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Answering Critics, Summer Fun, History for Autistic Son

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, July 28, 2014
Vol. 15 No. 9, July 28, 2014, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2014, Mary Beth Akers and Heather Idoni

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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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!


Notes from Mary Beth
-- Answering the Critics
Winning Website
-- Extra Summer Fun Ideas!
Helpful Tips
-- Tips for Responding to Criticism
This Issue's Question
-- History Ideas?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Mary Beth

Answering the Critics

At the homeschool conference I attended recently, a common question from newcomers was, "How do we defend our school choice to critical relatives?"

It is important for us to maintain healthy public relations with family, neighbors, school officials and the public in general. It will make life easier for us and for other homeschoolers now and in the future.

Critics will probably never be totally abolished from our lives. It's likely that we and our children will always need to have answers ready. You can reduce the number and severity of the attacks by raising courteous, articulate and cheerful children. They will be your most effective defense.

In this issue, we will discuss strategies for dealing with negative challenges to home schooling. In a future issue, we'll offer some specific defenses.

-- Mary Beth


"After 5 years of homeschooling, I knew I wasn't giving my kids the 'best of the best'. I didn't want them to turn out like me, a great student who 20 years later, with high school and college diplomas in hand, doesn't remember much of anything taught.

When we notebook our studies, quite frankly, the knowledge STICKS. Lightbulbs click and eyes shine! We have a growing treasury of their homeschooling journey."

-- Debra Reed, Homeschooling Mom and Publisher of NotebookingPages.com


Helpful Tips

How to Respond When Your Decision to Homeschool is Criticized by Others

Some people are genuinely interested in your children; others simply refuse to acknowledge that there are other ways to do things besides the way they do it.

Some people are curious or interested, and truly seeking to be enlightened; others are uninformed and content to stay that way.

Some people admire and respect what you're doing; others resent you for having the courage to do what they know, deep down, that they should do.

Some people want information; others are trying to pick a fight.

Some people are intrigued by home schooling; others are threatened by it.

From the beginning, try to identify which of these you are dealing with; then decide whether any benefit might come from discussion.

If you decide to engage, first of all, listen. A good listener is rare, and if you hear the person out, you will display courtesy, genuine interest in their ideas, and self-control. You might even ask about their children. The conversation might never get back to home schooling. A good listener wins friends.

Colossians 4:5-6 is a good starting place.

When you speak about home schooling, smile. Be enthusiastic. Imagine that you are finally getting to take a trip to a place you've always wanted to go, and you're having trouble containing your excitement. Suppose someone said, "Why would you want to go there?! That's a miserable place!"

Your enthusiasm wouldn't waver. With an excited smile and all kinds of energy, you might answer with, "The scenery is beautiful and the food is wonderful! They have fabulous concerts every night. And besides, my best friend lives there, and I can't wait to see her!" Your enthusiasm alone would wipe out their negative comments. That's how your attitude and demeanor should be when you respond to homeschool skeptics.

Try to avoid pointing out the shortcomings of the school system unless the other person brings them up. Hopefully, you're home schooling because of the merits of home schooling, not only to get away from something bad. If a perfect school were next door to my house, I'd still home school. The opposition needs to hear about the advantages.

If you're speaking to a Christian, and if God has called you to home school, that should be all you need to tell them. A fellow believer would never try to persuade you to disobey God. Your decision is an act of obedience and faith.

If you use words and phrases such as, "discipleship", "freedom", "Christ-centered/Bible-based", "our family's needs", "avoiding government dictates", most objectors will have a hard time finding fault with those concepts.

When the Pharisees challenged Jesus, He often responded with a question that they had difficulty answering. It might work for you, too.

If someone is displaying their ignorance by telling you something about homeschooling that you know isn't true, ask, "Where did you hear that?" or, "How do you know that?" or "How extensively have you researched homeschooling?" You could also say, "That's what I used to think, but now I know that..."

If the socialization issue comes up, some good questions are: "Do you think it's preferable for an eight-year-old (or whatever age fits) to learn social skills from his parents, or from the other eight-year-olds in the community?"

If they say that your children specifically need to learn social skills, ask, "What weaknesses have you seen in my children's behavior? We'll get to work on it." They might indicate that they really don't know your children that well. Then ask, "Then on what are you basing that comment?"

Ask them to define socialization. Give them plenty of time to think; they might need it. For most people, it's doing what everybody else is doing because everybody else is doing it. For us, it's doing what's right because it's the right thing to do, regardless of what everybody else is doing, or their opinion of what we're doing.

Defining terms and explaining concepts can be very difficult for irrational, biased cynics. Ask them what they mean, or to clarify something they've said.

The comment "Oh, I was never very good in school" might prompt you to say "Neither was I, and I'm not about to place my children in the hands of the same system that failed me".

"I could never do that!" might be answered with, "If you discovered that you could, would you want to?"

Keep open opportunities for further discussion. If you don't have time to address a persons' questions, ask if you could meet for lunch at a later time to talk.

A few years ago, I was involved in a discussion about this topic, and some of the moms were becoming a bit whiny. I decided to lighten things up a bit with some quippy answers for naysayers -- answers I would never really use, although some people have at times tempted me. I later shared those answers with this group, but in case you have joined since then, here they are again. I don't advocate sarcasm, so these are just for fun between you and me. (And, no, I don't really have a marijuana patch!)

Q: Why are you homeschooling?
A: I believe the final product will be of superior quality.

Q: How long do you plan to homeschool?
A: Until my children have taught me everything I need to know.

Q: Why don't you support your local school?
A: For the same reason I don't support my local liquor store -- they are selling stuff I don't want to buy.

Q: How will your children get into college?
A: They'll walk through the front door, same as everybody else.

Q: Do you have a teaching degree?
A: Yes, but I've repented.

Q: I would never have the patience to teach my children!
A: Well, fortunately the Lord gave me all the extra patience that he withheld from the rest of you. I didn't know what to do with it, so I thought maybe homeschooling would be a good place to use it up.

Q: Aren't you concerned about socialization?
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, we are working on table manners right now. Do you recommend we visit the local school cafeteria as a model for my children?

Q: Don't you get tired of having your children around all the time?
A: When they start getting on my nerves, I send them out to tend our marijuana patch. It's getting to be more than I can handle by myself.

Back to the serious side! Grace, confidence and a sense of humor are foundational for dealing with those who challenge you. And prepare to be surprised. When we began homeschooling, there were certain people we expected to be hostile, and those we expected to be supportive. In some cases we were right, but there were people on both sides who threw us for a loop. There are even a few who switched to the supportive side, as they watched our children grow up.

Remember that Satan doesn't usually bother people who are no threat to him. The attacks should serve to affirm your decision and bolster your convictions.

-- Mary Beth

Winning Websites

Summer Fun

Running out of ideas for interesting summer activities for the kids? Here is a page that might provide some inspiration!


One of the suggested activities involves the physics of swimming -- check out this page and find out if you've been doing it wrong for years!


Last Issue's Question...

"Hello -- I wonder if anyone can help me with this. I have a 13 year old homeschooled boy with autism. Reading and language in general is very, very difficult for him. He can read the words, but has real trouble getting much meaning out of passages. His reading is only on about a 2nd grade level, while he is generally working on 4th-6th grade curriculum. I am wanting to teach history -- any history (world or US) -- but every curriculum I check into is very heavy on reading, which isn't going to work for him, even if I read it to him. Ideally I'd love something that is online, with the computer reading him stories or showing him videos, with a workbook or printable pages to go with it. Does anyone know of any history courses like that?

Thanks so much for any replies! Suggestions on history, reading comprehension, reaching kids with autism, or anything you think might help him are welcome!"

-- Pam in Utah

Our Readers' Answers...

"My family uses Mystery of History. It isn't a whole lot of reading, just a page and a half to two pages in the first book (though I can see there's more in the second book). I read it to them, then sometimes we choose an activity at the end of the lesson or I let them notebook about the lesson by drawing a picture of what the story was about, list some facts, or write a short paragraph about what they learned. My kids hate workbook page type things and we enjoy doing things together. The author of Mystery of History has lots of really fun and creative activities for each lesson, which takes the boredom out of history. Hope this helps!"

-- Carla


"Even though my son is a great reader he hates to read 'school stuff'. So I use DVDs bought from the history channel, I record programs on TV. Netflix has some good documentaries and if you google a history topic a lot of free websites come up. Some have worksheets and sometimes we just talk about what we watched. My son has Asperger's. Math is his big hang-up, as well as writing. Good Luck!"

-- Joanie in Tulsa


"Hi, Pam -- I don't know of any full history curricula that would be online, unless Time4Learning offers a history option. There are options for supplements though.

Story of the World has audio CDs and an activity book with pages to be reproduced. We love Story of the World and will be using the advanced version for high school as well.

Mike Huckabee has created a series of DVDs that are quite informative on American history and Bible stories. I think there are questions that go with them but I am not certain.

You tube has a channel called Crash Course Where they do reviews of history chronologically. They also offer other subjects and topics. This might be a bit tough though as they go very fast.

The last one I know of is Khan Academy. We have used this site for math and art videos and they do a great job of explaining the topics. However, if it matters to you, they have aligned with The Common Core standards.

I hope these suggestions help!"

-- Tricia P.

New Reader Question...

How would YOU (or how have you) responded to critics?

Please share your thoughts and/or experiences! :-)

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