Vol. 13 No. 8, April 9, 2012, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2012, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net
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All About Spelling
"I just wanted to comment on how well the All About
Spelling program is working out for our family. One day last month my seven year old made the comment 'Wow, I'm finally
learning to READ!' after the daily spelling lesson. She has been sounding out and (what I thought was reading) for several
years now. I've always homeschooled our eight children and the oldest is studying engineering now. The only thing I would do
differently would be to use this as our only reading and spelling program. This is by far the easiest curriculum to teach."
-- Tracy R.
Click here to learn more about All About Spelling!
IN THIS ISSUE:
-- Your Hidden Curriculum
-- 'Deconstructed' Videos
-- Everyday Edits
-- Help for Delayed Teen
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information
Recognizing Your Hidden Curriculum
by Barbara Frank
Sometimes we homeschoolers start to get a bit weary of the curriculum we're using, so we boost our spirits by thinking about
what we want to use next year. We also look forward to our upcoming homeschool convention, where we can go on the hunt for
We put a lot of time and thought into finding just the right books and resources to use with our children, and that's
important. But we should also put at least as much effort into recognizing the hidden curriculum, the one that teaches our
children every day, whether we realize it or not.
Being with our children all the time, not just after school and on weekends, means they're exposed to our behavior all the
time. All kids watch their parents and learn from watching their good (and bad) behavior, but our kids see far more of us
than other kids see their parents. Kids whose parents both work full-time outside of the home may only see them for a few
hours a day or less, and with the hectic weekends full of sports and other activities that are often a staple in the modern
family's routine, they don't spend all that much time with them on the weekends, either.
But our kids are with us a lot. They're watching how we live, and they're subconsciously taking notes on everything they see.
Those notes will be the basis for how they live their adult lives... a result of the hidden curriculum that they were taught
by watching us every day.
This puts an awful lot of pressure on us as parents. Since we're with our kids so much, we need to be especially aware of how
we behave, because every aspect of our personal lives is a part of the hidden curriculum.
There are many features of the hidden curriculum. Consider:
The balance curriculum: How do we spend our time? Do we run frantically from activity to appointment, never pausing to
take time off for rest or fun or to just enjoy our lives and each other? Are we workaholics? The popular 1970s song "Cat's in
the Cradle" illustrates the balance curriculum: an elderly father recalls how he always put off his son because he had so
much work to do, and then tells how his son now has no time for him because he learned from his father's example and is just
The marriage curriculum: No marriage is without challenges, but how do we handle them? When the kids are always
around, it's impossible to hide those challenges from them for long. Do we handle disagreements respectfully, or do we lash
out at each other? Do we make time alone with our spouse a priority, or do we have a "child-centered" marriage? The way we
treat each other is the marriage curriculum for our children.
The love-thy-neighbor curriculum: Are we demonstrating love in action for our children? When we hear of a friend or
neighbor in need, do we help them out or decide to mind our own business? Getting the kids involved in baking cookies for a
new neighbor or delivering dinner to a family with a new baby teaches them that loving others is a priority.
The faith curriculum: How we feed (or starve) our faith is being watched closely by our children, and sets the stage
for their own faith walk. Do we make time for personal and family devotions? Which choice usually wins... attending church
services or sleeping in? Are we strangers at church or do we get involved in the work being done there? We can sermonize at
length to our children about God, but if we aren't walking our talk, the lesson of the hidden curriculum is "do as I say, not
as I do".
The financial curriculum: How we handle money speaks volumes about us; our children are watching and learning from
what we do. Do we pay our bills on time or lie to creditors over the phone? Do we put a little money away regularly or are
we caught up in impressing others by buying big-ticket items we can't afford? Since our children are home each day, they'll
probably be there when the tow truck comes to repossess the late-model car we impulsively bought. That will be a memorable
The grieving curriculum: Loss is an inevitable part of life, but in our society, we hide our grief from others,
including our children. One mom who'd recently lost her own mother found that by holding in her feelings until the children
were asleep, her grief overwhelmed her, and she needed professional help getting through it. It's hard letting our kids see
us cry, and when they're around all day, it's almost impossible to hold our feelings in. By sharing those emotions with them,
we teach them it's OK to mourn.
The child-rearing curriculum: The way you treat your children is their training for the way they'll treat your
grandchildren. A mom who was regularly beaten by her parents was able, by the grace of God, to break the chain of abuse and
not abuse her own children. They know her story, and now also know that the chain of abused children can and must be broken.
How you discipline your children sets the stage for what they'll consider normal in discipline... yet another facet of the
These aren't the only parts of the hidden curriculum. I'm sure you can think of others. My point is that while it's good to
put a lot of energy into researching and finding the very best math books and reading series and science curriculum, it's
even more important to think about what kind of hidden curriculum we're using with our children. They're with us every day,
absorbing that hidden curriculum even on the days when they don't have to "do school." That's why we must never forget that
as their parents, we are the authors of the hidden curriculum.
Copyright 2012 Barbara Frank / Cardamom Publishers
Stages of Homeschooling: Enjoying the Journey (Book 2), the second book in a new eBook series from Cardamom Publishers.
Barbara Frank homeschooled her four children for 25 years. You'll find her on the web at www.barbarafrankonline.com
Your feedback is always welcome! Just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net.
All About Spelling - A Program that Really Works
As the author of All About Spelling, I am passionate
about teaching spelling thoroughly. Why? Because my own child struggled to learn to spell, and I don't want anyone to
go through what we did. You can read my whole story at the website, but the important thing for you to know is that no
shortcuts were taken in the development of this award-winning, breakthrough program. I am devoted to helping other families
teach their children to spell successfully, and I made sure this program would do just that!
Click here to learn more about All About Spelling!
Science Channel "Deconstructed" Videos
"These deconstructed videos take apart pieces of machinery to see in detail how they work. As a quilter, I particularly
loved the sewing machine
You do have to sit through the ads every time, but they have a huge list -- from juicers to lawn mowers to wind turbines! I
found the easiest way to watch the video you want is to search for it (in the search box at the top of the site) and then
find it on the right hand side of the page."
-- Julie, www.homeschooling-ideas.com
Language Arts - Everyday Edits
"I have my kiddos use Everyday Edits from
Educationworld.com. There are lots to chose from -- articles that each have 10 errors. You have to read through and find
the problems. It's free and I think that [my kids] have picked up on a lot of common errors that way."
-- Brenda, HomeschoolingBOYS.com group member
Last Issue's Reader Question
Help for Delayed 15 Year Old?
"Hi -- I have 3 children ages 19, 15, and 5. I have homeschooled for 7 years now and graduated the oldest. All 3 have ADHD
and the younger 2 are both on the autism spectrum. Both are high functioning, but very different when it comes to learning.
My 15 year old functions at about the age of 10. Academically she seems to be stuck in 3rd grade. We currently piece our
curriculum together. For math we use Math U See, for history The Story of US, science is ACE paces; for
language arts we use Language Lessons for Elementary. My question is this: How do I move her forward? She will do
the work, but does not remember any of it later. She also has dyslexia, so writing is so difficult for her. We have tried
Dianne Craft's products, but my daughter did not seem to respond to
those either. I am about ready to just give up! I know I can't because she would not survive in a public school at this age
with her difficulties.
On the other hand, my 5 year old is advanced academically. He is close to passing her and this causes much turmoil with her.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated." -- Janell in Hawaii
"Janell -- I admire you so much for what you are doing for your children. Don't give up. I would suggest that you check the
NATHHAN organization, which is a support network for parents of children
will all types of special needs." -- Mary Beth
"I am not overly familiar with all of your curriculum choices, but I am wondering if you might need to switch to a more
hands-on, multi-sensory curriculum. Try to avoid the ones that are fill in the blanks, but instead choose those that have a
more involved approach. The more senses are used, the more fun it becomes, and the material will stick with her better.
Exercise before your school day for at least 1/2 hour to 45 minutes by taking a walk outside. This accomplishes two things.
It wakes up the mind and burns off some energy. Fresh air and time in the outdoors is very important. Take breaks more often
during the school day, combined with simple exercises.
If she has dyslexia, you might want to check out the Audiblox program
(the most affordable one I have seen to date) and you might also want to check out the book,
The Gift of Dyslexia. This
book will give you ideas for easy to implement exercises for her hands and mind and will help things connect better.
Our second is much the same as yours. Our oldest is very afraid that she will get caught up to or passed. I remind her that
if she keeps working, she doesn't need to worry.
Hang in there!" -- Laurie
"Hi, Janell -- I have one child who is progressing 'normally' with his peer group and the other is 'stuck'. The best thing I
have tried is to have them do their schoolwork at different times, so it doesn't matter what the other child is doing, plus
that way they get one-on-one time. I know that's tricky with several children, but the child who is not being helped by mom
is expected to work on academic computer games. One of them is signed up for
other child works away at a program called
FastForWord. FastForWord is for
special needs children still struggling to learn to read.
Anyway, it's something they can work on independently and without competition or worry that someone is catching up since they
do it by themselves and only I see what was or wasn't finished. This system has helped both my children work on problem areas
and also increased their confidence since they know for sure they have understood the topic (most systems have a gold star
for finishing a small section). If you can't afford the monthly fees of an online registration, the children could still work
independently on topics they can do by themselves from a textbook, or even find some free online academic games such as
PBSkids.org or purchase an inexpensive game like Times Attack at bigbrainz.com.
Just keep plugging along knowing that two steps forward and one step back will get you where you want to go eventually!
Most importantly, my favorite parenting mantra: don't try to glue wings on caterpillars... they won't fly until they're good
and ready." -- Liz
"My son has issues with auditory processing, speech, writing and vision. Vision therapy helped a lot -- he was seeing in
double vision that was making him read as though he was dyslexic. I suggest you get your daughter tested by a developmental
optometrist and see if this may be part of her issues. Now that my son can see clearly, he has taken off with reading, but
not so much with writing. I use a book called Writing Skill Activities for Special Children to help him move forward with
his writing. We use graph paper to help with math to keep things lined up. I got a computer program called
Earobics to help my son (and
his younger brother) to learn to hear all of the sounds in what he is hearing. Programs like
Dragon Naturally Speaking
can help her with composition (it is a voice recognition program; she speaks, it types), as well as programs with word
prediction, like Co-writer. Unfortunately, none of this stuff is cheap. But start with the vision check to see if she is
seeing normally (and I am not talking 20-20 here -- actual perception and eye coordination) and see if that helps." --
"I have a 14 year old son who also struggles with academics. I only want to suggest a support group that has been helpful to
me. LearningAbledKids.com has helped to let me know that I'm
not alone and they also offer suggestions and encouragement. Be encouraged." -- Renee B.
"I have a 13 year old son with mild dyslexia. I have been using the Barton System, which replaces the entire language
arts curriculum. We have currently just finished level three (there are ten). While he could read, spelling and writing
were a major issue. My husband and I have seen remarkable improvement already. A wonderful online resource is
Bright Solutions for Dyslexia." -- Betty
New Reader's Question
Canadian History Suggestions?
"My family has recently moved from the US to Canada, and we are wanting to teach Canadian History to our upcoming 11th
grader. Does anyone have suggestions for a good course and/or book of Canadian history? Thanks!" -- Sonya
Would you like to make a recommendation for Sonya?
Just send your email to
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