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After Phonics, Kids and Chores, Writing Contests!

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, October 01, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 72                          October 1, 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!
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  Notes from Heather
  -- Where to Go After Phonics?
  Helpful Tip
  -- Master Planner
  Winning Website
  -- HomeschoolWriters.com
  Reader Question
  -- Encouraging Kids in Chores
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  Where to Go After Phonics?

  Once your child learns basic phonics, there isn't really any need
  to hold them back from reading just about anything for themselves.
  Some children are fine with graded "readers" -- think Dick and Jane
  style or even Pathway readers -- while others are anxious to dive
  into a whole world of reading.

  Once we got to approximately lesson 75 (out of 100 in "Teach Your
  Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons), my boys were ready to read a
  variety of books.  Some of their early favorites were the Cowboy
  Sam and Dan Frontier graded readers -- the stories were interesting
  enough to hold their attention -- and the "I Can Read" series of fun
  fiction, history and science.  There is a pretty complete list of
  the history and science titles at my book recommendation site.

  But my boys also liked reading the newspaper, easy-read classics,
  whatever their older brothers were reading and (to my distress)
  even Calvin and Hobbes, the ultimate boy fave.  As a side note, at
  least Calvin helped solidify their opinions about public school and
  helped them appreciate being homeschooled even more!  Calvin is
  known for his strong distaste of school.  Here are a few quotes
  since I can't help but follow that bunny trail and make this little
  article totally useless as a reprint.  Quotes from Calvin:

  "Are you crazy? This is a stupid, boring, time-wasting forced
  assignment! This isn't fun!"
  "If it was completely different, school would be great."

  "My time is valuable. I can't go on thinking about one subject for
  minutes on end. I'm a busy man."

  "I go to school, but I never learn what I want to know."

  [Disclaimer:  I am NOT recommending you get your children Calvin and
  Hobbes books!  Boys just tend to gravitate toward them.  LOL]

  Anyway, back to my topic.

  As well as offering a variety of reading to your children after they
  have a basic grasp of how to read words, continue to read aloud to
  them.  I don't make my young children read everything for themselves
  -- and we continue to have wonderful shared experiences in reading.
  They may read something to me, then I read something else to them.
  With the "I Can Read" series, we often would go back and forth taking
  turns reading each page.

  Another avenue you can pursue is vocabulary study in addition to
  any other language arts or grammar you may be starting at this time.
  Parents of children in our Homeschooling Gifted group are quick to
  recommend vocabulary resources such as Wordly Wise or beginning Latin
  like English from the Roots Up.  Playing games with words, such as
  Scrabble or Rummy Roots, builds brain connections in reading.

  Hope these thoughts help for those who are facing reluctant readers
  who *can* read now, but don't want to work to hard at it!

  -- Heather


  Readers Say "Thank You!"


  "I submitted a question a while back and was overwhelmed with the
  number of responses I received!  Thank you so much to everyone that
  responded.  I was having problems with teaching my 2nd grade son
  cursive.  I spoke with the school whose curriculum we're using and we
  worked out something where he wan't graded for the first part of the
  year!  How much nicer it's been in our homeschooling day!  Not only
  that, but after slowing WAY down, and taking our time, he is learning
  it rapidly AND doing a wonderful job!! Thank you again for all the
  responses!" -- Angela


  "A big thank you to all the people who sent some encouragement my way.
  Bless you!" -- Katherine (Handling Criticism)


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


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      Helpful Tip

  "I went searching for an online FREE planner and one that I could
  download.  I think I like the idea of downloading and being able
  to print out the sheets rather than doing it completely online.
  If for some reason I am not able to access the internet, if I've
  already downloaded it, then I can keep track of everything.  I
  found this one, that I think I like. 


  Right now you can download an MP3 version for $5 or the CD-ROM
  version for $15. 

  I think I might just give it a try.  If I don't like it, I'm not
  out that much money." -- Michele in MS


  When Michele shared this with one of our email groups, I contacted
  Sherri Chekal, the author, to tell us a bit more about it.  Here
  is what she wrote:

  "Thanks, that is nice.  I appreciate it when folks take the time
  to mention something they like.  I hope your readers find it to
  be helpful.  I didn't design it to get rich and take advantage of
  homeschoolers -- I made it for my own family and friends and
  everyone really enjoyed it, so I've made it available to the
  homeschool community for almost 6 years now and have only had one
  or two people say they didn't like it.  Like your reader said,
  it's so reasonable and there are so many forms in there (over 160)
  and if you save even an hour to make a form, it's worth it.  Sure
  there are lots of downloadable forms out there, but the problem is
  they will all be mismatched and well, some are pretty unprofessional
  and a little too homemade for me -- hard to write in or just kind
  of unattractive.  All my forms come from one designer, so they all
  match and have a similar look.  And I'm a professional graphic
  artist and have been doing forms and design now for almost 30 years.  

  I just hope that they help families to get a grip on keeping track
  and helping with some of the more common forms that help families
  homeschool.  And I will always keep it nice and reasonable.  And
  of course, your purchase helps my family as well.  We really
  appreciate everyone's kind words and hope it's helped!  

  We've got a Master Planner II in the works, but it will probably be
  half a year or so before we get it all finished and ready to go!  

  Thanks again!" -- Sherri

  Sherri also has a free 36 page PDF sampler of the Master Planner
  with free forms to try out!


  -- Heather

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

      Winning Website

  Free Writing Contests Calendar and Deadline Reminders


  From the site:

  "HomeschoolWriters.com is a growing resource site dedicated to
  writing curriculum and contests for homeschoolers.  It includes
  over 100 contests listed in a contest chart, multiple curriculum
  reviews, and more.  The site also offers free e-mail deadline

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "As all homeschoolers can relate -- it seems we have many things
  we have to tell our kids to do all day long.  It can take some of
  the joy out of our relationship (can't just be there waiting for
  them after school with milk and cookies!).  In light of that, I
  get weary of reminding my kids/telling my kids to do all the other
  stuff -- like cleaning their rooms.  It seems I have to remind them
  so many times not to leave stuff out, etc.  My question is, for
  those of you who might tend toward the 'neat freak' side like me,
  how do you relax about this -- or how do you encourage your kids
  to do this without feeling like you are barking at them all the
  time?  Thanks!" -- Amy

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "Amy -- I would suggest that you decide which things you want to
  be regular, habitual routines for your children.  Then train --
  purposefully and diligently -- until they become a routine.  For
  example, if you want them to clean their rooms regularly without
  being told, first tell them exactly what you expect (all horizontal
  surfaces clear and dusted; floor swept; bed made, etc.).  You might
  even make a check list.  Then show them an easy way to accomplish
  this.  The next few times, help them do it.  Then for a few times,
  let them do it with you watching and coaching as needed.  After
  that, they are to report to you when it's finished, and you inspect.
  Eventually, they will be in the habit of cleaning their room to your
  standards.  Some people would use rewards and penalties; if you
  think that's a good idea, try it." -- Mary Beth


  "One thing that helped me stop nagging was -- the whiteboard!

  Not only has it simplified school for us, but I can put anything
  I want my boys to do on it.  Essentially -- write it down and give
  the time for the board to be cleared off  (erase item as done).
  The trick is finding the right motivation.  For us, if everything
  isn't done by 4 pm, there is no technology free time allowed that
  evening.  The undone stuff is then on top of the next days items.
  The weekend is included with Friday.  My son missed a family movie
  night 2 weekends in a row several years ago, and hasn't missed since!"
  -- Dawn


  "This is our 5th year homeschooling, and I still have this problem
  from time to time.  What I resorted to was typing a weekly chore
  list and a description of what is to be done for each chore.  It
  may seem meticulous and overbearing, but I had the same frustrations
  of having to tell them every day what to do, how to do it, when to
  do it; and that's what I came up with.  They don't do the same chores
  every day; other than cleaning their rooms they each have 3 other
  chores and they rotate days.  This breaks up the monotony for them,
  gets the house clean, and I don't have to constantly rag on them.
  I typed it up like a chart with the days across the top, the chore
  on the left side, and beneath the days whose chore it was.  You could
  come up with a reward/consequence system; that helps sometimes,
  especially if that is also marked on the chore chart.  It gives them
  things to look forward to and also lets them know what's in store if
  they don't complete the chores for the week, so there are no surprises.
  Along with that, it would be a good life lesson to sit them down and
  talk (depending on the age) about why this will help them in their
  lives once they're out of the house.  Responsibility, cleanliness,
  hygiene, time management, etc.  I've had this in effect for a couple
  of years now and finally all I have to do is say 'time for chores'.
  They may not always like doing them, but it's worked for us."
  -- Tammie


  "Amy -- Welcome to the type A, neat freak, perfectionist's group!
  I used to yell at my kids when they didn't do their chores up to
  *my* standards, but I have since realized that my house, and the
  chores, will be there long after the kids are gone.  It's better to
  have help from them and teach them responsibility than to have the
  cleanest house on the block.  'Okay,' you say, 'but how do I get them
  to do their chores without me harping on them?'  One thing I've done
  is make up a chart that lets them know what I expect of them daily or
  weekly.  For example, they have to make their beds, brush their teeth,
  and straighten up their rooms daily.  They have to dust and vacuum
  their bedrooms, clean the bathrooms, and clean their pet cages weekly.
  I leave a space on the chart for them to check off their chores --
  and I go behind them to check.  If you want these chores done at a
  particular time or on a particular day, then put that on the chart as
  well.  Their chores have to be accomplished daily before they can go
  outside or play video games.  If not, time is deducted.  Their weekly
  chores have to be accomplished in order for them to visit friends or
  go to an event.  If not, they lose their privilege.  The hardest part
  is sticking to your guns, but you will be happier with the results in
  the long run." -- Noreen


  "CHORE CARDS!  My family can't get through the week without them.  We
  work on a reward points system and I've broken down the chores I expect
  done each day to morning, lunch, and evening for each person in the
  house (Mom and Dad included).  At the top of the cards are the chores
  I expect done every day -- pick up your room, make your bed, take out
  the trash -- and those get no points.  I give 'rewards' for those chores
  if they are done without being reminded.  I award points for each chore
  and at the end of the week on family night the child with the highest
  score gets to choose the dinner and movie for that night.

  I got the idea from the Duggar Family website.  The Duggars are a
  homeschooling family from Arkansas (18 kids and growing).  They have a
  link to the chore list idea and you can develop it to fit your family.

  For younger children (non-readers), you could have them cut out pictures
  from magazines for each chore -- a toy box for putting toys away, a
  broom for sweeping up, etc." -- Kathrine


  "Amy -- By no means do I tend toward the 'neat freak' side -- I'm
  definitely a SHE (Side-tracked Home Executive per Flylady).  However,
  I also tired of running behind my kids giving orders all day long.  Do
  your school work, clean your room, pick up your toys, put your dishes
  away... nag, nag, NAG.

  So (with the help of above mentioned Flylady), I have started routines
  with my two kids (10 and 12 years old).  I put their morning routine
  on the front of the fridge.  I wrote it on paper and covered it with
  clear contact paper to make it stick and to allow me to make notes on
  it with wipe-off or permanent markers.  The first three weeks or so I
  had to point them in the direction of the list.  Then last week I just
  had to suggest that they double check that they did all of their
  items -- then the last three days they've done it all on their own!

  It's a fairly simple list: 

  -- Eat Breakfast (my son often would forget... odd, I know)
  -- Brush teeth
  -- Put away clean clothes (I do laundry at night)
  -- Empty the dishwasher
  -- 15 minutes tidying up in their room
  -- 15 minutes karate practice (son) or 15 minutes Girl Scouts
     homework (daughter)

  We have one day a week when we do main cleaning (Home Blessing
  Day) and everyone pitches in with bathroom, vacuuming, washing
  floors, etc.  We rotate jobs so no one is 'stuck' with their least
  favorite every week." -- Jo

     Answer our NEW Question

  "Hello -- I have been homeschooling my 11 year old son for a little
  over a year.  While in public school he was tested and said to have
  a learning disability.  After much prayer my husband and I agreed for
  him to be placed in an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) class so
  that he could get extra help, and hopefully catch up on skills.  This
  was a very difficult decision, but I felt peace about it at the time.
  I knew the teacher because she went to our church, so that made us
  feel better about it.  He was in the class for half of his third grade
  year.  There were children with emotional and behavioral problems in
  the class that caused a lot of disruption and the teacher spent much
  of her time disciplining.  After many visits with the guidance counselor
  and many times in tears, she told me, 'I know a lady that homeschools'.
  I had been praying about homeschooling for about two years at the time.
  I pulled my son out of school a couple of weeks later.
  As a Christian I know that we have to go through many trials and that
  they are to make us stronger in Christ.  I am going through such a
  trial in our homeschooling.  My son has made a lot of progress with
  his academics, but his self esteem is damaged.  He has asked me, 'Why
  did God make me this way?'  He has also asked me if he has a mental
  problem.  We took him to a child psychiatrist on the referral of his
  pediatrician, because he has a lot of frustration and anxiety.  They
  said that they aren't convinced that he has a learning disability but
  that he has emotional anxiety and ADD, and that he could benefit from
  counseling.  My son also has to have me stay awake until he falls asleep
  at night.  The psychiatrist said that I could give him melatonin to help
  him sleep because I didn't want to put him on medicine.  It helps him
  to fall asleep faster.

  My son thinks outside of the box and is always coming up with new ideas.
  It is very hard for him to stay on task while doing lessons.  He will
  always think of something else to talk about or to ask about.  He is a
  hands-on, auditory learner.  He has difficulty with visual processing.
  We highlight his schoolwork, because he loses track of where he is.  Our
  homeschool days tend to be very frustrating for both of us.  He really
  tries hard and does learn but we have to give him many breaks.  A lady
  in our homeschooling group tutors him three days a week at the literacy
  program and he has really benefited from this.  She used to be a teacher
  and her children have some of the same issues.
  I've just recently spoken with a child psychologist about my son and he
  is going to see her in a few weeks.  I feel that he needs to speak with
  someone about these issues that are bothering him.  He has so much
  frustration bottled up inside of him.  I have explained to him that God
  makes us all different and that we all learn in a different way and that
  it's not a bad thing.  We have never used the words 'learning disability';
  we say 'learning different'.
  I could use some encouraging responses and some good ideas.  Most of all,
  PRAYER!" -- Tanya


  Would you like to reply to Tanya? 

  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!

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  there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
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