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By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, August 31, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
       ***SPECIAL SERIES - High School Homeschooling***
   Vol. 10 No 64                          August 31, 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.


    Art Appreciation with TheMasterpieceCards.com

  Art paintings are key to art appreciation, but which famous
  paintings fit a homeschool curriculum?  Your solution is
        "250 Masterpieces in Western Painting"

  These art history flashcards reproduce art paintings
  discussed most often in 23 art history textbooks.

  As flashcards, you can easily edit which images to teach.
  Five centuries of art history highlights are condensed
  into "Art Paintings in a Box"!

  You'll get art analysis of famous artwork located in 100
  U.S. and European art museums.

  For teaching art appreciation or traveling to art museums,
  there is nothing like Masterpiece Cards!

  Curious? Go here for our SPECIAL only for readers!



  Notes from Heather
  -- College Without High School?
  Feature Article
  -- Raising Your Own Superheroes
  Helpful Tip for High School
  -- Free Rice ART Quiz!
  Resource Review
  -- Masterpiece Cards
  Answers to Reader Question
  -- Schooling Past the Age of 18
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  Welcome to our 9th High School Edition!

  I have to tell you, I have really been enjoying putting together
  these special high school issues for you. :-)

  This one is particularly packed with great stuff!  First, for any
  of you who are leaning toward unschooling but still unsure about
  how to unschool high school (especially for those who want their
  children to have wide options for college), I have to tell you
  about a FANTASTIC book that has just been published and is getting
  great reviews!

  Whether it is project-led learning, interest-based education or
  unschooling, there is a huge and building trend toward REAL LIFE
  education during the high school years.  The book below fits
  right in with some of the topics we've been discussing in recent
  issues, as does our feature article by Matt Binz.


  College Without High School:
  A Teenager's Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College


  Yes, you read that right.  Being admitted to the college of your
  choice *without* the traditional requirements!

  From the publisher:

  "What would you do if you could go to college without going to high
  school?  Would you travel abroad, spend late nights writing a novel,
  volunteer in an emergency room, or build your own company?  What
  dreams would you be pursuing right now?

  It is possible to pursue your dreams and gain admission to any college
  of your choice.  This guidebook shows how to fulfill college admission
  requirements by proving five preparatory results: intellectual passion,
  leadership, logical reasoning, background knowledge, and the capacity
  for structured learning.  The author, who leads teenage unschoolers on
  educational adventures, offers several suggestions for life-changing,
  confidence-building activities that will demonstrate those results.  This
  intriguing approach to following your dreams and doing college prep on
  your own terms will be welcomed by students (and their parents)."

  You can read more about the author (Blake Boles) as well as get a full
  32% savings at Amazon.com:


  Read what John Taylor Gatto had to say:

  "Mr. Boles has much to say worth thinking about and the reader will
  be grateful for how he says it, in clear, forceful prose uncluttered
  with the jargon of academia.  A fresh new voice on the school scene.
  You won't regret spending time with this book."

  ... and Grace Llewellyn, author of "The Teenage Liberation Handbook":

  "Words fail me.  This is the most inspiring, convincing, and practical
  case for self-directed learning that I've seen in many years."

  Read more here!



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


  Permaculture Design Certificate Course
  Do you have an environmentally minded teen interested in
  sustainable living or Native American culture and history?

  There is still time to register and join us on Sept 12-25, 2009
  at Pine Ridge Lakota reservation, South Dakota!

  Learn sustainable gardening, edible forest gardening, natural
  building, renewable energy, creating abundant economy and many
  more sustainability skills.

  This is a unique opportunity to learn permaculture (sustainable
  living) skills and resilience in a Native American environment.
  Live in teepees, experience Lakota culture.

  Find out more at:


  Please let us know you saw it in The Homeschooler's Notebook!


       Feature Article

  Raising Your Own Superheroes
    by Matt Binz, "Mr. Homescholar"


  The 2004 film 'The Incredibles' poses the intriguing question:
  "What would happen if superheroes lived among us as normal citizens?"
  In this film, a couple of former superheroes, Mr. Incredible and
  Elasti-girl, marry and then are forced deep undercover using their
  alter-egos, Bob and Helen Parr.  The movie explores how this family
  deals with suppressing their super-powers in order to live a "normal"

  As a homeschooling father, one of the most intriguing aspects of
  this film is how Bob and Helen deal with their children, two of whom
  have nascent superpowers.  The aptly named son, Dash, has super-speed.
  His older sister, Violet, has the ability to disappear and cast force-
  fields.  The baby of the family, Jack-Jack, has not displayed any
  super-powers and the family is slowly accepting that he is, perhaps,
  not "super" at all.

  The Incredibles has much to teach us concerning raising our children,
  specifically, how to nurture and develop the "super-abilities" that
  lie dormant within each of them.  I firmly believe that each of
  our children is a budding "superhero" waiting to be discovered and
  developed.  Their abilities are likely not as dramatic as our
  fictional friends, but that does not diminish the potential of
  each of our kids to change the world in their own way.

  Baby Jack-Jack is a mystery.  His parents must realize that he has
  to be "special" -- he has the right DNA -- but yet he displays no
  super-powers.  There is nothing mom and dad can do to force super-
  powers into him.  All they can do is wait and watch.  That is one
  of our primary roles as parents.  Gifts are discovered, not created.
  We need to be students of our students in order to discover the
  secrets that lie deep within.  Eventually Jack-Jack's super-power
  is hilariously revealed to an unsuspecting babysitter.  Similarly,
  you also may be surprised at the gifts displayed by your children.
  In our family, our kid's gifts revealed themselves in areas that
  neither Lee nor I would ever have imagined.

  Our oldest son exhibited a sudden and profound talent in chess when
  he was 14.  Chess was something I taught my kids when they were five
  and seven.  "Taught" in the loosest sense of the word -- just how the
  pieces move.  This lesson lay dormant in my eldest for years.  For his
  14th birthday, Kevin requested a chess book.  I looked at him as if
  he had requested Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations".  I was clueless
  where this desire came from.  We had not spoken of it for years.  He
  received lots of birthday presents, but only one made it back to his
  room that day: "Play Winning Chess".  Kevin emerged from his room
  about 2 weeks later and proclaimed, "I'm ready to play in a tournament."
  Before I acceded to this, I told him he would have to beat me first.
  I detected the slightest trace of a smile on his face as he quickly
  ripped my position apart and stomped enthusiastically on my King.
  After that I was quite willing to let him pick on someone more his
  intellectual size, so off to a chess tournament we went.

  The tournament director was convinced that I was one of those parents
  that pushed my children to hide my own shortcomings.  A few minutes of
  interrogation, however, convinced him that chess was probably the
  least likely place I would choose to bolster my self-esteem.  I was
  utterly lost.  Kevin, however, felt right at home.  He ripped through
  a series of adult opponents with enthusiasm normally reserved for a
  box of Krispy Kremes.  He left his first tournament with a rating that
  placed him among the elite of Washington State high school chess players.
  Lee and I spent the next four years feeding him chess books and driving
  him to tournaments.  He ended his high school chess career in 2006 by
  finishing second in the state.

  A couple of years after the surprise birthday request of my eldest, my
  youngest son did, in fact, ask me for Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations".
  Again, Lee and I never saw it coming.  I hated economics.  Lee actually
  failed economics in college.  Both of us were nonplussed.  "Wealth of
  Nations" was followed by various other ancient tomes on political
  economics and philosophy.  We learned not to ask "why" and to just
  fork over the books.  We figured it was a good investment.

  That is exactly the way it turned out.  For reasons known only
  to God, my youngest son "caught fire" with economics.  This led
  to amazing opportunities for him with scholarships, fellowships
  and meaningful employment -- none of which would have been possible
  if we had attempted to force his passion into areas where we, his
  parents, felt more comfortable.

  Such is the nature of children and super-heroes.  Who they are
  and what they become may not be what you think.  With Kevin and
  Alex, the only way it made any sense at all was in retrospect.
  Kevin had always been quiet and analytical as a child, so now
  chess seems a somewhat logical source of his enchantment.  Alex
  was always our little academic.

  The message: be students of your students. Observe their passions.
  Don't be too skeptical or try to force them to love what you love.
  They are individuals and will spend their lives striving to become
  who God intended them to be.  You play a critical role in shaping
  and guiding, but not in defining or forcing.  Some of your children
  may exhibit "super-powers" in chess, math, and philosophy.  Others
  will flex their muscles in sports, writing, or music.  The first
  step in raising your own superheroes is to discover where their
  super-powers reside.  It will require your most focused attention,
  and will frequently demand that most elusive of all super-powers:


  Matt Binz works with his wife Lee (The HomeScholar) in their home-
  based business.

  Their low monthly fee 'Gold Care Club' is like a personal highschool
  support group.  A FREE 30-day membership is available with Lee's
  e-book 'The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts'.

  The Gold Care Club offers audio and video courses about highschool,
  priority email support, and a free 20 minute consultation each week.

  Try out your 30-day membership!  Just visit the following link and
  read all the wonderful testimonials...

  Matt and Lee's mission is helping parents homeschool high school.
  Their website is www.TheHomeScholar.com.

      Helpful Tip

  FreeRice.com - Identify Art Paintings... and Feed the Poor!

  "Spend five minutes playing it, share it with your family and
  friends... and don't hold me responsible if you find it a wee bit

  -- Susan, Masterpiece Cards, http://www.themasterpiececards.com/

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

      Resource Review

  Masterpiece Cards


  Masterpiece Cards are like flash cards for art -- but a whole lot
  more!  Contained in a high quality box with a flip-top lid are 250
  of the most cited paintings from art history textbooks.  The creators
  researched over 17,000 pages to determine which paintings to include.
  Here is a link to a list of the books that they gleaned from:


  One thing I *really* like about these fine art images printed on heavy
  card stock is the fact that they are MUCH more versatile than a standard
  art book, because you can sort out what you want to use to teach or
  study in so many different ways.

  1.  You can use them with younger children and easily remove the more
  mature themes (I was able to quickly take out about 24 cards that I
  wasn't comfortable with) -- that is MUCH harder to do with a book!

  2.  You can separate out different styles of art and study just one
  (like Cubism, for instance) at a time.

  3.  The cards are color-coded by museum, so you can easily review each
  painting you will be viewing on a particular museum trip.  Your kids
  will have fun tracking down each painting treasure hunt style!  Here
  is a link to all the museums included in the collection:


  4.  You can pull out some cards to replace the ones found in the
  original "Masterpiece" game (they are close to the same size at about
  4x6") and become familiar with new paintings just from game play!

  5.  Make up games like this one:  Place several cards from different
  time periods randomly on the table with the art image face up.  Have
  one of your children attempt to put the paintings in chronological
  order and then look at the backs to see how many they got right.  You
  can make this game simple at first, and then increase the difficulty
  level as they get more and more right -- until they are experts!

  There are so many ways to use the cards!

  Each one has (on the back) the history of the painting and explanations
  for symbolic interpretations that are most widely accepted by art
  scholars and historians.  The summaries on the backs of the cards are
  presented at rather a high level -- but parents of younger children can
  use them for their own education and then put the information in
  simpler terms as they teach.

  In addition to the detailed commentary, each card lists the artist's
  name, birth and death dates, the area where the original painting is
  located, the title of the painting, the medium used, the year (or
  approximate year) the painting was created, the size of the art work,
  the name of the museum and city where it is located.

  Which artists are included in the collection?  Here is a link with a
  detailed listing, so you can see exactly what you'd be getting:


  For some of the more elaborate and detailed images, you will want to
  have a magnifying glass handy or look up a larger sized image of the
  painting online -- this is probably the ONLY drawback to including
  some of the huge, detailed paintings in the collection.  But to be
  able to get a feel for each painting and learn all about it, without
  the constraints of a traditional art text book, this set can't be beat.

  When I had the attractive box sitting out in my bookstore (my *own*
  set I had purchased at full price after reviewing just a few cards
  Susan sent me!), I had to pry it out of customers' hands -- they all
  wanted to buy it from me!

  I told them how to get their own set -- and I will tell you, too. ;-)

  Masterpiece Cards has special pricing right now for our readers when
  you go to THIS link:


  'Masterpiece Cards' is a great resource -- and I don't believe there
  is anything else like it on the market.

  -- Heather Idoni, Editor

      High School Question

  "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

      Reader Responses

  "I worked with my stepson until he moved out at 19.  I was able to
  get him up to a 4th grade reading level (the public school said he'd
  never get past 2nd grade).  He HATED writing, it was too much for him
  to handle, and diagramming a sentence... well, in all my years in the
  workforce I was never asked to do it.  So I got it down to the basics
  that would benefit him the most in his life.  He hated school and he
  didn't want to go to college, so composition and grammer... not so
  much!  I taught him to fill in job applications and do an interview!
  I got his reading level as high as he would let me -- he fought a lot
  of it... he really hated it.

  Get it down to the basics that he needs to make it.  Reading is the
  most important... and being well spoken is more important then being
  able to write a story.  I only had a limited amount of time with my
  stepson -- I only had him for 5 years, so I just crammed in the things
  he could use the most!"


  "My daughter is 15.  She has had speech and language delays and still
  has poor speech.  She also has CAPD (Central Auditory Processing
  Discorder).  She has massive memory retention problems.  This year
  for homeschool we are doing a combination of grades 3-5 for the 3rd
  year in Math and Reading Comprehension.  She is able to do grades 4-7
  in most other subjects, but she never remembers things.  We will still
  be doing school long after she is 18 and she is fine with that.

  As positive as we are with her and have her be, she knows she has
  struggles and tries her hardest.  She has chosen year-round school
  just so she has less chance of forgetting.  I expect to be doing this
  for quite awhile and have no problems.
  I'm not sure if this will help at all.  Sometimes I just need to feel
  like there is someone else out there going through what I am going
  We have found that manipulatives work wonderfully well with her.  I
  have cut out all kinds of fraction pieces in squares, rounds, triangles
  and such.  We have also done decimals the same way.  As far as reading
  comprehension goes I've taken books that she enjoys (Agatha Christie
  on tape) and come up with 2-5 questions on each chapter.  She seems
  to 'get it' that way, better than some of the comprehension workbooks
  I have seen.  We also do books that she doesn't really enjoy.  She is
  required to do a word list of all words she doesn't understand, look
  up the definition and write 5 different sentences using that word.  I
  don't push the handwriting, mainly due to choosing my battles.  Since
  I've relaxed on the handwriting, she tends to take more pride in what
  she does.
  On the flip side, my son is 14 and has no problems except that he just
  doesn't want to do.  He is doing a virtual school this year, but to
  challenge him he will also be doing book work.  He does a combination
  of grades 7-12.  I am also getting some coursework from the junior
  college here in town for him.

  Talk about 2 extreme ends of the spectrum!" -- Kristina


  "Anne -- I would advise you to completely cast off the public
  school notion of grade levels so that you and your son will no
  longer be inclined to consider him 'behind'.  One of the greatest
  advantages of homeschooling is the privilege for each child to
  work at his own pace, and according to his own unique needs and
  circumstances.  As long as he wants to learn, and you want to
  teach him, all is well.  If he's motivated, you might be surprised
  at how quickly he will pick up those skills.  One challenge might
  be to find material appropriate for his age.  You might have to
  develop your own.  I would suggest finding books about a topic of
  interest to him and then take all of his grammar, spelling and
  writing lessons out of those books.  For example, if he's passionate
  about motorcycles, subscribe to a motorcycle magazine, or check
  them out of the library, and let that be his textbook.  You can
  switch the area of study whenever his interests change. 
  If people ask him what grade he's in, remind him to tell them that
  he uses an ungraded curriculum.  If he turns 20, and he's still
  studying at home, if anyone asks, he can truthfully say he's doing
  an independent study course." -- Mary Beth


  "Anne -- My son is 21, almost 22, and we are still home schooling.
  He functions at or near an 8th grade level in the major subjects.

  Jonathan had a head injury at age 2 and subsequently regressed
  until he was functioning in the autism spectrum.  We started a very
  effective therapy with him 9 years ago, when he was 12, almost 13.
  At the time, he could do very simple addition (single digits only)
  and sound out some very simple words (car, van, dog, cat).

  I am determined to see Jonathan to his closest goal (finishing the
  8th grade level, per a yearly testing company we have used since
  the 1990's) and I am willing to see Jonathan to his next goal
  (finishing high school) if that is still his desire.

  The unseen hurdles/situations I have encountered while doing this
  are as follows:

  -- People we've just met asking Jon 'What do you do?' or 'Are you
  still in school?' or variations of that topic.

  I usually will try to be nearby to *butt in* if needed.  I usually
  say, 'Jon had a head injury at age 2 and has been doing intensive
  therapy for many years to overcome that.  He has worked really hard
  and made a lot of progress.  He currently functions at an 8th grade
  level and he's trying to achieve his goal of finishing high school.'

  -- People asking me what I do.

  As I still have a home school age child at home (she's 12), it
  isn't usually a problem; I can simply say, 'I'm a  home school mom'.
  However, there are times when it is a bit awkward.  I usually
  mention the same thing listed above ('Jon had a head injury...').

  -- Scheduling the day for him if he is working.

  When Jon is working full-time (which has happened a few times, either
  temp jobs or seasonal positions), his school load is, of course,
  scaled down tremendously.  I will pinpoint the absolute musts in
  his normal schedule and then we (together) work out what will best
  serve him and work well with his work schedule.  When Jon is working
  part-time (such as mowing jobs or handyman work), I will pinpoint
  the absolute musts and the next important items plus let Jon choose
  1 or 2 extras (music, in depth history, etc.).  These are then worked
  into a full-day and half-day schedule format.  On days that Jon is
  only working the morning or afternoon, we follow the half-day schedule.
  On days that Jon is not working, we follow the full-day schedule.  It
  isn't as smooth as schooling my daughter (who is 12), but it does
  work and planning ahead like this greatly reduces the time and energy
  spent each morning trying to decide *what to do today*.  It also helps
  us keep on track, as the motivation will wan considerably with each
  passing year.

  -- Motivation almost drops to nil once the *expected* graduation date
  has come and gone.

  June of 2006, the year Jon was 18 and *would have* graduated in the
  previous May (had he not the struggles and extra hurdles), his motivation
  all but totally evaporated.  Your mindset and his will need to change.
  Prayer is an incredible motivation booster and encouragement for us.
  I have found that we have a cyclical motivation level (up and down and
  waning and waxing, so to speak).  Jon's is a smaller/shorter cycle than
  mine; I have 1 or 2 down times each year whereas Jon is discouraged
  much more often, sometimes as much as every month.  Reminding him of
  MY commitment to his success helps him greatly. 

  Keeping appropriate rewards available and refreshing them (in idea
  and content, such as changing them as he matures and interests change
  and making sure they are available) will greatly maintain motivation.
  He MUST have a minimal amount of motivation to have a minimal level
  of success; with no motivation on his part, it will not work.  Realize
  that the attitude and motivation of his parents and siblings (and any
  other very involved family members/friends) will greatly affect his
  motivation level and success.

  -- Attitude, which greatly affects motivation, is something to watch for.

  My son tends to listen to the 'grass is always greener on the other side'
  whisperings/assumptions he picks up from media and daily observations.
  We often have talks about what *normal* feelings are like (ie, everyone
  has bad days, everyone feels badly about themselves from time to time,
  everyone has days when they'd rather watch videos until their eyes turn
  to jello or do nothing but play Uno and eat ice cream and pizza) and the
  *normal* discouragements everyone faces (ie, I can't see the end of this
  road and I'll never make it - or - everyone else is 'on track' and I'm
  somewhere muddling along in the ditch - or - I'm trying so hard and
  barely making any progress so what's the use).  Reciting uplifting
  scriptures has helped us tremendously with maintaining a proper and
  encouraging  attitude.

  -- Finding the right curriculum can be a problem, especially when the
  age/grade gap is so great.

  Jonathan's grammar is quite weak and finding a non-offensive (ie, not
  childish) curriculum fit was an issue (until we started Easy Grammar). 
  I let Jon have a LOT of say in what curriculum he is comfortable with
  and set aside my own goals/preferences/etc.

  -- There will be few at the finish line, cheering him (and you) when
  he does reach his goals, but make sure those few are there and plan
  for a major celebration, just as you would for any of your children.

  It will be more appreciated by him and everyone involved.  Hard work
  and goals achieved need recognition, which in turn stabilizes one's
  motivation.  I find that the goals need to be closer together (ie,
  there will be many more short-term goals between the 8th grade and
  12th grade goals, than for a non-struggling child) and celebrated
  with just as much energy and enthusiasm as you would for the 8th
  grade and 12th grade goals of a non-struggling child.  Thus, the
  8th grade and 12th grade goals, when reached, will be a very major

  -- Lastly, relationship is vital.  If push comes to shove between
  relationship and school/therapy, relationship has to be the victor.

  Spend some time just enjoying one another.  Toss frisbees at the park,
  get ice cream cones from Sheritons (mmm!), take the dogs for a walk,
  go camping for the weekend, whatever bolsters  the relationships in
  your family.  Do it as often as necessary and make sure, in word and
  deed and attitude and choices, that everyone in your family knows
  that relationships are first and foremost." -- Jennifer R.

     New Reader Question for Next Regular Issue

  Selling Used Curriculum

  "Hi -- I'm finishing up home education with my last child and can't
  seem to find a good outlet to sell all of my teaching resources.
  We live on the Gulf Coast of Florida where there are not a lot of
  homeschoolers.  Any suggestions?  Looks like eBay and Amazon have a
  lot fees; not sure it would be worth my while. Thanks." --  Natalie


  Do you have a recommendation for Natalie?

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

     Ask YOUR Question

  Do you have a question about homeschooling high school?

  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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