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Readers Recommend a Second Language

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, October 20, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 84 October 20, 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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Notes from Heather
-- Reader Feedback/Question
Helpful Tip
-- Keeping Eyes on Track
Resource Review
-- Living Learning Books
Reader Question
-- Second Language Requirement
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Late Answer to the Question 'What Title Would You Give Yourself?'


"Wow! Where did the week go? I wanted to post an answer to last
issue's question. Hope you can use one more -- even though it's

A number of years ago, my sweet, wonderful husband paid for me and
another homeschooling mom (a friend of mine from church) to go on
a special weekend retreat for homeschooling moms. We were treated
to wonderful, motivating speakers (Elizabeth Elliot and daughter,
Valerie) and were pampered all week end long. Before we departed,
all of the attendees were given a gold lapel pin in the shape of a
house with a ruby stone incorporated into the design. My friend
and I both proudly wore ours on the plane home. A gentleman seated
next to me started a conversation by saying, 'I noticed your pins.
Do you both work for the same company?' I stole a quick glance at
my friend seated on the other side of me and with a wink said, 'Yes',
thinking that would be the end of the conversation. However the
gentleman continued by asking me another question -- 'What do you
do?' Thinking fast, I said, 'We're home ecologists.' He then asked,
'What is that?' I told him that my friend and I were 'staying home
to save the home.' I shared how we were at-home moms who, with the
help of our husbands, home educated our children. I'll never forget
the look on that man's face; his countenance totally changed. With
a very longing expression he said, 'I wish my wife would do that.'
Ever since that trip, I've considered myself a 'home ecologist'. I
can't think of too many other institutions that need saving more!"
-- Joanne M. in Alabama


How Do You Inspire Yourself as a Teacher?


This past week on our HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group, this
question was asked: How do you inspire yourself as a teacher?

Here was one of the answers that a member of the group sent in:

"How do I inspire myself? By talking to my kids. Really -- it
is as simple as that. For instance, this morning my husband and
I took the boys with us grocery shopping. We got to discussing
that today was Columbus Day and why we celebrate it (okay, at
least acknowledge it). This was a fitting discussion since the
boys just had a week learning about Columbus in their studies.
I asked them what they could tell their Dad about Columbus. I
thought my six year old would pipe up first, but my four year old
was the one who started telling us all about Columbus, his ships
and the King and Queen who gave him the funds for his venture.
THAT inspires me.

Beyond that, I get inspired when I stand back from my kids,
allowing them to discover things on their own (right now that
is learning how to play chess with their homeschool friends or
learning how to read a whole book by themselves). I'm always
surprised by what they come up with."

-- Heather, member of our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group.



So tell me -- How do YOU inspire yourself as a teacher?

Send your email answer to: heather@familyclassroom.net


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a strong, lasting bond with your daughter, then this is
the organization for you.

Legacy Clubs is perfect for homeschoolers.

Come join with us at www.legacyclubs.org


Helpful Tip

Keeping Eyes on Track

"I taught special education before deciding to stay home with my
son, and we purchased the coolest things to help kids keep track
of their place while reading. Unfortunately, I can't remember
the name of them, but I will describe them. They are about 5-6
inches long (horizontally), and they have a grey stripe on top
and bottom with either a clear or transparent colored strip in
the middle. It is designed to highlight one line of text at a
time, while also blocking out the text immediately above and
below. I found often times that even though the index card was
there to keep students on the right line, they still struggled
because the small font right above it was distracting for their
eyes. The highlighted strip with borders made their eyes focus
only on the line they were reading. If you are unable to find
something like this, consider making one out of a large index
card. Just cut it to the thickness you want, and then cut a
rectangle (about the width of a line of text) out of the center
of the card. It will serve as a guide while blocking text above
and below." -- Nikki, Homeschooling Gifted email group


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

Resource Review

Living Learning Books Level 3 Chemistry
Author: Sandi Strenkowski
For more information or to order: www.livinglearningbooks.com

Parents wishing to follow a classical, living books approach to
teaching science have found a friend in Sandi Strenkowski! This
homeschool mom has taken on the challenge of writing a science
curriculum with student activity pages for the grammar stage
student. The series follows the classical schedule as described
in the book The Well-Trained Mind. There are currently three
titles with a fourth scheduled for release later this year.

I was privileged to review 'Level 3 - Chemistry' and was pleasantly
surprised by the thoroughness of this elementary program. One
of my favorite features is that it can be used with students in
grades 2-6, making it a great resource for multilevel teaching.
The curriculum is divided into a series of units, each concentrating
on a specific chemistry topic. There are 65 lessons covering unit
topics such as: Atoms, Atomic Number, The Periodic Table, Molecules,
Matter, Properties of Liquids, States of Matter and more.

You will need to purchase a Teacher Manual and one Student Activity
Pack for each of your children. At the beginning of each unit
Sandi lists all the student pages you will need for the unit -- and
instead of handing your student their entire pack of pages, you
just need to pull out what they need for each unit. I found this
to be less overwhelming and, since my boys couldn't look ahead to
see what was coming up, there was an element of surprise to their
favorite subject! She also provides the page numbers that go along
with the unit from two popular science encyclopedias; and the books
-- Kingfisher's Science Encyclopedia and the Usborne Internet Linked
Science Encycolopedia -- are optional, but very useful resources to
have on hand. The last list at the beginning of each unit is a
project supplies list so you can check your cupboards and make note
of anything you'll need to have on hand for the unit. All of the
supplies required can be found around the house or at your local

In true classical fashion, Level 3-Chemistry begins each topic by
having students read a short passage, recording definitions of
vocabulary words into their science notebook. Each lesson of the
unit features either a worksheet (usually a matching, word search
or other fun exercise) from the student pack or a hands-on experiment.
This is a very hands-on course with LOTS of experiments. In some
units there is an experiment almost every lesson. Continuing in the
"classical way", students complete an experiment summary sheet for
each project. Each sheet contains four questions: What We Used,
What We Did, What Happened, and What We Learned. Of course younger
students can dictate their answers to mom while older students
complete their form independently. Students are often encouraged
to illustrate the experiment and file it with the summary sheet in
their notebook. Each unit ends with a review, which parents can use
as either a traditional test or just orally quiz and discuss the
answers. There are handy reference sheets in the appendix of the
teacher manual, including a copy of the Periodic Table of Elements
and an extensive list of websites corresponding to the unit topics.

Although Level 3 contains a few biographies of famous scientists
in the student pages, there is not a lot in the way of additional
reading. After looking at the Living Learning Books website, it
appears that the other levels in the series are more literature
based than this one. This course covers a lot of ground and the
units are structured in a way that allows us to dig deeper and stay
longer on a topic if we want to do more exploring and experimenting.

Although we enjoy science at our house, my knowledge of science is
weak, so I appreciate the clear explanations of concepts and the
"why" behind the experiments that the author provides. I believe
this course would be a great fit for many families whether or not
they are following the classical model of education!

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader 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)

Our Readers' Responses

"I don't know that any curriculum will help a non-native speaker
to become 'somewhat fluent'. I think that generally happens only
with immersion! However, I have been using the 'Tell Me More'
Italian program with my 15 year old son and I'm reasonably satis-
fied with it. I supplement with a grammar book I bought online,
a vocabulary book called 1000 First Words in Italian, and sometimes
with lessons I found online. We also make our vocabulary lists
from the lessons and study those. We are now using the second
CDROM, and I confess we are not really 'literate' in the sense of
being able to carry on conversation, but we are gaining a lot of
vocabulary and learning to decode new sentences and conversations
as we come to them in the program." -- Debbie


"Stephanie -- Have you decided on Spanish as the language? The
only reason I ask, is that I have a friend dealing with this
situation and her daughter wasn't sure which language to learn.
I have a toddler son who is experiencing a speech/language delay
and so our family has been learning sign language for his communi-
cation. It's pretty simple and a lot of fun! I was pleasantly
surprised to learn that I can use this as our 2nd language require-
ment for my highschooler! I just thought you (or someone else)
may like to hear the suggestion." -- Kimberly


"Stephanie -- I think many beginner curriculums are just fine for
picking up the basics of Spanish. However, if you want her to
become 'somewhat fluent', I imagine you mean that she should be
confident reading and speaking the language. In that case, why
not couple a curriculum, even Rosetta Stone, with conversation in
Spanish? Many libraries, universities, and churches offer oppor-
tunities for native speakers to connect with the community. This
might be an ideal way to measure progress in a curriculum."


"My children are all grown. I am a subscriber because I am free-
lance writer, writing mostly Christian-based stories for children.
I find this newsletter a great way to keep up with what's going on
in Christian homes around the country.

As for Stephanie's question, didn't I hear (or read) lately that
sign language qualifies as a second language? I would love to
learn that for myself. Even at 64, I’m thinking about giving it
a try." -- Katherine K.


"We have had great luck with The Learnables (German). VERY easy,
and kids can do some basic chatting –- works great for travel and
talking; not sure about the reading portion yet." -- LSM


"We love Power-Glide, and have used it for several different
languages and at both levels, always with great success. If your
daughter happens to be an auditory learner, she might also do well
with The Learnables. But if you're going to use it with several
different children, you'll need something appropriate for all
learning styles. Power-Glide works well." -- Mary Beth


"We too were going to use Rosetta Stone, however the price and the
negative reviews changed our mind. We are now using Switched-on-
Schoolhouse Spanish 1 -- www.AOP.com . I personally find the Alpha
Omega Lifepac curriculum boring, but this Switched-on-Schoolhouse
Spanish is working great with my tenth grader." -- Chris E


"I have heard rave reviews for Power Glide -- www.power-glide.com .
I checked it out and like it, too. I just haven't figured out how
to fit it in our already too busy schedule." -- Sue


"I would suggest checking with friends or with a local co-op and
seeing what they use and if you can try it a time or two. That is
the least expensive way to try it.

Are you willing to learn a little too? I picked an area of our
life and applied the language we were learning to that. So, at
dinnertime I speak Spanish to my girls. Then they have to set the
table based on what I ask them to get in Spanish. Even though you
do not speak the language, you can look at the book or flashcards
for the place-setting words.

To really learn a language it helps to have someone to speak it to.
If you are just going for requirements, then getting a computer
program and doing the workbook should meet that need."
-- Michelle in Oregon

Answer our NEW Question

"Help!I have been homeschooling for 5 years now and I'm still
having difficulty with my 12 (soon to be 13) year old son and
his general learning.He has dyslexia, Sensory Integration
Dysfunction, and has trouble with reading comprehension, writing,
spelling, and math (though that's better than the others). Being
a pre-teen, his motivation is about nil.He doesn't mind learning
things he's interested in (basketball, video games, television
shows, robots, etc), but trying to get him to learn things like
Geography, World History, Spelling, Grammar, etc. is so frustrating
because he doesn't see a need (nor want) to know all the details
that the curriculum tests him on. (We've tried SOS, Lifepak, Bob
Jones, Easy Grammar, Simply Grammar and Weaver unit studies). He's
taken an Italics course but refuses to use cursive (and his printing
is atrocious).How can I get him ready for High School and possibly
advanced schooling when he's struggling with the basics (which we've
reviewed the last 5 years - he's in the 7th grade now) without
causing WWIII in our household? Please help!" -- Jenn in Indiana


Do you have experience and/or practical suggestions for Jenn?

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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