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A High School Plan, Motivational Ideas, Young Fives

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, February 02, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 9 February 2, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- A High School Plan (Part 1)
Helpful Tips
-- Motivational Ideas
Winning Website
-- Free Internet Filter
Reader Question
-- Young Five-Year-Olds
Additional Notes
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

A few weeks ago I was blessed to be invited to speak at a local
homeschool group about homeschooling high school. I enjoyed
sharing insights on this topic SO much that my talk lasted over
3 hours! Over the next few issues I will attempt to share some
of what I shared with the local group. Hopefully it will develop
into something somewhat orderly that makes sense and is worth
your time to read. I don't claim to be an expert, by any means,
but most families I help with high school planning leave the
consultations encouraged, highly motivated, and very relieved.
So maybe there will be something helpful here for you, too!


High School - Planning the BEST Years

I'll just begin by sharing a little of what I do in a typical high
school consultation. Usually it begins with a phone call from a parent
who is either concerned about whether they can 'do' high school...
or they just think they need help with transcripts and heard that
I do that. (Actually, the transcript draft is KEY to simplifying the
entire planning process -- but more about that later!)

Before a family comes in, I give a question to the mom or dad for
the child to answer. This question helps me to get a feel for the
child -- their interests, dreams, goals, etc. -- which is especially
helpful if I don't know them at all. I usually recommend doing the
appointment no earlier than age 12 (or 11 if the child has clear
interests). Interests tend to change over the high school years,
but that doesn't matter, because the whole backbone 'plan' is
designed to change, stretch and grow as needed.

Anyway, here is the question -- and it requires a written answer:

"If you had the next five years of your life to do ANYTHING you
wanted... with unlimited resources -- unlimited time, unlimited
money, and the permission of your parents -- what would you do
with that time?"

The answers to that question often surprise the parents. But
for me they serve as a backbone for developing a strong interest-based
plan for the high school years. We start with what the child would
LIKE to do with that time, then factor in what the parents feel is
absolutely mandatory that their child learn or experience during those
years. Then we look at the 'plan' and think about what a college might
like to see, if that is a consideration... and FINALLY we talk about
state requirements, if there are any. The end result is usually a very
excited student and happy parents! :-)

1. Student interests, talents, bents
2. Parents' desires, expectations
3. College prep
4. State requirements

Most people prioritize their high school course and curriculum
choices exactly backward from this list! I think keeping the
above considerations in ORDER is one of the most important
things you can do when beginning to create a plan with your
child. (This won't be the last time I mention this, but colleges
LOVE to see a transcript where the child's interests are obvious!
They get weary reviewing the same old 'cookie cutter' transcripts.)

Next issue I will share the actual steps I take to develop the
'plan' with individual families. And I'll have some show-and-tell
with actual plans developed in this way!


[In the meantime, if you'd like to read about other approaches,
you can look at Barb Shelton's High School 'Form-U-La' at
www.homeschooloasis.com and also David and Laurie Callihan's
'Grand Plan' at www.davidandlaurie.com ]


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Motivational Ideas

"My two boys are very determined and strong willed. If we get
into a head-to-head battle about school work, I might win, but I
think we all lose. One of my biggest goals for them is to love
learning... and forcing them pretty much destroys that.

I'm learning some creative ideas from friends. One friend has 5
subjects for her son to do each day. She says that each subject
starts on the hour (9AM, 10AM, etc.). If he gets his work done in
15 minutes, he has 45 minutes of recess before the next subject.

Another friend writes tasks on paper strips and has the children
pull them out one at a time. It becomes a game for them. It helps
to also throw in some 'just for fun' tasks, too."

-- Chris - HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

K9 Web Protection - Free Internet Filter

We all know that, although a great resource, the Internet can also
introduce our children to some not-so-great content. K9 Web
Protection is provided by Blue Coat (TM), which provides web
content filtering for corporations around the world. They provide
their K9 program for free to home users and, from reading their
documentation, it looks to be pretty effective. I already use a paid
web-filtering service, so we were unable to test this product.
However, I want to encourage you to check this out - especially if
you are not currently running any web filtering software. It only
takes one slip of the keyboard to steal a child's innocence. K9
Web Protection looks to be an excellent product... and you can't
beat the price. :-)

-- brought to you by Cindy Prechtel

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My son’s birthday is in late September, so I am having trouble
deciding whether to start kindergarten in the fall. What have other
homeschoolers done with kids who have late birthdays? Are there
particular curricula that work well for young 5’s?" -- Jennifer

Our Readers' Responses

[Note: We had so many wonderful responses, but not enough
room to print them all! Thanks to everyone who wrote in.]


"I have two daughters, both with fall birthdays,and their entrance
into the world of 'school' was as different as they are! The first one
started reading at 4.5 and was a pretty calm kid all around, so we
started when she was getting ready to turn five and it has been fine,
although in retrospect I would have slowed down her intro to higher
math; abstract thinking is not her strength. I guess that is what
she gets for being the test model! I was going to start the second
child in the same way, she was obviously bright, had a good
command of language, could count, etc... but she absolutely could
not sit still, nor did she have any desire to learn her letter sounds
or how to read. Needless to say, we put away the textbooks and
such, read good books together and did a lot of playing and going
for walks and learning about the world around us. We began with
more structure the next year and have added more as we went
along. She is now in '3rd grade' but working at many different
levels, all grade level or above. My advice would be to assess
your child and his ability to focus and take it from there, adjusting
your style of teaching and choice of curriculum to this child."


"I don't know your son, so I am basing this purely on the typical
5-year-old boy. First, I would highly recommend that you read
some of Dr. Raymond Moore's books on homeschooling.
He explains very well the research that supports not starting boys
in formal education until they are older. There is much evidence
that learning disabilities can actually be caused by the neurological
damage done when very young children are forced to do a great
deal of work requiring close concentration. Boys seem even more

You will be amazed at how much your son will learn if he is allowed
and encouraged to learn. Read, read, read to him. Read good
literature, not cutesy childish books. Be sure that some of the
books are about nature and history. You'll know when he's ready
to begin learning to read himself. Let him play with thermometers,
tape measures and rulers, measuring cups and spoons, scales,
an old non-digital clock (the kind with hands), money -- anything
that has to do with numbers. Put a calendar at his eye level and
mark something on it every day -- the weather, what you did, a
sticker to show that day is passed, etc. Take walks with him and
let him keep a nature journal. He can draw what he saw and then
dictate to you what he wants to write about it. Let him have easy
access to lots of art and craft supplies. Let him listen to good
music -- good classical music, the first choice being Mozart. By
the time he is ready to begin formal schooling, he'll be so excited
about learning that you won't be able to hold him back. Don't worry
if he doesn't start reading soon. My son was 9 before he could
read, but his first book was a G.A. Henty novel. He's 13 now, and
I can't keep enough books in the house for him. More importantly,
he's happy, well-adjusted and is an eager student in all subjects."
-- Mary Beth A.


"Jennifer, you worry too much. Of course you are already doing any
number of things to help your child educationally. This started at
birth, right? You should continue to do them and call it 'kindergarten'.
This will help nosy people to leave you alone, and if your child has
friends starting school he won't feel left out. Do more of the ones
that he likes, and less of the ones that he doesn't like. Leave things
child-centered for at least one more year. Have fun with your child
every day enjoying books, video, art, music, good television and
creative play together. If he has older siblings let him participate in
their academic pursuits to the extent that he is interested and able.
Kindergarten is a great chance to relax, experiment, and have fun.
It's nothing to fret about. It's not such a good idea to be in a hurry
to get all academic, especially with boys." -- Rick M. in Michigan,
(Livingston Parent Journal -- www.LivingstonParentJournal.com)


"Are you planning to home school the entire time? Then it doesn't
matter that much what you do. Start whenever he is ready. Just
give him plenty of room to move and don't emphasize seat work
until about 4th - 5th grade.

Are you planning to put him into formal 'school' at some point?
Then maturity will have an impact. Opt for giving him the extra
year... practically all teachers will recommend that. The effects
show up somewhere around 6th grade, when the work becomes
more difficult. Many boys struggle at that point and never catch
up, or lose the motivation to do so.

Is your child gifted? See the book 'Smart Boys' for a discussion
-- you definitely have to use your judgement and you may need
to accelerate in some areas to keep him motivated. I have a 10
year old doing pre-Algebra, but he has weak writing skills -- home
school works especially well for such children.

One other thing -- give him the extra time to be a child... one
less year of his life that he has to work!" -- Cynthia H.


"I think the question is not whether your 5 year old is old enough
to start school, but is he ready? I think part of the beauty of
homeschooling is that you can start when the kids are ready and
expect as much as they are able/interested in. My daughter
was 4 (didn't turn 5 until the end of November) but we started her
in kindergarten this year. She is doing 'Teach Your Child To Read
in 100 Easy Lessons', addition worksheets and flashcards, An
Ancient ABC's of ACE phonics/character building lessons, and
we work on writing every day too. And that is plenty of school
work for her. It is helping her learn, she loves doing her work and
feels good about what she is doing. I would limit the teaching
time with your son to what he is interested in. Kids are naturally
curious and want to learn, but if he is still in just a play stage,
you'll just frustrate yourself if you try to start him to early and
require too much of him in terms of academics." -- Sara S.


"My oldest son's birthday is August 31. Originally he started out
in a wonderful Christian school in K-4. That is only one month
earlier than your child but also keep in mind that he was not quite
4 years old when he started. That first year he learned to read
and write plus all of his other subjects such as math, Bible and
young history and science. I was perfectly willing to pull him out
if he was not yet ready for this step. He whizzed through it and
loved every minute of it.

He went to two private, Christian schools for K-4 through 2nd
grade. His third grade year we began homeschooling. He is
now in 8th grade and a pretty smart boy. I have two other
children, an 8 year old in 2nd grade and a 3 year old playing
around with pre-K work since last year. I never force the children
to do anything that they do not feel comfortable with (able may
be a better word) so that they do not end up hating school work.
My 8 year old daughter has ADHD and dyslexia. I believe that
she also has dysgraphia and am trying very desperately to get
her to start typing. She did not start reading until she was 6
years old.

As long as you do not force them to or expect them to do
something that they do not have the ability to do, you can
start as early as you want. Since you will be homeschooling,
you will be making the decisions and can slow down, speed up,
skip around or stop any time you want. If your child is not ready,
you will know. Just because you start does not mean that you
cannot stop and try again the next year.

Some more advice is take it slow. Make your lessons very short
and give breaks in between. If he gets bored or restless, take him
outside to play for about 10 or 15 minutes. It is refreshing for you
both and helps keep you from burning out. If he fights something
you try to work with him on, stop and try it a little later. A few
days or a week and he may be ready, if not you can wait some
more even if you end up waiting until next year. Some things he
may do very well at, and others he may have less talent for. He
is the only child that he has to keep up with when homeschooling.
You plan your school the way he and you are most comfortable.
And last but not least, pray, pray, pray. God will show you what
to do. Do not be afraid to try many different things to see how he
learns best. God will probably pop ideas in your head at the
oddest times." -- Tracey


"My advice after 18 years of homeschooling 2 boys and 2 girls
(all with late birthdays) and helping countless others, is DON'T
start formal schooling. Do spend a lot of time in prayer, asking
God how to best teach lessons in character and godliness.

Every state has different laws about when a child would start
kindergarten. If it's not absolutely required by your state, don't
even register him as a homeschooler until next year just before
he turns 6.

Don't spend your money on buying special curriculum just for him.
If you do, and it doesn't fit his learning style and your teaching
style, you may not use it and then be frustrated that you wasted
your time and money. Or you may frustrate him and turn him
off from school work.

Do read books by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and do
internet research on the maturation and mylenization of brain
cells. My pediatrician (a homeschool dad with 2 boys), told me
'just let him be a boy for another year'.

Do spend a lot of time with hands on activities. Do the things
you've naturally done all along, Bible study, crafts, nature walks,
listening to good music, climbing trees, listening to story tapes,
cooking, pet care, gardening, non-competitive sports, visiting
state parks, setting the table, etc.

Do get organized with a few other homeschoolers to have regular
park days and low key field trips.

If there is something that is his passion (other than computers
or watching tv), then let him spend a lot of time playing with it.
For example, if he loves dinosaurs, buy him lots of little ones
so he can count them, sequence from largest to smallest, sort
them by sizes, use his imagination to make up stories about
them, let him dictate while you write them down and he can
illustrate them, etc.

Do get a one year membership to your local science museum
or zoo and visit it frequently. With a membership, you will feel
like you can spend just one afternoon or morning each week
and concentrate on really observing, learning, and talking about
just one section of exhibits. The staff will get to know you and
then usually tell you about upcoming special events. Having a
formal membership may entitle you to free admission at count-
less museums and zoos as you travel on vacation or take
weekend trips around your state.

Do go to the library at least once a week. While there, do spend
some time looking at their exhibits and then make a complimen-
tary comment to the librarian, even if it's only a thank you.
Getting to know the Children's or Reference librarians can pay
big dividends in the future.

I let my child pick out 10 picture books each week and I picked
out another 10 that were about science, animals or from a
classic list like 'Honey for a Child's Heart' by Gladys Hunt. Each
day, I read one from his stack and then read one from my stack.
The next day I chose first.

Don't worry about when he will learn to read. My oldest son
wasn't interested in any formal schooling until he was 8 years
old and then it was like a light bulb turned on. When he turned
13, he decided to do double school work and skip up a grade.
In high school and college, he's been an honor student.

Do follow God's direction and your heart and don't worry that
he is going to miss something critical now. You both have many
more wonderful years of learning ahead." -- Rhonda E.


"I have a 14yo son with an early October birthday - made the cut
off in the state where we were living when I had to decide. I always
wondered if I did the right thing by waiting an extra year, but I'm so
glad I did. What convinced me? Puberty! My son is in 8th grade
this year, and we got thru the huge changes in his body (growing
12 inches in less than a year!) before hitting high school level
classes. I know the stress of harder, more critical courses would
have been too much while he was going through this huge change.
He might have been just fine up until that point, but after this year,
I'm so glad I waited." -- Julie G.


"I think deciding when to start formal schooling with your child is
dependent on your philosophy of early childhood education. Are
you a 'better late than early' or a 'better early than late' proponent?
From what you know about your child, is he ready for what you
aim to teach him in 'kindergarten'? (I put kindergarten in quotes
because, to me, it is a term associated with a public school
setting.) In the public schools, a lot of the focus of kindergarten
is just getting children ready for formal learning in an environment
filled with same age peers and getting the children used to being
away from their mom all day (if they have been at home with mom
for the preceding years). Since you don't have to deal with these
things in a homeschool setting, you can determine yourself when
you're child is ready to start learning, and teach him what it takes
the public schools about 9 months to do in less than half that time."
-- Jennifer in NC


"I have 3 boys (18, 15, 14) whose birthdays were also late in the
year, i.e., January, October, and December. With my first one I
delayed starting formal education until the following year, primarily
focusing on the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic. As he
progressed, I found that later we were able to skip a grade when
he was more mature and able to handle school work more easily.
This has worked out beautifully.

On the other hand, with the last two I thought they would be able to
handle the course work and pushed for them to maintain their grade
level. Major mistake -- this has brought on stress on my part trying
to teach them when they were mentally unable to grasp the
concepts. Now I'm trying to decide whether to hold them back or
continue their present course of study." -- Elizabeth W.


"I have 3 boys with fall birthdays. I decided to wait until the year
they were turning six (not five) to do kindergarten. Of course the
year they turned 5 we read a lot, did workbooks, and checked out
our science center online and in person. I realized that if I 'did'
kindergarten on the books at 5, the next year I would have to 'do'
first grade and so on. But, if I held off K that first year, the next
year I could choose to start K OR 1st grade. K is not required.
School is required by 6 where we live. I talked to a Principal and
several friends who are teachers. Every single one told me that
in 20-plus years they have never had a parent regret waiting til 6.
But they had a lot of parents regret beginning too soon, especially
with boys."


"I have three sons, the younger two with June birthdays. I delayed
starting structured schooling with these two. The first reason was
that my middle son was immature and found it hard to sit still. I
worked at teaching him in 5 - 10 minute increments with him in
my lap for two years. I found that he would go through growth
spurts academically and we could do more at one sitting. He is now
in third grade and much more independent. He still needs a relaxed
atmosphere and no pressure. I am also less pressured about where
they are and where they 'should be', too. They tend to be 6 months
ahead of other kids in their grade levels." -- Aleta in Alabama

Answer our NEW Question

"I have been home schooling my kids for 2 years now and we are
getting comfortable with our routine. Our children are 4 1/2, 6, 8,
10, and 14. My friend who was also home schooling is in the
hospital and the prognosis is very poor. They are giving it two
weeks for a possible miracle but the doctors feel that she is brain
dead and there won't be any improvement. This was a sudden
event; now her husband is going to put her children in school. They
have a 6 year old ( who is best friends with mine) and a 14 year old
(who is good friends with mine), and they also have an 18 month
old who I am already going to be watching. I am devastated by the
thought of these poor kids dealing with the possible death of their
mom and having to acclimate to a school environment as well. I
would gladly be willing to school them with my kids but I am
concerned about legal ramifications. Their father works 5 days a
week and they have no other family who could help at this time.
Please, anyone who knows of or have themselves been in this
situation, please tell me what to do, if I can in fact do anything!
I want to help her children through this very difficult time; I know
that she would do it for me in a heart beat if my kids were the
ones needing help." -- Sarah in Missouri


Do you have encouragement and/or wisdom for Sarah?
Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!


There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
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as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


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Tags: high school planning, transcript template, college prep, homeschooling high school, Barb Shelton, high school form-u-la, young fives, Dr. Raymond Moore, Better Late Than Early, delayed formal education, boys reading, homeschool supports, advice, tips

Next - A High School Plan (Part 2), Fallacy Detective, Teaching a Friend's Children
Previous - High School the 3rd Time Around, Museum Units, 'Colorful' Advanced Math

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