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Writing Starters, The Write Stuff, Speech Impaired Kids

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, June 04, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 44 June 4, 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
-- Reader Feedback
Helpful Tips
-- Writing 'Starters'
Resource Review
-- The Write Stuff
Reader Question
-- Speech Impairment
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Reader Feedback


On Training Kids to Work

"Dr. Joan's article inspired me to share an experience I had with
my children. It's not exactly along the same line as work
avoidance, but still pertains to training children to work.

A lady in our community had a problem with her foot, and had to
stay off it for several weeks. Her friends and neighbors helped
her with food, housework, etc. At the time, she had two daughters
home from college for the summer, two high school aged children,
and a boy and girl ages 7 and 9. Our family went over one day to
weed their garden, and while we were working, their children were
sitting in the house watching TV. While we were happy to do
whatever we could to help, I found myself wondering why her
children weren't helping also. I determined to try to make sure
that my children would be able to manage in the event that I might
not be able to perform my usual tasks.

My training efforts were put to the test when I had a serious
injury, and was unable to function for quite a long time. What I
discovered was that, although the children were very capable of
doing various household tasks, they had to be told what to do. I
had trained them in the skills, but not in recognizing when a job
needed doing. I then began to actually give them ownership of
various responsibilities -- not only are they to do the job, but
they are also responsible for knowing when to do it, and to take
the initiative to do it without being told.

So far, I've not had to test this later training, and hope I don't
have to. But I have some confidence that if I am ever again laid
up for a time, we will not have to depend on outsiders to manage
our home for us." -- Mary Beth A.


Regarding our 5/25 issue with the question/answer section about
reading and writing:


"You always seems to print what troubles my thoughts and/or where
I'm stuck. God bless you. This weeks answer's on reading/writing
sure puts my mind at ease. We've had a lot of illness in our family
and it has taken a lot of focus and interest off our usual schedule
-- and reading and writing have been neglected the most. After
reading everyone's entries I do believe we're okay; not off the
hook! I think we expect a lot from our children at times when we
can't function all that well either. Boy, I sure learn as I go.
Life sure teaches us daily. Thank for always reminding me that
schooling is a wonderful journey... unique and all our own! You
have a wonderful newsletter!" -- Jennifer

[Editor's note: Thanks, Jennifer, for those kind words. I wish I
could take credit, but the 'great' stuff is input from our readers
-- I just do the editing! ;-) -- Heather]


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather @ familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Here is a late answer to that 5/25 reading/writing question --
I thought it would work well here as our 'tip' for the issue!
Keep sending those tips! ;-)


Writing 'Starters'

"I have a son who does not enjoy writing, but loves reading. What
we've done for quite a long time is encouraged them to read their
own choice of books. As long as they read, that's all that mattered.
As far as writing is concerned, I gave assignment after assignment
to which my son would say, 'Mom do I have to do this part?' I would
tell him that he did have to do the assignment, but I would adjust
it for him. He hated writing. I stopped that method in favor of
writing 'starters'. Some of them he enjoyed, but others he didn't
care for. Some of them include the following:

*If I were the teacher I would...
*The ground hog was right/wrong because...
*I like it when it snows because...
*My favorite meal is_______ and you make it...
*I can play outside all day long. My favorite thing to do is...
*Describe your favorite day of school. What did you do, how did you
do it and what made it your favorite day?

Just today I gave the children a writing assignment to describe their
favorite yard sale purchase. I wanted them to draw their purchase
then describe it in writing answering the questions 'Who?, What?,
Where?, When?, Why?, and How?' My son wrote an entire page of
information about his Battle Bots that he bought this past weekend
for $1.00.

Kids write best about things they like. If your son likes computer
games, then start there. If you're growing a garden and he likes to
help in the garden, have him describe his favorite step in gardening.
If he plays a plethora of sports, have him write about the current
one (ie: baseball). Have him write about the game where he did that
wonderful hit that brought his team mates in to home.

The trick is to tap in to their likes and dislikes." -- Regina in PA


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

Resource Review

The Write Stuff Adventure
-- Review by Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Let's face it - for most homeschool families, teaching the art of
writing is sometimes a bit of a challenge. I have found it is useful
to have a variety of 'tools' on my shelf that I can refer to as my
children progress developmentally and need additional instruction or
reinforcement in the area of composition. The Write Stuff Adventure
is just that type of tool. Though it can be used as your writing
curriculum, I feel it is best used as a source of great ideas and
encouragement for writers of various ages and abilities.

Written by a retired newspaper editor and university professor, The
Write Stuff Adventure provides lessons on a variety of topics
including the basics of writing simple, descriptive sentences and
letters to Grandma, to essays and photojournalism. In fact, it is
the emphasis on journalism, including interviewing, organizing
information and writing articles, that appeals to me the most. The
Write Stuff Adventure is written directly to the student and the
author, Dean Rea, gleans from his years of experience in the field
of writing and journalism, coupled with his experience as a dad and
grandfather, to produce a warm, non-threatening teaching style. Moms
will appreciate his 'Note to Teacher' section in each lesson, which
guides them through the ups and downs of teaching and evaluating

The Write Stuff Adventure is organized into 6 sections: Simple Things,
Personal and Family History, The Essay Made Easy, Interviewing and the
Non-Fiction Article, News, Advertising and Photography, and Writing
the Short Story. There are about 100 lessons spread throughout the
sections; some can be completed in a day, while others may take a week
or more. There are no daily lesson plans and, for the most part, you
may pick and choose what lessons to use based on the ages/abilities of
your student(s). Originally written for his grandchildren and a class
of homeschool students, The Write Stuff Adventure would make a great
text for a co-op class. It would be especially fun to use the sections
on Interviewing, Non-Fiction Articles and News, Advertising and Photo-
graphy in a class setting to create and share a 'newspaper' showcasing
each student's work.

Although the lessons are written to the students, this really is a
teacher's manual. The teacher will be presenting the lesson material
and selecting the appropriate pace of the course. Some activities are
quite challenging (writing letters to the editor, interviewing others,
writing feature articles, essays, etc.) and provide a great way for
high school students to apply all of the writing instruction they have
received over the years. The publisher recommends The Write Stuff
Adventure be used with students in grades 5 and up. Although the first
section does deal with some grammar and punctuation, younger students
who have not had much grammar instruction will need a separate course
to learn/refine those skills. If you have a student interested in
journalism, you will definitely want to give this program a try. It
is the only writing program I know of with so much emphasis on writing
for the media. The last section has projects covering writing radio
scripts, editorial cartoons and photojournalism - all topics not typi-
cally covered in most writing courses for school-aged students.

'The Write Stuff Adventure: Exploring the Art of Writing' certainly
does live up to its title. There are so many ways to express yourself,
and this well-written course exposes students to a wide variety of
creative activities so they can explore and discover, first hand, how
to utilize the art of written communication.


For more information or to order: http://www.gebconline.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 13 year old son that has terrible speech problems. He
has been in speech therapy since he was three and I also give him
home therapy. I am not seeing much progress. My husband and I
can understand him but it is difficult for anyone else to get it
all. They only pick up on words here and there. My son is really
an intelligent young man but the speech problem has cost him so
much socially. We take him to church and he is isolated after he
opens his mouth. He doesn't let it stop him though -- he still
approaches other children to talk; but he is most often ignored.
This is so heartbreaking to us to watch our son be treated so un-
fairly. He is such a sweet young man! He is also the last one at
home -- all the other children are grown, some with children of
their own. He mostly hangs out with us, which we like, but we
would love to see him have a friend. Any suggestions?? Of course
we pray about this all the time." -- Janet in Indiana

Our Readers' Responses

"My prayers are with you and your son. I am deaf and now am lucky
enough to have a cochlear implant - 3 years - which has been the
miracle I had hoped for. But when I was younger I did not have
the gift of hearing so I can recall painful times where I was
ostracized by other children.

I am thinking about what my parents did.

They pushed me on my talents outside of school as well as inside.
I could draw well and practiced it constantly; I took piano for
six years and actually was the best piano player in my whole elemen-
tary school at that time (I had to practice a LOT); I was good in
math and science.

I think because of my gifts, I was respected, and then with respect
came interest. None of them could do it - I was the piano player
and the other students would crowd around me when I played. Through
that I gained acceptance on a certain level and developed friends
through mutual interest. And in art other children would come to me
to see what I was working on and they would try to do what I was doing.

I talked 'funny' too - as I never heard EXACTLY how people sounded
words. I had to mimic their mouth enunciations and I had a lisp
because I could not hear the proper 'S' sound -- probably my 'R'
sound, too, as well as other sounds.

I think as I became confident in what I was able to do and was good
at, and realizing that the people who accepted me were my friends and
those who did not - it was their loss - I was not as bothered by it.
There were still times but it was mitigated by having a close friend.

I think emphasizing our talents and what we love is critical to posi-
tive self esteem - and finding like-minded friends.

Maybe your son is a brilliant chess player? Or maybe he has an
ability to write and move people through words? Or how about a fas-
cination with bee hives (you could, depending on where you live, set
up a few hives (I'm not kidding -- we did this!) and study bees and do
presentations with the local 4-H clubs.

Focus on what he is good at, let him enjoy his successes, bring him
around like-minded people to learn and share with, and forget the rest!
We cannot please everyone anyway." -- Jeanne Lee


"I cannot offer you advice regarding speech help, but if he is having
trouble communicating via speech, is there a deaf community in your
area or church that perhaps he could learn sign language as well as
continuing to work on his speech?

I'm not saying he should quit trying and communicating the best that
he can, but I just wondered if learning an alternative way of communi-
cating might help?" -- Vicki P.


"Janet, there are several articles about speech at www.nathhan.com
(NATHHAN's website). You can simply read the articles there, or you
can join the organization and have the privilege of being in touch with
other parents who have dealt with the same challenges you are facing."
-- Mary Beth A.


"Have you ever thought of allowing your son to use a communication
device? Steven Hawking (scientist) is the first person who comes
to mind. He appears to be very disabled, hunched over in a wheel-
chair, unable to speak, but with the use of his computerized communi-
cation device, he is able to continue to express his thoughts, opinions,
and theories. He is highly regarded in the field of astronomy! Also,
individuals with severe autism and mental retardation are using these
computerized devices (basically type on a keyboard and have a compu-
terized voice speak for them) with astounding results. Individuals
who were thought to be uncommunicative and highly disabled are now able
to express their thoughts - sometimes very profound thoughts!"
-- Lisa in Ohio


"It sounds like it is time for assistive technology. Have you looked
into talking keyboards or other speech synthesis devices, which will
allow him to communicate with others?" -- Pam


"My heart breaks for you and your son. Kids can be so cruel and it is
really hard as parents to watch our children be hurt. Perhaps his
speech therapist might know of another child with similar speech issues
who is in need of a friend?

On another note... there are worse things in life than having your
parents as your best friends. I went through most of high school
spending Friday and Saturday nights at home with my parents. There was
nowhere that I would rather have been! When your son finally makes
friends - they will be good friends. I'll keep you in my prayers."
-- Sonja

Answer our NEW Question

"My children are 8 (son) and 10 (daughter) and will be in third and
fifth grade next year. Before my daughter even started kindergarten,
I felt compelled to homeschool and enrolled her in the Florida Virtual
Academy public school pilot program. I chickened out because she
wanted to go to school so badly. That was five years ago and every
year I think about how homeschooling would probably be a positive and
good experience for our family. I have read many books on the subject
and spent much time researching it.

My dilemma is that my children love going to school and do very well
(both are in the 98 percentile nationally - whatever that means). They
are very active in the activities the school has to offer such as band
and other programs and very much enjoy them. We have never had a bad
experience that would cause us to need to leave the public school arena.
I as well love the principal, teachers and staff and the school itself
is extremely nice and has all the newest technology. I am very active
as a volunteer, chair the Student Advisory Council and enjoy the inter-
action and sense of community with my friends as well.

So what is the problem you ask? Just a gut feeling that won't go away!
I have the desire to be with my children more. To let them out of the
box and let them really explore. To learn at a faster pace and go
deeper. To have flexibility and travel time. To let them experience
an environment different from '30 kids the same age doing the same
thing at the same time in the same way'. To have the freedom to respond
as they would like and not the way they think they are supposed to
respond. But I am afraid to take that step into the unknown. What if
it isn't what I have pictured in my 'Leave it to Beaver' mindset?

I know you will probably suggest trying it out and going back to school
if it doesn't work. Therein lies another dilemma. We are not zoned
for our school and are there as 'choice' students because we went when
it opened and it was not at capacity. It is now full, so once we leave
we cannot go back. That is not an issue for my daughter since it is
her last year there. My son, however, would feel better if he knew he
could return to the school.

I am torn. My son was so sad today going to the last day of school
because he fears it is his last day there ever. It broke my heart to
cause him sadness and worry. This is something I have felt led to do
for so long, however, I have the most well adjusted, happy, successful
children and my fear is they will become depressed and unhappy because
I want to try something new, different and unknown at their expense.

What is my husband's thought on all this? He also feels homeschooling
is the direction our family should go, but struggles with making the
decision to do it because our children want to go to school and are
happy there. If they said, 'YES, homeschooling sounds awesome -- we
want to do it!', I would not be writing this long explanation request-
ing advice from cyberspace.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!" -- Pam


Do you have some wisdom for Pam in choosing what is best for her 8 and
10 year old children?

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

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Tags: training kids to work, good work ethic, Write Stuff Adventure, article writing, writing essays, homeschool journalism curriculum, Writing Strands, writing prompts, writing starters, homeschool writing curriculum, curricula, homeschooling tips, advice

Next - Connect with a Group, Good Books, The Homeschool Decision
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