Page 1


Credentials Page 8

Write of Passage Page 10

7 Questions to Ask

When Choosing an Extracurricular Activity Page 12

January / February 2012 $6.50 USA/$15.50 INTL



In this treasured resource, you’ll discover how to: rMake your home and family the heart of your children’s education rTrain your children to become creative, self-directed learners rEnrich life and education with living books rIdentify and work with each child’s learning style

AGES 4-14

rHelp your children love to learn as naturally as they love to play rGain confidence to teach with practical, common sense methods Whether you are a first-time homeschooler or a longterm veteran, this comprehensive guide will equip and empower you for your journey of faith as a family. Discover the joy of bringing relationship-based, bookcentered learning back into the daily life of your home.

Thank you, Clay and Sally, for reminding me that nurturing my children’s hearts by providing a haven of learning and love in our home is what matters much more than a “perfect” curriculum, schedule, or childtraining method. Crystal Paine Money Saving Mom®, I’m shocked that so much detail, vision, and practical advice could be packed into a single book. This is one reference book every family needs. Dr. Scott Turansky National Center for Biblical Parenting 888-524-4724

Publisher’s Letter Brilliant Publishing LLC 9034 Joyce Lane, Hummelstown, PA 17036 Telephone: 717.571.9233 Fax: 717.566.5431


Maureen Williams 717.608.5869

A New Year full of Hope, Promise and Inspiration! I love when I flip the calendar and a new year begins. It motivates me

more than any other time of the year. The hopes that lie in the newness of a year coupled with plans and dare I say resolutions inspire me. I always kick off my new year by organizing my desk and home. I find that going thru things clears my mind and provides a sense of accomplishment when I see all that has been done in the past year. It also fills me with hope and inspires many plans for the year ahead. What are you planning this year? What inspires you? I hope that you find this issue as uplifting, educational and inspiring as I do. We try to find balance with every issue and bring you information and articles that will assist you in your efforts and remind you of all the wonderful reasons you chose to home school. We have many plans for this year. We just launched our app version of the magazine for the iPad. We also have some brilliant and fun editorial that we are working on. Be sure to like us at as well as on we share many fun facts and freebies on these sites and plan to do much more in 2012. As always please keep sending your emails and letters. We read and treasure each and every one. Please let us know how we are doing and what more you want to see from us. Remember we are constantly striving to improve and your suggestions and requests are a valuable part of our roadmap to providing an inspiring resource for home educators. Time to make some things happen in our “new” home. As we again fill it with love and memories we hope that you will make many memories and find the newness of the year as well as this issue inspiring. Education Matters!

Maureen Williams, Publisher 717-608-5869 Follow us on twitter: Become a Fan on Facebook: The Homeschool Handbook Magazine 4

Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

EDITORIAL Editor In Chief

MaryAnne Morrill

Senior Editor

Michelle Donofry

Style / Asst. Editor Charity Plata

Subscription Service / Back Issues:


Nancy Stearns Bercaw, Deven Black, Robin Finley, Barbara Frank, Maria Gracia, Dr. Barton Goldsmith, Carolyn Henderson, Colleen Hoenicke, Sarita Holzmann, Monica Irvine, Charlotte Muller, James H. Pence, Andrew Pudewa, Cyndi Ringoen, BA, BS, Neurodevelopmentalist, Paul Stone, Katie Sullivan, Debbie Thompson, Brent Turner, Donna Vail, Sandra Volchko


Jeremy Tingle The Homeschool Handbook is published bi-monthly by Brilliant Publishing LLC, 9034 Joyce Lane, Hummelstown, PA 17036 Telephone: (717) 5719233, Fax: (717) 566-5431. Postage paid at Michigan City, IN and additional offices. POSTMASTER please send address changes to The Homeschool Handbook, 9034 Joyce Lane, Hummelstown, PA 17036. Volume 3 Number 01. The Homeschool Handbook subscription rates: one-year $19.95 USD, Canadian $59.95 USD, Foreign $89.95 USD. All subscriptions are nonrefundable. Copyright © 2012 Brilliant Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. the publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any advertising or editorial material. Advertisers, and/or their agents, assume the responsibility for any claims against the publisher based on the advertisement. Editorial contributors assume responsibility for their published works and assume responsibility for any claims against the publisher based on published work. No part of this publication can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher. All items submitted to The Homeschool Handbook become the sole property of Brilliant Publishing LLC. Editorial content does not reflect the views of the publisher. The imprints, logos, trademarks or trade names (collectively the “Marks”) displayed on the products featured in The Homeschool Handbook are for illustrative purposes only and are not available for sale. The Marks do not represent the implied or actual endorsement by the owners of the Marks of the product on which they appear. All of the Marks are the property of the respective owners and are not the property of either the advertisers using the Marks or The Homeschool Handbook. MEDICAL DISCLAIMER No warranty whatsoever is made by the publisher and there is absolutely no assurance that any statement contained or cited in any article touching on medical matters is true, correct, precise, or up-to-date. Even if a statement made about medicine is accurate, it may not apply to you or your symptoms. The medical information provided is, at best, of a general nature and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional (for instance, a qualified doctor/physician, nurse, pharmacist/chemist, and so on). None of the individual contributors, LLC members, subcontractors, advertisers, or anyone else connected to Brilliant Publishing LLC and The Homeschool Handbook can take any responsibility for the results or consequences of any attempt to use or adopt any of the information presented in this magazine. Nothing included, as a part of this publication should not be construed as an attempt to offer or render a medical opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of medicine.

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What’s in

Your resource, support & inspiration for a successful lifestyle 8 10

Credentials Write of Passage


12 Seven Questions to Ask When Choosing an Extracurricular Activity

14 What About Socialization? 16 Preparing Your Child for Testing 17 I’m Tired of Talking About Education 18 Raising Eager Learners…Why Your Child Needs to Fail


20 Five Reasons Why Art Should be a Priority in Your Homeschool Curriculum

22 24

Dear Andrew: Q & A with Andrew Pudewa A Sneaky Way to Get Student ‘Buy In’

etiquette 26

Attending A Party


28 Self Education Inspires Purposeful Living 30 Alzheimer’s Disease: Creating Comfort from a Curse


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012



volume 03, issue 01

at home education & lifestyle. special needs 32

Learning Disabilities

positive thinking 35

Life is Not a Race

organization 36

8 Ideas for Organizing Your Child’s Room

extra activities 38

Shiny Fish Collage

columns 40 41

Product Reviews Product Spotlights

resources 42

Index/Resources List

health & hearth 37

Recipes from Veggie U

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January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook




By: Katie Sullivan

You don’t have to homeschool for very long before someone asks... You know... ...the Credentials question. “What makes you think that you can teach?” “What are your credentials to teach (name your subject)?”


HomeSchool Teacher/Mom Able to teach all subjects and provide quality supervision.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

I fondly

(or not so fondly) recall once last summer, I was sitting in a sewing class and the instructor, who knew me from previous classes, mentioned I was a homeschooler… unaware the other 5 women sitting in the class with me were all teachers. “Real” teachers, they informed me. There was blood in the water. However, with a carefully worded response, I was able to educate and satisfy their questions and promote the validity of a soundly made homeschool decision...or, as best you can to a room full of teachers. When you are asked the credentials question, whether this is regarding homeschooling a child with special needs or a typical child, have a “stock” answer ready for this question. It should not be defensive, nor should it be a short 5,000 word personal history of every small inspiration or grievance that encouraged your decision to homeschool. Remember, the person asking may just be generally curious (who knows, maybe they are considering homeschooling for themselves) or maybe they are just being belligerent (remember you don’t have to show up for every argument you are invited to).

“My child is special and therefore, his educational needs are special. As a parent, I did not feel his/her needs were being met to his best abilities in the public school setting”. “Well, honestly, I think it would be unrealistic to expect a classroom teacher to know as much as I know about my child’s diagnosis/needs/abilities, as I have been studying (autism, etc. pick your dx) since he/she was (born/name your age).” See how this answer is worded? It does NOT imply you know more than a teacher. It implies you are the expert in your own child’s diagnosis. Wording it this way is sympathetic to teachers who are giving 100% in their classrooms, not condescending. You will be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with this statement.

When you are asked the credentials question, whether this is regarding homeschooling a child with special needs or a typical child, have a “stock” answer ready for this question.

Look at this question as your OPPORTUNITY to educate and present homeschooling in a positive light. When you are asked by someone “what makes you feel qualified to home school?”, which as we know is a very different question than WHY do we homeschool, what do you say? Here are some ideas for you to put together (pick and choose) to formulate your own “ready” answer: By homeschooling (Child’s name), I am able to teach him/her in the way he/she learns best, giving them more one on one attention than they would receive in a public school setting and thereby enabling him/her to be more successful. While I do not hold a teacher’s certificate, homeschooling was a family decision and please be assured our child’s academic success is our main priority. Sometimes after this, you will get a follow up, “but HOW” or “Why do you feel you are qualified”, you could follow with something like “I am qualified to know what is best for my child. Homeschooling is best for my child at this time.” And (if you are home schooling a child with special needs):

Please keep in mind that there are some people/professionals that even if you whipped out a valid teaching degree from an Ivy League school, they would still not be in agreement with your decision of homeschooling. That’s okay. Don’t argue with them. A great reply to these people is, “I thank you for your input. We simply have a difference in opinion with regard to what choices we each would make”. We should be cognizant to never get an elitist attitude because we homeschool. Do I think every single parent is “qualified” to meet the needs of a child, for example, with special needs via homeschooling? NO. Do I think every parent is qualified to make the decision on whether or not to homeschool their child, based on what they feel is in the best interest of their child and their family? YES. The most important thing to remember when answering the credentials question is that in that moment, in that response, your answer and attitude is representative of every homeschooler. It is your golden opportunity to make all of us look good! Katie Sullivan, M.S., SLP-CCC is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and a homeschool mom to 3 typical girls and twin boys with special needs. She pens two blogs and www. You can contact her at

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



Write of Passage

By: Carolyn Henderson

Bored? Try this: Grab a crayon, one of those toddler sized beginning models. Sit on a low stool at the counter, and set a sheet of cheap newsprint writing paper in front of you, the kind with the space at the top for a picture and marked lines below. And now, write. Oh, wait; let me give you a theme: My Favorite Animal of All Is – Or if that one doesn’t grab you… What I Liked Best about Christmas Is – Now go for it. Give me something creative, original, properly spelled, legible, at least 30 words, and if you’ve got time left over in the hour I give you to do this, draw a picture at the top. And please stop swinging your feet. So, did you have fun? This is what it feels like to be seven years old, writing. Through the years, one of the most frequent laments I have heard from homeschooling colleagues is that they can’t find a decent writing program, as if writing were to be approached step by step, chapter by chapter, formulaically with little lesson building blocks. As a writer myself, I cringe when I see workbooks filled with lined writing spaces, poorly executed “teaching” cartoons that are supposed to be fetching, and themes like the ones above. No wonder the kid doesn’t want to do it – it’s boring. It’s also overwhelming, since in one essay we look for tidy penmanship, proper spelling, appropriate punctuation, clarity of thought, and organization. Oh, and creativity. Writing is a combination of objective facts that frustratingly don’t always follow the rules – the spelling, punctuation, grammar – and subjective qualifications


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

that we recognize when we see them, but can’t necessarily teach or create ourselves – tone, treatment of subject matter, word choice, engagement with the reader. In many ways, it is like learning another language, only it’s all on paper, and it takes years to master. The most difficult part – the ability to tell a story engagingly and well – is ironically what children naturally do best, but when they are overwhelmed by mechanics, their storytelling skills recede. My own children, as youngsters, were such abysmal spellers that I thought they surely must have been communicating in Sanskrit, but as the years went by and they read and read and read, maturity and experience fused to the point that words began to “look� right or wrong; it was in their teenaged years that we highlighted spelling rules, parts of speech, and the difference between semicolons and commas. In their little years, they told me things, described their world, answered my questions on fuzzy points, voiced their opinions and explained what they learned in what they read that day. Writing assignments generally consisted of copying some other text of interest, and they focused on mechanics, because when you’re seven and you’re still learning to start each sentence with a capital, end it with a period, and close your n’s so that they don’t look like r’s, it’s hard to be coherent as well. But how they could talk. And they did – communicating verbally as a means of practicing for the day that they would communicate by writing. At the same time, they read or I read to them, and they saw and heard how good communication sounds. And that’s what writing is – communication – be it in an essay, an e-mail, a letter, a report, a review, a column, a short story, a book, and in order to truly write well, the writer needs to know that someone wants to actually read the result – and quite honestly, I can’t think of anyone, parent or child, who cares about What I Did Last Summer. Ask your child what he wants to write about. The deal I made with mine is that either they came up with the topic or I gave them three choices, but if I gave them the choices, they had to pick one.

Ninety percent of the time they came up with something themselves. Then they wrote – 10 minutes to an hour, depending upon the age, as regularly as we could manage. And I read what they wrote, limiting the red pen slashing and swashbuckling to a few errors that they could work on next time, concentrating instead on what they were saying and how they were saying it. I especially enjoyed when they chose a subject of interest about which I was ignorant, because my questions were genuine, and they knew it. Writers – of any age – want to be read. Otherwise, you may as well be sitting at the kitchen counter, feet swinging, with a purple crayon agonizing over What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.

Carolyn Henderson is an 18-year veteran of homeschooling and the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art, the online and studio gallery she operates with her husband, artist Steve Henderson ( More of her writing may be found at her Middle Aged Plague site,

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Seven questions to ask when choosing an extracurricular activity

By: Sarita Holzmann


I was a kid, I had a few activities available to me: a Christian version of Girl Scouts, high school track, summer camp‌ and not much more than that. But today, the possibilities for children can be overwhelming. Depending on where you live, you could choose anything from soccer to cross-country, equestrian team to baton twirling, taekwondo to pottery making.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

How do you even begin to choose? As you pray for guidance, talk with your spouse and children, and look into options, consider these questions: What are my goals for this activity? What do you hope your children/family will gain from an outside activity? Perhaps you want your children to make new friends, get

I was going crazy driving all over town and accommodating four different schedules! The hectic pace made our family feel scattered and stressed. exercise, learn how to work hard physically, or explore a potential talent. Whatever your goal, let that direct your selection process. What skills will this activity teach my children? Once you have an activity in mind, take stock of the skills it could teach your children. Different activities tend to teach different skills—from teamwork to responsibility to creativity. What is the realistic time commitment and cost for this activity? Now it’s time to look honestly at an activity and consider the time commitment and cost it entails. Is your family ready for the cost and time the activity requires? Can I put all (or at least more than one) of my children in this activity? In my early years of homeschooling, I really wanted to give each of my four children the perfect opportunity to explore his or her gifts. I wanted each to pursue whatever activity his or her particular interests inspired. So I signed Amy up for ballet and Luke for baseball, put Jonelle in soccer and took Justin to karate. 
It was a nice idea. But before long, I was going crazy driving all over town and accommodating four different schedules! The hectic pace made our family feel scattered and stressed. So I drastically reduced. We decided that all the kids would swim on a year-round team and play in an honors band. It was such a relief to have our schedules align, and our kids enjoyed being on larger teams together. 
I know many families want to let their children do many different activities in hopes of giving them every advantage in life. But I also know that homeschooling is (often) a huge advantage in and of itself. And I know how busy homeschooling moms are. I don’t like to watch a mom become exhausted from running her kids to and fro… and ultimately feel like she has to give up homeschooling because she has too much on her plate. In my particular situation, it worked beautifully (for the kids and me) for us to condense our activities. Would a similar strategy work for your family? Do I like the coach/leader and the other families in this activity? What is the coach like for this activity? Do you respect his or her teaching and character? As we all know, coaches can have significant influence on children. 
Also, I hesitate to include this because I don’t want to overgeneralize or imply that you should only interact with families just like yours. But I would encourage you to consider the types of families you’d interact with in a given activity. Would you enjoy their company? Would your children benefit from

spending time with them? 
My kids participated in swimming and band while they were young, and then cross-country and band in the high school years. At least where we lived, the families and children involved in these activities tended to be hard working and encouraging. They were just the types of people I wanted to influence my own children. What do my children want to do? Of course, I would also encourage you to involve your children in the decision. If your kids really want to try a particular activity, consider giving them a trial run. Or maybe give them a way to show you they’re serious. If your daughter is begging for piano lessons, for example, you might work out an agreement that she can start lessons if she practices 10 minutes a day for the next month. Then agree that you’ll re-assess after 3 months of lessons. Who knows? Maybe your children really will fall in love with music, art, dance, or whatever it is they keep asking for. How can I help my kids explore their gifts? Do you suspect that you have a budding artist, public speaker or dancer in your house? Perhaps a trial run of a certain activity will help you find out. 
Or perhaps there are other ways to encourage these interests. From the moment he knew it was possible, Luke has loved to make films. Jonelle is a natural artist who constantly creates with her hands. When we discovered these interests, John and I helped Luke nurture his gifts without enrolling in “extra-curricular activities.” We helped him purchase some start-up equipment. Whenever an art course came up within our schedule, we signed Jonelle up. The projects she created in these classes were the foundation of her art school portfolio. That portfolio provided her with both entrance to her school and a scholarship to attend. 
Luke went on to study filmmaking in college, and now produces films as part of his full-time work. Jonelle went to art school and continues to use design in all areas of her life. They both developed skills that will give them a venue for expression (and income) their entire lives. Are there ways you can similarly encourage your children to pursue their interests? Sarita Holzmann is the co-founder and president of Sonlight Curriculum ( She cherishes a legacy of family-centered, literaturerich home education and seeks to provide families with the rich resources they need to raise life-long learners.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



What About Socialization?

By: Paul Stone

There are many experiences that I received because I attended public school that I never would have experienced in any other way.


schooling parents are frequently asked, “What about Socialization?” Some well-meaning people think that you cannot teach children to socialize with others without a traditional school environment. I just look at my children with gratitude. My wife and I have six daughters.  What a pleasure it is to see them develop healthy relationships with people of all age groups, and treat others with respect.  Home schooled children naturally associate with people of all ages, including adults. As children attend public school they are segregated into groups by age. Children become part of these groups for years. Their classmates are basically the same, with little change for all of the elementary school years, and sometimes much longer. These friends become all important, hence the source of negative social pressure. Home schooled children run with a different gang, their families.  The social pressure exerted, by those who truly love and care about them, is very different from that experienced in the public schools.  The wise parent will be involved with a church, where values are taught.  Once again, a positive influence is present.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

Many home schooling families go on frequent field trips. They experience the theatre, museums, and many cultural activities.  These experiences, along with attending church, and normal interaction with families and friends give these children a wide variety of experiences, in various settings, which many children attending public school never will receive.  Add to this the experiences that they do not receive, because they are not in public school. There are many experiences that I received because I attended public school that I never would have experienced in any other way. Most of us would never meet the following kinds of people if it were not for the public school system. The Bully: I will never forget my friends who told the class bully that I had said something bad about him. Because I had been taught not to fight, I just sat there as he hit me in the mouth seven consecutive times.  Have you ever heard of a co-worker bulling someone on the job? Yes, but it is both rare and illegal. No employer, in today’s litigious society would tolerate such behavior.

The Thief: Who could forget the fellow who was always hungry. So hungry in fact that we felt obligated to buy him lunch every day. He was always bigger than the others, and so was hungrier. I remember meeting this fellow in the boy’s bathroom one day. He was in the sixth grade, while I was in the third. I felt so sorry for him that I gave him my lunch money (not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to get beat up). Have you ever gone to lunch with some coworkers or friends, and have one of them demand your wallet? The Great Orator: Everyone loved this fellow. He knew words that nobody else did. He expanded all our vocabularies. He used words that nobody else even knew. Because of him, I discovered the taste of soap, as administered by my mother. The Show off: Without a large audience, and a class to disrupt, this fellow would never have anyone to entertain.  The list goes on and on and on. The girls all felt that they were in a fashion show, wearing revealing attire, and attracting attention in any way that they could. Children who thought out of the box were forced into silence by the group, and their creativity went untapped. We all learned what was acceptable and unacceptable to the group, and behaved accordingly. Discussing God was against the unwritten laws, and so God was rarely discussed. Actually studying was also taboo. The teachers all graded on the curve, and excellence on the part of one meant lower grades for the rest. When was the last time you heard of a child picking up a good habit from the public schools? Where do kids learn about sex, drugs, and so many other things? This is where one of my children learned that men used to have tails, and lived in trees I have never met a home schooled child that was not polite and respectful. They relate well with adults. They are more caring, less self centered, and better balanced than other children that I have known. There are exceptions, however, just as many children come out of the public schools unscathed. The socialization problem with home schooled children is a myth. Those who have a conflict of interest usually point to this issue. Why not? They cannot point to academic performance; home schooled children systematically outperform the public schools year in and year out. The word “school” has many meanings. Fish travel in schools. They see themselves as a part of a group. Schooled children develop “group think” and learn to conform to the demands of the group. There are also “Schools of Thought”, where people learn specific ways to think, not how to think.  Home schooling parents have many different reasons for doing what they do. Isolating their children from the world is not one of them. Most home schooling families are involved with a church. They usually participate in activities with other home schooling families. A friend of mine mentioned that her children had more friends after they started home schooling their children than they had while they were in the public schools. As one man said “Take a walk down the hall ways of a local public school, and then decide, what behaviors you want your children to emulate?” Paul R. Stone is president of Accelerated Achievement LLC a small home business working to provide homeschooling families with exceptionally high quality education materials at a price within the reach of every homeschooling family. Paul is also a research engineer with a Fortune 50 company and comes from a long line of educators. For more information please visit or Email

All I want is a grammar program that will... • Be logical and sequential. • Not take years and years to complete. • Leave me PRECIOUS TIME for teaching writing and literature. • Not start every year at the beginning. • Get to the end of the subject (there is an END, right?) • Actually TEACH my child so that he MASTERS it!

Don’t get frustrated! Check out a different approach! Videos, sample pages, teaching timelines, and more available at

Make a difference today!

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook




ATTITUDE •• A week or two in advance, tell the child what to expect. •• Try to set your child at ease. Be positive and let them know that testing is more to help show the parent/ teacher what the child has been learning and if curriculum and teaching methods are working well. •• There are many good test practice books that you could use for review or actual test simulation. •• Find out if points are deducted for incorrect answers, weighted, or if it is best not to guess.

PLAN YOUR TIME AND PLACE •• Secure a quiet place for the testing. Visit the place if it is unfamiliar but it is best if the child is in a place where he is comfortable. •• Perhaps they can meet the test administrator in advance if they are a stranger. •• Find out if the child is supposed to bring anything (ruler, calculator, paper, pencil, lunch, etc.) •• Get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and arrive early on testing day to give the child the best chance to be settled and at ease. If you act stressed, your child probably will too, so be calm and have a positive attitude.

SCOPE AND SEQUENCE CAN HELP YOU REVIEW You can Google or find on your state’s department of education website what is covered in a scope and sequence for your child’s grade. National scope and sequences, like in World Book encyclopedia, are compilations of the average curriculum across the nation and might not fit your exact curriculum or concentrations.

GENERAL TEST TAKING TIPS •• Always read or listen carefully to the instructions.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

•• If the question is multiple-choice, and you can eliminate wrong answers, then choose the best answer that is left. (If you will lose points for incorrect answers, then perhaps you should not guess. If you want a true achievement score and not scores based on guessing then do not guess.) •• Skip the questions you don’t know. Don’t spend a lot of time on them. You can go back to them if there is time left when you finish the section. • • If the test is a bubble test, mark the bubble well. (It does not have to be perfect, thereby taking up too much time.) Do not put stray marks in the book or on the answer sheet and most importantly, be careful to mark the corresponding bubble to the correct question. •• Practice doing timed drills. There are timed drills on the Woodcock-Johnson test, and most nationally standardized achievement tests are timed. The ACT, CAT, Iowa, and Scholastic Aptitude Test are timed. The PASS and Stanford/10 are not. •• Review major terms in math and language arts. (Review terms like “in addition to, less than, sum, common denominator”, and “noun, adverb, place, setting, voice, tense,” etc.). Also review capitalization or punctuation rules.

REMEMBER YOUR CHILD IS MORE THAN A TEST SCORE! There are so many things NOT tested that make up who your child is. Nationally standardized achievement tests do not assess your child’s character, spiritual maturity, giftedness with people or animals or sports, musical ability, other special talents or hobbies and so much more. Assure your child of their many gifts and that there is a special reason they are uniquely and wonderfully made! Debbie Thompson, ( is Director of Triangle Education Assessments, LLC, which helps thousands of homeschoolers each year with their achievement, ability, career and practice test needs.


I’m Tired of Talking About Education Actually, I’m not.

I’m going to spend the rest of this essay talking about it. I am very tired of talking about school, especially with people who think we are talking about education. Education and school is not the same thing and I can prove it. School takes place for six, seven or ten hours a day. Education takes place 24/7/365.25. If you don’t know why there is a .25 after the 365 you don’t need more school. Chances are the teachers don’t know either. You, and they, need more education. Education, a.k.a. learning, comes from asking questions (Hey, Education on the plate: why is there a .25 after the 365?) and getting, or better yet, finding or developing answers. Go to it. People are sponges; we learn all the time. People learned long before there were schools and we will continue to learn long after schools finally choke on the curriculum they try to regurgitate and die. From the moment we are born, and possibly even before then, we are observing, noticing patterns, making assumptions, testing them, revising them and starting over. This may sound familiar to science teachers who call this the “scientific method” and try to teach it to students who really just need to have it pointed out that this so-called method is what they’ve been doing naturally their entire lives. What students do naturally, what we all do naturally, is learn. 24/7/365.25. We do it with or without schooling and often do it in spite of schooling. Schooling comes with an agenda but learning often does not. As in my life, and perhaps frequently, schooling gets in the way of learning. It is true in kindergarten where the natural learning and socialization of play has been replaced by reading, writing, algebra and being yelled at for not standing in line properly. All this is to ready students for first grade. Children learn in spite of this. In first grade students read more, write more, and follow more directions to get them ready for second grade. Children continue to learn in spite of this. Sometimes they’ve already learned that school is not right for them by testing it and finding that it does not meet their needs. When that happens we schoolers tell the student that he or she is not right for school, that they are not meeting the school’s needs for order, discipline and standing in line silently and we start to teach them that they are failures.

By: Deven Black

This is what school is best at: teaching students that they are inadequate, that they are failures. They fail to stand in line correctly, form their letters correctly, or form their sentences and paragraphs according to the standards (I wonder what school thought of John Barth, e.e.cummings, Hemingway, Jonathan Safran Foer or, especially, Roberto Bolaño, known for incredibly long sentences, not to mention devastatingly evocative metaphors). They write like writers instead of three or five paragraph automatons and we call them failures. Learning is free-range, we learn from what we manage to be exposed to; school has a curriculum (math, science, ELA, etc.) and a meta-curriculum (how to stand in line, how to raise one’s hand for permission to speak, the procedure for going to the bathroom). I work in a school that’s part of a school network that’s part of a school system. That school system is one of 14,514 school districts in the USA (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). I’m willing to bet that at least 99% of those districts have the word ‘school’ in their name and that fewer than .0001 have the word ‘learning’ in their name. But think about this: No one fails to learn yet many fail at school. I’m tired of talking about school. I’m tired of thinking about school. I’ll never get tired of thinking and talking about learning. Learning is education. School is something else entirely. Resource: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, “Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey,”2000-01 and “Local Education Agency Universe Survey,” 2000-01. For those who haven’t figured out 365.25 yet, a clue: leap years.

I am special education middle school teacherlibrarian/media specialist in the Bronx, NY. I grew up in Manhattan and love working in the same school system that I attended. Visit my blog http:// If you expect simple answers to complicated questions you are in the wrong place.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



Raising Eager Learners…


new economy is a completely different environment from the one our parents and grandparents knew, the one that’s disappearing. It’s no longer the norm for someone to work for one company for 40 years by doing what they’re told and behaving themselves so they can be rewarded with a gold watch and a nice pension. The length of the average job has already dropped to a little over four years.1 Workers are laid off on a regular basis. Entire industries become obsolete and disappear, or simply move to the other side of the world where labor is cheaper. Change is coming at us more rapidly than ever, and those who are willing to adapt to these changes by learning new skills will thrive. To raise children who eagerly learn new skills, we need to give them the opportunity for free exploration, hands-on learning and real-life experiences where they learn to fail. This isn’t easy for us as parents, because we weren’t allowed to learn this way. We went to school, where we were told what to learn, and we had no choice in how we learned it. But we must do better by our children, because they need to be prepared differently than we were. Free exploration is important for people of all ages, but in our society it seems that only babies are allowed the privilege. They crawl everywhere, chew on new items they discover, and absorb every experience like the little sponges they are. But before long, they’re sucked into the world of school, where their learning is “guided.” Goals are set by educators, and free exploration comes to an end. How sad and how unnecessary! It seems like we’ve taken a step backwards when it comes to early education by taking away children’s freedom to explore and learn. Today, twoyear-olds are put in preschool, but when I was a child, we were free to learn through our play until age five or six. (The public school I lived next to didn’t even offer kindergarten.) 1


By: Barbara Frank

And for generations before us, children didn’t go to school until they were older. Among American pioneers of the 1800s, children went to school sporadically if at all. But they learned what they needed to know while working with their parents to set up homesteads in an unfamiliar environment. Pioneer travels were the ultimate free exploration. Homeschooling gives children the time and opportunity to learn through free exploration, if their parents don’t force them into the public-school-method learning mode. The children of today who are free to read what interests them, explore computers, and learn about the world by visiting museums and other sites of interest will be tomorrow’s eager lifelong learners. Hands-on learning is the primary way babies learn, and used to be the way everyone learned. But the pervasive influence of school turned us toward attending classes and reading books as the preferred way of learning. (There’s nothing wrong with reading books, but some subjects cannot be learned by merely reading about them. There’s a huge difference between reading a recipe and actually baking the cake.) And of course, since schools contain large numbers of children, hands-on learning experiences are minimized because they’re so cumbersome. But this is another area where homeschooling shines. Homeschooled kids can learn with their hands every day. They bake, paint, build and create whenever they feel inspired. Logistics don’t allow this to happen in school. Think about it: there’s a big difference between the mess created by a couple of siblings finger-painting and 35 school kids finger-painting. So finger-painting happens at home a lot more than it does at school, and it’s usually initiated by the kids’ desire to finger-paint, not a directive on the teacher’s lesson plan.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release,

Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

Kids who work with their hands all the time not only learn better, but also become accustomed to being creative. If there’s anything we’re going to need to solve our formidable economic and technological problems in this world, it’s creativity!

Homeschooling gives children the time and opportunity to learn through free exploration, if their parents don’t force them into the publicschool-method learning mode.. …Why Your Child Needs to Fail In addition, if we want to prepare our kids for this new economy, we must let them learn to fail. Fail? Failing means getting an F. Why would we want our kids to learn to fail? Our own public school experiences taught us that failing was bad. That’s unfortunate, because the best inventions in the world have come about because of failure. Thomas Edison (the inventor with a record 1,093 patents to his name) once said: “I recall that after we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had

conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed ‘to find out anything.’ I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.” Our world desperately needs innovators to help us solve our problems, yet we coddle our children so they don’t have to feel the sting of failure. Today’s parents write school papers for their kids so they don’t flunk the class; they take over the building of their kids’ Pinewood Derby cars so they don’t lose the race. How can kids figure out what works if we don’t let them find out what doesn’t work first? In school, kids are taught to avoid failure. But homeschooling parents can give their children the opportunity to fail, and the time to try again and figure out where they went wrong by letting them have real-life experiences where they learn to fail. If their bread fails to rise, they don’t get an F in baking. But they do see the difference in the loaves that result, and they learn to remember the yeast next time they bake bread. Homeschooled kids also have all the time they need to figure out problems. If they’re getting hung up on a long division problem, they don’t get a red F on their paper, nor are they urged to finish up quickly because math class is almost over. Instead, they can take their time and keep trying to solve the problem until they come up with the correct answer. This gives them confidence in their ability to tackle a problem and stick with it until they solve it, and also teaches them that failure is merely part of the solution process. Our world needs persistent

problem-solvers. Homeschooling is the ideal training ground for them because it gives them the opportunity to learn that failure is something to learn from, not something to fear. It also helps them become confident problem-solvers as well as persistent ones. This is just more evidence that homeschooling is the very best way to prepare our children for a challenging future.

This article is adapted from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality (Cardamom Publishers, 2011). Barbara Frank homeschooled her four children for 25 years. You’ll find her on the web at and

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Five Reasons Why Art Should Be a Priority in Your Homeschool Curriculum By: James H. Pence


like to teach art, but there are too many subjects to teach and only so much available time in our school day.” I hear that frequently from homeschooling parents. Couple that with the fact that many parents find it difficult to teach art, and it’s no wonder that art instruction is shifted to the back burner—or left out altogether—in many homeschool curriculums. This situation is not unique to homeschoolers, either. As budgets tighten in public and private schools, often the arts are the first things cut. That is unfortunate, because from both an educational and spiritual standpoint, art instruction brings many benefits to the table. I could list quite a few, but here are five key reasons why I believe art should be given a place of priority in any homeschool curriculum:


Art Instruction Helps Improve Observational Skills – When students begin to draw and paint, they learn how to observe. When I began painting landscapes, I didn’t realize that I was honing my observational skills. As a matter of fact, I thought I was doing it to relax. But one day I was outside and saw a distant stand of trees. For the first time I observed that the trees weren’t merely “green” but that there were several different shades of green visible in that one group of trees. It was as if a light switched on inside my head. From that point forward, I began to notice the details of the world around me.


Art Instruction Develops Creative Problem-Solving Abilities – Many of our educational efforts are directed toward the logical and analytical sides of our children. We train them in mathematics, science, history, worldview, etc., because we see these as essential for their future in the world. However, art instruction cultivates creative and problem-solving abilities. As I wrestle with a composition or try to figure out how to portray a scene on canvas, I am engaging in problem solving. It’s very easy to become frustrated with a drawing or painting and want to quit, but I’ve discovered that I learn much more by finishing a project than I will by abandoning it. Teaching our children to draw encourages them to cultivate the discipline and ability to solve problems, a skill that will be useful throughout their lives.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012


Appreciation of Creation – Art instruction encourages a child to explore and appreciate God’s creation. God is the supreme artist. As He observes his creation, he stands back, as it were, and says, “It is very good.” Likewise, when we teach art, we’re teaching our children to look at what God has done and say, “It is very good.” There is no better way to develop a sense of wonder in your child than to get them involved in drawing or painting the world around them. As they slow down to look at creation (a necessity if you’re going to draw it), they can’t help but be awestruck at the beauty that they see.


Develops the Whole Person – God created us in His image. That image includes creativity. Instruction in the arts in general and art in particular encourages the expression of the imago dei (image of God), in our children. Whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, or music, when we encourage our children to become involved in creative activity, we are helping them to develop into whole, well-rounded individuals.


Connect with God – The two previous points combined produce a third. By using art to encourage your children to appreciate God’s creation and to be creative, you are giving them two powerful tools for connecting with God.

We are told to worship the Lord in the “beauty of holiness”. In cultivating an appreciation of beauty and aesthetics, we are giving our children the means to cultivate hearts that worship Him. There are many other reasons why art should have a place of priority in your homeschool curriculum. These ones focus on the “big picture”. As you plan your school schedule, be sure to keep the big picture in mind and include art, even if it’s only one day a week. You’ll be glad you did. James H. Pence ( is a former homeschooling dad, and the author or co-author of nine books. He is also a performance chalk artist and blogs twice weekly for See the Light (, producers of the DVD-based “Art Class” series.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



Dear Andrew…

Q&A with Andrew Pudewa

“ We’re just starting to

homeschool our five-year-old. How do we best start teaching the language arts?


“just starting to homeschool,” I would guess that because of your child’s age you must now start “formal” home education (rather than that you just pulled him or her out of kindergarten). Either way, the good news is that you haven’t “just started” but that you’ve already been teaching your child everything (especially language arts) for years! So the short answer would be: Just continue to do what you have been doing. While we tend to think of the language arts as academic subjects like handwriting, spelling, grammar, composition, and literature, the traditional arts of language are simply


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

the distinctly human skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing—things which children begin learning at birth. However, a little more planning and a little more structure is always good, so let me offer a few suggestions to help you feel sure that you’re on the right track. First, be sure to spend a good amount of time reading out loud to your children. Picture books are engaging, but also read longer stories and books as well. They can play or draw while hearing, and it’s okay to read slightly above their understanding level. This is without a doubt the most important thing to do on a daily basis to develop both listening skills

and the child’s database of grammar and syntax. And when children start to read independently, don’t stop; continue to read aloud to them, even into their teenage years. Second, encourage speaking, and formalize it whenever possible. Memorization is particularly appropriate, as young children do it naturally and easily, so take advantage of that. By memorizing scripture, poetry, sayings, and songs, they not only build their confidence in verbalizing words; they bring stored vocabulary and syntax into more active use. Additionally, do some formal narration each day—even if only a sentence or two, and write down what your child says. Then read it back to them, even allowing them to make changes if they like. A child might like to narrate a story and continue it for many days. A few sentences of “what we just did” after a cooking, cleaning, or gardening project can also make a nice little journal or record of an event of each day. Third, begin with a good phonics-based reading program, but be sure it has an imaginative element, something to relate the letters and sounds to familiar things such as animals, toys, places, etc. Some intensive phonics programs are just too dry to engage a five-yearold child’s active mind and when pushed can cause an early dislike of decoding. Use a lot of games; play with letters and their sounds. And most importantly, don’t stress about children who don’t get it right away. There

are many Ph.D.s who didn’t read much until they were nine or ten or twelve or older! Lastly, with writing, realize that most children should start by copying, first letters, then words, and then sentences. Do a lot of spelling orally and with manipulatives. Don’t worry about forcing writing, but don’t prevent it, and when the child is attempting to write sentences, then you can start in with key word outlines and summarizing. Homeschooling at five is really just an extension of parenting at four, but with a tad more organization. Don’t be stressed by “academics” of kindergarten, but continue in a similar, common-sense way to develop the basic arts of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Andrew Pudewa is the Director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a homeschooling father of seven. Presenting throughout North America, he addresses issues relating to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity and insight, practical experience and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills. He and his beautiful, heroic wife, Robin, currently teach their three youngest children at home in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. For more information please visit

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



A Sneaky Way To Get Student “Buy-in” By: Robin Finley


kids write something for you, you’re evaluating their content, their style, and their mechanics. Sometimes their papers are being criticized from so many angles that kids just feel defeated and don’t want to write at all.   This is certainly a situation you want to avoid.  So do you simply ignore the mechanics of written expression?    I doubt you believe that. But we hear this so often.   “My kids have been doing grammar for years, but I don’t see any improvement in their written work!”   Just because students know the rules, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll take the time and trouble to follow them.   Somehow you’ve got to make them care that their written work is correct, and - short of physical violence - it’s not an easy task!   In most cases kids have


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

been taught the rules, have done worksheets practicing them, and understand them. When they’re writing, however, they simply don’t want to be bothered! In a classroom setting, where I had the vast majority of my experience, the teacher has the almighty Grade to hold over a child’s head.  If you have too many mechanical mistakes in your work, your grade will be lowered.   Now, mind you, that didn’t always work, but usually - if I was diligent about holding kids accountable - I got my way. But what about you in your home school…Most of you don’t “do grades.” Well, we’ve got an idea that may help you get that all-important student “buy-in” so that your student will begin to produce better written work. It’s called “I Pick, You Pick.”

First you need to get a good list of the rules of punctuation and capitalization. You can find these in any decent handbook or style manual. Or you can find them by going through the Season 3 notes of Analytical Grammar. Then you sit down with your student and tell him that - for this year or semester or whatever period of time you choose - he is going to be responsible IN ALL HIS WRITTEN WORK for using five rules correctly.  You get to pick two of them, and they get to pick three of them.  Before you have this meeting, you need to have picked your two rules. So let’s say you’ve decided that your two rules are going to be that every sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with at least a period.  You write these two rules down on a piece of poster board, with an example sentence underneath the rule. Then you tell your student that you will show him a list of five punctuation or capitalization rules - complete with examples - and he must pick three from that list.   It’s important that you allow him full autonomy in his decision.   I know, I know!   He’ll pick all the easy ones, but we’re going to “cook his goose” later on! After he makes his choices, you add them to the piece of poster board upon which you wrote your three rules.   Be sure that underneath each rule is an example sentence to remind him how the rules works.    It may or may not be necessary to teach and give practice in that rule at the time.  You’ll know if that is necessary or not.  When your list of rules is complete, put it up in a prominent place next to where he does his work. Once you have the five rules written on the poster board, then here’s the deal: your student is now responsible for these five in all his written work, whether it’s Language Arts or science or history or whatever.  If he “breaks” a rule, then he must write the entire sentence over again, using the rule correctly.  Now this is the part where you have to turn into Mrs. Dragonbottom, the evil teacher… I was myself so good at this part that I could have won an Academy Award, had it been available!  You MUST stick to your guns and make him re-write the ENTIRE sentence. Now it is a well-known fact that most middle grade students would cheerfully be boiled in oil rather than be made to re-write something they’ve already written.  So it becomes a matter of choosing the lesser of two intolerable evils: re-writing the sentence or simply following the rule in the first place.   Usually, after a short period of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, the student will choose the latter.

So after your semester or school year (or whatever period of time you designated) is up, you do it again. You may choose to add three rules to your list, one of which you choose and two or which he chooses from a group of four.  It’s imperative to understand that these new rules are in addition to the old ones, not instead of them. If you keep this up, by the end of a year or so, you’ll have a student who is using a considerable number of punctuation and capitalization rules correctly.   Think of it: if you start with five the first semester, and add three each semester for the next three semesters, you’ve got a student who - at the end of two years - is using fourteen punctuation and capitalization rules correctly.   That’s actually pretty impressive. Now I do have to warn you about something.  Suppose you start off your next semester, bright-eyed and bushytailed with the “I Pick, You Pick” system and you’ve steeled

You MUST stick to your guns and make him re-write the ENTIRE sentence.

yourself to sticking to your guns about making him re-write his sentences. You also have to steel yourself to ignoring the mistakes you see that are NOT on the poster board.  It won’t be easy.  Your left hand will have to struggle mightily with your right hand (or vice versa, for those of you lefties like me!) to keep it from grabbing that red pen and marking other mistakes.  Don’t do it!  You’ll negate the whole idea of “I Pick, You Pick.” So give this a try.  Good luck!

Robin Finley is a veteran middle and high school language arts teacher. She began writing her course in grammar, punctuation, and usage in 1981 when her Language Arts department refused to purchase any grammar book for her classes, grammar having been deemed “useless” in the improvement of their writing!  She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her daughter Erin Karl, the other half of the AG team, Erin’s amazing husband Rob, and Maddie and Tripp, her two beautiful grandchildren (and her pride and joy!).  Robin enjoys nothing more than sharing her materials and her teaching techniques and skills with home teachers in her workshops.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



“Attending a Party”

By: Monica Irvine, The Etiquette Factory


are so exciting for our children. From the moment they receive the invitation in the mail, to impatiently waiting for the party to actually arrive; it’s simply a thrill for our kids. If you’re like me, once you drop your child off at a party, you wonder if they really are going to remember their “manners”. I’m sure as they leave your car, you say something like; “remember to be on your best behavior”…or…“remember your please and ‘thank yous’”. Our poor children; will they ever escape our constant reminders? No, probably not. It’s important that instead of “squeezing in” a lesson on party etiquette right before a party, that we take the time to teach these skills properly, which can take a little time. This is a conversation that needs to happen more than once but is very effective if you treat as a lesson. Sound boring; well wait a minute. Get creative. Plan an “etiquette party” for your children; from invitations, to party favors, to gifts (inexpensive), food


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

and games. This is a great way to go over party etiquette while having a really good time. This will help your children to apply what their hearing and having visual aides will help them remember the rules. Let’s begin. First, when your children receive their invitations in the mail, stop and take the time to go over proper etiquette when receiving an invitation. We look at the invitation and decide first, are we available for the party. Once we clear it on our calendar, we call the host and RSVP (which means to respond please). Explain to your children why it is important and polite to RSVP promptly. The host for the party needs to have time to plan the amount of food, beverages, chairs, goody bags, etc. to have prepared for the party. We also wouldn’t want the host to spend their time or money preparing for us to come, when we’re not. This would be inconsiderate to the host. Once we RSVP, we mark our calendar. Remember we have made a commitment to go, it is important to keep our commitment unless an emergency occurs.

the party. A simple “no thank you” is fine. We also never say, “I don’t like that”. •• We always clean up after ourselves, placing trash in appropriate places. •• We stay in rooms that adults say are OK. •• We stay out of “closed door” rooms. •• No rough play. •• Hands off breakables. •• No feet on furniture. •• We don’t open drawers, cabinets or refrigerators without permission. ••

We eat and drink only where we’re supposed to.

It’s important that instead of “squeezing in” a lesson on party etiquette right before a party, that we take the time to teach these skills properly, which can take a little time.

OK, it’s the day of the party. Time to remember what the most important rule of attending a party is: show up on time. If we don’t show up on time, the host might worry; think we’re not coming, and possibly feel sad or mad. This would not be polite for us to cause the host these concerns. Be on time! When we arrive, use pleasant greetings and introductions. (This is a great time to roleplay arriving at a party. Allow your children to role-play the guest and the host. Let them ring the doorbell and go through proper introductions and greetings, remembering it is the host job to introduce those who don’t know each other. Practice). Next, as your family enjoys planned games, activities and eating at the party, remind them of the following etiquette considerations: •• It is polite to participate in all planned activities. •• It is rude to complain about an activity or game. •• We never, never, never say an activity, a game or even the party is boring. This would hurt the host’s feelings and be very inconsiderate. •• We never complain or criticize food being served at

•• If we make a spill, we tell the grown up quickly and help clean up. •• When we use the bathroom, we keep it tidy. •• We sit quietly and watch while presents are being opened.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that it is our job to make the birthday girl or boy feel special. This means that we don’t take attention away from them or from their party. Just like we arrived on time, it’s polite to leave on time. Thank the host and the birthday boy or girl for inviting you to the party. For instance, “Thank you Mrs. Irvine for this lovely party. I had such a good time and I appreciate all you did to make it such a wonderful party. Happy Birthday Sawyer… I hope your day continues to be awesome.” Allowing your children to help plan your etiquette party (preparing the games, activities, food and goody bags) is a great way to help them appreciate the time, money and thought that goes into a party. Enjoy and love those children of yours. Monica Irvine, a certified Etiquette Instructor, owns and operates The Etiquette Factory. A master motivator and dedicated instructor, she is the author of several books on etiquette and also operates Etiquette Summer Camps. As a home school mom herself, Monica is passionate about giving parents the tools they need to successfully teach proper etiquette in the home.  For more information please visit

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



Self-Education Inspires Purposeful Living By: Donna Vail

In order to

make real learning happen we need to awaken the New Educators Mind by making a conscious choice to live your whole life and with a love of learning. For most of us, a love of learning is a foreign concept. Our public school experiences simply never exposed us to a “love of learning”. Additionally we might have emotional blocks from our youth we’ve carried forward into adulthood associated with learning, so when we begin learning a new subject, something triggers a childhood memory and we fall back into our old patterns. A love of learning is not just for the children but also for you, your spouse, your community and the world. This means letting go of our old ways of thinking and opening our minds to broader possibilities. I came from a place where I didn’t know anything about education. If I can do it, you can to. When most people think of homeschooling they imagine a classroom setting at home, with desks neatly aligned, a number line, chalkboard, globe, flags and a teacher to give lessons and grade papers all day long. Recreating a “school” in the home is creating a full time job. A love of learning begins with letting go of old habits. You will learn to follow inspiration, educate yourself, which enables you to inspire and mentor your children as they learn to educate themselves…building self-confidence and leadership mindsets along the way. You are responsible for modeling that which you want to see in your children while you provide, guide and step aside. Dawn Hudson You will not be standing in front By: of the room lecturing or even “teaching” lessons, instead you will be inspiring your child.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

The student’s responsibility is to work at educating himself. Your responsibility is to point them down the path and encourage them to keep going. You will provide them with the tools necessary for their education as well as an atmosphere that is conducive to their success. Next you will guide them and then step aside so they can do the learning. You will be their mentor, which is the very first organic model of educating. A teacher in a classroom is an artificial model, which separates the child from the real world and creates a void. This interrupts the natural learning process of self-education and produces a learning dysfunction. When you begin to understand the differences between institutional style schooling and real education, your homeschool will begin to flourish like never before. If you have ever suffered from burnout, it’s simply the remains of trying to create a teacher/classroom artificial environment. Mentoring and self-education are organic styles of learning and each supports life. We learn because we love to learn, not because we “have to” learn. Life is messy; it’s cooking and cleaning; it’s caring for one another, being involved with infants, toddlers as well as elderly, experiencing the birth of others, as well as death, growing and gathering food, experiencing daily discoveries and adventures with siblings of all ages. It’s about a parent gently guiding their child in the direction they need to go. It’s being available and present when a child seeks wisdom or guidance. And sometimes it means letting go of the “have tos” and allowing the child to flourish in their self-guided interests that lead to their purpose. In your home you already have the assistance of many great teachers right at your fingertips. A child can gain an excellent education spending their days with Jefferson, Plato, Goethe, Shakespeare, Milton, Gandhi, Emerson, and the like. If allowed, these authors speak directly to your child, educating them into greatness. When the mind is tuned in and turned on its open to receive, a love for learning is ignited and the student cannot help but become a great thinker and leader. Our duty as parents is to keep it as simple as possible for the child so as not to overburden them, while at the same time keeping them challenged and progressing forward in their pursuits. Every child’s purpose is unique so each child’s learning and curriculum will differ, sometimes greatly and at other times only slightly. That’s why it’s so important that you mentor according to inspiration to provide just the kind of tailored education each child needs in order to fulfill his education in preparation for living a life on purpose.

Remember, the child can only learn that which he chooses to learn. As parents, it is our responsibility to encourage and inspire. At times the Law of Cause and Effect will have to come into play as they learn‌ if you do this that will happen. You can be the example and set the tone by doing your own studies. When the child witnesses you enjoying reading a book, taking notes and writing about it, talking about marvelous stories you’ve read or sharing new discoveries throughout the day, the child can’t help but want that excitement and adventure for himself.  Self-education cannot be over emphasized enough because it is through the child learning to teach himself that self-reliance is achieved empowering him onto a lifetime of success. No matter where he goes or what he does, he will be able to master anything he sets his mind to, adapting to whatever situation he is faced with and living an extraordinary and fulfilling life. This is true freedom. Self-education and self-reliance eliminates the dependency on others and your child will set his own course. Children learn what they live... what are they living... what are they learning? Here are 7 ways you can make learning happen and it’s not to teach. You will inspire by Parent Partnerships providing many opportunities for learning through these different ways listed below, then guide and step aside Critical Thinking as your child soaks up the learning.

Work Study




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1. Apprenticeships Field Curriculum

Independent Study

Community Service

2. Community Service 3. Field Curriculum 4. Independent Study 5. Parent Partnerships 6. Work/Study

7. Critical Thinking

Not all of the seven ways to make learning happen will be experienced at once. They will likely occur sequentially over the course of your child’s education. For the younger children you will want to walk beside them more closely than the older ones, guiding and gradually decreasing as they get older and more capable. Children thrive within these ways of learning because they are empowered to move about freely and experience real learning. As you become more comfortable in breaking the chains of your old school ways, you will begin to feel lighter and freer. The world will become your classroom. By removing the artificial education methods from your homeschool model you will move from striving to thriving Donna Vail is the Founder of An and burnout for student and Inspired Education, a company devoted parent will be a thing of the to empowering families around the past. A love of learning will world to a lifestyle of true freedom be on fire for the entire family through homeschooling, inspiration and you will be carried to new and entrepreneurship. Donna and her husband have homeschooled their six heights of wisdom previously children for the past 16 years and now help today’s unimagined.

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homeschoolers find their way. For more about her company, visit

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



Alzheimer’s disease: creating comfort from a curse

By: Nancy Stearns Bercaw


is a part of my family. After my grandfather died of what was a little-known disease in 1971, my father decided to become a neurologist. His plan was twofold: to save other people from the horror of Alzheimer’s while protecting himself from what he believed was a genetic inevitability for us. Dr. Beauregard Lee Bercaw devoted his whole life to outrunning AD—taking upwards of 72 supplements a day as a preventative measure. He drank only green tea and did long math in his head whenever he had a spare moment. He exercised daily and avoided fats and sugars like the plague. He recommended that his patients do likewise, long before vitamins and minerals were so commonplace. Lest he forgot his solemn oath for one second, Beau kept his father’s atrophied brain in a jar on his office desk. Nancy with her

“If all this fails,” he said when I was 30, “swear on your grandmother’s Bible that you’ll put a shotgun to my head.” I swore, even though I knew I could never hurt the man I loved and respected more than anyone. Yes, I was scared by his obsession, but I was also made better by it. Over the years, I’d learned things about life and death that made me a more compassionate human being. In the hopes of keeping me one-step ahead of AD, too, Beau paid me to read books when I was 15 while my friends held summer jobs at McDonald’s.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

Sadly, the disease caught up with my dad in 2010. He might have bought a few extra years or some longer lasting memories through his vigilance, but he’s in the final stages of AD at age 73 in a memory-care facility in Naples, Florida. I’ve just written a book about him called, “Brain in a Jar,” and, needless to say, his passion for curing AD has become my own. I have a child now. David is seven and terrified by his Grandpa’s situation. “Will it happen to you, mommy?” he asks. “Will it happen to me?” I tell him about all the new research for AD, and we shout “hooray” upon reading about the latest scientific strides. We also make sure to focus on the silly stories about Grandpa and try to guffaw the same way Beau once did at knock-knock jokes. I want David to father Beau Bercaw. learn that laughter is the best medicine. Happy thoughts will protect us, I tell him. I’d like him to be filled with more hopeful images than brains in jars. Fairly recently, David wrote, “being cursed is fun” on a piece of paper. I suppose it’s better than being scared to death of a disease that runs in our family, but it wasn’t as optimistic as I would have liked. I think he was testing the limits of his own sense of humor. Odd as it may be, we keep his note on the fridge as a reminder to laugh at ourselves. These days we’re working on shifting our attention to others with AD: those who don’t have the resources of my

father; and, families who don’t have access to memory-care facilities. I have a duty to teach my son that Alzheimer’s is not “our” disease. Indeed, we are not the center of the universe. We are part of a global family. Who can we help? is more important to ask than who will help us? Our research led to us a very moving article in the New York Times ( health/02alzheimers.html?pagewanted=all) about an extended family in Yarumal, Colombia that has a rare genetic mutation of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Half of them are destined to get the disease by age 45. And 100 of their 500 relatives already have it. The healthy take care of the sick around the clock with very little resources or relief. Because of their unique situation, researchers believe these family members hold the key to preventative treatments— and maybe even a cure—for Alzheimer’s. And, despite the added hardships it might bring them, the healthiest family members have generously agreed to be part of clinical trials to test new drugs. A few weeks ago, as I was putting my son to bed on an extra cold night here in Vermont, I covered him with a mohair blanket that my Nana had made. I told him that he was being watched over by the memory and skill of his great-grandmother. The next morning, he said that he had “the best rest ever.” That’s when it hit me. The families in Yarumal—willing to subject themselves to more suffering for the benefit of the rest

of us, yet without the luxuries afforded to North Americans— need to rest well, too. Not only are they burdened by the worst form of Alzheimer’s disease; they’re still recovering from the rival drug cartels that ravaged their city. I thought about how the National Alzheimer’s Quilt Initiative, which bears my father’s name along with 10,000 others, brings me comfort. Then it occurred to me that we could literally blanket our Colombian counterparts with compassion by sending quilts to help patients and caretakers sleep better. In doing so, our countries—and families— would be woven together by the shared dream of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Buenas noches. Quilts and letters can be sent directly to: Francisco Lopera, M.D. Sede de Investigación Universitaria – SIU Laboratorio de Neurociencias Básicas y Neurobanco Torre 2 Piso 4 Laboratorios 411 – 412 Calle 62 No. 52 – 59 Medellín, Colombia Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a writer in Vermont. Her work has appeared in publications from the Korea Herald to the New York Times. You can follow her blog, “Brain in a Jar,” at braininajar. net or email her at

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook


special needs


By: Cyndi Ringoen, BA, BS, Neurodevelopmentalist


you know or love has been labeled “learning disabled.” What does this mean? What are you to do now? The first and most important thing you can do is to try to find out and understand what exactly this label means. It absolutely does not mean that someone has a disease, nor does it have anything to do with how intelligent a person is. Most important, it does not mean you have to accept it and live a life learning how to ‘cope’ with the problem. If you can find out what the specific underlying inefficiencies are, you can then start eliminating them. Eliminate it? Yes, learning disabilities can be eliminated. But in order to do that you must identify the causes, and create a plan of attack to address each of them. The reason that more learning disabilities are not eliminated has to do with how they are perceived. Often they are viewed as static—meaning they do not have the ability to change—they are what they are and nothing you can do will impact them. This is an incorrect view.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

Other times, professionals become microscopic in their assessment of learning problems. Meaning, each professional sees only within a very small, narrow scope—the width of his or her profession and expertise. If l5 clients with reading problems came to be assessed, it is likely that such a professional would find somewhere between one to three reasons why the person was having a problem. And the worst part is that after you have paid for an assessment, often the professional identifies a problem or two and sends you on your way without the most important piece of information that you need. THE SOLUTION! In reality, if l5 clients came to me with a reading problem, it is likely that I might find 30 or more reasons or combination of reasons as to why reading wasn’t working for them. After identifying the major underlying problems it is then necessary to develop an individualized plan for addressing each area of inefficiency. Accurately identifying

and addressing inefficiencies is the key to eliminating the learning problems. The organ that you use to learn with is your brain; therefore, if learning is a problem it is necessary to take a look at the brain and how it is functioning in order to pinpoint possible problem areas. By looking at how the brain Receives, Processes, Stores and Utilizes information we are able to find some areas of weakness that are causing learning problems.

RECEIVE: It makes sense that in order to learn anything you must first be able to receive the information. We take in information in two major ways—visually (through the eyes) and auditorily (through the ears). If there are any problems with the information coming in to our brain, it will stop or decrease our ability to learn. It is necessary to check out the eyes and make sure that everything is working well. Some of the common problems with the eyes receiving information properly are: acuity (seeing well enough), convergence (the eyes working together), enhanced peripheral vision (seeing too much from the sides of the visual field), underdeveloped central/detail vision (not seeing enough of what is right in front of you) and various other eye sensitivities. Common problems with the ears are: hypersensitivity to sound, causing a defensiveness to sound, hearing and listening, tinnitus (ringing or sounds in the ear), and ear fluid problems. Fluid in the ears is a major developmental problem in that it causes inconsistency in the ability to hear good quality auditory input. The consistent hearing and processing of auditory input is necessary to develop good auditory processing skills. After assessing how the information is being received, the next step is to take a look at the processing ability.

PROCESS: Processing is the ability to hold information in your shortterm memory. We have two types of short-term memory— auditory and visual. The average ability to hold pieces of information in our short-term memory appears to be age related early on. Meaning, an average two year old can hold two pieces, a three year old three pieces etc. But the average for our society from 7 years on up to adult is 7. A short-term memory of 7 is average, but it is not great. You can test your own family at home by slowly (at one second intervals) and in a monotone saying… 6 - 4 - 1 - 9, then have the person repeat it back to you. If they can do it correctly with 3 out of 4 different sequences of numerals then they have an auditory short-term memory of 4. Continue in this fashion until you reach the highest level they can do successfully. That is their auditory digit span or auditory short-term memory capacity. You can also test this visually by holding up a card with a sequence of numbers on it. You

hold the card for about 3 seconds, take it away and have the person repeat what they saw. If anyone over 7 years of age has a short-term memory of less than 7, they are working inefficiently. The greater the discrepancy, the greater the inefficiencies will be. For younger children or for adults functioning at a lower level, you may test the auditory memory by saying words that they can repeat back. For example, you say (slowly) dog cat and have them repeat back. If you have a nonverbal person you can say simple directions and see if they can respond. For example, you can say, “Touch your nose and hair.” If they follow the directions they have an auditory sequencing ability of 2. You can continue increasing the number of objects, words, directions or numbers until they reach their maximum success level. If a child is found lacking in their short-term memory, it is likely to cause many learning and behavior problems. Some of which are: difficulty using phonics, reading comprehension difficulties, short attention span, difficulty following directions and social immaturity. Improving the processing ability will improve the overall function of the individual. One exercise that appears to be useful is to repeat the above process several times a day for about l - 3 minutes each time. Over time the brain is able to hold more and more pieces of information and this will be reflected in an increase in the number of sequential pieces recalled.

STORE: Storing information is the same as long-term memory. As opposed to short-term memory, which is only from 3-20 seconds long, long-term memory is for use at a much later time. Many researchers believe that all or almost all of the information that makes it to your long-term memory is in fact there. The problem becomes one of retrieving the information at will. It appears that the most efficient way to enable a person to retrieve information is by ensuring that a person has established laterality or dominance of their hand, eye, ear and foot. This means that if a person is righthanded they should also be right eyed, right eared, and right footed. The difference between storing information in a brain that has established laterality and one, which has, not can be understood easier through the following example: You write down the name and number of a very important person (which you will need at a later date). You walk to the file cabinet, file it alphabetically under the last name and close the file drawer. In about a week you need the number. You go to the file drawer and easily retrieve the name and number. This is an efficient way of storing and retrieving information. As opposed to—You write down the name and number of a very important person (which you will need at a later date). You walk to the file cabinet—where you discover the entire contents has been emptied out and thrown around a room. You toss your paper onto the entire mess. In about January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook


LEARNING DISABILITIES a week you need the number, you go to the file—which is all over the room—and you begin searching—frantically—for the information. Maybe you find it, but probably you won’t, and if you do it might be too late to use anyway. A major symptom of not having established dominance is inconsistency. You never know if the information will be there or not. Sometimes parents interpret this as the child purposefully withholding information. Since they knew it yesterday, the parent is sure that they must know it today. The reality is, they did know it yesterday, and the information is in their brain, but they do not have access to it at this moment in time. This causes much frustration with the child and the parent. To help determine dominance you can observe some of the following things in your own home. First, it is necessary to determine if the individual is right or left handed. If a person is too young developmentally (below age 5), or has not developed a hand, then you may need professional guidance before going further. You do not want to influence handedness in any way, as it is a very important neurological foundation. If the individual is right handed, you would want the other dominant functions to also be to the right. If the individual is left handed, you would want the other dominant functions to be to the left. To determine which ear is dominant you can make several observations over a period of a few days. Watch which ear they hold the phone up to; ask them to try and hear a conversation on the other side of a door and watch what ear they put to the door; put a watch on the table at their midline and ask the individual to see if they can hear it ticking. Observe which ear they turn to or put on the watch. You can also notice while speaking with the person sitting directly in front of you, do they tend to lean in with one ear closer than the other. The closer ear is usually doing the work of taking in most of the information. If they do everything with the right ear consistently, they are probably right-eared. If they do everything left, they are probably left-eared. If they do variations and are inconsistent they are probably mixed eared. Any degree of mixed dominant can cause learning inefficiencies. To help move the dominant ear (if necessary) you can plug the other ear for a few hours a day, thus forcing the open ear to start taking in information. To determine which eye is dominant you must look at the use of the eye at two distances, near point and far point. Near point is anything from your nose to several feet away. You can observe as they look into cameras, kaleidoscopes, telescopes, key holes etc. To determine far point you can have the individual stand about 8 feet away from you, but lined up straight in front of you. Extend your arm with your finger pointed. Point at the person’s nose. Ask them to point back at your finger with their finger. When they have it sighted notice which eye is sighting the finger. You can


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

usually tell by looking straight at their finger up to the eye behind it. Have them switch hands and point again with the opposite hand. If they are not using the correct eye, or if they are inconsistent with which eye is used, then they are mixed dominant. To help insure use of the dominant eye, you can patch the other eye for a couple of hours a day for several months. During the hours patched, it is helpful if the individual is doing something visually stimulating i.e. reading, writing, playing computer, watching TV, etc. I have done this type of dominance work with many of my children and have seen significant improvement in their ability to learn, remember, and control emotionality.

UTILIZE: Using the information that you have is a final area to explore. One of the most important things necessary for utilizing the information you do have, is to have a positive, relaxed environment in which to output the information. When a person gets upset or anxious (as is often the case with those having learning problems) then they lose access even to the information that they do have. The reason for this is because emotionality is a subdominant function, whereas retrieval of factual information (analytical and logical thought) is a dominant function. If an individual is in a negative learning environment, that will, in and of itself, impair their ability to output information. By assessing each of these areas, you will learn important information about how your child takes in information. Or you may find answers to your questions about why your child is having such a difficult time with learning. Each of the above areas is extremely important to the ability to learn easily. I often find that it is a combination of inefficiencies that make each person’s learning problems unique, and this is the reason that ‘packaged programs’ do not work well for the majority of people.

Cyndi Ringoen, ICAN Certified Neurodevelopmentalist, mother of 6 children and 12 grandchildren. Working in the field of Neurodevelopment since 1983, as a homeschooling parent, foster and adoptive parent, volunteer branch director and certified neurodevelopmentalist with degrees in Developmental and Applied Psychology.   She is the owner of CAN-Do Inc. and currently travels the U.S. conducting functional neurodevelopmental assessments and writing individualized home programs for parents to implement with the children. For more information please visit www. or email Cyndi at

positive thinking

Life Is Not A Race

By: Dr. Barton Goldsmith

I don’t

think I’d want to be on The Amazing Race. Although the contestants get to travel to distant lands and exotic places, how much of it do they really get to take in while pushing so hard to reach the end? If you live your life always striving for the finish line, you will miss the joy of the journey. Goals are important, for as we move closer to them, our internal sense of self-worth increases. But if we don’t allow ourselves to experience the process of reaching our goals, the destination (and the potential growth that hopefully comes with it) may be a bit more elusive than expected. Looking at where you have been while traveling to your next interpersonal destination will only help to serve you. It will allow you to create some positive memories, as well as make some course corrections, if necessary, to stay on the proper path and get as much out of life as possible. The trick to living life with few regrets is to make yourself think about where you want to go, how you are going to get there, and what choices you are willing to make to accomplish this. As long as you don’t hurt others or yourself, you’ll reach your destination with a smile on your face. If you are one of those people who wants everything faster or better or cheaper, and don’t care who gets hurt in the process, happiness will be tough to find. If you are ready, willing, and able to poke holes in most every situation that you engage in, then it will be difficult for you to have any positive takeaways. Those who see themselves and the world realistically—respecting the lessons learned, absorbing the beauty around them, and treasuring everyday moments—are the people who live the happiest lives. As we move through life, our motivations change. We can become more enlivened as we mature, or we can look at our past with regret and stare at the future, hoping it will change but

not really knowing how to break out of old patterns. It does no good to merely hope that things will change for the better. You have to be proactive about it and make it happen. We have more power to direct our own lives than we know or, in some cases, care to admit. It is easier to blame others for our lack of progress or joy than to accept personal responsibility for our situation. When you are feeling stuck or unfulfilled, simply making the decision to pick yourself up and get moving again is the best step you can take. It’s amazing to experience the world, and we can have amazing lives without ever traveling to the far side of it. The things that make this journey worthwhile are the people who touch your heart and the deeds you do to make you feel that you have made the world a tiny bit better. Now that’s a race I’d run. For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. His columns appear in over 500 publications. He may be contacted through his web site .

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook



8 ideas

By: Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now! ™

for Organizing Your Child’s Room “Clean your room.” “Ugh! Oh, Mom. I’ll do it later!”

This same dialog is shared by millions of parents and their children all over the world. Do you suddenly have the driving urge to get your child’s room in order? Where do you start? Here are a few ideas:


Schedule a specific date and time to clean out your child’s room. Your daughter or son, if she or he is old enough, should be there to help.


Have a large box on hand for items you will be donating to your local charity or selling at a rummage sale. Also, have a large plastic garbage bag--maybe two or three--for everything you will be disposing of. Your son or daughter can help here. Let them know that every item that is of no use to them, that they donate, will be helping another child. Also, tell them that it’s important to discard anything that will never be used, to make room for new, useful items.


The clothes closet is usually a good place to start. Pull everything out until it’s completely empty. Then, the only items that should be returned to the closet are those articles of clothing or other items that are going to be used again. This should eliminate clothing that doesn’t fit, is worn out, and so on. If you’re not sure if an item fits your child anymore, have him or her try it on right now.


Hang a baseball cap rack on the back of your child’s bedroom door to keep all

caps neat and organized. Ensure it’s at a reachable level for your child and that he/she understands the proper way to hang the caps on it.


A shoe rack can keep children’s shoes organized, easily accessible and in one place. Show your child how to organize shoes, keeping all pairs together and separating dress shoes from casual.



in children’s rooms. This is usually a better solution for toy storage versus containers, because the toys won’t get crushed and will be easily obtainable. Make sure the shelves are at a reasonable height so that your child can reach wanted items.


Create a filing system for your child, to keep artwork, rock star photos, blank paper, notes from family and friends, etc. Use a portable filing container that is capable of holding hanging files and that can be transported to someplace else if necessary. The ones with handles are nice, since they can be transported to different homes, on vacation, and so on. Some of these containers have snapshut compartments for pens, pencils, clips, and more.


Teach your children to clean and organize as soon as they’re old enough to do so. If you help them do this now, you will be helping them when they’re old enough to move out on their own. Devise a simple daily checklist for maintenance. If you have two children sharing the same room, divide the room in half with an imaginary line. Describe this imaginary line to each child. Assign each one the responsibility of keeping their side clean and organized.

Maria Gracia is an Author, Speaker, Consultant, Professional Organizer and the founder of Get Organized Now! ™. She specializes in helping people get better organized to live the kind of stress-free life they’ve always dreamed of. For more information, please visit her at http:// or email


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

health & hearth

Recipes From Veggie U Nut Butter and Yogurt Dip

By: Charlotte Muller

I would recommend Peanut Butter and Strawberry Yogurt, but you can use whatever flavors and varieties you’d like. (Pssst…there’s even chocolate yogurt. Yum Yum!)

Ingredients: 1 – ............6 oz. container yogurt 3 –............. tbsp. nut butter

Dippers such as: apple slices, carrot sticks, graham crackers, celery, pretzels, pears, bananas, strawberries...

Method: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and nut butter and mix until smooth. Clean and cut any fruits and vegetables and pack in several sturdy containers. Dip & Enjoy!

Grilled Cucumber Sandwich

By: Brent Turner

with cream cheese spread, tomatoes, lettuce and caramelized onions One onion makes enough caramelized onions to last a few days so go ahead and get creative!

Ingredients: 2 oz. .........cream cheese spread 1 T. ...........chopped chives 1 T. ...........chopped basil 1 T. ...........fresh lemon juice 1/2 ............cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 ......... tomato sliced 1 ...............small onion ..................Olive oil ..................Salt and pepper to taste 2 ...............slices bread - your choice

Method: In small bowl mix softened cream cheese, chives, basil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper if desired and refrigerate. Slice the onion into very thin slices from root to stem. Place a small sauté pan over medium heat. Put a small amount of olive oil in the pan and let it get hot. Add the onion and allow to brown slightly.  After onions are browned, turn down the heat to low and cook slowly until onions are soft and sweet. Spread in a pie pan or on a cookie sheet and chill.  Brush the cucumber with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until softened slightly. Divide cream cheese evenly between the two slices of bread. Lay out lettuce, then tomato, then cucumber, and the caramelized onions on one slice and lay the other slice on top. Cut the sandwich any way you ant and pack in a sturdy container. 

Please visit for more recipes and vegetable fun!

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook


extra activities By Sandra Volchko

Shiny Fish Collage Winter may be still be lingering but you can take an imaginary trip to the ocean by making some fun ocean animal crafts. This Shiny Fish Collage is a creative craft made with easy to find supplies from around the house. To complete this craft children will need to use their tracing and cutting skills. This also provides an opportunity to learn about the color wheel… mixing primary colors to make secondary ones. Supplies: • • • • • • •

Blue construction paper Tin foil Scissors Glue Paint and brush Q-tips Google eye (optional) Instructions: 1. D  raw or trace a fish shape in the middle of a piece of construction paper and cut out. Make your own or you can print a fish template from the busy bee kids craft website at: http://www.busybeekidscrafts. com/Shiny-Fish-Collage.html 2. Cut a piece of tin foil a little smaller than the construction paper. Paint all over the foil, you can use one color or many. We used red and yellow, which made orange where the colors ran into each other. Before the paint dries use Q-tips to make a shiny design come through the paint. Use the Q-tip to remove or “erase” some of the paint in a unique design. You will need a few Q-tips since they get filled with paint quickly and won’t “erase” the paint well if they are saturated. 3. Once the paint is dry glue your foil onto the construction paper. Glue on your Google eye, if you don’t have any just use a small circle of white paper. Complete this craft by gluing on a solid sheet of construction paper onto the back to sandwich the foil.

This technique can be used for other crafts. You can make homemade cards using the same supplies such as the Shiny Heart Card found at: 38

Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012



STEP 3 Sandra is a Registered Nurse, a Mother of two, and the founder of www.busybeekidscrafts. com, a free resource for children’s crafts and activities. Sandra created this online resource to share with the world creative and inexpensive ways to spend quality time with children while at the same time teaching them valuable skills.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook


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Curriculum Reviews

Curriculum Review: Math U See Gamma By: Colleen Hoenicke Format: DVD, Teachers Book (hard cover), Student Book, Test Book and Manipulatives Grade Level: 3-4 Learning Styles: Multiple (worked especially well with special needs) Overall Rating: Exceptional Cost: $100.00 My Experience with Math U See Gamma: I have found that by using Math u see my children have a very rounded curriculum. I love the fact that this works well with my hands on learners. My special needs son is doing great with the Gamma. He is able to grasp the concept well and quickly with use of the DVD and Manipulatives. The blocks really help to show him how it is to be used as a visual aspect of this. There really is nothing I do not like about this curriculum. We have tried others in the past and Math U See is the only curriculum that did not cause him to cry when it came time for math.

Overall Rating: Overall this is a very rounded curriculum. Math U See teaches mastery not just spiral. They must master the concept before they are able to move on. I also love the fact that their website allows you to make your own worksheets on many of the lessons. This has helped us as well if we needed extra sheets to master the concept. I really need to thank Math U See for the exceptional job they have done in creating a wonderful math program that works with so many learning styles. THANK YOU.


Homeschool Handbook | January/February 2012

Curriculum Review: Math U See Algebra By: Colleen Hoenicke Format: DVD, Teachers Book (hard cover), Student Book, Test Book and Manipulatives Grade Level: 11 Learning Styles: All - Including hands-on and visual Overall Rating: Excellent Cost: $110.00 What I liked about Math U See Algebra: I loved the fact that the DVD was easy to follow with very clear instructions , my kids love watching Steve. He has become part of our family through out the years, using Math U See for all of my children. I like the hardback teachers manual, it is much sturdier, as well as the perforated pages in the student book. I also Love the fact that it uses the Manipulatives as well. This is a very rounded curriculum and my children enjoy using it. I do not get the arguments and tears we got from using the other programs in the past. Overall I was very, very pleased with the Math U See Algebra What I did not like about the curriculum: I did not like that my children did not really want to use the Manipulatives by this age. Although, it helps them to understand the concepts and once they did start using them they understood completely the concepts.

Overall Rating: This is a amazing program that will work with all learning styles‌ hands on, visual, etc. Visual is the learning style my children are and this worked great for them. Thank You Math U See


product spotlights

Parking Pal

Parking lots can be dangerous, even fatal, for children. Protect your little loved ones with a colorful aid that keeps them near to you and far from moving vehicles. Kids love using the Parking Pal, while being taught  responsibility in parking lots and around vehicles. For more information please visit or Email info@

Primary Arts of Language —(PAL)

(PAL) provides everything you need to start your primary grade students (K–2) reading and writing and in delightful, interactive way – guaranteed to be effective!

PAL Reading:

Using poetry, the reading portion of the Primary Arts of Language teaches phonics and whole words. Students are introduced to letters through letter stories and discover the vowel and consonant pairs that help us read with daily games played during “Activity Time” to reinforce the phonetic concepts. For more information please visit

PAL Writing:

The writing portion is divided into three parts: printing, copy work, and composition. Spelling is included throughout the course. The printing section provides an entire handwriting program to teach your student how to correctly form his letters. The copy work exercises will make printing automatic in preparation for the composition lessons, which will gently teach your student to write stories and paragraphs with style. For more information please visit Note: All Institute for Excellence in Writing materials offer an excellent online support forum where you get tips, tricks, and attentive answers to all your reading and writing questions.

January/February 2012 | Homeschool Handbook


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