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Homeschooling Special Needs in a Small Apartment

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, September 17, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 68                        September 17, 2009
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

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  Notes from Heather
  -- A Thank-You from Leslie
  Helpful Tip
  -- Free Unit Study on Sheep!
  Winning Website
  -- Thinkfinity
  Reader Question
  -- Schooling in a Small Apartment
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  A Thank-You from Leslie


  "Hello, Everyone --
  I wanted to thank you all so much for responding to my situation
  (depressed and homeschooling).  I think I've realized that I don't
  have to follow that curriculum to the 't' and that I should use it
  as a 'tool' instead of making it the law.
  Thank you to all who took time out of your busy schedule to respond.
  I know that sometimes I read things and think I'll respond later...
  but I never take the time.  I won't do that anymore.
  I want you all to know that each and every word is a treasure to me.
  I have all of the responses saved on my computer so I can go back
  for more encouragement when I need it.  This week has been so much
  better than last week.  Not sure if the meds need to be tweaked or
  not -- I still don't have much interest in anything -- but I think
  that slacking up a bit on what we accomplish each day has lifted a
  burden.  Anyway, thanks again.
  God is a great big God and I know he knows my name and my situation.
  Thank you Lord for working through these wonderful ladies to bring
  me encouragement." -- Leslie


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

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      Helpful Tip

  Cool Unit Study about SHEEP!


  "I've written a new unit study on sheep. It is available here:

  It has video and fun, yet educational, ideas. And it's free!"

  -- Kevin Broccoli, Author of the Homeschooling ADD Kids blog

  Kevin is also a member of our Homeschool Country Living group!

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

      Winning Website

  Thinkfinity -- www.thinkfinity.org

  Funded by Verizon with content support from a variety of
  organizations, this amazing site boasts over 50,000 K-12 lesson
  plans, student interactive activities, and reference materials.
  The site is searchable by grade level, subject area, keyword,
  and more, which makes finding what you need a bit easier.  While
  you probably won't use everything offered on the site (it is
  definitely geared toward classroom learning), there are still
  plenty of helpful resources to be found.

  -- Cindy, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "I have an 8 year old with ADD, Tourette's and learning disabilities,
  who needs one-on-one with me nearly all the time.  My 5 year old
  is quite bright and able, but is just starting out and also needs
  lots of individual attention.  Additionally, we live in an apartment
  where there really is not another place to go for very long.
  Schooling, play, chores... life pretty much happens all in the open
  downstairs living area.  The 2 upstairs bedrooms are large enough
  for beds, dressers and not much else.  I'd love any suggestions
  for how to constructively occupy my kids while I am working with
  the other on schoolwork.  Activities they can do, creative use of
  space, how to keep the other from interrupting, creative scheduling
  ideas... anything you can think of.  Thank you." -- Dee

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "Dee -- You have some intriguing challenges, but nothing you can't
  manage.  First, I'd recommend thinking in small increments - maybe
  15 minutes, if your older son can handle that amount of time.  Maybe
  start with 15 minutes with one child, 5 minutes transition, 15 with
  the other, then something they can both do - then back to working
  individually for one or two cycles, and another group activity.
  For the together time, consider educational games, a brief walk or
  playtime outside, or a subject such as history or science that you
  can teach to both together. 

  As far as having uninterrupted time during those individual 15 minute
  segments, you may need to do some training here.  Start by considering
  what interests each of the boys - Legos, computer, dinosaurs, cars,
  puzzles, coloring, etc.  Search garage sales and resale shops for
  additional items that will hold their interest for 15 minutes.  Once
  you have maybe 6-10, designate them for school time only.  Train each
  of the boys to play without interrupting you (if you need to, start
  with 3 minute increments), and reward them (with your attention and
  perhaps a small treat) for making it.  Work up to 15 minutes (or
  whatever time you determine). 

  Some ideas that have worked well for my children (my oldest son has
  ADD and other issues also) include: K'nex or Kid K'nex, Legos, nearly
  any other building toys, a mini trampoline (the legs unscrew so it
  can slide under our couch when not in use - use it for free time or
  for jumping on while listening to a story or reciting math facts,
  etc.), LeapFrog or similar books that can be 'read' independently,
  educational computer games (you can often borrow these from your
  library before or instead of purchasing).  Also, Marvelous Math -
  http://www.heart-of.com/ - is an excellent way to learn/review math
  facts.  It's not at all flashy, but all of my children ask to play it.

  Empty wrapping paper tubes and matchbox cars, homemade fishing game,
  tangrams, and a marble toy - don't know what it's called as we bought
  it used, but it has plastic pieces that you fit together to make a
  track for marbles to roll down.

  You also asked about creative use of space.  It sounds like you have
  a fairly open living area, but I'm assuming you have an eating area
  and a sitting area, though they may be close together.  The September
  issue of Family Fun Magazine had an idea for a homework station that
  could easily be adapted as a carrel to help cut down on visual
  distractions when you are working with a child at the table.  You can
  find directions here:


  My kids also really enjoy forts - perhaps you could use a card table
  or some chairs and large sheets to make a play space for the one you
  aren't working with.  As a final thought, what types of activities
  help your older son settle down and concentrate?  Physical activity?
  Swinging?  Compression of large joints (i.e. wheelbarrow walking,
  being a 'sandwich' squished in between couch cushions - my son loved
  this), classical music, a set routine?  Whatever works for your son,
  be intentional about including those things in your schedule.  If you
  don't know, look into scheduling a session or two with a pediatric
  Occupational Therapist.  You also may want to see if your older son
  retains more information if he has a 'fidget' toy to manipulate while
  he listens to you.  It may look like his attention is elsewhere, but
  for my son at least, he could concentrate on what he was hearing better
  if his hands were moving - or even his whole body.  Enjoy this time
  with your sons, and remember that learning can happen in many different
  ways - it doesn't have to look like traditional school to be effective."
  -- Laurie


  "Keep activities short - 30 minutes or less, then change.  This works
  out well for young children.  It is also easier for a child to keep
  themselves entertained for short periods of time.  The book 'Managers
  of Their Home' was very helpful to me.  http://www.titus2.com/

  If your 8 year old's reading skills need to be worked on, you can work
  with both children at the same time.  It will be an introduction for
  one child and a review for the other child.  And use unit studies.

  If the older child has basic reading down pat, and or some basic math,
  you can assign him to help his younger brother.  This serves as a
  review for the older child, reinforces what has been learned, and it
  provides you with a bit of down time (though you;d need to supervise),
  and it is a boost to the older child's self-esteem.

  You can assign either child to work on a Lego design, or a patterning
  project where he must count out the number of blocks, classifying them
  by color and size and creating a table -- or using graph paper to
  recreate the design on paper and coloring it.  This used to keep my
  very active son happily occupied during rainy days.  This and other
  similar activities can work well for both children.

  Teach each child how to do specific chores which they must master and
  eventually get a reward or be paid for (motivation).  They need to do
  the chore totally on their own while you work with the other child.

  I'm a substitute teacher and a management tool which has worked well
  in the classroom that might help you is to determine the amount of
  time you will need for each child.  Then tell the other child that he
  may have free play time (maybe have special toys or games for this time)
  and set written rules down.  Write on a white board or piece a paper a
  word or phrase -- for example, 'NO INTERRUPTIONS'.  Establish a reward,
  or a point system.  Every time the child interrupts or misbehaves, you
  erase a letter.  The total points earned are based on the letters left
  on the board.  For example, each letter equals a point -- if they earn
  10 points they get to select dessert that evening or they get to choose
  which video to watch.  You can also do the opposite -- if they have
  only 5 points left, they get a negative reward –- do the dishes, or
  something they dislike.  If you keep activity times short, they need
  to earn the points for the entire day, not just the morning or afternoon.

  Lastly, how about asking for help from your homeschool community?  Maybe
  teen might be able to come by and help out for couple of hours at least
  twice a week?  This way you'd have alone time with each child." -- Judy A.

     Answer our NEW Question

  "I homeschool my 5 and 7 year olds and we have been very blessed
  with great support groups in the past.  We have just moved to Bend,
  Oregon and I have been looking for a support group and have not
  found one yet.  Does anyone have a good resource for finding a
  support group or know of one in the Bend (Central Oregon) area?
  I think it is important to find something so my girls can begin to
  make friends.  Thank you." -- Tracy


  Do you have a resource to recommend or specific information for Tracy?

  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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