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5 Essential Ingredients to Homeschooling Success

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, May 07, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 36                            May 7, 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.




  Guest Article
  -- Five Essential Ingredients
  Helpful Tip
  -- Study Spanish Site
  Winning Website
  -- Kids Gardening
  Reader Question
  -- How to Get Organized?
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

      Guest Article

  Five Essential Ingredients to Homeschooling Success
    by Terri Johnson


  We've all seen it -- or, at least, heard about it -- the homeschooled
  child who wins the geography bee, or the one who graduates at the age
  of 15, or the one who excels in musical accomplishments.

  Now, obviously, a student does not have to be homeschooled in order
  to accomplish one of the feats above, nor does every homeschooled
  child excel in such notable ways.  However, every homeschooling parent
  desires for success in teaching their children at home and launching
  them into the world to become all that God has intended for them to be.

  The flipside to this statement is that no one wants to fail when it
  comes to teaching their children at home.  So, what are the five
  necessary ingredients to homeschooling success?

  The first one is the desire to foster a closer relationship with each
  of your children and your kids with one another.  If you don't want
  to spend more time together and deepen these relationships (or, at
  least, want to want to spend more time together), then homeschooling
  may not be the best choice for you.  However, I am sure that you have
  heard it said before that at the end of the day no one is going to say,
  "I wish that I had spent more time at work... or by myself... or with
  my canary..."  No, the universal regret that aging and dying people
  declare is their sadness over not spending enough time with their
  loved ones.  Teaching your children at home is an amazing opportunity
  to spend more time with your dearest loved ones and have no regrets.

  The second ingredient to homeschooling success is a teachable
  spirit on the part of the parent.  This is essential because,
  like it or not, you will learn so much more teaching your own
  children than you ever did in school the first time around.  So,
  you might as well like to learn.

  On that same note, the third essential ingredient to successful
  homeschooling is creating a home environment that is conducive to
  learning.  This may show itself differently in each of our homes,
  but the result is the same –- a place where kids can learn and
  enjoy it.

  A home that is conducive to learning may have quiet and cozy
  reading nooks, bookshelves crammed with great books, a listening
  corner complete with headphones and a beanbag chair, uncluttered
  smooth surfaces for writing, stacks of coloring/activity books
  and colored pencils, a place to gather together and talk about
  the day's events.  You get the idea...  Create centers in your
  home that make learning fun and accessible.

  The fourth ingredient for a successful homeschool is 2 hours of
  your time to devote to your children's studies.  Truly, when the
  one-on-one teaching method is employed in your home, you do not
  need all day in order to get things done.  In fact, a child in
  grades K to 2 might be finished with her schoolwork in as few as 45
  minutes (of course, that probably does not include the time that
  you spend reading together because who can get enough of that!).

  At the other end of the spectrum, you might not need that much
  time with your middle schooler or high schooler either, because
  they become such independent learners by this age.  The kids that
  will need the majority of that time that you have designated for
  school –- those full 2 hours –- would be your students in grades
  3 to 6, as math and grammar assignments might get a little more

  The final ingredient for homeschooling success is a library card.
  That's right!  With access to a huge roomful of books, a world of
  learning opportunities is at your doorstep.  Let's say that your
  child is interested in insects or flowers, electricity or magnetism,
  transportation or inventions... check out as many books as he can
  devour on the subject and then some more.  Watch your child light
  up with the delight of learning.

  With these 5 essential ingredients incorporated into your homeschool,
  you will experience successful learning in the lives of your children
  -- because the measure of success is children that love to learn!

  Enjoy those learning moments!


  Terri Johnson is co-author of Homeschooling ABCs –- an online
  class starting this month for brand new homeschoolers.  Don't
  let self-doubt or lack of experience rob you of the best first
  year possible!  Sign up for class at:


  Are you a veteran homeschooler in need of high school help instead?
  Terri has answers for you, too!


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



      Helpful Tip


  "I just got this from a friend and, as with many websites, you
  can access more for a fee -- but there is a lot you can do/learn
  for free!" -- Joy

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

      Winning Website

  Kids Gardening - http://www.kidsgardening.com
  This is a great time of year to get outside and play in the dirt!
  Kids and families can get growing and learn important lessons about
  the plants we eat at this informative site.  There are tons of
  interactive lessons, activities, teacher plans, and more covering
  all sorts of botanical topics.  While this site also offers commercial
  products, there are plenty of free thematic lessons to last a long

  -- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "We've been homeschooling from the beginning – 8 year old girl,
  7 year old boy, and girls 5 and 3.  Like most homeschoolers, it
  took us a couple of years to find our groove.  We finally did
  two years ago, but everything was interrupted when I broke my
  ankle.  I needed two surgeries and was laid up for two months.
  While that was going on, we also moved to a new state and a bigger
  house.  While my leg is no longer really a problem, we seem to have
  lost our groove.  I am struggling with a constant state of chaos --
  and it has gotten totally overwhelming.  I've tried FlyLady, SHE
  sisters card file, schedules -- you name it, I've tried it.  I've
  even tried the methods that worked before and I don’t seem to be
  making any progress.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how I
  can get back to some semblance of order?  Thanks." -- Mandi in SC

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "Not knowing all the areas where you have disorganization, I would
  recommend 'Full Year Notebooks' for helping to keep each child's
  schoolwork organized.  I don't use the whole system, but I do have
  each child's daily work in their own notebook and keep a separate
  notebook for myself with a section for each child with lesson plans
  for what they are to do with me each day.  I do write out their
  lessons for the whole year, but many homeschooling moms just do a
  half a year at a time.  Before I used this system I had too many
  piles of schoolwork/texts, etc.  Now each child knows what they are
  to do each day and has their work on hand in their notebook.  I have
  a set of stackable plastic drawers with a drawer for each child's
  teacher's editions (for me), and each child has a plastic basket
  with their own student workbooks/texts." -- Kathy in CA

  Full Year Notebook System:


  "Mandi -- I had a similar experience several years ago when I broke
  my arm.  When I needed to regroup after my recovery, I scaled back
  to bare necessities in our activities.  We did only Bible, math and
  language for our lessons -- and meals, laundry and paying bills for
  the household.  I gradually added one thing at a time as I felt
  ready, and in time was able to add more. 
  Check your nutrition, water intake and exercise.  In my case, part
  of my problem was low energy level, which was remedied to some degree
  by healthier diet and more exercise.  Even gentle stretching can
  make you feel so much better and give you a boost of energy.  
  Don't underestimate what your children are capable of doing. Include
  them in opportunities to serve the household by doing some cleaning,
  cooking and laundry.  Keep in mind that they are two years older
  than they were back then, so their needs and capabilities are
  different." -- Mary Beth


  "Mandi -- I feel your pain.  I think I know what you're going
  through, although I am new to homeschooling. (This is our first
  year -- 5 year old boy, 4 year old boy, and girls 2 and 5 months.)
  Just before the school year we moved to a new state, so we had a
  late start to schooling -- then a few months later we had a baby
  and then moved again to a larger house -- and add in the holidays.
  So we got behind and I lost my routine.

  I looked through the lessons and took out what didn't have to be
  done, then I slowly got back into things after unpacking a bit.  I
  kinda went through the motions of what needed to get done, focusing
  on one thing at a time.  I started with the dishes, making sure they
  were done every day, and then adding to it.  If I had to school
  through summer, that was okay.  Also, what I found that helped is
  printing out some chore charts and getting the kids involved.
  Here's a rough sketch of our day:  In the morning I get my husband
  off to work, then the kids wake up and we have breakfast.  While
  I'm cooking the boys are getting dressed.  After breakfast the boys
  do their chores -- washing dishes, clearing the table, sweeping up
  crumbs from under the table, etc.  While they are doing their chores
  I'm getting the girls dressed and set up for school.  When the boys
  are done, then we'll start school.  We go until about lunchtime or
  until the lesson is done.  After lunch we finish up if needed, and
  then the kids take a nap.  Although my oldest doesn't sleep or need
  a nap, he has a quiet time or does some work on his own.  That gives
  me a chance to get other things done, prepare for dinner, lessons,
  and other house work.  I have the kids help out as much as possible;
  it not only helps me out, but also helps teach them responsibility.
  My 2 year old even helps with the dishes -- she takes out the
  silverware and hands it to me and I put it away.  When my husband
  has to work weekends, we use those days to get caught up." -- Elizabeth


  "Wow!  It sounds like you and your family have been through a lot
  of changes that would be enough to throw any schedule off track for
  a while.  I would give myself permission to relax, take a deep breath,
  and pray that God would give you the wisdom to get your family back
  to where you need to be -- even if it means taking a week or so off
  from school to recollect your thoughts and get things in order.

  Hang in there and don't give up.  If God called you to homeschool
  (and I'm sure He did or you wouldn't have been doing it this long),
  then He will give you the answers you seek if you will only call on
  Him.  Have a family 'campfire' meeting to discuss some of the things
  that everyone needs to be doing to help get you all back to that groove
  you are seeking.  Don't forget to end your little family meeting with
  prayer.  You will be amazed at how quickly God will answer.  We all
  go through rough spots.  Seek out the friendship of other homeschool
  families who have been homeschooling long enough to have 'been there
  done that'.  Keep your chin up -- it will get better."

     Answer our NEW Question

  "I am new to homeschooling.  I have three children, but I'm starting
  with my oldest child who is 12 years old.  The problem I am having is
  that the public school had him in 4th grade due to be slow doing his
  work, but now that he is at home with one-on-one, he can do a lot
  harder work then he was being given.  I found that he stays more
  interested with the advanced work.  How do I advance him even though
  it is not where the public school says he is (if I can at all)?

  An example is that he went from multiplication in public school to
  Algebra for home schooling and is doing well in it.  If anyone has
  advice on moving him up into the work (and if I can) I would love to
  know about it." -- Belinda in Florida


  Do you have some words of wisdom and/or *freedom* for Belinda? 

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

     Ask YOUR Question

  Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

  Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
  if we can help you out in a future issue!

     Need Immediate Help?

  Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center!  This is a live 24/7
  'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
  by typing in a box.  When you get there, just introduce yourself
  and let them know that Heather sent you!

  This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
  there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
  ear and encouragement.


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Next - Reader Advice, A Degree We Need, Adhering to Grade Levels

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