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Pre-1985 Children's Books Banned Now??

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 10 February 5, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - 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.




Notes from Heather
-- Pre-1985 Books to be Banned
Helpful Tip
-- Fun Online Timer to Use
Winning Website
-- Pictures of Places
Reader Question
-- First Grade Writing Motivation
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Cherished Out-of-Print Children's Books to be Banned

As the days count down in the ongoing tug-of-war, it is becoming
apparent that the frequent CPSC "press releases" really have no
bearing on the law. And IF they do, then after 2/10 it will be
completely illegal to sell children's book printed before 1985.

Before 1985 -- yes, you read that right.

What will this mean for homeschooling families who cherish the
hard-to-find older books and library discards? It means that
legally we are right back where we started and February 10th, as
of today, is once again slated to be "National Book Burning" Day.

ONE hope is to pass an amendment to the law by including it in the
the economic stimulus package that is up for vote in Congress.
The amendment, as drafted, would grant a 6 month reprieve and also
exempt most items that are currently on shelves. There would be
NO retroactive effect for merchandise (including books) in existence
before the law was passed. But the EPA is putting up a huge fit.

Read the links below and GOOD LUCK trying to decipher it all!



Previous notes and updates on the issues:



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


Awesome Home School Notebook Planner
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One of its best features is that it doesn't take a semester
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Helpful Tip


"I found the funniest timer online when we misplaced the only
timer we have outside the microwave.

If you'd like to have fun, pick 'yonk' as your alarm sound and
turn the computer sound up a bit. It's all online, no download
or membership required. Quite useful for all sorts of homeschooly
and household things." - HomeschoolingBOYS member


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

Winning Website

Pictures of Places –http://www.picturesofplaces.com

Pick a state or country and get a list of sites to visit with
pictures. I tried Hungary and was able to 'visit' several towns.
The photos on this 'trip' all had captions too! A very neat site
to broaden your family's horizons. :-)

-- Cindy at www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My son is a bright child who is in his 2nd year of homeschooling,
so I call him a first grader. His reading and math skills are
right at grade level, but getting his writing up to par is a trick.
I have tried 'Handwriting without Tears' and it seems to help.
However, we are not writing on a daily basis as I face a lot of
resistance. Any ideas? Is it okay for him to still be writing
lists and occasional sentences, or do I need to try to catch him
up to the public school standard?

We homeschool with a constructivist approach and it seems to work
well, by following his current interests. Any ideas on improving
writing motivation is helpful." -- Katie

Our Readers' Responses

"Your son sounds a lot like mine, who, at age 7.5, still prefers
to draw pictures in his learning journal, and avoids all writing
at all costs. We used a very low-key handwriting book (Happy
Handwriting) to reinforce phonics and to master basic letter
shapes, but I did not push him after that. While what we teach
is put together by mom and dad, he is allowed to choose what he
writes and draws in his learning journal -- that lets him choose
between writing a sentence about the Spanish in New Mexico, what
soap does for us, or the current Bible verse, for example. Also,
I found that by doing a big project once in a while (science,
geography, etc.) and letting him choose the topic, I get a lot
of writing without arguing. He doesn't realize he's doing some-
thing he doesn't like, and I give him a lot of latitude with the
style and scope of composition. For example, we did a project
on dinosaurs recently. He wrote some, he dictated some to me,
and drew and labeled his own dino ("lion-o-saurus"). This is
more writing and reporting than he normally will do in two weeks
-- and all without a fuss!

I think you are right on not to push him too much. I would let
him dictate to you when you feel he must synthesize information
and doesn't want to write. He can still see his words in print,
and realizes that he can form thoughts and sentences. Ability
to communicate, not the physical act of writing, is what I try
to emphasize. I would also make sure he learns to type at some
point. I have an older one who hates her handwriting, but loves
to write, and she types almost all her assignments. Yes, hand-
writing is an important aspect of education, but killing his love
of learning to make sure he can print well isn't worth it (in my
opinion). My 7.5 year old son had minimal handwriting instruction,
and his printing developed beautifully through imitation -- proof
that even hardheaded, resistant-to-writing boys can learn to print
well (usually!) with gentle encouragement." -- Anne


"Katie -- If you are meeting with resistance to 'formal' writing
lessons, I would take your son to an office super store (like
Staples) and let him pick out his very own journal. Let him
choose the one he likes best. Tell him it is for him to write
in. DON'T TELL HIM IT IS FOR 'SCHOOL'. Let him think you're
not 'checking' his work. He may be more willing to try if he
doesn't think you're critiquing him. My 7 year old started
drawing pictures only, then moved on to drawing pictures with
captions. Next he phonetically began writing one or two sentences
about his day ('Today I went to play at the park.'). He event-
ually began writing with more detail ('Today I went to play at
the park with Kyle. We played ball. We had fun.'). At almost
8 years old, he now fills his journal with his own cartoon strip
that he created himself. This satisfies his art and writing
requirements in my opinion. Don't criticize his spelling or
punctuation at this point. Encourage him to just enjoy writing
and the rest will fall into place. In my opinion, the polishing
of the work (spelling, grammar, etc.) should be done in the
middle school grades. At this young age, just encourage him to
express himself and don't stifle his creativity. Have fun and
encourage your son to have fun, too!" -- Lucy


"Here is a product that might spark his imagination and help his
writing skills -- 'Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like
They've Never Written Before'.


This huge book is filled with adventurous stories that suddenly
stop at the most inconvenient time, and it is up to the student
to create the rest of the story. Being that your son is so young,
you might encourage him to write out just a few sentences, with
your help. Then let him dictate while you write it down for him.
You could gradually increase the amount he should write as his
skills increase.

Some notes from the publisher: 'Story Starters is designed to
awaken the dormant writer in your child. It has just the right
ingredients to inspire even the reluctant writer or the student
who has experienced discouragement. A story starter, along with
its accompanying picture, provides a very buoyant jumpstart for
creative composition. The student is encouraged to write freely,
with zest, with boldness and far more abandon than he may be used
to, because he is unencumbered by the usual constraints of more
formal exercises. The action-packed stories and dramatic 19th
century illustrations were designed especially to appeal to boys."


"Hi Katie -- I don't know if I'm interpreting your information
correctly, but it sounds like you have a 5 or 6 year old who has
finished the kindergarten year and is in grade one.

I was once told a very enlightening thing that changed my perspective
on how much I get my young ones to write. Try writing whatever you
are assigning to your child with your 'wrong' hand. It is tedious,
difficult to control, and painstakingly slow to do a good job. You
now know what it is like for your child who is learning to form
letters. That helped me to set realistic goals for how much I wanted
written on any given day.

In addition to that, I have found that my children love to do copy-
work when the topic is of interest. My six year old is putting
together a lapbook on lizards. He begs to do copywork first every
day and will literally write paragraphs in one sitting - but only
because it's about lizards. If I assigned him the same amount of
poetry he would take all morning and it would be a terrible trial
for us both. You may find that taking the spotlight off of the
mechanics ('you have to do writing today') and distracting your
child with content they are interested in, or by producing something
they are proud of, will help you. My son runs to Dad as soon as he
comes in the door to show him the latest addition to his lizard
lapbook. He wants to do more so he can 'show dad when he gets home'.
He also shows everyone who walks in our door and will look at it
with him. It's an excellent incentive for him.

I had the same experience with all my kids. My daughters (now 8 and
10) became enthusiastic writers when I gave them a journal that they
share with me. I write to them and then they write back to me. We
leave the journal with the new message somewhere in the house for
the other to find. It's a fun surprise to find one of their journals
sitting on my pillow, laying on my computer keyboard, or on top of
the book I'm reading.

My oldest son (now 12) writes extensive stories about his Medieval
battles. Getting him to write an essay on 'What I did on my summer
break' would be excruciating for him (and me by default!). But tell
him to create a world, draw a map of it, and then explain the history
of the civilization, will get me pages of writing.

If you can tap into what your son likes you may find the trial of
writing gets lost in the thrill of the project.

One last thing - forget about the public school standard. One major
advantage of homeschooling is allowing your child to advance without
the stress of 'being behind'. He isn't behind if he is applying
himself and you are consistent in your role as educator. Whether a
child walks at 10 months or 14 months is irrelevant by the time they
are 16 months old. That same principle should be applied to a lot
more of our schooling 'milestones'.

Best wishes with your journey." -- Andrea


"Katie -- sounds like your son is still fairly young. I wouldn't
worry if he is not writing more than a sentence or two at one time.
It is perfectly okay to have him dictate to you, and you write his
words. Many boys need time to develop the fine motor skills needed
for efficient handwriting. Far better to have him do a small amount
now, using a good pencil grasp and good posture, and gradually
develop his skill, strength and endurance, than to push him too
fast and set poor habits in place that will slow him down for years.

You may want to work on some fine and gross motor skills: Playing
with clay, (pinch pieces flat, roll little balls, hide small items
in it and have him find them, etc.), playing with Legos, games with
the pinch style clothespins, develop hand skills, etc. But equally
important are activities that work on shoulder stability - wheel
barrow walking, lying on stomach with elbows on floor, head and
chest lifted off the floor, scooter boards - lying on tummy, pushing
with hands, etc." -- Laurie


"One of the reasons I homeschool is so that my children don't
have to worry about keeping up with public school standards.
They are always either too difficult or too basic (most of the
time being the latter.) All children learn at different paces.
Some may excel in math and lag in reading, that's okay. Give
them the space and support they need to learn when their brains
are ready. My first grade daughter also resists writing, so I
try to come up with creative ways to incorporate writing into
her other school work. I also ask her to help me write grocery
and shopping lists, write letters and cards, and even just take
sidewalk chalk to the park and write words and names. By keeping
it low key and low pressure, I know someday she'll be ready to
do more writing. When I think of the big picture, she's only
six now. I'm sure that she'll get it at some point during the
next 12 years. I know I have a tendency to want her to 'get it'
with everything, but I constantly have to remind myself to relax
and remember why I'm doing this -- and be thankful she's not
getting pressure from teachers or being made fun of by peers."


"Katie -- I am the mother of an 11 year old boy who has hated
writing up until now. I backed off until he showed some interest
in improving it himself, which is this year. My advice is if
you encounter ANYTHING your child resists, back off and try again
when you know 'the cogs have met and are turning and ready to do
that task'.Just because the public school professionals say our
children should be doing such and such at a certain age doesn't
make it true. My children do as well as any child will when
they are ready. Their minds go through developemental stages,
and if you push it will only cause a dislike for what you are
trying to teach.Let him get to the proper stage where the
needed cogs are turning.It will come and he will learn writing
with a lot less heartache!" -- Sandy


"I have a nine year old son in third grade who did not like to
write the first few years of school. He knew how to make the
letters but he did not care to take all of the time to make them
neat. I didn't make him; rather I wrote a lot of it out for him.
Last year it finally clicked for him and he started to enjoy the
cursive writing. He still doesn't care to write that much, but
every few months I add a little bit more to his daily work. I
think a lot of it is a hand coordination problem. Boys don't
tend to do as well on the finer coordination until they are a bit
older. Right now his handwriting is much better than some of his
older sisters, and he is pretty pleased with himself." -- Karen


"I think that writing is very important, and with time he will
write more. To start him down that path, consider having him
dictate to you the experiences of his day or a short story. As
you read it back to him, point to each word and ask him if that
is what he meant. If not, help him to change the sentences to
what he meant to say. Then you could ask him to write it in his
own handwriting to send to a friend or grandparent. It is important
to give him ownership of his writing. Trust me, it does happen
over time." -- Robin


"I feel your pain! I had the same problem with my son. He was
the 3rd in line following his sisters in homeschooling. I never
had problems with them, but he was a different story. He hated
holding the pencil and having him write anything was a nightmare.
At first I had him only print things, but all his friends moved
into cursive and I found we were not much further ahead than when
we started. I read 'The Well-Trained Mind' and the author talked
about copy work. I was intrigued. It works like this: You find
a classical piece of literature that your child likes. We used
'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', but whatever he likes is
fine. You make a nice notebook that is just for this (I use loose
leaf paper that I reinforce at the holes; you can get paper for
kids just learning to write, too) and you begin with chapter one.
You call out all parts of punctuation, new paragraphs, proper
nouns, etc., so he learns all parts of the sentences. My son
loves this -- don't ask me why! He loved the book and he likes
to predict what part I am going to read next. We count up how
many lines he has copied and I make a big deal out of it. You
could even reward him in some way. We have been amazed at how
his handwriting is improving. I date in the margin each time he
writes, so he can see how his handwriting has changed over the
school year. Now he will erase himself if it's too messy -- I
rarely have to say anything anymore. He really is proud of this
notebook. This year he is in 5th grade and we finally started
cursive. You would have to adapt this for a first or second grader,
but I hope this is as successful for you as it has been for us.
You could read more about it in 'The Well-Trained Mind':


Good luck to you." -- Sherril in NC


"Hi Katie -- My son is now in third grade but he is and has always
been resistant to writing. I think most boys are. It just isn't
instantly gratifying to them. Don't worry about it! I found
getting him to label or write a few sentences about his latest
drawing was about all he would do in first grade. Instead I focus
on reading and figure the writing will follow... some day! Also,
there's nothing wrong with focusing on the practical; get him to
write out the shopping lists. One thing we did try that he liked
was 'Story Starters', especially with pictures.


You can get an Evan-Moor creative writing workbook online (it even
has cartoon blocks to fill in) or just cut out an interesting
picture from a magazine and make up a sentence, then let his
imagination take flight. At first I had to write his ideas down
for him, but once he got into it the stories just flowed, even if
the spelling is still awful!" -- Liz in Canada

Answer our NEW Question

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