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Are You Paying Attention? (Part 2)

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, June 09, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 46 June 9, 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. :-)


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Guest Article
-- Are You Paying Attention? (Pt. 2)
Helpful Tip
-- Free Download of New Book
Reader Question
-- Best Way to Organize Papers?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

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


Be a good listener.

This is a great first step to teaching your kids to listen well.
We listen because we are interested. We listen because we must.
We listen because we care. If you raise your children to be kind
and caring, much of this comes naturally. However, they must also
recognize that even when there is no obvious benefit for them,
it is wise and kind to cultivate good listening skills. A heart
for putting others before ourselves, a heart that wants to 'do
unto others', and a heart that desires to bless others is a great
asset in this area.

Think of simple, everyday things that build listening and thinking
skills, such as repeating directions, giving a story synopsis, or
listening to music with commentary, (such as "Peter and the Wolf").
Games, treasure hunts, detective stories, and solving mysteries
will sharpen skills too. As the kids mature, give them verbal
instructions with three or more steps. Encourage them to make
to-do lists to keep track of chores. Practice note-taking skills
at church or a 4H meeting. Have them write instructions for recipes
or tasks, and have another family member test the instructions to
see how they work. This is a great exercise; writing clear and
easy to follow instructions can be harder than you think.

Teach your children to read and follow directions carefully.

When they come to you with a question, ask them if they've read
the directions. If they have, then ask them what the directions
said. In this way, you can help them get to the place of diffi-
culty. Help them work through this area. With a good balance,
eventually they will solve more problems on their own. I know
this can be hard, especially when teaching and raising more than
one child. It is worth the effort, though, and if incorporated
over time, you will see results. Trust me!

Now that my kids are adults, I can see some things that I might
have done differently. I think it is natural to be tempted to
do too much for our kids, not allowing them to think and do
things on their own. It always helped me to stop and ask; what
is the big picture? My answer: I was preparing my children for
adulthood and they needed to function on their own. I wanted
them to fulfill their calling, to be a blessing to others, and
an asset to society.

My husband was a great one for telling me to let the kids try
to figure things out. He was right, they usually did, and we
were there for advice, or in case they needed help. He was
always able to envision the kids, their skills and behavior,
at an older age. He said that if we failed to deal with things
when they were young, there'd be other issues to deal with as
they grew older. The reality of shortchanging our kids, by not
equipping them with important life skills like these, was

I realize that teaching these skills requires time and patience.
Often we are in a hurry, and it is much easier for us to complete
a task ourselves, or rush the kids through. There are instances,
too, where there simply isn't time or where directions aren't
necessary. Step back and be objective; trust for wisdom for each
child's big picture.

Strive for a balance, and keep a "pay attention" mindset.

Don't wear yourself out having dialogue with the kids over every
little thing. Don't stress every time they don't listen. Know
that you will make mistakes along the way. With the right heart
and goals, however, you'll give your kids the skills they need
to function well and to be a blessing to others.


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


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Helpful Tip

Free Download - Eleven Chapters of New Book by Homeschoolers!


"We wanted to let you know about our upcoming book, 'Tales of
the Heartily Homeschooled'. We are homeschool graduates and the
eldest children in two very large families. Drawing on some of
our favourite memories, we've written a book that we hope will
make others laugh, think, and thank God for family.

Pre-orders for 'Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled' begin June
14th. To give you a taste of 'Tales', we've released Part 1 --
that's eleven full chapters! -- as a free ebook. It can be
picked up at www.LittleDozen.com/thhebook.html

There is no cost or obligation involved. We want to share some
of our homeschooling journey with others who are just starting
out, walking through the thick of things, or even looking back
on the finish line."

-- Rachel Starr Thomson and Carolyn Joy Currey, Authors


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

Last Issue's Reader 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

Our Readers' Responses

"I use an accordion folder for each year of school to serve as
our 'portfolio' should we ever need it. They come with a various
number of sections, I believe, so just pick one that meets your
need according to the number of subjects or additional information
you want to store. While they won't hold every single piece of
paper used throughout the year, they have been adequate for tests,
reports, etc. that I feel we need to keep. I sometimes have an
extra section or two, where I will put assignment sheets, yearly
overview, etc.. The folders I use close with an attached elastic
band, and I simply write the school year on the outside of the
paper cover with a marker. Other versions are more like a 'box',
with a flap instead of elastic; these, of course, are more expen-
sive, but might better meet *your* needs. There are also plastic
files similar to the paper ones that I use; again, more expensive,
but also more durable.

Another idea that I heard or read somewhere is to have a plastic
tub with a lid (Rubbermaid tote or something similar) for each
child. Depending on the size, this could hold several years of
papers. To keep each year separate, place yearly work inside a
large paper grocery bag and label it then just stack the bags
inside the containers. The tubs could be kept in the child's
closet or under the bed if you didn't have space for them all in
one place. For storage in the attic, basement or garage, this
would protect your papers from water, mice, etc." -- Sherry A.


"I would suggest having binders for each child's year of 'school'
and have it separated by subject. This way it's a quick reference,
as well as showing the child how much they have grown academically
throughout the years." -- Jennifer B.


"Get a large, 10" x 13" envelope for each subject area. Use a
marking pen to write the subject area on the long edge, if stored
in a filing cabinet or file box, or the short edge opposite the
flap if stored on a shelf. Put all finished work in the envelope,
completed consumable workbooks, etc. If there's a project too
large to put in the envelope, then take a photo of it, or a DVD
of the presentation or the 4-H project or the Scout badge work,
and put that in there instead. If the course got a grade, then
put the grade on the envelope on the outside. That is ALL you
NEED to do until you want to make a memory book of the year, or
until you transcript the work for high school. For something
like a high school math class, I tell kids to take the work from
the envelope, stack their homework, every page, in any order, put
their chapter tests on top of that, put their grade report or
evaluation on top of that. Should you need to back up your tran-
script to establish credit down the road, hand them the envelope."
-- Molly C.


"I've dealt with the same issue as well in our 6 years of home-
schooling. I'll give you a couple of ideas that I've found

1. Notebook

Use a 3-ring binder to store their work for the year. If you
don't want to hole punch their papers you can purchase clear
sheet protectors to slide their papers inside before placing
in the binder. You can use one binder per student per year,
and use dividers to break it down by subject if you wish. Or
you can use separate notebooks for each subject. Then just
file them away on a bookshelf or in a cabinet at the end of
the year.

2. File cabinet

I use one file cabinet specifically for school and nothing else.
I use 1 folder per student per year with everything from the
school year filed in that folder. Each school year you would
begin a new folder.

Personally I like the notebook option. We notebook through
the year and my kids have a notebook for history/Bible and one
for science. Because they are systematically filing their own
papers as they make notebook pages about what they are learning
they are really doing the work for me. The only thing I file
in folders in the filing cabinet is math worksheets and/or
tests." -- Missy


"One thing that I found helpful, was at the beginning of each
school year, I would purchase a 3-ring binder in the color of
choice per child. During the first week, they would decorate
the binders with stickers or pictures (to make it personal).
I would buy tab sheet dividers and write the subject for their
projects or lessons to be filed in throughout the year --
vocabulary, art, writing, Bible verses, etc. -- basically any
subject that could end up with a lot of loose papers. Then I
would use a sharpie on the inside cover and write the year and
grade per child.

We have recently started lapbooking -- I find this an interest-
ing concept for the children to use their creativity and to
store their knowledge in one place." -- Donna S.


"One of the best things I have done to organize school work is
to set up 3-hole binders for each child. One is a 'temporary'
notebook that is used daily for all the work that is done. Each
day I have a template check-off list that I use to log hours of
homeschool -- and copies of tests, papers, etc. are filed behind
the daily list. This year my boys will file things themselves
(12 year olds), using a hole punch for each page.

The other is my permanent file (at least a 3 inch binder), again
for each child. All of the monthly logs and daily sheets go
here, as well as a 'sample' of the various work done, usually
just the best stuff. Individual awards, etc. go here as well,
along with copies of the fronts of workbooks that we completed,
if any. Art and music recordings are kept in portfolios, or on
the computer.

For our family, I also keep a notebook of field trips and special
events, of which there are many. Whenever we attend any sort of
'event', I take a photo, keep tickets, brochures, etc. -- whatever
best represents what we did. This is easily filed in clear page
protectors, and is a fun thing to run through occasionally with
our boys to talk about what we've done, and what we would like
to do in the future." -- Cynthia


"The best system for our family has been to give each child a
weekly assignment sheet broken down by subjects, which I have
filled out already. This goes out on Monday and every assignment
for the week is paper-clipped to the assignment sheet. We also
give each week a different color; it matches the assignment sheet.
On each worksheet or piece of paper that goes out I write (in the
margin) the day of the week it's to be done, so that nothing ever
gets lost in the shuffle. On Friday afternoon we file away that
week's work, again paper-clipped back to the assignment sheet.
The girls know that if it's a red Thursday written in the margin,
then it must go to the red assignment sheet and they can easily
see if they are missing any work or if it's been placed in the
wrong location. They each have a drawer in the filing cabinet
for just their work of the year. If it's a large item such as a
poster board of their family history or a science project, I
photograph it with the child it belongs to and then it's taped
to a plain piece of paper with a brief description about what it
is, and then filed into the appropriate date. I do have a large
plastic bag hanging in our garage that holds these just in case
we need to use them again." -- Randi C.


"I have been homeschooling for 14 years (we are graduating our
first this year) and finally found a system that keeps us
organized. It is called the Full Year Notebook System*.

I do not use all the components, but I do use the notebooking
system. My children have learned to be more independent in
keeping to their daily schedule, and I am no longer having to
search folders, drawers, etc. for completed work. Their daily
schedule and all paperwork they have completed are organized
into their notebooks. (I have to use two notebooks per year
for the younger children as they have more 'paperwork')."
-- Kathy in CA

*Editor's note: The following link can be used to find out
more about the system Kathy recommended. All sales through
this particular link donate a portion back to our newsletter!



"Here is the simplest, easiest way I have found to keep our
school papers organized.

Each child has a large binder with section dividers for each
subject we will study – Math, Science, History, Nature Study,
etc. I even sub-divide some categories -- for example, we have
sections for World and American History, in Language Arts we
have Spelling, Composition, Copywork and Dictation, Grammar
sections and more. Whenever we complete a page during the
year -- whether it be a test, a writing paper, a history narra-
tion, or worksheet for a grade -- the child files it under the
appropriate section. At the end of the year we go through the
binders and decide which are their BEST works. We keep only
the BEST work, except we do keep the first handwriting and
story sample for the year -- and then the last -- to show how
much progress has been made.

We then place the best work into a three-pronged folder (the
cheap kind you can get for $.30 or less). If we have enough
time at the end of the year we might even make mini 'books'
out of these folders (for example all the pages from our
study of the Middle Ages might be one folder). I'll let the
kids decorate the front covers if they want. The years we
don't have much time (due to being a military family and
needing to move, for instance), we just place all the work
into one folder and label it with the child's name and the
year. I keep all these folders together in plastic storage
boxes (I prefer the file folder one with the lid that has a
handle because they stack nicely). This keeps the folders
neatly stored and protects them when moving. Each year, as
we file their latest work, the kids love looking through their
work from the past years. These folder 'books' make it easy
to do so." -- Krista P.

Answer our NEW Question

"When my 17 year old daughter addressed her graduation announce-
ments I realized I had dropped the ball on teaching cursive/neat
handwriting. I would like to mend my ways with my other two
children -- a 12 year old and a 15 year old. Does anyone have
suggestions for teaching teens cursive/neat handwriting that
could easily be added to our school year during 2008/2009?"
-- Kathy in CA


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

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Next - Reader Feedback, A Book in Time, Handwriting Help
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