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Encouraging a Love for Reading and Writing

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 25, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 41 May 25, 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
-- Just a Few More Days!
Helpful Tips
-- Good Games for Math
Winning Website
-- Punctuation Made Simple
Reader Question
-- Love for Reading/Writing
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

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Thanks, Elaine, for all you do!



Helpful Tip

Games for Math and Problem Solving Skills

"We get excited about games of any kind. Yes, we do some drills
occasionally, but basically since our son was 3, we've played about
any game that offers any kind of educational benefit. Here are
some of our favorites:

Cribbage - reinforces addition like nobody's business. If you have
the patience to teach your child cribbage, it's great fun! We just
taught our son at 5 1/2 - if your child can count he/she can learn
this game. The key is to introduce one rule at a time, such as
with chess. Monopoly - counting money - personally, I don't care
for monopoly, but my son loves it, and it's great for reinforcing
money concepts.

Yahtzee - addition and mulitiplication

Chess - thinking skills/strategy concepts and problem solving.
He's been playing since he was four - anyone can learn the basics.
Perfecting the game is the journey of a lifetime. :-)

Chutes and Ladders/Uncle Wiggly - addition and subtraction

Dominoes - we have a set of 12-dot dominoes - we use them for play-
ing games like 'Mexican Train' - great for recognition of quantities.
Also use them for mulitplication, addition, subtraction. There are
at least 50 'official' games that can be played with dominoes."

-- Jackie R. - member, www.HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group


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

Winning Website

Punctuation Made Simple


This easy to navigate site explains in surprisingly simple terms
the rules for when to use the 'trickier' punctuation marks: colon,
semi-colon, comma, dash and apostrophe. An older student can read
the site on their own, or mom might want to present the material
as a lesson and make up some sample sentences for practice.

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I've been homeschooling for 3 years now. My son is 8 years old
(in the 2nd grade), and just has no love for reading or writing.
He just gets tired of it too quickly. I know he knows how and he's
at the right level of reading. When he needs to write sentences
he just puts the basics -- like 'the sun is yellow and hot' -- you
know? Just the very basic stuff he needs to make it a sentence.
Anything more and he has a little meltdown. Now he loves the 'Cat
in The Hat' books. I've thought of maybe writing some sentences
for him to copy like that. Or maybe he could write his own in that
style? I just don't know. I would hate for him to never realize
how much fun it is to read. Any help is greatly appreciated."
-- Sheri

Our Readers' Responses

"First, remember he is only 8 and this needs to be fun. Don't make
reading or writing a chore or you will always be struggling and that
is definitely not fun. When my son got lazy about reading I decided
that it was time for him to read me a story. He seemed to enjoy
doing something for me and I enjoyed listening. He was a little
older (12) and the book was 'Around the World in 80 Days'. There
were lots of strange words and opportunities for me to ask questions.
This took several weeks of reading a chapter at a time. By the end
we had covered not only reading but vocabulary, comprehension, geo-
graphy and history. Writing comes with maturity. Gradually read
just very slightly above your current level and writing will natur-
ally follow from having read complex sentences and paragraphs. I've
found even with laziness at some point kids want to say more in a
sentence or paragraph than bare bones basics. I tell my son to write
a sentence and then read it out loud to see if that sounds like some-
thing you would say or read in a book as a general guide. Try having
your child write his own book -- nothing too complicated -- you want
great success without painful memories. Have it spiral bound. He
will be very proud and books will have a new perspective."
-- Pamela in Florida


"Wow, eight years old is so young! There is plenty of time for him
to read and write. Perhaps you shouldn't push him to read and write
himself at such a young age. I recommend you read about Charlotte
Mason style homeschooling. Here's a very brief description of one
of her techniques:

Read aloud to him -- well-written 'living' books -- a lot of them.
And encourage (not force) him to tell the story or information back
to you -- in his own words, without any probing questions from you.
(I emphasize this because I, myself, tend to push too hard for
information I feel is important, rather than really listen to what
my child is saying) Or you might have him tell the story to someone
else -- father, grandparents, aunts and uncles are great in this
role! They can even listen over the phone. While he is retelling
the story, he is actually writing, just orally. His retelling will
get better and more detailed, as he comes to expect that you will be
listening to his version (he'll begin listening for all the details
and forming the story in his mind while you read). Eventually, he
will want to read more than you have time to read aloud, and he'll
begin to pick up books on his own. And someday he'll likely want
to put some of his own thoughts down on paper. In the meantime,
you can have him dictate his thoughts, stories, poems for you to
write down -- often its the physical act of writing that discourages
young children. All of this gives you lots of cuddle-time on the
couch (or on the porch, under a tree, in a tree, on the subway,
wherever) just being together (very important!)." -- Eliza


"Like Sheri’s son, my daughter Danielle didn’t like to write
anything. She had always been in public school so I decided to
homeschool her this past year. Although, my daughter is in 7th
grade I think this would work for any age child. I bought a
writing curriculum but spent minimal time per day on it (20 minutes).
In other subjects we did very minimal writing with no complete
sentences required (unlike public school). I tried to take all
pressure off writing so she would forget how bad she hated it. I
bought her a basset hound puppy (you might not need to go that far!).
My daughter found a great website of a basset hound owner and
started emailing her questions which this wonderful lady posted on
the website. Danielle started drawing pictures of her dog and
Cathy Rudert of bassethoundtown.com made her the 'Resident Artist'
of Basset Hound Town. Danielle decided to start writing stories
about her dog’s adventures and now her creative writing is wonderful.
Cathy (bassethoundtown.com) gave Danielle so much encouragement
with her writing that Danielle wanted to write more and more and now
wants to publish her own children’s book about her basset hound,
'Maple Syrup'." -- Michelle in Florida


"I have homeschooled our four children all the way through so far.
Our oldest just graduated this year and our youngest will be in 2nd
grade next year. We have spent a lot of time at the library look-
ing for books that they think they will enjoy. If the easier books
are what he likes, I would go with that until he feels more comfort-
able. When it is fun, they learn to enjoy it. Another thing we do
is to take books in the car to read on the way to town. We have a
20 minute drive and they all like to read to make the time go more
quickly. Maybe if you can find a book your child might be interested
in, you could read a chapter every day to him and make it a special
time for the two of you." -- Beth


"As far as reading, if you are wanting him to know that there are
good stories in books, read to him or listen to books on tape.
Sometimes the stories that are on the level our kids can read are
not very interesting! He can listen to something that is far above
his reading level and get a lot out of it. We also like to read a
book, then watch a movie based on the book -- it starts a lot of

Writing is often very labor intensive for young children and there-
fore not fun, so they try to get by with as few words as possible.
(eg: 'The dog ran.') However I have had some success with letting
my child dictate to me as I type on the computer. We end up with
something more like 'The black spotted dog ran across the field and
jumped on me.' We do still have handwriting as a subject, and she
still writes on her own also, but for stories the dictation really
seems to help." -- Cheryl


"My suggestion is to use a timer. You could just start out for 5
minutes. Set the timer and let him read/write for 5 minutes. When
the timer goes off, he's done. You can increase the time until
you are at around 15 minutes.

Another suggestion is to find out what motivates him. For my
daughter, it's money. If he does whats required of him, he gets a
set amount of money. Some may be real opposed to the idea of using
money to motivate, however, no one works for free. A weekly pay-
check is the motivation. We turn the earned money into another
lesson -- she tithes 10%, saves 50% and can spend the remaining
40%." -- Lindsay A.


"Sometimes a second grader's skills don't keep up with his brain.
If he can't read fluently, even though he can read, it isn't going
to be as fun for him as when you or someone else reads to him. Same
with writing -- yes he is capable, but he can get tired physically.

Writing Strands 1 stresses oral work. Have him dictate the sentence
and then embellish. For example:

'I walked my dog down the street.'
'I walked my poodle down the street.'
'I walked my poodle down the street in the rain.
'I walked my white poodle, Comet, down the street in the rain to the

He keeps building the sentence bit by bit; my son loved these! You
could do this on the chalk board and maybe just have him do the first
and final sentences as copy work. And if Dr. Seuss helps him read
and enjoy, let him! Just add other books and stories. Get some on
tape that he can read along with. The 'I Can Read' books are good as
well." -- Davette B.


"My husband's mother is illiterate so it fell to him to encourage
his younger siblings to read. Since his sister had an interest in
video games and Japanese manga (comic books), he encouraged her read-
ing in that way. Many of the Final Fantasy video games have story
lines and dialogue which must be read to be able to play the game
properly. It's a fun way to get extra reading in. Also, the comic
books are valid reading as well. Another bonus? The kids are all
fairly well versed in Japanese language and culture since they also
get the games and magazines in Japanese as well as in English. My
husband speaks Spanish (his first language), English, and enough
Japanese to read the comics and the video games." -- Cathy S.


"I have a 15-yr-old son (just completing 9th grade) who doesn't
like reading or writing (for school). He loves to read when it
is something he is interested in (frequently checking out thick
books from the library), but drags his feet when I have him read
other books for 'schoolwork'. I have a list of books gleaned from
a book about college required reading and he reads those (sometimes
with protest), but he will often spend his spare time reading a
library book.

As for writing, when he does written assignments, he writes brief,
to-the-point statements and says his daily journal entries
(personal) are one or two sentences of overview. However, when
he prepares talks to present in church, he does an excellent job
of presenting his thoughts. Since he is in high school, with
college essays looming on the horizon, we will begin focusing
more on writing skills. I don't think you need to worry, you
still have time to prepare your child for 'the future'." -- Sherry A.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have an 11 year old son who has high-functioning autism. I have
been homeschooling him since 2nd grade. While he has improved
academically and behaviorally, I feel concerned about his long-term
potential as he has trouble paying attention to any group instruction
and he does not talk with other children/adults unless I force it.
He has several opportunities each week to practice listening and
social skills -- he attends church, a weekly co-op, and takes one
lesson a week in some area of interest. Does anyone have any
suggestions? I would especially love to hear from anyone who has
homeschooled a similar child and who is farther down the homeschool
road than I am right now!" -- Sharon


Do you have experience and/or suggestions to offer Sharon?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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Tags: math games, problem solving skills, punctuation skills, grammar curriculum, homeschool writing curriculum, teaching writing, Charlotte Mason, carschooling, writing prompts, Writing Strands, homeschooling advice, help, home education tips, reviews


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