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Facing the Facts, Reading with Bob, Curriculum Swap

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 05, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 35, July 5, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Guest Author
-- Barbara Frank
Helpful Tip
-- Teaching Reading with Bob Books
Winning Website
-- Kids of Integrity
Reader Question
-- Buy/Sell/Trade Used Curriculum
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

A note from Heather:

Once again I've found something lovely to share with you from Barbara Frank's
blog.  I so appreciate Barbara's willingness to share with us about her very
special son, Josh, and all the lessons she has learned through raising and
homeschooling him (Josh has Down Syndrome).  For those of us with children
who don't have special needs and those with kids with milder needs, there is
so much we can take to heart from Barbara's experiences in learning 'gentle'
homeschooling.  Enjoy! -- Heather


Facing the Facts

Josh is in our basement workshop, working on a project with my husband.
They’re making an outdoor bean bag game to play outside this weekend when
our older kids come home for the holiday weekend.  I can hear his happy
banter with his dad as they work. Every so often he says, “Ha-ha! I did it!”

They’ve been sawing and painting for the past day, and Josh is very excited
to see the project coming together. Most 17-year-olds wouldn’t get so excited
about doing this. But Josh isn’t like most 17-year-olds because he has
developmental delays.

When he was a baby, I sometimes wondered what homeschooling him would be like.
I’d become accustomed to the pace set by his three older siblings. I wondered
how much longer it would take him to learn the things they learned by certain

This is why it’s good that God doesn’t give us the ability to see the future.
The person I was back then would have been pretty freaked out to know that
we would spend years (literally) working on the alphabet and basic counting,
or that at age 17 he still wouldn’t be ready for Saxon 54, the wonderful math
book all three of my older kids used.

Several years of working on simple concepts wore down my naïveté and helped
me see that Josh wasn’t going to do things on his siblings’ timetable. You
might be thinking that should have been obvious to me once I got his diagnosis
when he was 18 hours old. But there’s a difference between knowing a fact and
living the reality of it. I had to live it to really realize it. Then I had
to accept it. And finally, I learned to make other plans when it came to his

I could have continued prepping him for traditional math, trying year after
year to get him to the point of learning multiplication tables. After all,
the experts say that people with Down syndrome have a learning curve that
goes up almost all of their lives. Those who don’t learn math by age 10 may
learn at 15 or 20 or later. That would seem to make a case for keeping at
those multiplication tables until he finally caught on.

But what kind of life would that be for him, forcing him to do the same work
over and over, making him miserable? There are so many other things he needs
to learn, things he will need to know in his life. Our time is better spent
working on useful subjects that he has an aptitude for, making the learning
much more pleasurable. So I taught him to use a calculator. Why waste precious
time trying to learn those darn times tables?

Instead, my husband and I both make time to teach Josh to work with his hands,
which he loves. He’s very creative and enjoys working with color, so my husband
has been teaching him how to paint with watercolors. They make craft projects
together. Josh also helps his dad mow the lawn and trim its edges. He’s very
proud that he’s allowed to use the weed whacker.

In addition to working with Josh on basic reading and math skills, I teach
Josh about cooking. He loves to make meals for our family, and especially
enjoys the praise he receives at the table when we eat his creations. He also
makes his own breakfast and uses the microwave to make his lunch.

One of his sisters got him a cookbook that he loves because it’s got plenty
of pictures of ingredients. He’d use it every day if we let him, but the recipes
aren’t the healthiest. So most of the time, I try to include him in what I’ve
planned for dinner instead of using his cookbook. But he does love that thing,
and brings it to me if he sees me making out the grocery list.

His sister who still lives at home also cooks with him. As a culinary student, her
homework assignments are often made in our kitchen. A few weeks ago she asked
him to help her make a strawberry cheesecake from scratch. It was delicious. :)

These activities teach Josh a variety of skills while letting him enjoy the
relationships he has with all of us. He’s a people person, so relationships
are really important to him. We enjoy our activities with him, too. But it took
us a while to get to the point to where we could look at them as educational for
Josh. It wasn’t easy to let go of the idea that he should be studying certain
subjects at certain ages. Once we accepted that he was different, we could
embrace and enjoy who he is at each age and what he’s capable of doing, or not.
Facing facts is certainly not easy, but it does make life easier once you do it.

Of course, we were fortunate that we had a diagnosis for him shortly after his
birth. It hit us hard at first, but at least we knew what we were dealing with.
I think it must be harder if a child has delays or difficulties that are not
obvious or even present at birth, such as autism or delays of unknown origin.
The slow dawning that something is wrong is very painful for those who love the
child. But it is what it is. All you can do is pray for help in accepting your
child’s situation and diagnosis, because once you accept those things, you’re in
a position to look at your child and his future as an open slate, unencumbered
by the expectations you have of your ‘typical’ children, and instead full of
possibilities that will educate your child and bring him joy.

I recently read about a homeschooling mom whose son was dealing with multiple
developmental issues including Asperger’s. He struggled with traditional high
school subjects because they were so hard for him, and as a result, had come to
hate homeschooling. I wondered if his mom had actually accepted his disabilities
yet. It occurred to me that if she had, she could get rid of the world history
and grammar textbooks that cause her child so much frustration and replace them
with musical instrument lessons or art classes, subjects that allow for creativity
and self-expression. And she would not feel guilty about it, either, if she had
faced the facts of his situation. I pray that she was able to find a solution to
her son’s painful difficulties, because I know how hard this road must be for her.
When it comes to disabilities, acceptance is key.


Barbara Frank homeschooled three children to adulthood and continues to
homeschool her youngest son. She’s the author of the new book “Women of the
Old Testament: 14 In-Depth Bible Studies for Teens” as well as “Life Prep for
Homeschooled Teenagers", “The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling",
and “Homeschooling Your Teenagers".  You'll find her on the Web at:
www.cardamompublishers.com and www.barbarafrankonline.com.


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


Homeschooling ABCs

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that!  Thanks for showing us how to start and stay going.  We are excited
with Homeschooling ABCs and feel comfortable knowing someone cares about
our homeschooling experience being a success.  All the planning is already
done for us and we really like the freebies and weekly schedule that make
each lesson personal and fun!

Please tell us this will never end, LOL, no really I mean it!!!  Thanks,
Homeschooling ABCs!" -- Debbie in Maryland


Helpful Tip

Teaching Reading with "Bob" Books Instructional Blog


"I am so excited!! I just found this blog that is dedicated to teaching your kids how to
read using the Bob Books
I bought my son the 1st set this past April (he just turned 5) and I planned to use them
for homeschooling. Well I had a hard time trying to figure out how to actually TEACH them
and I searched for a curriculum that uses these books and couldn't find one.
Well after a few unsuccessful attempts using other programs/books I found this blog today and
I am so grateful! My son LOVES the Bob Books and what better way to teach him to read!"

-- Cafe


Do you have a website, tip, idea or experience to share with our readers?

Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Kids of Integrity -- www.kidsofintegrity.com

This is a great site for finding stories, activities, and printouts for character training.
Each character quality is explored through a number of avenues, including Bible stories.
For those looking for a "Bible curriculum" for elementary children, the resources here
could serve as your curriculum for at least a year - at no cost to you!

Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Can anyone recommend a site or vendor for trading curriculum?" -- Susan H.

Our Readers' Responses

"A year and a half ago, I discovered www.HomeschoolClassifieds.com.  I don’t know
where this jewel of a site was hiding from me for so long!  I absolutely love the
site!  The owners take suggestions for improvements and so there are new features
quite often.  I’ve been burned on auction sites and online groups (Yahoo, Google,
etc.) that are for swapping curricula.  I’ve had over 25 transactions, both buying
and selling, and haven’t had a problem with any of them.

I like the 'Reputation' feature of HSC and always check out a buyer’s or seller’s
list before dealing with them.  Sometimes new members don’t have any feedback, so
I make sure to give it to them after our sale.  Actually, I try to give everyone
feedback and ask them to please do the same.  Many members don’t know the feature
exists; it helps to keep everyone honest.

Another great feature is the 'Wanted' list.  I can post items I’m looking for and
they’ll come up when someone does a search for one of the items.  Before I post a
'for sale' item, I do a search for it and see if anyone is looking for it.  Then I
e-mail them to let them know I have it, and I see if they’re interested.  This saves
time posting the item.  I’ve had other sellers do the same for me.

I try to visit the site daily and check out the main 'Wanted' list.  You can do this
with different time frames.  If I go daily; I can check the '0-2 days' link.  Many
times I’ve seen an item posted there that I hadn’t planned on selling, but realized
I didn’t need it.  It’s a fun way to get some cash to buy other things on the site.

I also like the 'Recent Listings' feature, where I can see if something I want has
been posted.  It’s also helped me get new ideas for items to use in our homeschooling

The site is also a good place to find area homeschooling events.  In order to post
items for sale on HSC, you have to have credits.  You get 7 free.  To increase them,
you can purchase a subscription, which is very reasonable, or you can post activities
and groups in your area to earn posting credits.  So when you give to the site, you
get back from it.
What I really like about the site is that there are no e-mails involved.  It is
completely up to me to check the site, much like reading the newspaper classifieds.
So there are no messages clogging up my inbox with items I’m not interested in.

The only maintenance I have to do on my listings is to remember to renew them every
30-60 days.  If you fail to do so, your listings expire after 60 days.  I try to
renew them around 30 days so they show up more often in the 'Recent Listings' section.

HomeschoolClassifieds.com has a great FAQ section to help you get started.  Why not
try it out with the free 7-credit membership and see how you like it!"

-- Julie C. in Illinois


"When I have to buy something, I get a lot of my main curriculum from a used Christian
bookstore.  They have a 40% off sale twice a year.  I have also gone to a few yahoo
groups that specialize in buying/selling homeschool curriculum.  I even ran a 'wanted
to buy' on an A Beka yahoo group for a specific item, though it was not the best deal
I could have gotten if I had more time to wait.  HSLDA's home school marketplace has
seemed more reasonably priced.  The 'local' (some distance form us) homeschool curriculum
sale even more so, when I am able to make it, especially with no shipping.

As far as outright trade -- I have gotten a few curriculum items and a quite a number
of children's historical fiction through www.Bookmooch.com.  You get 1/10 a point for
every book you post that you want to get rid of and 1 whole point for that book when
someone requests it.  You pay shipping for your book that has been requested.  You then
can use your point that you received to request a book from someone else, that party
paying the shipping to you for the book you requested.  You can have a wish list that
informs you if someone adds the book you want to their inventory, and the site directly
links books to and from the Amazon catalog through the 'moochbar' tool.

I think bookmooch is the best book swapping site out there.  I have used paperbackswap.com
as well.  My bookmooch inventory moves faster and the site has more incentives.  Its
system is more flexible, less strict, and easier to use than other swapping sites -- and
I have looked at and signed up for several.

I would love to hear about something similar that was geared just for curriculum, though
the bookmooch site is already a great tool.  The founder has put a lot of work into
making it such a great site, and yes, it is international.  There is a different point
system for between countries, and volunteer moochers ('angels') to help with some
mooching between countries." -- Anna


"I often use The Homeschooler's Curriculum Swap to buy or sell used curriculum.  The Swap
is the oldest continuously operating used curriculum site on the Internet." -- MaryEllen


"I have used this web-site since 2002.  It is http://www.vegsource.com/homeschool/
You don't have to be a vegetarian!  This is a free site, used by many homeschoolers.
You may list your items according to several categories; For Sale, Wanted To Buy, Swap,
I have been very pleased with this site, for both buying and selling curriculum and
miscellaneous goods.
To buy an item, you simply click on the blue link of the person's name.  This will allow
you to directly contact the seller by e-mail.  Then, between the two of you, the terms of
the sale are determined, method of payment, shipping, etc.  One of the great features is
that many sellers still take old-fashioned checks, or money orders, in case you are not
a Pay Pal user.
There are a few simple rules to follow.  The most important is to visit the 'guest registry'
so your ad won't get deleted.  This is an anti-spam measure.  Also it is mandatory that you
use the e-mail address of your Internet provider; not Yahoo, Juno, Hot Mail, etc.  This is
also an anti-spam measure.
You may post only 3 ads at a time, per day.  When you visit the site you will see how the
ads simply scroll off the bottom as new are added.  Also, choose what your name will be on
the site, and stick with it, as you will build familiarity.
I hope that covers it -- for any other questions, please visit the site." -- Lori B.

Answer our NEW Question

Uninterested First Grader

"My son doesn't want to do school at all.  He would rather stare at the wall.  This
is not just a school thing; he doesn't want to do anything.  What can I do to get
him interested in something -- anything?" -- Ashly in NY


Do you have some thoughts for Ashly and her son?

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

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

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if we can help you out in a future issue!

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