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Can You Help Me With My Son?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, October 24, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 85 October 24, 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.


My Child, the Author

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Notes from Heather
-- What Inspires You?
Helpful Tip
-- Letter of the Week
Winning Website
-- Fear of Physics
Reader Question
-- Need Help with Son
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Reader Feedback: What Inspires You as Your Children's Teacher?


"I look at my son and tell myself how lucky I am to have the
opportunity to spend so much time with him, building a relation-
ship with him, and building trust between us. I gain pleasure
from his excitement at getting an answer correct, or like today,
when he wrote his first sentence without any spelling errors.
His great big smile brought joy to my heart! I am thankful to
be the one to experience that with him and not have it fall on
a teacher who may or may not care as much as I do.

I file these things away for those days when I'm full of frustra-
tion or on those days where he is not cooperative. That is what
helps me get through those days." -- Clara


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


The Ulimate Home Schooling Mom's Planner

You are about to learn all about successful planning as a
homeschooling Mom!

How did I learn these things? Because I have lived the
homeschooling lifestyle for more than 13 years. I admit - I
love planning and this habit has paid off in my own life and
those of my family.

A homeschooling mom's day is not all about teaching children
their ABC's and 123's. She has to be a chief cook and bottle
washer, the medic for bumps and bruises, the domestic help
who cleans, the trainer of her children, encourager of her
husband, occasional gardener... the list goes on.



Helpful Tip

Raves for 'Letter of the Week'

"We have been using www.letteroftheweek.com. It is an entire
curriculum for children ages 2 and up.

I especially like the program because:

1) They have so many different ideas for each concept. The
suggested activites can take less than 5 minutes (go around the
house and point out circles) or as long as an hour (bake cookies
or pretzels in the shape of the letter of the week), depending
on how much time you have. I work part-time so all our activities
take less than 10 minutes. I am amazed how much my son is learning
with just 10 minutes a day.

2) It is a complete curriculum and it's FREE!!

3) My 4 year old loves it! We are using the program that's just
below prechool but I believe they have complete programs for
infants through 3rd grade.

4) It's very non threatening to a new homeschooling parent.

5) You have the option of making a 'learning board' where the
child can show off his/her projects. My son loves to show off his
work to his father, even if it's just 'Look, Dad, I stuck a star
on my board today.'

This is my first attempt at homeschooling and we've been doing
it 9 weeks now. I am learning how to teach him in small ways
rather than 'sit down and learn what a square looks like'. We
have a daily commute somewhere every day so we try to find the
'shape of the week' from road signs. The color of the week is
done by helping me sort laundry or picking out that color to wear
for the whole week, etc."


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

Winning Website

Fear of Physics

After you visit this site, you may never fear again! The
author's goal is to make physics less mysterious and for you
and I to understand that physics explains a lot of what happens
in the world around us. They provide lots of activities to
explore different principles and even have interactive Physics
Problems for those needing help with learning course material.
Even if you're not taking a physics course, this site is a great
one to explore! Elementary students will enjoy this site as much
as high schoolers.

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

Last Issue's Reader 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

Our Readers' Responses

"Jenn, because of your son's age, I'm wondering if part of what
you're dealing with is puberty. Around this time of a boy's life,
as he is maturing into manhood, so much of his energy is going
toward that process, that very little is left for anything else.
At this age, they often have difficulty concentrating, need more
sleep, and experience emotional upheavals as they try to figure
out whether they are boys or men. Considering all this plus the
other struggles your son is facing should help you see that he
needs special handling.

My recommendations would be:

1) Require that he spend at least 1/2 of his waking hours doing
something productive. He can raise a garden, build birdhouses,
learn a musical instrument, help around the house, do volunteer
work, or anything else, as long as he is accomplishing something
worthwhile. Outdoor work is preferable to indoor, and physical
activity is preferable to more sedentary jobs. Time with his
father or another Godly man would be time well spent.

2) Require that he spend 1 to 2 hours per day on academics. He
can choose the subjects and how he schedules them into his day.
I would suggest 10 to 15 minutes of focused work at a time. As
he matures, you can increase that bit by bit. Ask him to choose
subjects that he thinks he will need as an adult. You might be
surprised at what he chooses, if you give him the responsiblity.

3) The remainder of his time can be spent pursuing a hobby, but
try to steer him away from electronic entertainment. TV/computer/
video will only make things worse for him. Encourage a hobby that
could someday become a business.

Wait patiently; be his advocate, not his enemy; listen to his
heart; spend time with him. Right now he needs to know that you
understand and care. Your relationship with him is your most
important concern. If he matures with a good attitude, he'll be
able to catch up on the academics later. If you drive him into
rebellion, you could lose him forever." -- Mary Beth


"My soon-to-be 11 year old son is very similar sounding to yours.
Here is what helps us: We have a strict 4-day-a-week routine
with lots of built-in incentives to have a good attitude and show
initiative. This includes charts that take away time from playing
his flight simulator on weekends if he speaks in a hurtful way to
anyone in the house -- and another chart that documents anytime he
takes it upon himself to do work around the house, help siblings,
etc. This time adds up and turns into one-on-one time with dad
building models.

He also spent some time on www.gamegoo.com recently and that seemed
to help his auditory defensiveness -- he didn't take things quite
so personally anymore! This also helped him organize his thoughts
before speaking. A free video website my son gets a lot out of
is www.thefutureschannel.com

My son recommends: Story of the World by Bauer for history -- It
has been a great way for him to use his hand muscles by coloring
the pictures and map work.

He really likes learning things online with online videos. He
says that www.brainpop.com taught him the most ever. Discovery
and History channels both have interesting videos online. We do
not have cable and for a long time I balked at watching videos as
learning, but for him building with Legos and K'nex, programming,
and watching videos is learning.

Diane Craft's Right Brain Reading Program helped with dyslexia
and reading comprehension amazingly well. It was like night and

We also keep a good regime of various physical work and get ideas
from 'The Out of Sync Child Has Fun' to help keep the sensory stuff
in check.

He takes a Bob Jones practice test yearly to show him that there
are societal expectations and that it is not all about mom control-
ling his life." -- Sara


"Jenn -- Is your son having any special tutoring or therapy for
his dyslexia? You may be encouraged by reading this information
from Home School Legal Defense about helping struggling learners.


Hope this helps." -- Chris E.


"Dear Jenn -- I have worked with my oldest granddaughter for 6.5
years, after taking her out of the 3rd grade. She didn't even
know how to do 1st grade work because of all the problems she has
with learning, and teachers who don't really care.

We have been beating our heads together until this year. Our
state does not require testing, and I am glad. We have to keep
a record of what they do each day, and keep a few of their papers
in case anyone comes to check on our progress.

This year they are 13 and 14, in 8th and 9th grades (sort of),
and they are in charge of keeping their own record book (kind of
like a daily journal), having to put down the subject and what
they did, whether it is Reading (Encyclopedia Brown, Chapter 4) or
Science (www.iknowthat.com, learning about bees or other animals),
or Math (www.iknowthat.com, playing building blocks, etc.). This
latter subject is helping the older granddaughter get faster with
facts. It's mostly 2-3 grade math of adding and subtracting, but
it is helping her think faster with numbers. She hates math, and
goes ballistic when you say it's time for math (or find a new name
for it -- she's wise to that!). In her thinking she is not 14,
so we are working around it this year by letting her do what she
wants as long as it is math. My daughter says she considers this
unschooling. Be that what it may, it is working out; we are not
having screaming matches when it comes to math this year.

We will see what next year brings -- but for this year, we are
doing school this way. We start out our day with a prayer, taking
turns. I read a chapter of scripture. I then read out of History
by Verse, and I'm reading The Secret Garden to them. Then I am
free to be on hand if they need me, and they have the computers
to get busy on. When core subjects are done, they can do P.E.
outside, or they can go into the kitchen and make something --
tomorrow will be making dog biscuits for the family pet.

I do not know Indiana's laws regarding homeschooling, but if it
isn't strict, think about taking a little time off and letting
him get the hang of things on his own (with supervision). You
can't force a child to learn what they are not interested in, but
there are fun ways to sneak some things in. I know you'll be
getting a lot more information here, so digest everything you
read and decide which tastes right.

You can do this! Your son can do this! Give it lots of prayer
and let the Lord guide you." -- Jan in MO


"May I suggest that you give him some space? At least for a time.
First, last, and always - Pray!

Then talk with your husband and get his take on the situation.
Even if your husband is not involved in your homeschool endeavors,
he still has one advantage in reaching your son -- he was once a
young boy. There are things that I will never understand about
how my sons think, so I have decided to take my husband's word
for it that he does understand and trust his judgment. It has
worked for our 3 now-grown sons. Your husband will see something
you don't, just because you are so close to the situation, and
he has a different perspective.

I homeschooled my nephew who was dyslexic and ADD, and had been
tested just enough at school to be labeled and get them more money,
but not enough to actually help him. We knew he had some sort of
disability in written communication but no definitive diagnosis,
nor IEP-type strategies to help him learn. But a large part of
his problem was that he thought he was stupid and couldn't learn.
The best thing bringing him home did was it gave him time to mature
in a non-competitive environment with family who loved him and
encouraged him. Some kids just take longer to reach the level of
readiness to learn than others. Some boys, especially those who
have diagnoses of learning disabilities, take even longer.

In retrospect I see that I could have helped him more if I had
known about the Davis method of dealing with dyslexia. 'The Gift
of Dyslexia', by Ron Davis, was very helpful to my sister when she
discovered it; it helped my nephew a lot. You may also want to
check into some of the ideas in 'Making the Brain/Body Connection',
by Sharon Promislow.

Another relative was helped by using color transparencies over
her reading material. Extensive testing at school determined that
she needed a yellow overlay. Later, when her little brother had
the same problem (the letters 'moved around'), his parents got
him some yellow sunglasses to wear for reading - and didn't bother
with the expensive testing.

How do you help him learn even with these diagnoses? Charlotte
Mason methods work. Go light on the handwriting requirements; do
oral work as much as possible - even for a teenager. There is no
reason to try to re-create a school situation just because he is
past the elementary years. Substitute 'living books' for textbooks
as much as possible, since textbooks are notorious for being dry
and boring. Try using audio books to save your vocal chords, but
listen to the stories with your son and talk about the characters
and events in the story. Point out when the characters, especially
the main ones, are behaving in ways that honor Christ or not. When
undesirable consequences follow stupid choices, point it out.
Encourage more analytical thinking processes and ask questions that
require him to think - but don't require him to write them down
because you are discussing the concepts with him orally. If your
state requires records, you will have to write down a summary of
what was covered, but I wouldn't get very detailed if the state
doesn't require it.

One other thing. We threw out the grammar books in second grade.
We taught composition instead - and you can be his scribe to take
down what he wants to say if you need to. We used Writing Strands
quite successfully with our children, but I believe Institute for
Excellence in Writing to be just as good for composition. Use and
require him to use good grammar when speaking, and require good
literature for reading/listening.

As always, you and your husband know and love your son better than
anyone else on earth. Pray for God's wisdom and He will guide you.
I hope some of my thoughts are helpful to you." -- Sarah in NC


"Hi Jenn! I have a student who is also struggling with the basics.
It has been helpful to change our approach from copying the way
'school' does things to learning our own way. I have changed from
always giving assignments to helping my daughter work to accomplish
a project related to her interests. Since your son is interested
in basketball, video games, TV, etc., try having him write a news-
letter about these interests that he can share with others to help
spread his knowledge. His newsletter may even include research he's
done on the history of the things interesting to him and articles
he's written about his interests. Typing may be a great way to help
him 'write' legibly. (Timberdoodle.com has a typing CD-ROM that
shows hands on the screen typing and you just copy what you see.)
Writing has been difficult for my daughter also. She struggles with
letter formation and with letter spacing. I explained to her that
the purpose of writing is to share knowledge with others. If they
can't understand what she's written because she hasn't taken time
to write clearly and legibly, then she's wasted everyone's time
(including her own). Your son may not have any motivation to learn
because it's difficult for him and it's completely separated from
the things he's really interested in. Try to connect the two and
his interest may increase." -- Alisha

Answer our NEW Question

"My ten year old daughter (5th grade) is a weak speller. Sometimes
I honestly think instead of getting better she gets worse. This
weakness is starting to affect all of her subjects. Recently, she
began writing answers to questions in a way that confused me. When
I pointed out the over-simplicity of her answer to a question, she
would orally answer the question perfectly. Suddenly it occurred
to me that the simplicity of her answers was a reflection of her
lack of spelling capability! When I confronted her with my observa-
tion, she admitted it. In the past if she would spell a word wrong
I always had her look it up in the dictionary and write it out five
times. She said she knows she can't spell these 5th grade words and
she fears the extra assignment. She is a smart girl and I hate to
see her 'fear' her school work. I would be so grateful for any ideas
to encourage her and for any suggestions of spelling curriculum. I
want to rebuild this weak foundational aspect of her schooling.
Thank you!" -- Kristi


Do you have practical suggestions and/or encouragement for Kristi?

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

Ask YOUR Question

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