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Quiet Kids, Balance for Your Day, Group Activities

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 03, 2008

==========================================================
The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
==========================================================
Vol. 9 No 79 October 3, 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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


=================
IN THIS ISSUE:
=================

Guest Article
-- Those Quiet Kids
Helpful Tip
-- Balance in Your School Day
Winning Website
-- Periodic Table of Videos
Reader Question
-- Support Group Activity Ideas?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

=======================
Guest Article
=======================

Quiet Kids
by Barbara Frank

---

I saw this posted on a homeschooling forum a while back:

Question: "I've used the Charlotte Mason method for a few years
now and we're really happy with it, except for my younger son.
He's 8 and he hates narrating back to me after we read a story.
I try to ask questions that will get him to answer correctly
because he looks like he's paying attention -- so I'm pretty sure
he knows the answer. Sometimes he asks to draw a picture of the
story instead. But he's pretty old for that (he can write) and
my 13 year old thinks that's spoiling him (he likes to talk more
than my little guy). How do I get him to be more cooperative?"

For some reason this post caught my attention. Now, I have to
admit that I know very little about the Charlotte Mason method.
It came into vogue after I'd been homeschooling quite a while
and was well set in my ways. I did read one book about it out
of curiosity, but it sounded like something you'd want to use
right from the start, which did not describe us then.

So I don’t know why I even read the post, but after I did I kept
thinking about that little boy. His mom didn't say he was stub-
born or rebellious; she just said he hates narrating and would
rather draw a picture. For some reason, I felt sorry for him.

I couldn't picture a child not wanting to talk about a story.
All of our kids have been chatty. They take after me. My problem
would be getting them to stop talking, not start. And that's
when it hit me. I bet my husband was like that as a child.

He's a quiet guy. It's just his nature. Try getting him to talk
about his feelings, and like most men, he remembers some chore he
needs to do right away. But he also has a hard time talking a lot
in general.

His mother says that when he was young, he rarely talked about his
day at school. He'd come home at lunch and take a nap. Even as
a teen, he didn't talk much about what he was up to. He's just
not a chatty guy.

I can picture him as a little boy clamming up if someone asked
him to tell what a story was about, and I wonder if this woman's
child is the same way. I wonder if he would draw a picture about
the story that would knock her socks off. It would be greatly
detailed, for sure, and it would show that he had completely
understood the story. He just didn't want to talk about it, and
especially not in front of his siblings, because he's also shy.
(Perhaps he's also afraid his talkative older brother might make
fun of him.)

Quiet people tend to be shy. My husband is, and I think that boy
who hates narration is, too. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I don't know the mom who posted that question, and I didn't answer
her because I don't usually hang out at that forum. But if she
asked my opinion, I'd tell her to ignore her older son's opinion
about this. I'm guessing he likes to talk and doesn't understand
why his little brother isn't as talkative as he is.

Instead, she should let the boy draw pictures of the story. As
he gets older, he can switch to writing about the story. The
important thing isn't *how* he shows that he understood the story,
but that he understood it. It doesn't matter what method he uses
to show her as long as it works. And it's obvious that narration
is not the method that works for him.

Homeschooling gives children the opportunity to learn in the way
that's best for them. Every child is different, but homeschooling
lets them be themselves. Our goal is not to make our children be
like each other, because they can't be the same. They're individuals.
By respecting the different ways they learn, and indeed, their dif-
ferent personalities, we can make the homeschooling experience more
rewarding for them and less difficult for us.

Copyright 2008 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

---

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth children
ages 15-25, a freelance writer/editor, and the author of "Life Prep
for Homeschooled Teenagers", "The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to
Homeschooling", and "Homeschooling Your Teenagers". You'll find her
on the Web at:

http://www.cardamompublishers.com and http://barbarafrankonline.com/

---

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


================
Helpful Tip
================

Bringing Balance to Your School Day --
(Adapted from comments on our HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group)

---

"We have two rhythms to our day -- 'breathing in' and 'breathing
out' and HEAD, HEART and HANDS.

If I don't balance those elements in the day, we get irritable,
uncooperative and fidgety. Some people do this intuitively or
they do it because they are following a program that does this
-- but if you are following a more 'head-focused' schedule like
many people do, you are probably just missing out on that balance.

'Breathing out' and 'breathing in' are ways of balancing the day
between activities you do alone or more inward (in a group but
working alone) like writing or reading to yourself -- and activi-
ties that are more group oriented or outward -- like a nature
walk, circle time, meal time, or a group lesson. We need the
right balance of this every day -- and that balance is different
for each child. My eldest needs to do about 80% of her work
alone; my youngest won't work unless it is related to a social
situation with others!

Rotate activities with the head, heart and hands --

Head work is work that involves new learning, writing, reading,
computers, book learning, sitting and using your mind.

Heart work is work that *feeds* your spirit -- not educates your
spirit but feeds it. (Singing a spiritual song, praying or volun-
teering at the church might be heart work.)

Hand work is any work that involves movement -- nature walks,
putting on a play, building things, yoga, harvesting, math games
with movement, etc."

-- Kristie, www.EarthSchooling.com

---

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


==================
Winning Website
==================

The Periodic Table of Videos
http://www.periodicvideos.com

Tables charting the chemical elements have been around for over
150 years, but this one is different! Click on an element and
watch an interesting and informative video featuring a brief
description, interesting facts and an experiment.

-- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com


===============================
Last Issue's Reader Question
===============================

"We have a small homeschool group that meets once a month at a
central location. We normally try to have something different for
the kids each month -- like a speaker or hands on activity. But
this year we are running out of ideas. Most of the children are
getting older (5th-8th grade) and we need some ideas since they
are getting too old for the party/goody bag sorts.We throw in a
few field trips just for fun, but try to be cost effective also.
We already have a local electric company coming to speak, but any
ideas to spark our brains would be appreciated! Also -- we are in
a rural area and have to drive at least 1 hour or more to get to a
larger city with more resources. I'd love to hear suggestions!"
-- Renee


=========================
Our Readers' Responses
=========================

"Our small homeschool group did some really fun things like a
spelling bee and a geography bee. We also did oral reports on
different states and another year we did reports on countries with
food from that country. We had a talent show, with tables set up
with different projects the kids made -- and also a popsicle stick
contest, where everybody made something out of popsicle sticks.
We all brought a small dollar store item wrapped as a prize and
each child got a prize for something. Our creative lady who thought
all of these things up moved, but we have lots of good memories."

---

"A homeschool group a friend of mine is in does service projects
each month with a small group of teens. Perhaps you could search
out some ways to serve your community and add this to the calendar."
-- Lisa W.

---

"Renee -- How about starting a nursing home ministry with your
homeschool group? Those with music skills could play and sing
for the residents, and others could read to them, write letters
for them, give manicures -- the possibilities are endless. A
wonderful website -- www.faithfulfriends.org -- has great ideas
for nursing home ministry.

Serving the elderly in your community who are still in their own
homes is another idea. Many elderly widows need help with winter-
izing, minor household repairs, lawn care, and much more. Mostly
they just enjoy visits from young people. You could take meals,
baked goods or fruit baskets to them once in a while.

One year for Christmas we made lap quilts for the residents of a
nursing home. Another year we made little angels bearing inspir-
ational and encouraging quotes.

Another idea might be to have the children hire out for a day or
have a bake sale, car wash or some other service and contribute
the money to a charity. The group could vote on the charity or
the children could take turns each month choosing where the money
goes." -- Mary Beth

---

"We did a First Aid class once with our group; an RN that we are
friends with conducted the class. Maybe you can do a Red Cross
CPR class. Is there someone who knows sign language that can do a
class -- and maybe teach the kids basic finger spelling with some
handouts for other common words? If you have a local TV station,
usually they have tours of the studio and show the kids how the
weather (blue screen) works.How about a local photographer or
artist doing a class?Perhaps you can have a career day and invite
people of various careers to come in and speak to the kids about
career options." -- Chris

---

"When we belonged to a small homeschool group we used the KONOS
books as a guide and resource. There are tons of ideas you can
glean; they have a list of books available for research and ideas
that cover all ages. For example, when we looked at one on birds,
one of the moms did a little blurb about wings and feathers. We
looked at different types of birds and how to tell the difference
between insect eaters and seed eaters (beaks), etc. We had a
friend of a friend whose hobby was owls and he gave us a talk on
owls and then we dissected owl pellets to figure out what the owls
had eaten. We had a few squeamish girls but even they got into
dissecting the pellets.

It's really important to use the people you know, put the word out
about what you are looking for, and to keep an ear open for people's
hobbies, jobs, etc. When we looked at what being a good steward
was like, we studied shepherds. Near where we used to live there
was a homeschool family (not part of our group) who had sheep.
They took the wool from it's raw state to making felted garments,
so the shepherd taught us about sheep and wool and we each got to
make a small piece of felt. He taught us how the sheep know his
voice and if you're religious you know where you can go from there!

We looked at the history of explorers that had come through our
area, 'explored' a hiking area near us (recording data like types
of trees, leaves, edible plants and signs of other people going
before us); we made tin can lanterns, held a square dance on a
Saturday so dads could come, studied the First Nations, made a West
coast long house, painted floor mats, made a teepee replica, etc.

We looked at the provinces and territories (we're Canadian) and
made passports for each one -- collecting weather stickers, flags,
products produced, etc. We studied Chinatown in our area and how
it came to be, visited a shrine, took a tour of the area and ate
at a popular Chinese restaurant.

We studied mammals, looked at cows and goats and the differences;
we looked at health, had a fellow who lost his voice box come in
and talk about why one shouldn't smoke; we looked at healthy foods
as opposed to non-healthy.

I could go on but basically all the ideas came from KONOS and were
adapted by us for our children.

We actually met once a week and each mom took a turn -- and the
kids' ages ranged from newborn to 16. We somehow managed to make
everything we learned fit the 'expected outcomes' for each grade.
It was a most memorable time for all of us." -- Helen C.

---

"Whenever I am looking for group things to do, I always go to the
Family Fun magazine. They have lots of craft ideas for the season,
activites for getting moving; even ideas for field trips. I haven't
used another resource for three years! The subscription is only
$20 a year. Maybe the group would consider paying for it." -- Marlena

---

"Hi Renee -- You could have the children present on something each
month. They are certainly old enough for that. What are they good
at? They could teach the other children a small snippet of that topic.

I love trips to local places: CostCo, library, bakery, recycling
plant. Speakers are great too, as you mentioned. Does anyone know
someone with a cool job? I just met a Para-Rescue Trooper. He is
going to do a field trip for us here in Oregon. How about having a
Chiropractor come in with some x-rays?

What are the Moms good at? I love science and I would teach
briefly on molecules that we just studied at Real Science 4 Kids --
www.gravitaspublications.com -- a program taught at all age levels
that makes science easy for everyone to understand -- with really
cool experiments too! Owl pellet kits are reasonable and very cool!
Owls eat their prey whole and spit up the bones and fur. You can
dissect the pellet and actually rebuild the skeleton of the prey.

I look forward to reading everyone's ideas!" -- Michelle in OR

---

"One of my biggest complaints about my experience in a public high
school was the total lack of career planning. It was simply assumed
that certain students would go to college and somehow figure out
the application process and financial aid on their own. Nothing at
all was done for anyone who either chose not to go to college or who
could not (either because of grades or finances). How about guest
speakers who would talk about their jobs: the training required,
the good and bad aspects, the pay. I would suggest a plumber,
carpenter, mechanic, electrician, nurse, teacher, librarian, bank
employee, etc." -- Marilyn P.

---

"I would suggest the families do a unit study of some kind at home
and then on the day they meet they could do a field day on the
subject of the unit study. Konos is a wonderful program that I
have used with other homeschooling families. Unit studies can be
found on the internet too. My kids enjoyed the interaction with
the other families and it made for a fun day for all.We would
decide what to study, then each time we met one of us would be the
leader and would oversee the activities.We took turns so we all
were able to use our talents to help out." -- Reena

---

"What have you done already? Get together with a CPR instructor
-- some of these kids are old enough to be babysitting, so a
course in first aid would be practical.

Baking, mix-making -- oh -- here's one that I had fun with --
soap making (the cold method, but be careful -- it takes lye,
and some time, since the soap needs to cure over a few weeks).
But you could always color and scent glycerine soap." -- Lizabeth W.

---

"Hi Renee -- Just a few quick thoughts that might generate an
idea or two --

How about choosing a theme, either for the entire semester or just
for each meeting, and do a short unit study when you meet? Topic
ideas abound - free lesson plan websites, unit study idea books,
materials and curriculum you already have on hand. A study on the
weather, for example, could feature different types of clouds,
weather patterns, having the kids keep a weather log, learning what
the barometer and anemometer does, etc. A short lesson followed
by a game or two and some experiments might work. Aim for either
the older kids, ability wise, or the median age range, depending
on your group, learning styles, and what parents want.

Or how about something centered around the upcoming elections - the
electoral college, exit polls, platforms, and so on. Maybe you
could have a mock debate - go over the material, assign parts, etc.
one month and then have the debate the next month. Invite grand-
parents or retired friends to come and 'judge' who wins the debate.
A visit from the electric company could start a study on types of
energy, how to conserve it, where it comes from, what energy is
available in your area, and more.

How about doing a unit about your state? History, geography, make
maps, write stories, visit a historical society, get a member of a
historical round table to speak, or see if any re-enactment groups
are in your general area. Investigate the state's economy and
industries, natural resources, famous people, etc." -- Karen in KY

---

[Editor's note: Renee -- Karen Lange (Karen in KY above!) also
has a wonderful booklet full of ideas and strategies for homeschool
co-ops and support groups that I think you would find very bene-
ficial. You can find out more here at her website:
http://www.karenlange.bravehost.com/booklet.html -- Heather]


=========================
Answer our NEW Question
=========================

"I have two boys (5th grade) who take the CAT (California
Achievement Test) test every new school year. They bombed out
royally with vocabulary because they are not very good at
remembering word meanings. Lots of the words they had not even
heard of. Normally I will explain what words mean (in context)
as I am reading through a book with them. Before I had them
doing an online Word-A-Day sort of thing -- but the words were
always over their heads and not typically words they would be
using anytime soon, so they eventually forgot them. Are there
other ways of learning vocabulary besides flashcards and rote
memory?" -- Renee

---

Do you have some practical suggestions for Renee?

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

=====================
Ask YOUR Question
=====================

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