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Homeschooling the Year 'Round - Revisited!

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 32 April 23, 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
-- More Help for Lisa
Winning Website
-- Rainforest Education
Reader Question
-- Year Round Schooling?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

More Help for Lisa --

Lisa's question and reader answers appeared in the 4/20 issue:


"My 5 year old has moderate speech problems (we are getting the
hearing tested) and is just not a phonics child -- if you can't hear
it or pronounce it, or just get it, it won't work. After trying
so many different programs, the one that worked for us was
Progressive Phonics.

If your child already knows the letter sounds and the letters they
go with, then start with the beginner books. Not only are the books
inexpensive ($10-20 for the whole set) -- you can print them out
as much as you need. We print out the book and highlight all the
words my daughter knows; then I teach her the red words and we read
though a couple pages together. I read all the words that are not
colored and she reads the rest. Using the books like this, I have
seen my daughter go from the short A (at, cat, bat) words to more
complex words. We still have quite a ways to go, but she is making
wonderful progress." -- Mia F.


"Hi Lisa -- There's a free multiplication game online at bigbrainz.com,
and although we use the game sometimes, I still don't pressure my
children to memorize multiplication facts by a certain grade level.
My kids also use math wrap-ups, flash cards, etc. for daily math facts
practice, and I allow my 10 year old, who has Asperger's also, to use
a multiplication chart while completing math problems." -- Shelly


"In March I began homeschooling my thirteen year-old who lives with
Asperger's, auditory processing problems and other learning and medical
challenges. Time4Learning's interactive computer curriculum has been
terrific. It is fun and well paced. The staff worked with me as I
learned what grade levels my son can accomplish and where he needs to
be challenged. It also provides a working portfolio of quizzes and
tests. It can help you monitor the amount of time it is taking your
child to work on specific concepts and will let you know what is
mastered and what still needs be revisited. I do work with my guy
one-on-one, because if I don't, his emotions shut down to learning.
Time4Learning has a parents forum. While I have not yet participated,
it is interesting that many of the moms have Aspie kids.

I have also been blessed to find the Home Schooling Legal Defense
Association's website for 'Home Schooling the Struggling Learner'
at hslda.org. There is a specific resource section as well as other
informative pieces to review. Their special needs coordinators have
been so helpful. DianeCraft.org kindly provides writing, reading and
math support for struggling learners.

There are brain gym exercises found in Carla Hannaford's book, 'Smart
Moves; Why Learning is Not All in Your Head'
that my son and I do
throughout the day to keep him focused and support auditory deficits.
It may sound big, but they are simple moves that make a big difference.

I have heard Joyce Meyer say, 'God gives us enough grace for each day.'
My goal, while always planning ahead, is to take each day and really
enjoy it amongst the struggle. I pray the same joy comes to you."
-- Victoria


And here is an email I received from a reader this week...


"Hi, Heather -- I just wanted to take a moment and tell you how
much I LOVE your home schooling notebook email! I always look
forward to the relevant and informative information that it always
contains. I find myself scanning my in-box and go to your email first!

I'm not even sure how I came upon it, but I have used so many of
the links and even bought the Click-N-Read Phonics program that
was advertised on your site. Thank you for taking the time and
all the effort it takes to put the email information together for

You do a great job!!" -- Jana

[Jana -- Thank you so much for this sweet and encouraging email!]


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


Times Tables the FUN Way!

"My son, a rising fourth-grader who has ADHD and poor memory skills,
struggled all last spring in school trying to memorize his math tables.
We drilled and drilled, made flash cards, bought a times-table placemat --
all to little avail. Even if he got some of the facts to stick with him
through the test the next day, by the next week he had forgotten them.
The only ones he could remember were ones we had done some kind of word
or image association with, and I was daunted by the idea that I needed
to make up an association for EVERY MATH FACT. Then I found out that the
Rodriguezes had done that with this book, so I bought it. And I can tell
you unequivocally, it works. Using a combination of a somewhat silly
picture and a story to go with it, the child uses visualization and
association to remember the fact. It especially appeals to kids who have
strong verbal/language skills and are creative." -- Penny in GA

Times Tables the FUN Way:



Winning Website

Rainforest Education - www.rainforesteducation.com

Learn all about the rain forest from this simple, easy to navigate
site. As you learn about the canopy and other layers of the rain forest,
easy-to-read pages and pictures guide your path. Great for elementary

-- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I was just wondering if any of you homeschool year round? I'd
like to start year round rather than what I've been doing, which is
the traditional 9 month year. I'd appreciate any ideas you may
have regarding schedules, routines, classes, etc. Thanks!" -- Cindy

Our Readers' Responses

"Cindy -- I have homeschooled all year around since my daughter
was a small child. There was only one year that we did not and
she was bored out of her mind! Since then we have done one of 2
things -- planned all of our lessons for 11 months -- or we do
regular lessons for nine months and we do Nature Study, Picture
Study, Music Appreciation, or Home Economics plus Math and our
Summer Reading Program." -- Karen M.


"Cindy -- We homeschool year round, and we wouldn't consider doing
it any other way. We go eight weeks, then a two week break. In
the summer, we do four-day weeks. Since we have a music ministry,
we are often gone from home. We study on the road, but we can't
avoid occasionally missing a day here and there. We simply take
those days out of our break. As long as we have lessons forty week
days out of every fifty (not counting weekends), we don't worry
about missed days.

I know of other people who follow year-round schedules, and this
is how some of them do it:

-- Forty-five four-day weeks, and seven weeks of vacation, taken as
desired throughout the year.
-- Nine weeks on, three weeks off.
-- Three weeks on, one week off.
-- Shorter school days through the winter with no science; then
science only through the summer.

The advantages for us include:

-- A more flexible schedule
-- Finishing books at staggered times and not having to buy all
the new books at once
-- Not having to readjust to a structured routine every fall
-- Not having to spend several weeks reviewing forgotten material
in the fall
-- Being able to take family vacations during the off-seasons when
lines are shorter, traffic is lighter, and prices are lower
-- Not feeling so much pressure to finish every book by the end
of May."

-- Mary Beth


"Hi! I'm fairly new in the homeschooling world, (my oldest is 4
years old), but I think it just makes sense to homeschool year 'round.
Our family is pretty scheduled; we have a set time for school several
times a week, which helps me to actually get it done! But we are
also relaxed about it and have fun with it, and on weeks that are
particularly busy, like holidays or visits from family from out of
town or new babies arriving, we feel free to take a break and know
that we are still learning a lot through real life. It seems silly
to take a whole summer off 'just because' and have the kids bored
or wanting to do school when there are so many other times that you
really need the time off." -- Stephanie


"We have home schooled year-round for two years and it has been hugely
successful! My son doesn't lose anything he has retained during the
'traditional' summer breaks. My husband's work schedule is four days
on and four days off. We only do our regular outline 'school work'
(reading, writing, math, etc.) on the days that he is at work. We
play review games on the off days, if we have the opportunity. And,
my husband is in charge of 'Archery, Woodworking, PE, etc.' on his off
days, (which is a fun balance for my sons). In our state you must
complete something like 180 days of 'instruction' out of 365. We
average over 250 'instructional days' a year. This approach has been
the perfect fit for our family!" -- Melissa B.


"We've been homeschooling year round for a few years now and it has
worked out well. We take several breaks during the year from a week
to 3 weeks at a time so they do feel like they get vacations -- and of
course they need a break. One time we just took a 3 day break, but we
made it into one long fun field trip in the middle of our Washington
State history course. We got to go to many places we were reading
about and see several places we didn't know well -- museums, ocean
shores (horseback rides on the beach, bumper cars, 4 wheelers), a
quilt show, and more. The nicest thing about year round schooling is
you don't have to review as much and they don't forget as much. That
is key with my daughter who has epilepsy/seizures and definitely helps
my boys as well. They move much more quickly through their subjects
as well. Also, I don't feel so pressured to have everything done
within a set time if we have something else our family needs to do
that is more pressing. One book you might want to read is 'Managers
of Their Homes' by Steve and Teri Maxwell ( www.Titus2.Com ). They
talk about summer scheduling and year round scheduling -- and you
can see how that would best fit you. They've got a lot of awesome
resources for tailoring a schedule to your own family's needs. Hope
this helps you at least a little!" -- Debi E.


"Hi Cindy -- We have gone to a 3-weeks-on and 1-week-off approach to
year round schooling. We take off a little more time during the winter
months for holidays. My kids really like this. They know a break in
routine is coming, but it is not such a huge break that it takes forever
to get back into the groove when it is over. I also try to schedule
any doctor's appointments and field trips during our 'off' week.
Sometimes our off week may come sooner in the month if there is something
big planned, so we keep it flexible enough to be able to do that if
necessary. This also gives me time to recharge. We also might do a
fun mini-lesson for art or music in our off week. Usually I let the
kids choose what they want to do and we go from there. Since doing
school this way, I find that we are able to work in more of the 'fun'
activities that I always want to get to but don't seem to have the time
in our regular school day. Anyway, I hope this gives you another
perspective on year round school." -- Sarah


"We school year round for a variety of reasons. Where we live it is
very hot in the summer and we often spend more time outside playing
in Fall and Spring, so having Summer for outside or free time is not
a large consideration. We also get more time during the 'normal'
school year to visit museums, parks, and other places that are busy
during the traditional Summer break. Instead of setting a grade
level and working through a set of books in a race for June, we pick
a program to follow and work slowly at it until we are finished.
Sometimes we finish in a year; more often we finish sooner. Then I
can decide if I want to fill in with extras (projects, other topics
of interest), or begin a new program or 'year' immediately. Right
now our year typically ends around the end of Summer or early Fall
(Sept.- Nov.), and we are going ahead with a new program by about
the beginning of the year. This gives me time to enjoy the holidays,
family, and get everything together for the next round of formal school.
In the between time, we investigate questions we didn't get to during
the year and let the children follow their interests -- but we never
stop schooling -- and usually keep going with math and reading/writing
even during the part of the year between curriculum guides.

Our oldest homeschooled child, our 13 year old daughter, is working in
several books right now -- Notgrass American History, Saxon Algebra 1,
and Apologia Physical Science are the structured pieces right now --
but she is in week 6 with one, week 2 with another, and almost done
with a third. I find it is easier to introduce new subjects in a
staggered way. This reduces the stress level and allows her to only
have one new subject at a time, instead of a huge change once a year.
When we decided she was ready for high school, we sat together and
picked electives and core classes. We will work through them
following a rough sequence until she is done, which should be by
the time she is 16 or 17.

To educate in this way, I really had to let go of what 'grade' we
are in for each child and not stress about the schedule. I have
a goal and an idea of how much I want to do each week, but if we
find an opportunity to do something else valuable for a day, we do
it and don't worry about our schedule. We also don't have to worry
about getting done by a certain date, or skipping topics we'd rather
explore in depth because of time constraints. For us it is truly
the journey that counts, not the destination." -- Anne


Editor's Note -- Past issues of our newsletter shared discussions
about year 'round schooling, too. Here are the links to the archived
newsletters for even more insight:


Answer our NEW Question

"I am wondering if there are any out there who have successfully
homeschooled (or who are right now) a highschooler, but doing it
in a less traditional way. Most of the advice I hear is oriented
very much toward a traditional academic 'school' approach, and I
am curious as to how a more hands-on or 'life learning' approach
might look in high school. Is it even possible? How does one then
earn a diploma?" -- Lisa W.


Do you have some experience to share with Lisa?

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

[Your answer will appear in our 4/27 SPECIAL High School Edition!]

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