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Unschooling, Over-Under-Through, Speech! Speech!

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, February 09, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 11 February 9, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Guest Article
-- Speech! Speech!
Helpful Tip
-- Over, Under, Through
Reader Question
-- What is Unschooling?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Speech! Speech!
by Karen Lange


Do the words “public speaking” make you cringe? Some people enjoy
speaking publicly, but most of us aren’t quite as thrilled about
it. Realistically though, from meetings to church testimonies,
there are times when we must address a group, so it is a good
skill to teach our children. There are many facets to becoming a
good public speaker; knowing and practicing the basics can help
tremendously. Some of these skills, manners of conduct, and tips
are easily incorporated into everyday living at any age. It may
take a while to see results, but they will come. Consider the

- Children can be encouraged to speak clearly, with the appropriate
tone and volume for daily interaction with others. This is one easy
way to instill good speaking and listening habits. Teach them when
and where slang, family terms, and other situational comments are

- Stress the importance of eye contact when conversing, and giving
the speaker their full attention. This conveys that the listener
cares, and encourages kindness.

- Good posture is important for public speaking. Whether standing or
sitting, it models self-discipline, and the right kind of confidence.
Body language speaks volumes about attitude and respect for others.

- Speech habits, such as frequently using words like ‘um’, ‘like’,
and ‘you know’, can be discouraged. It happens to all of us at times,
but we can strive to be more aware of what we say and how we say it.
This translates into better lifelong speaking habits. Speaking slowly
enough to be understood is vital, particularly when addressing a
group. Talking with one’s mouth full is another habit to discourage,
and although you see few speakers at a podium speaking like that,
the potential for being asked questions over a dinner meeting exists.

One way to exercise public speaking skills is to work in groups.

A key reason that my children and I participated in homeschool
co-ops was that I wanted them to gain public speaking experience.
Co-ops provided a forum to do so. When they were younger (ages 5-9),
we co-oped with two to three other families. We had mini writing
workshops, along with other activities, where the kids read their
stories aloud. This was an easy, early way to introduce them to
public speaking. They were among friends, so it wasn’t too intimi-
dating. We also required them to make positive comments or ask a
question about each other’s stories, which added another, subtle
angle to the public speaking thing.

As my children got older (6th – 12th grades), our co-op groups
increased in size. Writing and reading assignments aloud was a
standard topic. One series of lessons featured public speaking.
The first segment included a lesson where one mom gave a speech
the wrong way. She chewed gum, dropped her notes, kept her head
down, mumbled, used ‘um’ and ‘you know’ often, spoke quickly, had
bad posture, and otherwise exhibited poor speaking habits. We
outlined the basics of good speech delivery, required the students
to write their own short speech on a topic of their choosing, and
had them deliver their speech. It was not our most popular topic
of study, but our students later commented on how it helped them
feel more comfortable when they had to speak publicly.

These were additional points covered in our public speaking lessons:

- Know the material. This helps the speaker feel more comfortable
and in control. It helps calm and keep the speaker on track in case
of distractions, and conveys to the audience that the speaker is
well informed.

- Take time to practice the material. Practice in front of the
mirror, in front of family or friends, or speak into thin air.
The more this is done, the more comfortable and familiar one is
with the material. It isn’t necessary to have material memorized,
but it doesn’t hurt either. I always feel a little silly practicing
before I speak to a group, but it really helps to deliver a better
message. It helps the speaker feel confident, and helps them focus
on other aspects, such as good posture.

- Know the target audience, and choose appropriate material. A speaker
must focus on topics that interest and engage an audience. If the
speaker does not have a choice of the topic, they still may be able
to tailor the material to the audience in an interesting way. Some-
times it helps to open with a joke or story that makes a point that
relates to the topic. Let the audience’s age level dictate the
appropriate language use. (For example, don’t use highly technical
terms when speaking to elementary school students.)

- Make eye contact with the audience. It is not necessary or always
possible to do this with everyone, but it is feasible to do so with
several people in different areas of the crowd. Interested listeners
often keep their eyes primarily on the speaker, so focus on them.

- Keep gesturing to a reasonable level. A speaker who stands stick
straight, unmoving, with seemingly no personality may not engage
their listeners. An animated speaker is more interesting, but only
if their movements don’t overshadow what they are saying. Don’t be
afraid to move around, depending on the area around the podium.
Strike a good balance between looking like a mannequin and being a
whirlwind on stage.

- Check your tone of voice. A monotone voice will lull the audience
to sleep. Varied inflections make it more interesting. Think of a
good storyteller you’ve heard, and how they make a tale come alive.
Strive to make your presentation interesting.

- Dress appropriately. People often do judge a book by its cover at
first, so put your best foot forward. Don’t wear anything distracting;
keep hair, makeup, etc. within reasonable parameters. Don’t forget to

- Pray. The Lord will help you with everything you do; trust Him to
guide you.

Good speaking habits do not happen overnight, but with practice and
the right tools, your children will become more comfortable speaking
in front of others. Add constructive coaching to that mix as well;
you never know, they just might become one of the next great orators.


Karen Lange and her husband Jeff homeschooled their three children
grades K-12. She is a freelance writer and the creator of the
Homeschool Online Writing Co-op for teens. Visit her website at
www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com or email her at writingcoop@yahoo.com


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



Helpful Tip

Over, Under, Through

"Here is something we tried this week while stuck inside with
my three boys (4, 2 and 5 months). First we read (looked at)
the book 'Over, Under, Through' by Tana Hoban. Then we set up
an obstacle course with going over a foot stool (you could use
a pillow), under a child size card table (use a chair) and
through an expandable tunnel (could use a hula hoop). Then I
placed letter flash cards all over the floor at the end of the
course. I gave a direction -- over, under or through -- and
what letter they needed to find. We also tried it where I gave
them the lower case letter flashcard and they had to find the
uppercase. You could do this activity with any concept such as
colors of cars, animals to find, or anything you are working on.
Another way we do this is to walk to a W, run to an R, hop to an
H, be a gorilla and find a G; you get the picture. Have fun!"

-- Jill, HomeschoolingBOYS.com member


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

Last Issue's Reader Question

"What is un-schooling? How do you do it? Does it really educate
the children properly? I am interested, but have no clue how to
begin. Any suggestions would be great." -- Elizabeth P.

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi Elizabeth -- I say that I use the unschooling approach but
someone else who does may disagree. From what I have read
unschooling is child led. You give the child freedom to choose
a topic they are interested in and then you set them free with
it. My son, for example, is intrigued by the Civil War. So
we are planning on doing a lapbook to chronicle his information
which will use handwriting, grammar and art, along with research
skills.I let him go wild with his topic -- so far he has
researched online, checked out historical fiction and the movie
'The Blue and The Gray' from the library, and he has borrowed
two very old and well put together books from his Granna and is
reading through them. (They are THICK.) He just ordered a DVD
from Netflix called 'Civil War Weapons' and he is going into
detailed study on weapons, President Lincoln and General Robert
E. Lee.We found a book on Amazon called 'Civil War Things You
Can Make and Do', which was very inexpensive.


We got a corresponding lapbook free on HomeschoolShare.com.
So he is using reading, handwriting, research skills, geography,
mathematics to some degree, history, and science (in the way the
old guns fired).

We take the unschooling approach and direct the interest to the
unit study/lapbook/notebooking approach. You can really see the
difference in interest when they pick the subject which lets them
dig into it wholeheartedly.He is 11 now and we have done the
same with units on frogs, bugs, and boer goats. We have plans
to do Egypt.

The way I use unschooling -- yes -- I feel that my children learn
alot more than traditional textbooks would teach them!" -- Sandy


"Hi, Elizabeth! I'm not an expert, but I'll share with you my
ideas about unschooling. Unschooling is an educational method
in which you develop a custom-designed approach.Your learning
activities, curriculum and goals are unique to your family's
situation, your children's interests and aptitudes, and the parents'
standards. You would start by casting off any preconceived notions
you have about what school is supposed to look like, and try to
construct a model based on your family's needs and goals, without
being influenced by any outside opinions or traditions. (First
you have to unschool yourself!) Unschooling is especially good
for children who had a bad experience in public school, and need
to move into something that is totally different.

Many unschoolers simply take their children through life with them,
teaching as they go. Children are allowed to pursue their interests
and cultivate their gifts as extensively as they want. When parents
or children perceive that they need to know something, they study
it. They usually spend lots of time at the library, and/or have a
large home library. It's difficult to describe in detail, because
by definition, each family's unschooling is unique.

Some cautions: Don't let it become too child-centered. Some
things the child will study because he's interested; other things
he'll study because his parents know that it's important. Be
prepared to be questioned. Very few people understand unschooling,
and it's difficult to explain. You don't have to defend what you're
doing, but you might want to have some answers ready. Don't let
it become an excuse to leave your children's education to chance.
You will probably find that your plans are very flexible, but you
need to have a sense of direction.

I would suggest visiting www.unschooling.com; www.unschooling.org;
and www.unschooling.info. My personal opinion is that children
can be very well educated through a dedicated unschooling approach."
-- Mary Beth


"Hi Elizabeth -- For a practical and informative glimpse into
unschooling, I suggest reading the book 'I Learn Better by Teaching
Myself' by Agnes Leistico. It's a short book, and one I borrowed
from the library often when I was homeschooling. It was helpful!"
-- Karen

[Note: we had a review of this book in the newsletter below!]



"The best book I have ever read about unschooling is 'The Unschooling
Handbook - How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom'
by Mary Griffin." -- Chris


Answer our NEW Question

"I have a son who is 10, reading at 1st-2nd grade level. I feel
at times I may be giving him too many phonics and reading rules
to help him 'catch-up' to his 2 older sisters in school. Even
though I know that we are not competing in a public school system,
I think he feels pressure from his sisters (although they really
don't say anything negative toward him and his reading level). It
seems our learning has turned into just reading, math and writing,
with no time for all the other interesting and fun ways to learn
about all of God's creation. He is a very bright child and is
mature for his age. I did homeschool his 2 older siblings and the
2 middle ones opted for the public system. Now they are both
involved in sports so they enjoy the public school. John (at home)
is my youngest, and I think he feels left out at times. We also,
in the last 5 years, have had a lot of financial stress due to my
husband's health and 2 house moves. Any ideas would be welcomed.
Thanks." -- Lynn


Do you have some ideas and/or practical wisdom for Lynn?

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

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