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Doing 'The Right Thing' for My Daughter

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, December 13, 2010

Vol. 11 No. 74, December 13, 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.


The Keystone School is an accredited and licensed private school that offers teacher-supported distance learning courses for grades 6 – 12. We have partnered with homeschool families for over three decades in educating children at home through middle and high school. At Keystone you can enroll your child in a full course load, or supplement another homeschool curriculum with one or two Keystone courses. Whether your child's goal is to become conversational in Mandarin, get a head start on earning college credit by taking AP courses or brush up on English grammar, Keystone can help. Call us at
800-255-4937 or visit keystoneschoolonline.com to learn more.



Notes from Heather
-- Get Out and Count!
Winning Website
-- eNature.com
Helpful Tip
-- Design Your Homeschool
Reader Question
-- Doing the Right Thing?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Looking for a fun activity to do this Christmas?

Get Out And Count The Birds!

"The annual Christmas Bird Count is here.  It dates back to 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed an alternative to the recreational hunting of birds that usually occurred on Christmas Day. He enlisted the help of twenty-seven conservationists in twenty-five different areas. Rather than kill birds, the group simply counted them.

Now sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the Christmas Bird Count is still going strong and welcomes everyone -- from novice to expert.

Click here to learn more and get involved."


-- Heather


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


The Perfect "Last Minute" Christmas Gift for Homeschool Kids Ages 2-10

The Perfect Christmas Gift for Homeschool Kids Ages 2-10

Stretch-A-Book starts with reading a book and then adds singing, dancing, drawing and acting activities.

Your kids will be enhancing their reading, communication, and team building skills while they play. They won't even realize they are learning... but within a few weeks you will notice some very positive changes in your children.

Get your first book plus related songs and activities for free when you pay just $6.85 for S+H. Friday December 17th is last day for guaranteed Xmas delivery.

Watch videos of homeschool kids interacting with Stretch-A-Book »



Winning Website

eNature.com - www.enature.com

This site has frequent updates with new quizzes, interesting articles and more!

Check out their Winter Wildlife Quiz - http://enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=590

"North American animals have numerous strategies for surviving the winter. Some migrate to warmer climes, others head for a long winter's nap, and some stay where they are and rely on fur, speed, fat, teeth, and claws to keep them safe, warm, and well fed. How much do you know about the winter behavior of North America's animals? Test your winter wildlife knowledge by taking our quiz."

Helpful Tips

Design Your Homeschool

"Hi Heather -- In one of your recent Homeschooler's Notebooks you asked people about their favourite homeschool websites. Well, here is one of my favourites -- hope it is useful for others also.


Thanks for your efforts in sending out your Homeschooler's Notebook, it is always helpful." -- Paula V.

Free Personalized Santa Video - http://portablenorthpole.tv

"Here is a link to create a video from Santa for your kids and loved ones. It is so adorable. We did this last year and it was sweet how his eyes lit up as Santa talked about him. This year he'll get another one that is different. Really cool, check it out." -- Ursula

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My oldest child, 12, is non-verbal and lacks gross and fine motor capabilities. She is ambulatory and incontinent. She is severely physically disabled (Cerebral Palsy) but has shown over and over that she understands everything spoken or read to her by smiling or swinging a wild arm to slap a button. She attended public school through 3rd grade and had an aide at her side the entire 7-hour day. I, on the other hand, have 2 other younger students (2nd and 4th grades) and next year we'll add a kindergartner and a newborn! I simply don't have the time to spend with my special needs child that I know she deserves and desires. I don't have the time (nor the patience) to do hand-over-hand cutting, writing, pasting, etc. that she did in public school. All I have been doing with her at this point is reading to her. We've read a variety of subjects and for the most part she is patient and attentive. Is there anyone else out there that has a student that is severely physically disabled and is homeschooling other children at the same time? I know I'm not the first person to experience this and I'd like any input I can get as to best meet the needs of my special needs student. If nothing else, I'd just like affirmation that I'm doing the right thing by reading to her. PS - I have her younger siblings read to her as well... good for her as well as them!" -- Becky in Tennessee

Our Readers' Responses

"Here in CA, there are available programs to provide respite as well as hours of care for specific health needs in home (though with the CA state budget, these programs are under cuts). Perhaps you can learn of possible programs in your area. There may be support groups with ideas as well.

Homeschool groups, church teen or other groups, and colleges may have students or adults available who could come to your home to help with her needs on a volunteer or low cost basis.

Try PECS using a modified approach. You can make them yourself. James MacDonald's Communicating Partners book and program - there is a website that could help you - helps you make the most of your child's abilities, naturally. We just got our son an ipod with a communication program; there are also educational programs designed for it.

Nature itself teaches so much. Find ways to bring her to nature and bring nature inside. Music, they love music - though you may need to adapt it to her needs. Softer, louder, etc.

Try to see what useful things she can learn to to, ie. silverware, washclothes, personal care. Try things the other kids can do too with her like stickers, flash cards (with them talking them out), simple occupational / physical therapy type activities.

The littles really don't need much academics yet, just thoughtful learning moments with mom and other family members. Rather than worry about grades, why not pursue many things together - science, history, and even art." -- Michele


"I do not have a special needs child, so am clueless as to resources available. However, as the mom of ten children, I do understand scheduling/time issues!

-- Newborns totally rearrange everything, especially your expectations. So when that new baby comes, of course there will be frustration as you try to still accomplish things each day, and it isn't necessarily because of the older daughter.

-- Great idea to have the younger children read to her! Along that line, perhaps as they grow older, they could help the disabled student with some of the physical things (cutting, writing) as well. Perhaps it would be feasible to schedule in the 2nd and 4th graders working with their older sister for a specified time period each day. If you can incorporate them into planning that involvement, so much the better.

-- There is a dizzying amount of wonderful material--DVDs, books on tape, lecture series, etc. that she can view or listen to, whether school material (e.g., Answers in Genesis) or supplements (Lamplighter books).

-- Perhaps you know of--or can find through networking -- a teenager/young adult who would like to volunteer to work with your daughter periodically -- once or twice a week, maybe. This would benefit both of them in many ways.

-- It may help to choose curriculum for the others that emphasizes audio/visual components, rather than mostly workbook-type material. This way, she is not so 'separate' from the others in what she is learning.

You do not indicate what reading ability she has. I may be totally off the mark here, but if she is developing reading skills, could there be a setup so as to allow her to read on her own while another person turns the pages for her? I hope you are able to get the resources, ideas, and encouragement that you need. I will be praying that your family succeeds and thrives in this endeavor!" -- Marjie


"Hi Becky -- I have a friend in South Carolina that homeschooled her daughter, Erin (now 33 yrs old), with CP and who is severely handicapped as well. I emailed (forwarded) her your question to see if it would be any help to you. This is what she wrote to me: 'Hi Amy -- This is a very tough question to face. When I was homeschooling my children, the same dilemma was staring us down. We decided that the best thing to do for our special needs daughter was to keep her in public school. She was able to get related services (OT, PT, Speech Therapy, etc.) and have the aide that I wouldn't be able to provide at home. The way that system works is that physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) and most of the other therapies necessary to train for independence only last until the child is out of school. The Federal law allows for education up to age 21, but that is only applicable to Grade 12. If this mother can find a way to supplement what she wants the child to experience with school by continuing the reading program, going to extracurricular programs or adding an hour to the child's day with intensive 'homework' using the homeschool program, that would allow the child to get the attention necessary to optimize her education.

Another Federal program that is managed by individual states is the Community Access Program (CAP). That usually has a waiting list and is severely under-subsidized, but it is a God-send to persons with exceptional needs to achieve independence. CAP would provide case management to access services her child qualifies to use, get her an in-home aide, allow her 12 year old an opportunity to be outside of the home away from little siblings for an hour or two and give the mother a much deserved break. In North Carolina, the CAP program is managed by Medicaid and the Crisis and Access Dept of Human Services manages the entry into the program. The waiting list to get into services is about 4 years long, but case management is immediate.

The reading is probably the single most important educational tool the mother can use, and please let her know how critical it is not just for the special education needs but also the other children. By having the other children read to their sibling, they are also learning as well as teaching! Bravo! Even if this child goes all the way through school and cannot graduate with a diploma, she will have had the related services and the mother will have had the training to face adulthood with a disabled child. Another skill necessary for independence is navigating the world of people outside of family. School does a great job of offering opportunity to meet other people and make friends, find resources and train social skills.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are critical to the entire family. While writing that plan, the mother must insist on getting everything that her child is entitled to. Put the homeschool requirements into the plan so that most of the work can be done by the school. The only class that won't be addressed is most likely religion. That can be done as extracurricular or in the homework.

There is no failure in asking for help to educate and care for one's own child. A child with exceptional needs is especially deserving of all the care possible to give. The more attention paid now the greater the independence later.

I hope this is of some help to the mother in your group, Amy. My prayers go with her. You can let her know she is not alone in the situation. My first-born also has cerebral palsy and three younger siblings. She is now an aunt with 3 nieces and 3 nephews. The joy she has interacting with them is contagious to all those around her.

Thank you for sharing this question with me, Amy, and for trusting me to give a reasonable response. I hope I haven't disappointed. -- Anne'

-- Amy


"Hi, No one expects you to do it all! My daughter gets extra homeschool funding from the government with her diagnosis that we can use to pay for an EA to come to our house to help with her schoolwork. This also frees me up to shower some attention on my other children or to just take a much-needed break. You may be entitled to some funding, check with your homeschool supervisor or government." -- Liz in BC

Answer our NEW Question

"I have been contemplating trying Time4Learning with my 4th grade son. Has anyone tried this curriculum and liked it? Since we started the beginning of this school year with different curriculum can we start Time4Learning in the middle or will he have to try to do all of the lessons prior to this point? Is there some kind of placement test? Thanks for your help." -- Amy


Would you like to share your experiences with Time4Learning with Amy?
Please send your response by email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

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Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll answer it in an upcoming issue!

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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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