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Feed the I nterest, Invest in the Desire, Train the Ability

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, March 08, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 15, March 8, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.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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Guest Article
-- Advice from Ellyn Davis
Helpful Tip
-- Earthquake Science
Winning Website
-- Memorize Now
Reader Question
-- Special Needs in Florida
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

What Really Matters
by Ellyn Davis


There are two things that I have always counseled home schooling
parents to do.

First, I have encouraged them to look at their children
differently -- not as containers to be filled with information,
but as unique individuals in which God has placed certain abilities,
interests and desires.  So my motto has always been "Feed the
interest, invest in the desire, train the ability
".  This has
sometimes taken our home schooling in weird directions, but it's a
recipe for producing healthy minds, hearts, and spirits.

My husband and I have called this approach "Identity Directed Home
", but it is really little more than discovering your
child's abilities, interests, and passions and then nourishing them
and creating a context for them to develop to their fullest.

The second piece of advice I've always given home schooling parents
is borrowed from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective
.  It is "Begin with the end in mind".

If you don't have a vision of where you want to wind up when your
child is 18 years old, your home schooling years can be a long,
rambling road, fraught with frustration and missed opportunities.

And, even worse, because you don't have a clear "destination"
you're traveling towards, you will tend to drift from one way of
doing things to another, always looking for the latest techniques,
teaching materials, or doctrines and wondering if you've left
anything out.

To read more, go here:



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


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Helpful Tip

Earthquakes in the News --

On Teresa Bondora's "How to Teach Science" site, she has
written an easy-to-use lesson about the science of earthquakes:



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

Winning Website

Memorize Now -- www.memorizenow.com

Designed to aid Scripture memory, this handy site can be used to
memorize any information.  Simply enter the item you want to
memorize, then the interactive site will provide various tools like
creating blank spaces in the passage, giving you first letters of words,
etc.  You can create whole lists of verses or other information and
save your page for review offline as well.

Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have been homeschooling for the last 8 years. My children are
15 and 14. My son (14) is doing well and has no problems other
than just not wanting to do the work. My daughter, on the other
hand, is really struggling. She has CAPD, ADD, Borderline Autism
Spectrum Disorder and Dyscalculia. She has good days and bad days.
Her school is really taking a toll. We have to constantly review
and repeat grades. Her math has really gone backwards and we went
from 4th grade level back to 1st grade. That's when we got the
dyscalculia diagnosis. She has memory retention problems and
that's why we have to review.

My biggest issue is, she tries really hard and has managed to
make daily life work for her, she just can't sit down to make
the school work look like she knows anything. Here in Florida
we had to register the kids with the local school district as
home-schooled students and they are bound by the state's home
school law. They must also take the FCAT testing each year. We
were in Missouri for all of their schooling until this past June.
My son has no problems taking the test, but I am concerned as to
the outcome. My daughter I know will never even be able to take
the test due to extreme apprehension. We are planning on dropping
her out of school next month when she turns 16 and continuing her
schooling 'around' the law. That may not be right in people's eyes,
but it seems to be a good answer for my daughter. My problem is my
mother-in-law. We live with her and she will not be happy with this
decision. What I want to know is, should I keep the info from her
and just continue as we are doing, or do I fill her in and then
deal with the fact that she already thinks I am a failure and all?

Also, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to help my daughter,
please let me know." -- Kristina B.

Our Readers' Responses

"Students in Florida do not have to take the FCAT. They can be
evaluated by a Florida certified teacher. The evaluator looks
over you portfolio of work to see if the child is progressing
and working to their abilities. The evaluator signs a form that
is sent to your school district. Check with your local homeschool
groups to find someone who will do this for you. Florida Parent
Educator Association's web site will have links to resources in
your area and Home School Legal Defense Association  has links
to resources
." -- Melinda G.


"I've been placed in a similar situation. From a Christian
viewpoint, you are living in her house and should submit to her
authority. I do have a suggestion: I would sit down and explain
your daughter's learning styles and needs. Explain her challenges.
Make sure your Mother-in-law understands exactly how a 'plan'
works and how it is often re-assessed. You can also point out
how most schools cannot afford to give the one-on-one time that
you can devote to your daughter.  I would write an 'independent
study plan' similar to an IEP for your Mother-in-law.  This would
show her where you are working with your daughter and show her
where progress is being made." -- Kathryn


"Hi, Kristina -- I also homeschool in Florida and have been for
5 years.  As homeschoolers in Florida, we are not required to take
the FCAT.  The only requirement is that we either register with
the local school board and turn in an evaluation from a certified
teacher or submit standardize testing results each year.  Or you
can join an umbrella school.  If you go that route, the leader of
the umbrella school would account for the students and they may have
requirements like a certified teacher evaluation or standardized
testing results.  But the State of Florida does not require you to
take the FCAT.
Maybe a good route would be to find a certified teacher in your
area that has experience with students with learning disabilities
to evaluate your daughter each year." -- Doreen L.


"Take heart, there is some good news!  Homeschooled children in
Florida are not required take the FCAT!  It is an option, but many
parents choose something else.  They do not need to take the FCAT,
the NCLB mandated test required of public school students, nor do
they have to provide test scores if they do not wish to enter them
into evaluation records.  Homeschooled students simply have to show
annual progress commensurate with ability.  They can submit an
evaluation by a Florida certified teacher or a licensed psychologist.
In my area, there are certified teachers that are familiar with
evaluating homeschool students and generally charge about $40-50
per student.
Also, there the option of an umbrella or '600' school.  It is
basically a private school option, so you would withdraw your
'intent to homeschool' from the school board.  There are varying
fees and requirements, but you would still educate your child at
home.  Some are free, some only require that you report attendance,
and some are full-service options offering curriculum, tutoring,
and transcript services.  If you choose this option you will be
under the rules of the umbrella school.
Please look for a local group of homeschoolers -- there are many
support groups these days!  Don't go through this alone!  The FPEA
has listings of many local groups in Florida. http://www.fpea.com/
Hang in there!" -- Larisa P.


"It's not easy to always know what is the right thing for our
children.  You know the situation better than anyone and what I am
suggesting might not work for you at all.  I am constantly turning
my teaching abilities over and asking God to guide me in the right
direction.  As parents we want what is best for our children, but
we may not have the resources or knowledge we need in special
circumstances and it can make us feel even more inadaquate when
someone close to our family thinks we are not capable.  If I was
in the same situation, and living with my mother-in-law (hopefully
yours is a Christian), I would sit down with her and explain the
situation and diagnosis, get her involved with any appointments,
and even have her help with schooling if possible.  She may become
a great help with your daughter.  It's hard to see our in-laws as
having ours or our children's best interests at heart sometimes,
but she could be an asset.  Sometimes our mothers-in-law feel
pushed out and not needed.  So many times they want what is best
for their grandchildren and they feel pushed aside with no control.
I am a homeschooling parent, but I am also a grandparent and my
grandchildren feel just as much a part of me as my children do.  It
is sometimes hard to look at them and see so much of my children
in them, but have no control over the decisions that are made for
their upbringing.
I have learned to step back and enjoy their trials and errors of
parenting and be encouraging when they ask, but it is still sometimes
hard to keep my mouth shut.  I have to pick my battles -- if it's
not life threatening, I usually don't say anything.  My motto is
'How important is it?' and I go from there.  I have given them the
skills -- now it's up to them, but not all in-laws can let go like
that.  I certainly get more quality time with my grandkids because
their parents don't view me as a threat.
If you aren't too opposed, you could also meet with the local school
district and see if there are ideas or recommendations they might
offer.  They might have some ideas that you could try at home or
maybe a work/school related program for 2 -3 hours a day, and still
homeschool.  Some districts are very helpful; others aren't.  God
bless you and your family and please know our prayers are with you."
-- Shari D.


"Kristina -- Please recheck the Florida homeschool laws (we're also
in Florida).  The student has to be evaluated each year, and the
FCAT is an option, but only one of 6.  They can also be assessed by
a licensed teacher and they only have to show progress commensurate
with ability.  Given your daughter's problems, her ability is
obviously lower than a standard student.  An evaluation by a licensed
psychiatrist is also accepted and may be better in your situation.
Just Google 'Florida homeschool laws' and it will take you to the
statutes." -- Kelly


"Kristina -- You may want to check with your local school district
and see if they have the option of creating an IEP (Individual
Educational Plan) for your daughter.  I am not sure if they would
do this for a homeschooler, but I know this allows public school
kids to be tested and graded according to their disabilities -- if
they need oral exams, longer test sessions, non written assignments,
etc.)." -- Sandy


"Kristina -- If you live in Florida and are registered with the
county school board as a 'home education program', you do not have
to take the FCAT.  If the school board is telling you otherwise you
need to contact FPEA, Brenda Dickinson in Tallahassee or The Home
School Legal Defense Association.  All you are required to do is
each year submit an evaluation by a certified teacher that your
child is showing progress." -- Betty Jo


"Just wanted to clarify, and hopefully put your mind at ease, Florida
homeschoolers do not have to take the FCAT.  It IS an option, but the
better option for someone in the situation with a child who is special
needs (or one who just learns differently) is to keep a portfolio
and have your child evaluated.  The only requirement for a child to
continue to homeschool is that 'he/she is learning commensurate with
his/her ability' -- and that's all an evaluator is looking for.  There
are many certified teachers in our area of Florida who are either
homeschoolers or are well versed in how homeschooling works.  I'd
suggest that you look for an evaluator in your area who understands
different needs, learning styles and abilities and can evaluate
accordingly." -- Jen in FL


"Kristina, I don't know much about the specific challenges facing your
daughter.  Most schools develop special individualized plans for
children with special needs.  I'm almost certain that you could do
that in Florida (the ones I've heard of are called IEP for Individual
Educational Program).  Based on her strengths and weaknesses, you
establish goals uniquely for her.  Home School Legal Defense Association
has a special needs department that might be able to give you more
direction.  You might also check www.nathhan.com  which is a support
network for home schooling parents of special needs children.
But in my opinion, your plan to drop her out of school is the best one.
If 16 is the age at which attendance is no longer required by law, it's
perfectly legal.  Then you will be free to help her cultivate her
strengths and pursue her passions, and not have to worry about what
the state requirements are.  You might be surprised at how much better
she will do when the pressure is off.
You can honestly tell your mother-in-law that you have developed a
custom-designed curriculum for your daughter which is geared to her
way of learning. 
My heart goes out to you." -- Mary Beth


"If you don't already, you may want to consider modifying your daughter's
school subjects to meet life skills rather than academic goals.  Perhaps
consider a consumer math program.  What 'grade level' she's at is far
less useful than knowing that she can successfully make a purchase at
a store and check that she has received the correct change, or estimate
if she has enough money to purchase several items, etc.  Also consider
teaching her to use public transportation (if appropriate to your area)
and 'electives' like food preparation and crafts or other hobbies and/or
activities that will provide her with a range of leisure activities.
Work skills -- via volunteer or paid activities -- can also (often) be
counted toward school credit, though you'd have to check your state laws
to see how to apply it.  Hang in there!" -- Laurie


"Hi, Kristina -- I have two children, both with special needs, and we do
not do the FCAT.  I have them evaluated by a Florida certified teacher
every year.  I recommend that you find a teacher who is pro-homeschool
and use an annual evaluation instead of the FCAT as proof that your
daughter is progressing in her abilities.  You only have to show that
she is doing what is at her level of ability.  This is what I do.  My
son has Autism and would never be able to handle the FCAT.  Hope this
information helps." -- Stephanie H.


"Here is the best advice I have.  Join the Homeschooling Aspies Yahoo
group:  http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/HomeschoolingAspies/
There are families whose kids don't exactly have Asperger's, but all
are somewhere on the spectrum.  It is a VERY active group with friendly
members who trade advice, prayers, encouragement, humor and tears with
each other.  I have been very blessed by this group numerous times --
they do have lots of wisdom." -- Jenn A.


"What I would like to recommend is to call 888-999-3324 and ask to speak
to Paula and inquire if there is a facilitator in your area that you
could talk to to see if they could help.  This is the office of Ron Davis.
This oranization addresses your child's symptoms.  They also specialize
in Autism.  This is the program that helped my son. 

My parents were against homeschooling and this is what I told/asked them:
'I don't have a choice, the school can't teach him.  I don't have a
choice because I've been called to do this, even though I don't want to.
I have to be obediant to God's calling.  You don't have to like it, but
I would ask that you respect it.  I've got to do what is best for my
son and put him first right now.  This is about him, not you.  Even
though you're still my parents, I have to obey God first.'

I hope there's something in this message that will help and encourage
you!" -- Pam


"Your daughter does NOT have to take the FCAT if you homeschool in
Florida.  You have other options.  Here is a website that will help
you with this: http://www.midflhomeschoolers.com/homeschoolinginfl.html
We have been homeschooling in Florida for 6 years and my sons have never
taken the FCAT." -- Barbara in FL

Answer our NEW Question

"Do any of you knowledgeable homeschoolers have suggestions for
my son?  My 12 year old is becoming interested in architecture.
He takes out library books about big buildings all the time and
loves to look at their designs and structure.  We have a simple
computer program to build houses and he says he always wants to
take it to the next level.  I want to purchase a computer game
or program that will allow him to look further into this field (if this is
the Lord's prompting in his life, I certainly want to foster it!).  We'd
like something that will challenge him, yet isn’t so complicated that
it's for actual architects.

Anything else that has helped your budding enthusiast?  Any
suggestions would be so helpful!" -- Jane in Texas


Do you have suggestions for Jane and her son?

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

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