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Reflections on a Young Man's Book List, Language Arts Tips

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, September 10, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 66                        September 10, 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.


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  Notes from Heather
  -- A Young Man's Book List
  Helpful Tips
  -- Math and Language Arts
  Reader Question
  -- Depression and Homeschooling
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  'Books for Boys' (by a boy) and a Mom's Observations


  The following blog post was written by a thoughtful and loving
  mother about the list of books her son chose based on what he
  believes every young man simply *must* read.

  I know this is just one boy's list, but it is more of a reflection
  on a life.  The author has set the blog to beautiful music, which
  is well worth hearing as you read the post (unless you REALLY don't
  like crying while reading... LOL)  Disclaimer:  This is entirely
  not intended to be an informational recommendation -- it is just a
  really great experience to enjoy.  There are some good books on the
  actual list -- don't get me wrong -- but it is more about the mom's
  reflections on her son's life than the list itself.

  Make a cup of tea (if that is your way to relax), go to a quiet
  place -- or just shut the door -- and read slowly.  It is really
  worth it. -- Heather :-)



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

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      Helpful Tips

  Homeschool Math Contest


  "Noetic Learning math contest is available for homeschoolers!
  The contest is open to all homeschooling students from grades
  2, 3, 4 and 5.  The top 10 students in each grade level will
  be recognized.  For more information, visit their web site."

  -- Janet K., Homeschooling Gifted Email Group Member


  Creative Language Arts Ideas

  "I try to think of unconventional ways to get my boys to do
  language arts/English since it's almost impossible to get them
  to sit down at the table and write.  Here are two ideas that
  we've tried recently that have worked.

  We hung a magnetic chalkboard (4' by 4') in the hallway.  I
  bought a set of magnetic words.

  The set we have has 300 words divided into 4 different colors.
  Each part of speech is a different color (ie. Nouns - red, Verbs -
  blue, Adjectives - green, Adverbs/pronouns - yellow).  My only rule
  was they had to write in complete sentences.  Now, as the boys pass
  the board they love to make a sentence or change someone else's
  sentence.  The boys are getting pretty creative and learning English
  skills at the same time.

  I had to smile yesterday when I overheard my 6 year old say to the
  3 year old, 'When you are talking about a BOY you need to use HE
  instead of IT.'  Maybe they are learning this stuff after all!

  The other thing the boys love to do is make 'magazines' for their
  penpals.  They take a couple of sheets of paper, fold and staple
  them to make a magazine.  Then they fill it with comics, jokes,
  poems, mazes, games (then 'find ten hidden coins in the magazine'),
  etc.  Some of the stuff is original and some is what they've seen
  or heard elsewhere.

  They also write a page or so of what's happening.  They really enjoy
  making and receiving these magazines and it gives them another good
  dose of language arts."

  -- Melissa K. in Louisiana, member of HomeschoolingBOYS.com

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

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "Hi -- I have an 8 year old and a 7 year old and we have been
  homeschooling since October 2008.  This year (approximately 8 days
  ago) we began My Father's World curriculum.  The problem is that
  I can't keep up.  I know this is such a 'little' issue, but I am
  *really* struggling with it.

  I have dealt with depression for 18 years and I have recently changed
  meds.  It is wreaking havoc on our homeschool.  EVERYTHING seems such
  a big deal for me and I know all too well that this is a symptom of
  depression.  (Some are opposed to the idea of taking meds for this
  and the whole subject seems to be taboo.  I don't expect all to
  understand, but unless you've been there, you won't understand how
  it can be a living nightmare.  I have tried the 'no meds' road before
  and have prayed for the Lord to remove this.  He has given me a peace
  concerning the meds and, frankly, I'm tired of defending myself about
  taking them.)  But, I am really discouraged and feel like we are
  getting behind.  It also seems my kids are not interested in much of
  anything to do with school except art and math, so everything else is
  already a struggle.  I have always been concerned about the kids 'being
  on grade level'.  This really bothers me that they may not be and that
  we are gettting further behind.  I would love some advice and maybe a
  couple of ideas for 'unschooling'.  I do not want my kids to get burned
  out.  I want them to enjoy their learning.  However, I'm afraid I'm
  doing it wrong and that I am the problem.  Thanks." -- Leslie

      Our Readers' Responses 

  [Leslie received an overwhelming amount of support from readers -- too
  many to share here!  Several were quite lengthy and personal -- all
  were very encouraging.  I have forwarded ALL of the responses directly
  to her.  I chose just a few for the newsletter, but if anyone wants
  to read the rest, just drop me an email with "Leslie's Letters" in the
  subject line and I will send the whole unedited lot to you. -- Heather]


  "Leslie -- My heart goes out to you.  My husband suffers from chronic
  illness and it can get frustrating trying to explain to people that
  just don't, and probably never will, understand.  I also understand
  about being looked down upon for relying on medicine to heal you.  God
  gives us great doctors and their knowledge for a reason.  There are
  people who understand.  You are not alone!

  Your children are still young.  It may just be too early for formal
  studies.  We use unit studies or individualized studies during the
  elementary years, focusing on things that my children are interested in.
  We've studied football, plants, horses, Legos, Star Wars, flight, rockets,
  insects (multiple times!).  

  Ask them what they'd like to learn about.  Get LOTS of books from the
  library.  Search the internet for free units or lessons for that topic.
  Take a couple of days just reading to them, and letting them read, from
  the books while you gather and plan a few activities.  Keep it to about
  two weeks.  If they are still interested, keep going." -- Jamie


  "Can you try starting slow?  It is much less overwhelming.  Get started
  on the stuff your kids like for a few days and get into a good routine
  with it.  Make sure you schedule time outside for all of you.  I know
  you said you are on meds, but the sunlight will also help with your
  depression.  After you get going with a couple of subjects, add one or
  two things a week and soon enough you will be 'doing it all' (or at
  least doing enough -- we really don't have to do everything!).  Those
  things you add can also be chores, too.  Helping to care for the family
  can be part of your home school.

  Find someone to talk to.  Homeschooling is its own kind of stress and
  if you feel isolated, nothing will help you feel better.  You may or may
  not want that person to help you with accountability.  That is your call,
  but sometimes it helps to have an understanding friend ask you about your
  schedule -- and sometimes it just adds to the stress.
  I understand about the grade level worry, but it often helps me to
  remember that the overall goal of homeschooling is much more important
  than where my child is on any given day.  'Not reading on grade level'
  would bother me less than 'hates stories' or 'hates to read' -- just
  like 'doesn't remember math facts' would bother me less than 'doesn't
  understand math functions'.
  Lastly, keep in mind that your curriculum is a tool for you to use.
  It isn't a dictator.  You are behind if you aren't meeting YOUR goals,
  not the curriculum's goals.  You know yourself and your kids best.  If
  you are working and the kids are working and you're not as far along as
  you originally wanted, that is okay.  If you are having trouble doing
  *anything*, perhaps a call to your doctor is in order.  Maybe the new
  medication isn't as effective as it should be.  (I don't have firsthand
  experience with this, but from friends I have learned that it can take
  some 'tweaking' to get the medication and dosages correct.)

  I said a little prayer for you, Leslie.  Hang in there and don't forget
  to ask friends and family for help if you need it."


  "Leslie -- Boy do I feel your pain!  I have had many, many days with
  the questions you are asking yourself.  Some of my best advice is:

  1) Make sure you are starting your day in a quiet time with the Lord.
  This is the only part of the schedule you MUST keep!!!  Give Him all
  of this worry and concern; He will show you how to order your days if
  you let HIM.

  2) Because we home school, it doesn't look anything like traditional
  school.  Release yourself from the curriculum schedule mentality --
  your home school day could look like a day at the park or a local museum
  or doing art ALL DAY!  Or just lunch on a blanket in the backyard!
  These kinds of days refresh my spirit as well as the kids.
  You can do it... and enjoy it... I promise the Lord will bless your
  efforts if you get out of the way and let Him have control of your day!"
  -- Jan

     Answer our NEW Question

  "I have a question for a friend of mine.  Her son is 16 years old and
  has decided he wants to homeschool.  She agreed for last year.  Her
  son did a 'virtual' academy and hated it, ending up goofing off for
  the majority of the time.  He wants to homeschool this year, but
  doesn't want to 'do' school.  His main interest is skateboarding and
  he is really very good at it.  He wants to have some type of career
  in skateboarding.  Do you have any suggestions to help guide her in
  what to involve her son in, and any information as to what direction
  his education should be focused on... or any creative ideas for an
  educational plan?  Thank-you for your input and suggestions."
  -- Suzy in Ohio


  Do you have thoughts or experience to share with Suzy for her friend?

  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 with 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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