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Adoption Journey, Bedtime Math, Replies to Khadra

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, July 15, 2013
Vol. 14 No. 6, July 15, 2013, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2013, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Notes from Heather
-- Our Adoption Journey
Winning Website
-- Bedtime Math
Helpful Tips
-- Back to Basics
Reader Question
-- Teachers vs. Parents
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Our Adoption Journey Begins...

Today my 2nd son turned 21! My youngest will soon be 13... and my 3rd and 4th sons are 15 and 17. My babies are growing up so fast -- where has the time gone?

And as if all these teen boys weren't enough testosterone in the house, we are planning to adopt teen brothers from an orphanage in Ukraine.

Jim and I always thought we might adopt children someday, but we wanted to wait and make sure we could be good parents to our own first. And our boys are all very excited about adding to our family! There are other like-minded families at our church who have already fostered and adopted special needs children, and our boys have observed them and have a pretty good understanding of the challenges and sacrifice involved.

They are also anticipating the sheer joy of enlarging our family and will tell you we have a lot of love to give! We don't know the entire situation with our prospective adopted sons, but we do know these boys have expressed the desire to be in a family. They only have each other and only recently became available for adoption.

In Ukraine, children "graduate" from the orphanage when they age-out at 16. Every year, on August 31st, the children who have turned 16 must leave the institutions they have come to know as home and fend for themselves. They have little education or training and often end up being taken by human traffickers or becoming drug addicted and living crime-filled lives.

Some orphans, between the ages of 6 and 16, are sponsored for special vacation trips to the United States and other countries. During these trips it is an unspoken hope that they will be introduced to a family who will pursue adopting them. The adoptions involve traveling to Ukraine and a process of paperwork and waiting that can take several months and often more than one trip.

We are just at the beginning of our adoption journey. I would love to hear from readers who have adopted any age of children, both domestic and international. What have been your challenges as you integrated adopted children into your families? How have changes in your family dynamics affected how you homeschool? Do you have anything you would have done differently? What are some of the surprises (good and bad) that you didn't necessarily anticipate along the way?

Please write and share your stories! If your story is already part of a blog online, please share the link. I know adoption can have a positive impact in broadening the hearts of our children (and our own), and I'd love to hear the ways you have been blessed -- as well as the trials you have overcome. Let's inspire each other! :-)

-- Heather

PS... Do you have a musician in your family? Check out this video they might enjoy!


Did you ever want to share a youtube video with your child, but the advertising, comments, and other "suggested" videos on the side were offensive or just too much distraction? Go to this link for instructions on making a youtube video appear on a plain white page, just as it does in the music link above: www.quietube.com


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


Winning Website

Bedtime Math!

This website was inspired by a desire to make math fun at bedtime as delightful as a bedtime story routine! Every day, the site posts an interesting mini-unit that involves math discussion or some fun and simple math idea that parents and children can share and ponder at bedtime. This would be great for the child who might have outgrown the need for a bedtime story... or is more into math than fairy tales!

Helpful Tip

Back to Basics

"If you find yourself in a season where homeschooling is impossible, go back to the basics. Love on your kids. Hug them. Praise them. Encourage them. Be with them. Gather them around and read to them. Play with them. Pray with them. Enjoy them. The rest can wait." -- www.HomeschoolSurvival.com


Last Issue's Reader Question

"I began homeschooling my 7-year-old (first grader) about three weeks ago. When he attended public school, I heard nothing but good things from the teachers on how well he behaved and how well he did his school work. On Monday nights, the teacher would send home 4 pages of homework he was to do during the week and turn back in on Friday. He loved doing his homework and usually wanted to do it all the first night.

Now I can't even get him to do one worksheet without drama and it taking forever. What he was able to do in about 15 minutes before is taking him an hour or more. It it taking so much longer to get through our lessons than it should. Sometimes I tell him, "You didn't act like this for your teacher -- why are you doing it to me?" He is constantly asking for food or a break or some other distraction and can't seem to stay focused.

Is this a normal phase when you first begin homeschooling? I know he is testing his boundaries, but I am not sure how to get things running smoother. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Also, I have a 20-month old son at home and my 7-year-old gets upset that his brother is getting to watch TV and while he has to do schoolwork. Or he gets distracted by his brother in other ways. I am open to any and all suggestions." -- Khadra



"Dear Khadra -- One thing that many parents don't realize, is that when they send their children to school, they abdicate much of their authority. While your son was in school, his teachers, administrators, playground supervisors -- even the cooks and custodians -- had a higher level of authority over your child than you did. To some extent, school officials have authority over the parents as well.

It doesn't take long for children to pick up on the concept that 'the teacher knows more than my parents' and 'my parents aren't my boss'. It will take some time for you to re-establish your position of authority. Some of it will come naturally, as you will no longer have other authority figures competing with you, and your son will adjust to that.

Make sure you and your husband are in support of each other, and that there is a clear line of headship from your husband to you to your son. Your husband can do a great deal to help your son understand that your directives ultimately come from him, are simply passed on to your son from his father, and that his father has given you the responsibility the to do this job -- similar to a Principal - Teacher arrangement. Ask your husband to hold your son accountable at the end of the day for how he spent his time and for how he responded to your instructions.

Assignments are not optional. Make it counter-productive for him to take longer than necessary to complete his work. For example, you might plan refreshments, or a game or something he would enjoy at 2:00. If his assigments aren't finished by then, he stays and works while you and your other son go have some fun. Don't threaten or warn him. Just let it happen, and he'll realize he brought it on himself.

If he gets his work done efficiently, you might do something fun that wasn't in your schedule, because you have extra time since the work got finished early. This will help him see that working productively has its rewards.

I would say turn off that TV! Your other son needs to be able to entertain himself creatively, and the distraction is detrimental.

-- Mary Beth


"Hi Khadra -- Yes, this is all normal. You have gone from being just Mom to being Teacher Mom. Most kids do act better around other adults. They feel they have to be 'on guard', not fully knowing the expectations of the other adult. So they act extra good. At home they feel more at ease and they know they can get away with more.

It is a big transition for both of you. Especially since you have obviously pulled him out of school when the year was two thirds over.

The first year is going to be the hardest. Since this school year is almost over, I suggest scaling way back. Work on a few fun but educational things. Does he like Legos? Maybe read about something in history (let him pick something that he is interested in, like Egypt, etc.) and let him make things with Legos that go along with it. Legos are also good for math concepts. My boys are definitely hands on guys. When they were younger I would read to them and they would draw a lot. Even my youngest (now 10) likes to draw on the dry erase board while I read. Another fun thing to do might be to find a fun science experiment book and do some experiments out of there. Someone in this group just mentioned something about letting her kids write their spelling words in sand to practice. If the weather is good there, try doing school outside. That is always fun -- and different.

As for the 20 month old watching TV -- your older son will just have to understand that they are at different stages of their lives and that one day the little one will have school to do, too. Maybe the little one can watch or 'help' with the science experiments. Or maybe your older one can teach the younger one something.

Yes -- the first year is challenging, but definitely worth it!!"

-- Lisa in Alabama via www.HomeschoolingBOYS.com


"This sounds like a normal phase. Did you take some time off from school... or just jump in? If you just jumped in, I would suggest that you take a break and school in different ways. Do nature walks. Go to the library for story time. Get or borrow a microscope. Get some bird and rock identification books from the library. Break out the tools and help him build something of his design. Slowly, after a few weeks or a month, phase back in the worksheets or such that you want him to do.

If you took a break it may be just getting back into the routine. I started homeschooling my daughter in 2nd grade; after summer break and she had some issues with this too. We tried to do the most intensive schooling during the little's nap time. I also kept track of ACTUAL time that she spent working on her work (not looking out the window, getting a snack, reading in the bathroom...) and we figured out that the amount of work she had she was getting done in about 2 hours. This was about the same amount of time that they had for recesses, snack, bus line, and lunch when she was at school. The other 5 hours they spent working, while she could spend it playing. Once she saw the difference, then she was more willing to buckle down. I also had to remind her that the teacher had sat the boy with the most need to move and talk, next to her... and she was still able to get her work done.

It may help if he does have a sound filter -- let him pick a radio station to play in the background while you and he do the work. It gives him some control and will mask the sound of the TV in the other room. (Personally, I found as a teen that I did best when working with words, reading anything, if I listened to classical music without words. When doing math I could listen to rock or anything with words.)

You can also vary where you do the work. In the early years it is pretty easy to do a lot of the work at the park. Your little one can play while you sit with the older and help with lessons. Give frequent, timed breaks for him to play, too, between subjects.

At this age, also make sure that the length of the lessons are appropriate. Don't have lessons that go more that 30 to 45 minutes long. Keep it short and sweet unless it is something he is really interested in.

-- Cheryl W.


"Khadra -- My first suggestion would be to turn off the TV. Include the little one in the school day or set the day up so work your older son needs help with is around the little one's nap. It sounds like the older one is acting out to get your attention. It is normal to have some regression and boundary testing when you begin homeschooling. Also, is it possible you are giving him more work than he really needs to have? One of the great things about homeschooling is that we can do away with 'busy work'. Once a child has learned a concept, he can move on to a new one.

Also, are you trying to imitate a public school day? As homeschoolers we do not need to follow the same type of day at a 'brick and mortar' school.

Is your son equipped to the work you are assigning to him? In other words, have you given him the tools he needs to do what you are asking? Sometimes children (especially younger boys) melt down when they do not understand something or when they are bored or tired. You didn't say why you started homeschooling. It is a big change going from public school to homeschool.

Are there other changes also going on? Sometimes it isn't about the school work, but about everything that is out of your child's control.

I think I asked as much as I told here, but I hope it is food for thought and that something in it is helpful.

-- Christine H.


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