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8 Great Things NOT to Do for Homeschooling Success

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, January 16, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 2, January 16, 2012, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2012, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Notes from Heather
-- 8 Things *Not* to Do
Winning Website
-- Fallacy Detective
Helpful Tip
-- Speed Reading
Reader Question
-- Mom's Attitude
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Eight Great "Don'ts" for Homeschooling Success


This past week on our HomeschoolingBOYS group, one of our member moms, Sharon J., shared the following insights in reply to another mother reaching out for encouragement in her homeschooling. I thought Sharon's words were full of wisdom and worth sharing with a larger audience. And even though our group is boy-specific, a lot of what she shared can apply to homeschooling girls as well. :-)

-- Heather


"If God did not call me to teach my son, I have been convinced many times during the 3 years I've homeschooled that anyone else could do a better job. There are definite ups and downs in the whole process, but I have clued into some things that seem to help many people.

1) Do not try to homeschool alone. Have a group - a learning group, a support group, a network of fellow homeschoolers to talk to when the going gets rough (and like every worthwhile endeavor, it does get rough). Get a group your child can interact with, and you can get hugs from!

2) Do not try to homeschool as if your child were in the public system. Do not try to recreate it in your home. If you really thought that system were what your child needs, you would not have decided to homeschool. What I mean is in terms of the kind of work (workbooks) or the quantity of work ('We must do this today') or the outcomes demanded of your child ('You must be performing on a 4th grade level by the time you are finished this year!').

3) Do not try to educate your child. (That's what the government tries to do in the public school.) Help him to find ways to be a learner. You may have to show him by doing it in front of him. Take him on nature walks, to the grocery store, to the local library for story time.

4) Do not leave your husband out of the process. Talk to him about what he thinks your son should be learning and involve him.

5) Do not forget the importance of physical activity (especially outdoors). Many times pajama days are not what my son needs. He needs instead a day in the park, running, biking, playing catch, practicing sports. That will help him feel better about himself to get through his day.

6) Do not forget chores. Make sure he contributes to the family on some level. He needs to feel he is an important part of something good in order to thrive.

7) Do not be afraid to fail. Give yourself permission to adopt a strategy that might fail after a few months - at least then you'll know it doesn't work; and you're a homeschooler - you can change! Sometimes strict routine is all that is necessary to help them. Sometimes they, and you, just need a break!

8) Do not underestimate the power of a great book to motivate your child. Read aloud and have him narrate back to you. Talk about characters, choices, problems. This will teach him how to think and talk about ideas. When I have a sticky situation to discuss with my son, I can always use book characters that we both understand, to help him see where a change is needed.

When my son started homeschooling, I stopped all school after about 6 weeks. Every day he would wake up and ask what he had to do. I answered, 'What do you want to do?' After about 3 weeks, he came to me and said, 'I just want to learn!' I then jumped on the opportunity to get him to tell me what he wanted to learn about. Practically from then, he has owned his education, to some extent. (This doesn't mean there are not days we don't agree about his education!)

We were reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch later that first year, and he was able to tell me that education was what he wanted: Latin, Math, Astronomy. We began to pursue that through Classical Conversations (which we love, by the way). I had steered away from a classical education, and now we're in it. (Flexibility is important!)

The biggest gift of homeschooling is that I know my son's heart. I know where I need to pull him closer and am learning also to let go more. I have to let go of my own fears about his success. This is not actually about me but about his journey, his choices, his future. I just get to be reeducated in the process.

Take a minute and think about the reasons you have chosen to homeschool. Write them down, and keep them handy. You will not pass this way just once, but over and over, during the journey. We all do. If it weren't for some good, encouraging friends, some good advice from online groups and family, and lots of prayer, my son would be sitting at a desk at the end of the street, and money would come before his well-being every day."


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


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Winning Website

The Fallacy Detective


The Bluedorn boys are the authors of 2 books about logic -- and this great website with articles, videos, and more. There is even an online mystery to solve! :-)

Helpful Tips

Speed Reading

"When I was a (home schooled) kid, my parents signed me up for Evelyn Wood's Reading Dynamics. At 9, I was reading at a college level, but needed a few tricks to help me speed read more efficiently, so I could have time to do my schoolwork and read for fun, but not read so long that my eyes became myopic from adjusting to the pressure of focusing them too long on tiny printed words. I loved this course and still use it for my own children, though I have looked into many others I didn't find them as beneficial as the basic principles and skills stressed in the original EWRD course I took. I think the key is practice and finding rhythm. Speed reading with full comprehension has made a huge difference for us, because there are so many things we want to read about, yet so little time in the day. There are free courses online and simpler kids' courses are sold at Barnes and Noble, but essentially they can be replaced with any new reading material and an alarm timer by which you challenge yourself to read the pages in incrementally decreasing times, and self-test your memory and comprehension of the material by asking yourself who, what, when, why, where and how questions. You are basically re-training your mind to not stop and sub-vocalize the words in your mind, and to focus better for more acute comprehension. It may not work for everyone, and essentially needs to be practiced as often as we think of, doing eye exercises to maintain our range of vision. If you force yourself to speed read for 5 minutes a day it should become as easy and natural as anything in a few months."

-- HSGifted Group member

Last Issue's Reader Question

"We are new to homeschooling. My six year old (whom I thought might be visual learner) used an online curriculum last year and after three to six months, she began to dislike it. This school term I have switched to use the traditional approach with partial online and Charlotte Mason curriculums. She has shown some positive signs in wanting to learn and managed to keep her interest in reading. Our schedule was changed from five to three school days per week and even with that, she would still whine about school and especially during seat work. I blame myself for her attitude because I have not completely been loving in teaching, correcting and encouraging her. As a master of fact, I think my constant habit of being short and ungraceful has caused her unwillingness. I hate myself at times and wish I had not inherited habits from the past. I often conclude that I am just not suitable to be a home school mom. What else can I do for her besides making a change in my attitude by praying and reading? -- CPS

Our Readers' Replies

"Dear CPS -- it seems as if we are the same mommy. We have the same issues in homeschooling as you mention in your question. I think there are a lot of us moms out there with this same issue. It's good to know we're not the only ones going through these problems. I am looking forward to other's answers to your question as it will benefit me and other moms greatly as well. I will pray for you in your homeschooling journey." -- Amy F.


"I think you are giving too much attention to the whining and over-evaluating its meaning. I have homeschooled one son through high school and another through 8th grade and I have learned over the years that kids will whine no matter what you do. You could be eating ice cream under the St. Louis Arch and they will whine! Because we are homeschooling we tend to take on too much guilt and responsibility and over-evaluate our children's reactions to our teaching, but we need to let kids be kids, who whine no matter what kind of schooling they have available to them. Concentrating on character traits and study skills (like NOT whining) is a much better use of your time than feeling guilty and beating yourself up!

You might also want to reevaluate your expectations. Neither of my children read at all until the age of 10 (we followed the 'better late than early' method of Raymond and Dorothy Moore). Both are now wonderful readers. If you child is reading and enjoying it at age 6, I think you are doing just fine. My advice is to give yourself a break, enjoy the time you have with your child, and remember that your love for your child supersedes any teaching skill you think you are missing. When I look back at my time homeschooling, the times I spent worrying were a waste and the times I stopped taking myself (and homeschooling) too seriously and just enjoyed the company of my children will always be the most precious to me and especially to them.

I wish you a long and happy homeschooling adventure." -- Rachael in MO


"I think you need to give it a little time. I know there have been times in my mothering experience when my behavior and/or attitude was not ideal. I have not always been as patient as I would like, I yelled A LOT more that I thought was ideal, I wasn't always positive with my kids. Frankly, I am still far from what I would like to be -- but! -- I am better, much better than I was. Working with your kids all the time means that you just have to improve or everyone is miserable. I have six kids and many times I wonder if they would do better with a different teacher, with the structure of school, whatever. In the end we are all learning and growing. Isn't that what life is about? Don't you want your daughter to know that everyone needs to work at being better than they are today? Who better to learn it from than her mom?

As far as helping her, I don't know if I can help other than saying that the 'love to learn' attitude is sometimes a little idealistic. Some kids might beg to learn and do it of their own accord, but of my 6 kids none have been that way. If I didn't make them do school, they would do nothing but watch TV and play computer games. They might learn some things but not what I think they would need to be prepared for their futures. Sometimes kids just need to learn that if they get their school done they can do things they want to do. At least with homeschool they have more time to do that." -- Sandy in UT

New Reader Question

High School Grading for Learning Disabled Son

"I hesitate to ask this since it is possible that those who would know have left off reading homeschool materials, but here goes.

"I am an experienced homeschooler who has graduated one child already and I made his transcripts, course descriptions, etc. He did a few courses at the local state college as dual enrollment his senior year, did very well on his SAT and has just completed his first semester at college, scoring a 4.0. So, while we used a huge variety of curriculum and learning experiences all the way through, when it came to high school I found it easy to put a 'grade' on his transcript.

What I am struggling with is grading a high schooler who has many learning disabilities but has enough intelligence that I believe with resource help he could make it through college. Every traditional type curriculum course we try he scores poorly on the tests. His receptive abilities in information have always been much better than his output. Should I grade on effort, attitude, time put in, or should I weight it toward the D's and very low C's which is what his output reflects on any kind of testing (he has difficulty speaking, writing, moving). I am really struggling with this. Thanks in advance for any help from people who have been through this before." -- Carol


Would you like to share your own experience and/or thoughts with Carol?
Please send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

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