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Can Life's 'Disruptions' Make the Best Lessons?

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, November 10, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 41, November 10, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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For homeschoolers, finding a curriculum that suits unique educational needs can be a challenge. Oftentimes there are several priorities to consider, such as cost, worldview and educational challenges. Can one curriculum work with them all?


To find out, Time4Learning spoke with two very different homeschooling moms: Kelly and Mary.

  • Kelly is mother to six. She explained the educational diversity that can occur within a family and common concerns of homeschooling large families.
  • Mary is mother to four. She started with a faith-based curriculum and helped us understand common sensitivities and educational priorities of many Christian homeschoolers

Learn more about how Kelly and Mary successfully tailored Time4Learning to fit their family's needs.


Notes from Heather
-- Life's Seasons - Feedback
Winning Website
-- VisualLatin.com
Thought for the Day
-- Let Life Bring the 'Lesson'
Reader Question
-- Husband is Adamant
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Special Seasons of Our Lives

Feedback from our Readers...


"Hi Heather -- Your story of caring for a parent sounds very familiar. Both my parents came to live with us when they retired to 'help' with homeschooling, or at least to spend time with their grandkids. ;-)

Instead, my mum had a stroke and my dad got cancer. Both are now healthy and active again, mostly because the kids gave them something to think about besides wallowing in self-pity! My daughter is autistic and had her routine of going for a walk each day with her grandfather. He kept to it even when he wasn't feeling up to it and wouldn't have done it for himself. Sometimes when my mum was a bit better I would even leave my daughter 'in charge' to take care of her while I popped down to the store. It gave her a sense of responsibility, and she always cheered my mum up with her constant chatter -- and I'd be back before they knew it.

Both of my children benefited from being concerned about someone other than themselves and learning what they could do to help, from simple things like bringing a drink or asking for a game of cards to brighten someone else's day. I wouldn't trade this time of caring for anything and it has shaped the children into loving people who feel part of a family that takes care of each other. We need to live by example -- we care for and protect our families. What could be considered inconvenient becomes a part of our day, a joy, and pride in knowing we helped each other. Those math worksheets can always get done after supper, after all. You'll never get a better shot at teaching about life." -- Liz in Canada


"Hi Heather -- I've been a reader of your newsletter forever (or so it seems!) and was very moved by your story of taking care of your father-in-law.

12 years ago, my then 58 year old father was diagnosed with colon cancer. I live in Michigan, but he, along with the rest of my family, was in Pennsylvania. I started off making the 4 hour drive to Pittsburgh practically every weekend, leaving my 5 year old daughter and 6 month old son home with my husband.

Eventually, the cancer progressed and my weekend trips turned into week-long trips with kids in tow. By then, I had been homeschooling my daughter, who was 7 at the time. My father was being cared for at home by a visiting nurse and my mom, and me and the grandkids.

My daughter loved to read, so he would ask her to read to him. She would read aloud from the Bible and sometimes she would read the newspaper to him. He would also ask her to read whatever assignments she was working on. I was determined not to have her schoolwork disrupted and having her do 'school' actually provided much needed diversions from watching my father wither away.

Ultimately, it was a very special time for all of us and I was so grateful to have been able to have my children spend so much quality time with their grandfather. They watched my mom come home from work and dive right in to her 'second job' taking care of my dad. They listened to him tell stories and he gave them life lessons ('listen to your mother!') they will never forget. They have each used the experience as a topic for a writing assignment at one time or another.

While we were all very sad when my father left this earth for his heavenly home, my children and I were so blessed by the opportunity to have served and encouraged him in his last days. It definitely made a life-long impact on them and me." -- Monica J.


"I am near tears as I write this. My mother almost died this summer and is now unable to live in her house so we asked her to come live with us. I am so glad that we are able to help her right now. At the same time, it has been an adjustment for me taking her to doctors appointments and handling some of her personal needs. I have a one year old boy who is into everything right now, a three year old and a 6 year old. I would love to hear what others have to say who have gone through this. I feel like I can't seem to get my life in order lately. Between homeschooling and trying to run a household and young kids in the house it has been a challenge. I wouldn't have it any other way though. The things my older girls are learning is priceless, and having my mother with us is truly a blessing. But being the main caregiver is starting to wear me out a bit, and I just want to hear how others have handled managing it all. Thank you!" -- Dena


Would you like to encourage Dena? Or do you have a similar story to share with our readers?

Your feedback is always welcome! Just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net.

-- Heather

Winning Website

www.VisualLatin.com - Free Latin Resources

I've read that Visual Latin uses humor to hook kids! You can try out their free latin lessons and find out if their curriculum is a good fit for your family. They also have many other free latin resources at the website and offer online classes.

Let them know The Homeschooler's Notebook Ezine sent you! :-)

Thought for the Day

Life's Disruptions - Remembering What the Lesson is Really About

Remember the article we shared a few years ago, "The Baby IS the Lesson" by Diane Hopkins?

Here is an excerpt...

"When we think of homeschool, sometimes we get tunnel vision, and think 'academics', 'keeping up to speed' and other worrisome concerns that don't really tell the whole story. Homeschool is the growing and nurturing of fine, upright people. So, how we treat and value the baby really is the lesson."

In this particular instance, the new baby was the potential 'disruption' to homeschooling -- but you can insert anything there. Whatever life brings can have the potential for disruption -- but we can use those things to shape and mold our children. In my life lately we've had real-life learning about Constitutional rights, how lawsuits work, caring for an elderly grandparent, and even adjusting to Dad's new work schedule (making sure the house is quiet so he can sleep in the morning involves self-discipline and courteous behavior). When we are on the road as vendors at homeschool conventions, the boys learn the value of hard work and how to deal politely with customers. Even my shy boys have learned to be outgoing and personable through basically 'forced' interaction with adult strangers. I don't think any curriculum could teach what they've learned through real-life experiences... but certainly no one would call any of that 'doing school' either!

Tip: Be willing to let life dictate some impromptu lessons and let the formal academics take a backseat sometimes... and don't stress about it! :-)

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Hi -- I am homeschooling my 7th grader and also a 3rd grader. My husband is adamant that we send the kids to 'real' high school. We can afford private Christian school, so that is not an issue. Also, there are so many resources schools have, like science labs and foreign language, which I cannot supply at home. I do not want to be a homeschool mom who spends all her time driving her kids from one class to another -- that is not homeschooling to me. Can anyone offer any input on this situation? Thanks so much!" -- Concerned Mom

Our Readers' Responses

"My oldest is only 7 so I don't have much to say on your schooling. However, you used the word 'adamant' to describe your husband's desire that your child attends high school. That's a strong word, with strong feelings (I assume) behind it. I would take your husband's feelings very seriously; often our husbands' perspectives may seem wrong to us but we learn later that we ourselves need to look at things differently. And even if you still disagree, is it *really* worth fighting over this? I personally believe it is more important for our children to know that their parents love and support and agree with each other than who teaches them algebra. Why not agree to try it for a year? And maybe you will all have a better idea of what would be best by the end of the year. I know it might seem like 'giving in' but I really do think you will find that God uses everything for your (and your child's) good." -- Katherine B.


"Make a list of pros and cons. Are your kids on target with their abilities or above? You can always withdraw and go back to home schooling. You could try an online school, though more difficult than going to school. Rosetta Stone is a very good foreign language program. Are you a free member to Homeschool Buyer's Co-op? Get things at a discount.

I hope those thoughts help. I have a 4th and 5th grader who we did try to go back to online public and it was not the correct choice. The spiral technique and learning book work just to be able to test did not make sense to us. We are concerned with mastering basic principles." -- Susan T.

New Reader Question

"Hi -- I was wondering if anyone has a child (mine is a 12 year old boy) who at any given time will stop what he's doing and his eyes will 'look upward'. I know it's hard to understand, but I don't know if he does this because of lack of confidence, or maybe when he is overwhelmed by something. Is it just the age? He doesn't have a learning disability that I'm aware of. He excels in reading and history. I've never mentioned this to a doctor because I don't want them to run a series of tests on him just so they can put a label on him, but I would like to know if anyone else has experienced this with their own children. Thanks." -- CM


Do you have some advice and/or encouragement for our reader?
Please send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

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