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What 'Title' Would You Give Yourself?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 17, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 83 October 17, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Article
-- What's Your Platform?
Helpful Tip
-- Learning New Words
Winning Website
-- Studio 4 Learning
Reader Question
-- Title for Yourself?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

What's Your Platform?
by Karen Lange


There's a lot of talk these days about platforms. What's yours?
I'm not talking about political platforms; I'm talking about home-
schooling platforms. Whether we realize it or not, we all have one.

This came to mind after a conversation with a friend, who expressed
frustration over a recent curriculum 'episode'. She has used a
packaged curriculum since starting homeschooling four years ago --
and the 'dos and don'ts' and suggested activities in the curriculum
were causing major stress for her. A call to the company's support
line, asking why some of the optional material shows up on student
tests, yielded no satisfaction and more frustration.

As my friend vented, I offered some thoughts. I told her how
certified teachers I know tell me that they never cover all the
material in a curriculum. Nor do they do all the recommended or
suggested activities. They laughed when asked if they finished an
entire book in a school year. Now granted, they have more children
in a classroom to manage, but if these official teachers, with all
their special tools and training, don't cover everything, why do
homeschoolers stress over it?

What does this have to do with my platform? It made me realize what
it was. I hate to see parents stress over homeschooling. I think
many need to relax. What's the goal? To see the kids successfully
through to adulthood -- or to finish books and do suggested activi-
ties? It's hard to keep that balance, I know. I hated those days
when we cranked through school work -- it was little more than doing
it just to say that we were done. That frustrated me; I wanted real

I have nothing against packaged curriculums; there are great options
available. They work well for many; their scope and sequence is
generally complete. They can be tailored to suit each student and
can save time for parents. I chose a full curriculum* for my eldest
son's kindergarten year. I was overwhelmed by the choices available,
so I picked one that looked good. I learned to adjust things to
suit my son's learning style, not to mention his five-year-old
attention span.

After that year, I put together my own curriculum using different
items. I took cues from my kids' learning styles. The phonics
program I had, despite its great components, wouldn't work with my
second son. So I found one that that would. As a framework to
cover the essentials, I used some great curriculum guides. We used
unit studies, too; I loved the concept of teaching all three of my
kids at once. Sure, it was a bit more work sometimes than the
ready-made options, but it worked for us. The kids were really

What did I learn from this? I learned that you don't need to do
all the extras for your kids to live a normal life -- and that
sometimes it takes trial and error to get it right. There is no
one set foolproof method. I even (deep breath here please) skipped
most of the tests. Why? Lots of reasons -- one of which being that
the kids and I discussed their work. I usually knew where they
were, and I didn't need to have them take a test to prove it.

I know -- some of you aren't comfortable with this -- ditching
tests, straying from the boundaries of a set curriculum, etc. Or
you live in a state that has strict requirements. I'm not advo-
cating pitching the books or being irresponsible. Think of it as
developing a healthy mindset; aim for what really works better.
What's the point of having a totally stressed-out homeschool
experience? It's no good for anyone.

Balance is the key to this mindset; it must include a plan using
good materials. Learning not only includes gaining knowledge, but
also building life skills and self discipline -- among other things.
There's a place for hands-on learning, books, and other resources
and methods. The key is to find what works for real learning for
*your* family.

How does one implement a platform like mine? No one size fits all.
If what you're doing causes more stress than results, maybe it's
time for a change. Take time to assess what must be done to see
real learning happen. Maybe it's time to untie all the knots you’ve
worked yourself into, pray, and relax a little.

When I needed time to rework my mindset, we'd either take a little
time off or have a light week. Regrouping could be as simple as
relaxing and cutting some extras, as my above-mentioned friend is
doing. Or it may involve more of a mindset overhaul, taking a hard
look at what you've got going on.

I encourage you to stress less and define your own platform. One
of these days you may find me on your doorstep promoting mine.
I'll hand you some chocolates and encourage you to relax and enjoy
this ride with your kids!


Karen Lange and her husband, Jeff, homeschooled their three
children in grades K-12 in southern New Jersey. Now living with
her family near Louisville, KY, she is a freelance writer and the
creator of the Homeschool Online Writing Co-op for teens.

Visit her website at http://www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com -- or
email her at writingcoop@yahoo.com


*Curriculum guides Karen has found helpful are: Cathy Duffy’s
guides, (available at www.rainbowresource.com) and Unschoolers
Network curriculum guides, www.unschoolersnetwork.bravehost.com


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



Helpful Tip

Learning New Words


"We use 'English from the Roots Up'. It helps my girls break down
a word into terms they know and they usually come up with the
meaning of a new word, or at least a close resemblance.

Have a 'word of the week' (or day) -- and let the student get a
point each time he uses it. The child gets a prize when he has
used a word 50 or a 100 times (for older students more; less for
younger ones). The prize could be: front-seat sitting privileges
for a week, a trip for ice cream, or to do something with Mom or
Dad alone."

-- Phyllis Fouts, author of "Homeschooling Outside the Box"


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

Winning Website

Studio 4 Learning - http://studio4learning.tv

This site, from the creators of Standard Deviants, features tons
of videos covering a wide range of topics. Visitors can watch
and learn about grammar, writing, math (elementary through high
school), science, languages and more. The videos are interesting
and somewhat entertaining. Viewers are also invited to create
their own tutorial videos on academic subjects. Great for visual
and/or auditory learners, this site has a little something for
everyone -- there is even a section on SAT skills/prep.

-- Cindy P., www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I like to make up business cards with my name, address, email,
and phone number to hand out when someone wants to know how to
contact me.I also list 'Home Maker' as a title, and then some
of my interests which helps with conversations when you meet
someone new.I am needing to print off some more, and previously
didn't list anything about homeschooling as my children were much
younger.But homeschooling is now a full-time job for me and I
am wondering about a title to add.What do you call yourself?
What sort of title do you like?" -- Heather W.M.

Our Readers' Responses

"A few years ago, my husband gave me my very own 'calling cards'
for Mother's Day. They state:

(Family name) Enterprises, est. 1995

Belinda (lastname)
Development team for (son's name and Daughter's name)

-- and then it lists all my contact info.

This card has been been very useful. It does not limit me by
stating what I do, (like 'just' selling Tupperware or Mary Kay),
and yet because it has children's handprints on it, I obviously
do something with children!

The cards came from Vista Print. They have many styles to choose
from." -- Belinda H.


"I use 'Home Educator'. Though I know it is common to say 'I
homeschool', that implies that you are doing 'school' at home.
I like the response 'I educate my children at home'; it has a
much clearer definition and title. Good luck -- I can't wait
to see all the responses!" -- Deanne in NJ


"I also have business cards printed up with general contact info.
I never thought to list anything other than that. If I were to
include a title, I would add Home Educator to it." -- Beth


"I usually list myself as 'primary education teacher'.Further,
since homemaker means so much more than the title implies, so also
does homeschool Mom. Sometimes I refer to us as a 'homeschool
family', as Dad does work very hard in a variety of ways to see
to the needs of our family unit." -- Jennifer in IL


Editor's Note:

I have a friend -- not a homeschool mom -- who is always coming
up with elaborate fictional business cards for who she is and
what she does. The latest is "Director of the Universe". While
I certainly don't consider myself to be God, if I were to come up
with a title for what I do in regard to raising/educating my boys,
it would probably look like this:

Personal Life Mentor and Educational Goal Consultant/Advocate
Exclusive and Limited Clientele
Appointment Recommended, but Not Necessary

-- Heather

Answer our NEW Question

"My oldest daughter is supposed to start using a 2nd language
to meet with government requirements. I am having a really hard
time deciding which curriculum to use. I was going to go with
Rosetta Stone, but there has been a lot of negative feedback on
that curriculum. I have thought about Tell me More, and The Easy
Spanish. I am looking for a curriculum that is fun, interesting,
and will help her (and eventually my other children) to become
somewhat fluent in it. I do not speak any Spanish, so it needs
to be a curriculum that is for a beginner. Thanks in advance."
-- Stephanie in BC (Canada)


Do you have a recommendation for Stephanie?

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
ear and encouragement.


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