipped the math she would have been fine.
She also got a chance to read a lot of books for pleasure, and
while they might not have formal value, she couldn't help but
learn vocabulary and writing style from spending long hours
reading for pleasure.

Coming out of that year, 6th grade was a blast -- she was a
little more mature and settled. It also gave me a year to spend
time looking for what would work well for her. We ended up
using Ambleside Online for Year 6, and are doing a combination
of Ambleside reading and Trisms for her main curriculum this
year (we just started the next grade -- we school year round).
Finding Trisms was great, because it is research based, has no
textbooks, and she is enjoying it immensely.

Take it easy! He'll only be 10 once, and he'll have too much
to do soon enough. Explore his learning style, find what will
work best as he changes from elementary to the middle years,
and have some fun." -- Anne


"I understand and sympathize with your plight. My eleven year
old son has had the same issues. He would eat, sleep, and drink
video/computer games if I let him!

He dawdles on his work, chatters incessantly, and hates any
written work. I have tried various methods to improve the situ-
ation. These are what we have done so far: first, I limit his
video/computer game time to one hour per day (only during breaks
or after lessons are through for the day), no more than 15
minutes at a time. Failure to get his work completed (or a bad
attitude) can result in loss of game time.

I try not to load him down with too much written work... I
understand the written work can be an issue with boys. We do
many of his lessons on an oral basis. Most of his written work
is done in print (he prefers that to cursive). I DO insist that
he practice his cursive daily, though (just a few lines).

As for the math, we have used 'edutainment' in the past (computer
games that were also educational). Sometimes it helps to back
up to a level in which he did really well. It can help their
self-esteem to begin in a place where they succeed. Then move
along until you reach the trouble spot. When you reach it, just
slow things down a bit. Maybe break the math lessons into shorter
segments, so he isn't overwhelmed.

I keep tweaking this, because it is an ongoing process. I also
have a behavior chart that I have used. I list required items
and he is expected to do them. After he gets so many 'checks'
on the chart, he gets to pick a reward (i.e. a movie rental,
visit to the game arcade at the mall, or something else of his
choosing). On the flip side, if he does not do them (without a
good reason), he gets 'docked' some of his game time.

My greatest strategy in this process? Prayer, and lots of it!"
-- Debora


"I have a 10 year old daughter in fourth grade. She was having
trouble in math as well, and hated even looking at the math book.
Since she had begun studying fractions in the hated book, I
purchased a book that combined math and a story (Life of Fred,
and I'm sure there are others out there). Instead of having her
do 25 or 30 problems, there were just a few at the end of each
chapter, and they all had something to do with the story. We
also started reading interesting books from the library about
math. There are also interesting web sites that combine math
and a story, if you Google it.

I have no opinion on the writing, as I don't have this problem.
However, I have a problem with both my 7 year old and 10 year old
wanting to be on the computer a lot. In my opinion, you can do
one of two things. First, you can enroll your son in a computer
based program, such as Time4Learning or some other program.
Second, you can use computer time as a reward for completing his
work in an accurate and timely manner, which is what we do."


"My suggestion would be to investigate online instruction on
how to design or write video games. This would engage him in a
practical application of math and art that he is immediately
interested in." -- Kathy E.

Answer our NEW Question

"We are a family with two children, and this is our 7th year of
homeschooling. I am certainly not an unorganized person, but
throughout the years I have yet to find the best way of organizing
our papers: tests they took, stories they wrote, pictures they
drew, etc. I find myself having miscellaneous folders with papers
here and there, but nothing seems to work well. I would love to
have everything sorted and put together per year, per child. If
anyone out there has some good, sensible tips or advice, I would
appreciate that very much!" -- Jentine


Can you suggest a practical solution for Jentine?

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

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Next - Are You Paying Attention? (Part 2)
Previous - When They Ask, "Why Do You Homeschool?"

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