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Milk the Cow Time, CyberCrime, Pulling Together Curriculum

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 16 February 26, 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
-- Read Across America Day
Helpful Tip
-- 'Milk the Cow' Time
Winning Website
-- Cyber Crime at ThinkQuest
Reader Question
-- Putting Together Curriculum
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

'Read Across America' Day - A Dr. Seuss Birthday Party


Monday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day - in honor of
the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Here are 2 web pages with plenty of activities and updated links
to the best websites for this fun day!



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


"Two years ago I learned about FULL YEAR NOTEBOOKS and it has
changed the way I schedule homeschooling. I plan each child's work
for a year at a time and they each have a notebook with their lessons.
It takes me a lot of time during our off months to do the planning,
but it frees up more time for me during the school year because my
planning is already done!"



"I have been homeschooling for 14 years (we are graduating our
first this year) and finally found a system that keeps us organized.
It is called the Full Year Notebook System. The planning part has
helped my children to learn to be more independent and plan their
school time more efficiently. I am no longer having to search
folders, drawers, etc. for completed work. Their daily schedule and
all paperwork they have completed are organized into their notebooks!"

Find out more!



Helpful Tip

'Milk the Cow' Time


In the book 'Little Britches by Ralph Moody, the main character
has time with his dad alone when they milk the cow at night.

We have no cow, but my husband has had to make opportunity for
each child to have 'milk the cow' time with him.

One day when my son was especially angry and ornery with everyone,
my husband gently took hold of him and started for the door. I
asked, 'Why are you leaving?', and he said, 'Because I don't have
a darn cow.' It was amazing the different boy I had come home
from his 'milk the cow' time with dad.

My daughter was asked what 'milk the cow' meant on our list of
things to do. She said, 'It is like a child's date with dad.'
I couldn't have put it better!

Do you have a milk the cow time for your children?

Just as children sometimes need 'extra Mom', they also need 'extra

Give Him a Day

What shall you give to one small boy?
A glamorous game, a tinseled toy?
A Boy Scout knife, a puzzle pack?
A train that runs on some cruising track?
A picture book, a real live pet?
No, there's plenty of time for such things yet
Give him a day for his very own.
Just one small boy and his Dad alone.
A walk in the wood, a romp in the park;
A fishing trip from dawn to dark.
Give him the gift that only you can.
The companionship of his 'old man'.
Games are outgrown and toys decay,
But he'll never forget
If you give him a day!

-- submitted by Faye in CA, 'Homeschooling a Houseful' Yahoo Group

From the group description:

"Homeschooling a large family? This group is for those with large
families trying to homeschool many different age groups at the
same time. We discuss helpful ideas for keeping toddlers safe
while teaching older children, and offer ideas for meeting the
needs of babies and teenagers. If you are juggling many children's
needs, then you've found the right place."



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

Winning Website

CyberCrime - http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00460/

Piercing the Darkness is a student-created Think Quest that
discusses: What is cybercrime? When did it all start? Who is
involved? Why do they do it?

-- Posted by Lara on Donna Godfrey's "Sites for Learning" Group

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a two part question. I began homeschooling my 4 year
old last fall in Kindergarten. He has done very well and
surpassed my expectations. I have been pulling together my own
curriculum with ideas from several good websites and lately going
with the CoreKnowledge studies with lessons from the Boston
Curriculum Project. The lessons are excellent and it gives me
room to expand on them. This, as you know, is time consuming.
I am starting to think about next year -- and here is where I
get stumped.

I LOVE putting together the lessons, but it takes sooo much time.
I'm torn between continuing to do this (and really planning ahead
this summer as to save time during the school year) and buying a
'ready-made' curriculum. What would you do? Any suggestions on
how to cut down on the amount of work involved in planning?

The second part of my question is: If I do go with a purchased
curriculum, where should I place him? While I started him a year
early and he is quite successful, the 1st grade levels that I have
looked at seem somewhat challenging in SOME areas. I don't want
to make him frustrated. On the other hand, the Kindergarten
lessons cover a lot of the basic stuff that he has down. I don't
want to bore him. While I could use the whole thing with his
younger brother, I don't want to hold him back -- and I can't
afford to buy both.

I have thought about continuing next year as sort of a combination
K/1st -- bringing him up on lacking areas and plodding ahead in
others. Would this best be done on my own? Or is there an
in-between curriculum out there that I haven't found?

I would love to hear of your experiences and recommendations, as
my mind is really turned to mush thinking about all of this.
Thank you so much!" -- Lacey

Our Readers' Responses

"During the elementary school years I use to pull together our own
curriculum. Every year I would question that decision. During
my son's 4th grade I did purchase a package curriculum -- and we
all hated it. About 3-4 months into it, I began to get creative
and made it more tolerable for all of us. Something about having
spent all that money and letting it go to waste would not let me
shelf the curriculum. On and off through the years I did use
some prepared curriculum material for some subject matter, but not
an entire package. For the most part I went with my children's
interests, and then things I wanted them to cover. I also use the
Core Knowledge books as a guide, and also the Worldcraft guide.

During the middle school years I tried a package curriculum again.
That did not work well, so I tried a computerized version of a
package curriculum, only to feel more frustrated. Feeling that
now things had to get more serious, I began to use more prepared
curriculum for almost every subject -- but truthfully I was still
creative and didn't exactly do things the way the authors had
designed the curriculum to be. This worked well for our family.

As our children entered the high school years, they had been
working independently and practically designing their own studies.
Now they wanted to explore packaged curriculum again, but only
in some subject matter. They have gone on to do some work through
a virtual school and dual enrollment program, plus some classes
at home; some that I've designed, and other purchased curriculum.

I exhort you to stick to what feels right for you and your child.
What works for one family is a total flop for another. As far as
grade placement goes, you will find that most homeschoolers are
on different grade levels for different subjects. Our son was
doing high school level language arts in the middle of what should
have been 7th grade, but with math and science he was trailing
behind grade level. Our daughter was the opposite. I only used
grade placement level for standardized testing and for our annual
evaluations. I would write in the grade the child would be if
they had been in a regular school.

I wish you much success -- and enjoy these elementary school years.
They sure go by so fast!" -- Judy


"Lacey -- curriculum choosing doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing
deal. I bought a few books for my child to use, but no two sub-
jects are from the same publisher. Plus, I regularly put aside
our usual books to do something fun, or just different!

My daughter was a fluent reader by Kindergarten, so she started in
a 2nd grade Language Arts book (LLATL) and has moved up from there.
But we had never done any math beyond rote counting, so she started
in a Kindergarten level math book (MUS).

I loved the concept of Mystery of History, so I got that. Then I
realized she'd get more out of it later, so we dropped it. I've
put together stuff for social studies and science based on the
season, an upcoming holiday, or whatever struck our fancy -- lots
of gardening and bugs! I often use free units I find online to go
with our interests. Sometimes we'll read a book or two and color
some pages and call that subject covered!

Remember that in the early years you want to stress reading and
basic math skills -- everything else can really wait a while."
-- MaryEllen


"I absolutely love the Heart of Dakota Curriculum! My three
younger sons are doing it together with some modification. It
really allows you to tailor your teaching to the exact place your
son is in. She offers suggestions to expand, if needed, what is
taught. She also uses inexpensive resources -- and many books
can be picked up at a library. Each day is laid out in convenient
boxes on a two page layout and you can really design your own day
from them. One other thing I like about it is that you have choices.
She offers suggestions, but there is a lot of room for individual
teaching style. My boys look forward to our unit time and love
the songs and rhymes she teaches to learn some history, geography,
science and Biblical facts. It is a great curriculum." -- Amanda S.


"Hello Lacey -- I have two possible thoughts.

The first would be to consider doing lap booking or unit study
work. The benefits of these two types of curriculum are that
they allow you to use them at your child's own level. So, if
you were studying about dogs, you could have him study the
letters that are in dog or dog equipment, practicing writing
them in capital and small letters, or have him memorize facts
about dogs. You can draw pictures of dogs, study breeds, make
up chore charts for a little boy who wants to have a dog but
needs to learn about the responsibilities. You might read books
about fire dogs, then take a trip to the local fire station.
Then maybe you'd read a book about sled dogs and see if you
could hitch a ride with a dog team. You might make a dog puppet
and then construct a play about that character and his adventures.
You could mark, on a paper map, where different breeds of dogs
come from and use this for geography. Do spelling tests with
dog related words like legs, nose, eyes, leash, walk, sit -- you
get the picture. He could do the spelling orally or use it for
writing. You could talk about the numbers associated with dog
sled teams, police dogs, how many times a dog needs to go outside,
how much time it takes to walk a dog, etc. -- and use this to
study time/clocks. You could visit pet stores and find out how
much dogs cost and do some work with saving money to get a dog.
You could figure about how much food a dog eats a month and what
the cost of the food is and use these for additional money work.

There is so much you can do with this and make it all at his
level. You could then let the younger siblings join you and
learn about the subject at their own levels. I think it might
just be a way to incorporate your creativity for developing
curriculum, but take some of the pressure off you. Once the dog
unit was done, you would pick another topic of interest and do
the same thing with that. You could follow his interests, keep
things interesting, and study things in as much depth as you want
or he needs to. These can be short units, like one per week, or
they can be a unit that lasts a month or so. You could supplement
with worksheets or math drills. Your son could then pick his own
subjects, keeping him interested and minimizing boredom, and then
you could do more or less of the work in the project depending
on ability and interest.

My second idea would be to use a curriculum like 'My Father's
World, First Grade'. I used this with my daughter. Because
she was a little advanced, much was review as far as the alphabet
work and handwriting was concerned, but it really strengthened
her reading and the topics were interesting. It taught her Bible
memory work and Biblical stories. They use practical Science
activities that can be interesting for all ages, and they recommend
the 'Big Book of Math', which is great for kids K-2, depending on
their abilities. The curriculum is also working for my son who
is all boy and a bit behind. With the daughter we did lessons
faster and even multiple lessons per day; sometimes it takes a
full day or even two for my son. But he, too, is becoming a better
reader, even if it is at a slower pace. I would pick a curriculum
that has flexibility to pick and choose activities and how much
you do in any given area.

Just do not push him harder than what he is ready for or he may
burn out on school early. Make it challenging enough for him to
have room to grow and learn, though. And remember that younger
siblings may or may not keep up with his pace. This is why I
like unit studies -- because they allow a whole family to study
a topic together with each working at their own best ability. This
keeps poor mom from trying to keep everyone working at their own
level on many different subjects, which is very time consuming and
difficult." -- Beth


"I recommend that you investigate the Charlotte Mason method.
There are several websites out there, and many free resources
if cost is a concern.


Hope this helps." -- Sarah


"Lacey -- I, too, loved pulling things together to make up a
curriculum for my two children but, as you have found, it is very
time consuming. The burden was somewhat lightened by using the
KONOS system. The ladies who developed the books have an abundance
of ideas and articles that fit different grades. They provide a
list of books found in the library system for each topic, plus
scriptural references and memory verses. Religion, history, social
studies, geography, science experiments, writing projects, drama
ideas, P.E. activities and more are covered.

I live in BC, Canada, and I went through the provincial government's
'expected outcomes' for the grades the kids would be in for the
next year. Then I went through the KONOS books I had -- and from
that I was able to build a curriculum that I was satisfied with
and that fit what we had to hand in (though because it is American
I had to adapt a few things to Canadianize it). At that time we
were also able to include a lot of scriptural items in our port-
folios, but now, unless you are registered with a Christian school,
you are no longer able to do that.

I only had to find a Math program for each of the kids. I did this
for a few years and really liked how it worked for our family. It
took way less time than trying to find everything for myself. We
also used some of the ideas in our co-op. All the best in your
endeavors!" -- Helen


"You might consider doing both -- using a prepared curriculum
augmented by your own plans! For instance, are there subjects
that you find harder to 'pull together'? Math is my weakest area,
so I wouldn't dream of trying to create a math curriculum for my
daughter -- but I do choose to do so with other subjects. You
might also consider it with his topics of interest and/or special
learning times such as holidays. One study can serve many purposes."
-- Kay in WV


"I have a 4-year-old that will be starting 'kindergarten' this
year. The thing I've run into is that I've already taught him
what he would normally learn in kindergarten. So, for this year
I am just going to continue teaching him the basics of reading
and phonics, as well as simple addition. Other than that, we
are checking out books at the library and looking online to learn
about whatever interests him. Therefore, by the time we get to
1st grade age, he will be ahead in most areas. Our plan at that
point is to use Sonlight. They have very adaptable programs and
even have curriculum designed to teach grades 1-2. You can 'mix
and match' the basics and electives, and everything is planned
out in great detail for you." -- Cindy in NY

Answer our NEW Question

"I am new to homeschooling this year and I'm having a bit of a
struggle. My daughter is in kindergarten and is doing really well
reading. We also have a three-year-old and a baby who requires
much of my time right now, as babies are apt to do.

My problem is that I haven't figured out how to schedule the
school time and devote much time to planning or working with my
daughter. She is a willing student, but does not like to work
independently. Plus, if the preschooler has been given something
to do, the older child is distracted by that activity and wants
to be involved.

By the time the baby is in bed at night (between 11 and midnight),
I'm too wiped out to plan activities and gather materials for the
next day. So when the timing is right to do some kindergarten
work during the day, like during the baby's nap, I scrounge around
for something worthwhile to do. If there's any interruption
(potty break, diaper change, spilled cup, etc), my daughter gets
off task and the opportunity is lost. My daughter is very energetic
and bright. Without directed activities she tends to get bored
and then the discipline troubles begin.

I feel overwhelmed and the temptation to send my daughter to school
is creeping in. How do I get organized in a hurry with these three
little ones? Please give me advice! Thanks." -- Lina


Do you have words of encouragement or practical advice to help keep
Lina from giving up homeschooling??

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

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