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Reader Feedback, Getting 'It All' Done with Health Issues

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, August 27, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 63                          August 27, 2009
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

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  Notes from Heather
  -- Reader Feedback
  Helpful Tip
  -- Nature Study and Beyond
  Winning Website
  -- PBS Building Big
  Reader Question
  -- Getting it All Done
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  Reader Feedback


  More on Math-U-See and a Thank-You from Shelly :-)


  "Hi Shelly -- I used the old Math U See program and one of the
  new ones and was very pleased with it.  It is simple and easy to
  understand, painless, and your child can do it as well as learn
  from you.  We watched the videos together.  My child progressed so
  quickly that I held off an extra year for Algebra until 8th grade.
  This program gives your child an opportunity to use all the learning
  styles: hearing, observing, and doing by touching blocks and other
  manipulatives.  It is worth your time.  Look for used materials
  online; not everyone chooses to write on their material." -- Debra


  "Correction: I said Math U See was not colorful and that can hinder
  students with ADD and other learning problems.  I meant that *less*
  colorful pages can be a *help* to children with learning problems.
  It may be less distracting to students.  The simple page is a good
  thing.  Sorry for the mistake."


  "Wow!  The feedback on this newsletter never disappoints.  Thanks to
  everyone to answered my question about the Math-U-See program.  It
  was exactly what I needed to hear.  What I got out of the answers was
  that the program is great for children that are not 'math people' and
  not so great for strong math students.  My children are definitely not
  'math people', so I'm looking forward to giving it a try.  Thanks!"
  -- Shelly T.


  One More Answer for Annie and her Boys


  "Hi Annie -- I had the very same problem with my oldest -- left her
  too much on her own.  I would suggest you find some really amazing
  educational programming on video as boys are very visual, usually.
  Audio learning is also a 'hook'.  Getting some interactive lessons
  like art, music or sign language on video will use up some of that
  energy and they will have a lesson too!  Get them to narrate what they
  learned or journal the activity in a simple notebook created just for
  that purpose.  If you can, get them a binder that they can create a
  title page for (front page clear pocket for their personalized cover)
  and fill it with blank lined and unlined pages and even photo pocket
  type pages or page protectors/pockets to store works in progress (cut
  pieces, etc).  Create a journal page for the beginning where they fill
  out what they did and date it.  Have a few simple rules like containing
  it to one room until you're done with your daughter -- and assure them
  that you will set a timer and check in on them when it goes off.  Give
  them a recording machine to record ideas they come up with to tell you
  later if they're too young to write independently right now, especially
  for those things they need permission to do.  Provide lots of physical
  outlets before you work with your daughter, like chores and activities
  from 'Fun Physical Fitness' by Sono Harris

  Teach them together wherever you can so they feel included and not like
  they are always competing for attention.  An educational computer game
  or video will buy you some time, too.  I would also strongly suggest
  you train them to have a separated quiet time daily and use that if
  you are desperate to get ahead.  Plan to use it for your own personal
  down time as much as possible.  Start with 20 minutes and one to three
  rules and build on it until they are used to being alone quietly for
  an hour.

  Unabridged classic books on tape or CD can help there, especially
  for the emerging reader, when you get a copy of the book to follow
  along in and provide a line marker (book marker to scroll down with).
  I know that it seems like a cop-out to put them in front of a video
  daily, but if it works and buys you some needed time, and they are
  learning too, how can it hurt?  Just keep it all logged and you
  will see that it makes a difference and the planning for it is
  worth it." -- Tanis M.


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


  Testimonials from the HomeschoolingABCs class...

  "I was sold on the first mini class and started the 26 week course
  after that!  Thanks for showing us how to start and stay going.
  We are excited with Homeschooling ABCs and feel comfortable knowing
  someone cares about our homeschooling experience being a success.
  All the planning is already done for us and we really like the
  freebies and weekly schedule that make each lesson personal and fun!     
  Please tell us this will never end, LOL -- no really I mean it!"
  -- Debbie in MD


  "Dear Terri -- I just wanted you to know that I really enjoy your
  Homeschooling ABCs course.  I'm learning so much even though I have
  been homeschooling  for some time now.  I also enjoy working on
  one subject at a time.  It gives me the time necessary to read the
  free material and for thinking it through.  Thanks a lot!  I am
  looking forward to the next sessions!" -- Myriam




      Helpful Tip

  Nature Study and Beyond

  "I recently posted an article on using a seasonal nature study
  as a jumping off point to study areas of science in biology,
  physical sciences, and chemistry without the use of a textbook,
  by looking at nature, reading living books, and doing activities
  and experiments.

  Here is my link in case you might find this helpful to you."


  -- Katie

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

      Winning Website

  Building Big -- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/

  Building Big from PBS -- Explore large structures and what it takes
  to build them with BUILDING BIG™, a five-part PBS television series
  and website from WGBH Boston.  The main features on this interactive
  site are bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams and tunnels.

  -- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "This will be an unusual problem.  I have 2 children with juvenile
  rheumatoid arthritis.  My son is 13 and my daughter is 11.  My kids
  have been homeschooling their whole lives and they have great attitudes 
  toward school and chores, but they have a very difficult time with
  mornings (achy). 
  My problem is that I just can't get it all done -- meaning our school
  work and our housework.  For example, we have physical therapy on
  Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  We need to be in the pool three
  times a week as well.  Wednesday my daughter woke up throwing up and
  my son had diarrhea.  His back and hip were hurting and he was having
  trouble functioning.  We have a doctor appointment on Friday.  This
  would be an example of a typical week, even though this was a real one.
  It is Thursday and we have gotten our school work done, except for
  my daughter yesterday.  The basics of housework (food and laundry)
  are done, but there is nothing left in me for bigger chores.
  Here is what we do:  I have a menu and a schedule.  I have a housework
  schedule.  The kids have chores each morning, when they are able to
  do them -- and I do push them.  Unfortunately, they have to move to
  keep their joints moving.
  I don't need anyone to feel sorry for us; this is just life.  I
  would like any practical ideas to help me with scheduling -- or
  a better idea of how to fit in real cleaning." -- Audra in Alabama

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "You seem to already have a pretty good scheduling plan.  I don't
  have the same situation you do, but my days are very unpredictable
  with many interruptions, irregular commitments, and last-minute changes
  in plans.  We school year round, going 8 weeks on, 2 weeks off.  During
  the 2 week break, I try to do larger house cleaning tasks, so that during
  our school session, I only have to maintain and do surface cleaning.
  I also try to get as many meals in the freezer as possible during our
  break.  That helps a great deal too." -- Mary Beth


  "Dear Audra -- I have had an auto-immune disease (Sjögren's Syndrome)
  since I was a child, so I know what your children are going through.
  I continue to battle the achy joints and fatigue.  I do know that
  moving will help in the long run, but it is difficult.  Remember to
  have enough time to rest.  And if you are having trouble with keeping
  up with housework, then please ask someone to help!  Ask family,
  neighbors, your church, support group, or pay someone to come in.
  There is limited energy in life and it is much better to be spent on
  relationships and child training than to be to worried about housework.
  Please be encouraged!  I have 4 children and I still struggle to have
  enough time and energy to get it all done.  I have learned to examine
  all items of my life to see which are most important, what can be
  done later, and what doesn't actually need done at all." -- Jody P.


  "I remember reading an article from a homeschooling mom who had
  children with chronic medical issues.  She referred to their
  schooling as 'carschooling' because they did so much work in the
  car and at appointments.  You can search the internet and find lots
  of resources -- here is one that looks helpful:


  You didn't mention what curriculum/type of homeschooling you use,
  but perhaps you could consider other options that would allow you
  to save some time -- combining the two kids for some subjects, (even
  if their assignments differed slightly, you'd only have to teach
  the main material once), combining subjects -- for instance writing
  assignments that relate to whatever you are studying in history.
  Unit studies may also be helpful, especially if you go with a
  prepared one rather than making one yourself. 

  Also realize that your kids have probably learned a lot more medical
  and rehab information than the average student.  No one can know
  everything -- they are likely learning a lot even if you miss a
  day here or there.  Consider ways that you can include your extra
  activities as 'school'.  Obviously swimming counts as P.E., but
  perhaps you can be creative as to what else you count (depending on
  the requirements of your state).  Remember that household chores
  can count as Home Ec. 

  Another thought -- would it be possible to rearrange your schedule
  so that your children go swimming first thing (early) in the morning?
  I'm assuming they are feeling better after swimming, which might
  allow them to work faster, or with less pain, to complete chores
  and school work. 

  As far as chores go, the easiest answer would be to hire someone
  to come in and do the bigger cleaning -- either a professional, or
  perhaps an older teen or someone from your church or homeschool
  group who may charge a very reasonable fee.  If that isn't possible,
  then enlist the help of your husband to see what chores he is willing
  to take on.  Some people really like flylady -- www.flylady.net --
  for help getting chores done. 

  Steve and Terri Maxwell also have a book called 'Managers of their
  Chores' that may be helpful to you.  'Managers of their Homes' also
  has excellent help on scheduling your time and school day:


  One final thought -- sometimes we just can't do everything.  Figure
  out what your priorities are and do not let the 'urgent' things
  preempt the 'important' things (for example, let the machine answer
  the phone), delegate what you can, and be prepared to let some things
  go for a season." -- Laurie


  "Audra -- Consider having a friend or someone come in to clean once
  a week.  I have a friend who cleans a couple of hours a week, since
  I, too, have many responsibilities.  She charges me the 'friend rate',
  and I feel a little of the weight taken off my shoulders each time
  she comes!  I'm not great about organization and cleaning, but I know
  quite a few people who like the 'Managers of their Homes' book and the
  FlyLady website for organizational and cleaning ideas, and About.com
  also has some great ideas under housekeeping and organization."
  -- Shelly S.


  "I have Fibromyalgia and so does my 12 year old homeschooled daughter.
  The main thing that I have had to learn is that a clean house is not
  as important as my children's education.  On our 'bad' days, we do
  what is absolutely necessary and spend a lot of time reading out loud
  together or individually.  She likes to write stories on the computer
  and I strongly encourage that on her bad days.  They really do need to
  keep moving and PE is very difficult most days.  I purchased a Wii Fit
  as much for her as for myself and we both use it.  The yoga is very
 beneficial for joint problems.

  Your homeschool might have to be done year round if there are too
  many bad days in a school year.  After all, this is why we homeschool
  our children that have physical disabilities.  We want to be able to
  work around their schedule.  I've found most of my housework has to
  be done on the weekends, which I hate, but it's a necessary evil."
  -- Shelly T.


  "Wow, Audra -- I really can't think of a realistic way you can do
  more than what you are doing.  I don't have even half the things you
  have going and seldom do I get to keep the house like I envision it
  in my mind.  As far as homeschool, it seems we are always falling
  behind schedule for one thing or another.  I do want to encourage you
  not to look at what didn't get done, but focus on all you did accomplish.
  When I had our first child I went through a very difficult time, and
  even had serious postpartum depression.  One of the things that helped
  my was understanding that people come first.  I literally wrote a sign
  that said 'If you came to see the house, now is not a good time.  If
  you came to see us, come right on in'.  The sign was really for me --
  to keep reminding me of what was more important.  From what you wrote,
  you have that covered well.

  On a practical level you might ask for help from your community of
  faith, and from other homeschoolers.  There might be a homeschool mom
  or an older teen that can come to your home to help tutor your children;
  that way you are free to do things around the house.  This would also
  provide your children with some additional friends.  Or the teens might
  be willing to come and help with major household chores.  You will find
  that some homeschool families focus more on character development than
  academics and want opportunities to train their children's hearts through
  work and serving others.  You'd be proving for them an opportunity for

  I pray The Almighty strengthens you and provides you with wisdom --
  and that your children's health improves." -- Judy A.


  "Audra -- You have some difficult circumstances, and unfortunately
  a big part of the answer is going to be choosing priorities.  Often
  that means your housework will slide as your children are more

  Simplifying certainly helps, including finding ways to do chores
  faster/easier (for example, I have found Norwex antibacterial cloths
  have greatly reduced my time since I started using them; I have also
  found keeping things put away in closets/baskets, etc. makes cleaning
  much faster as surfaces are clear).

  My biggest recommendations would be to establish your baseline for
  your house, and work your daily/weekly chore schedule to accommodate
  that.  Then, about once a month have a household day instead of a
  school day -- and deep clean everything in one fell swoop.

  The other thing I have found helpful is to have my kids' morning
  chores include a chore called 'daily household task'.  Then I look
  around the house first thing in the morning and choose those things
  that most need doing.  They each choose one for their daily household
  task, and I do the others.  That way we usually keep somewhat ahead
  of disaster." -- El in Canada


  "First of all I want you to know that I grew up with Juvenile Rheumatoid
  Arthritis.  A few things that helped me tremendously were:

  1. Yucca -- in capsule form bought from a health food store
  2. Carrot juice -- I always threw some golden delicious apple in to
  tame the sweetness of the carrot)
  3. A Gluten-free Diet.

  Just a few things to consider that helped myself.

  As to getting the house work done, a program I use that has
  helped me tremendously is called 'Motivated Moms'.  It was
  designed by homeschool moms and you can find it here:


  At the bottom of the page are samples of the different options
  they offer."


  "Dear Audra -- I have found that this website -- www.flylady.net
  -- has revolutionized my method of house cleaning.  Being an 'all
  or nothing' perfectionist, this has really helped me and my family
  enjoy 'blessing' our home.  Best of all it's free!  I don't have
  to be exact for it to work, either.  (I clean barefoot -- Shh!)
  The premise is to never need to do 'big' cleaning again by doing
  'baby steps' every day -- 15 minutes here and there.  You have to
  see and try it to believe it works!
  Here is another link:

  This is to help the homeschool mom schedule along with flylady.
  It is also free!  So hang in there and let the Lord guide and
  direct your ways.  I'm sure something someone says here will help
  you in your quandary." -- Tina in AZ


  "Hi, Audra!  Speaking as both a current homeschooling mom, as well
  as a former nurse (25 years), I think you're doing great with your
  situation.  Maybe you need us (figuratively speaking, of course) to
  give you 'permission' to give yourself permission to not worry about
  'big projects'.  You don't mention what those are so it's hard to
  know how crucial they are to the healthy and productive functioning
  of your home and family, but that might be the first question to ask
  yourself: 'If this doesn't get done as often as I'd like, will my
  home or family suffer?'  My suggestion would be to just fit in these
  bigger projects as time and opportunity allow, or maybe find a way
  to 'outsource' it to someone else.  You didn't mention your husband's
  participation in the homeschooling and health issues, so maybe he'd
  be willing to take on those chores that can't wait if he were made
  aware of the need." -- Kay

  "As far as scheduling, and I personally am no expert by any means,
  I would try FLYlady (flylady.net).  They do have some tools to help,
  like a big calendar to coordinate family appointments and a journal
  to organize your everyday/monthly/personal info.
  If you sign up (free, as a yahoo group), she sends out reminders in
  emails throughout the day (or a digest if lots of emails are too much).
  She is so encouraging!  She says to do things in baby steps and has
  cute terms, but most importantly she reminds us to not 'beat up' on
  ourselves and to take care of ourselves as we conquer our daily tasks
  (or attempt to).
  I really encourage anyone to give it a try.  It really helps to have
  someone give you a little chore.  They have a system where they rotate
  through different parts of the house during the month.  I personally
  have benefited greatly from the encouragement and help." -- Anna


  "God bless you, your son and your daughter today.  I pray that He will
  give you all grace every new morning, and strength for every day.
  You have an adolescent son and an 11 year old daughter, and 'they have
  great attitudes toward school and chores'.  Do you know how much that
  tells me about what kind of a person and parent you are?  You are
  already super-successful as far as I am concerned.
  Are you getting appropriate help from your church?  In my opinion it
  is appropriate for you to accept practical help on an ongoing basis
  without being judged or told how to manage your life.
  I am not clear what kinds of 'bigger chores' or 'real cleaning' are
  being left undone, but unless these are issues of health and safety
  I give you permission to put them off indefinitely, and I forbid you
  to feel inappropriate guilt about it.
  Finally, try to remember that the happy plastic whitewashed people
  with their healthy children that you are sometimes tempted to envy
  don't always get everything done either.  I have lived in this house
  for 5 years without drywall or flooring on the second story, partly
  because we have a family business and homeschool our son, and partly
  because I would rather work in the garden." -- Rick in Michigan

     Answer our NEW Question

  High School Past the Age of 18

  "My son is 14 and has overcome a vision disorder and is reading well,
  but we still have a lot of language arts to work through including
  grammar, spelling and composition to get him up from 2nd and 3rd grade
  levels.  I think that in order to truly meet his needs, I will need
  to keep working with him patiently for as long as it takes, even if
  we are still working on this when he's 20.  Has anyone else faced
  this?" -- Anne


  Do you have some experience or advice to share with Anne? 

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

  (Answers will appear in Monday's SPECIAL High School edition!)

     Ask YOUR Question

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

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