Question & Answers

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  1. Leah says:

    Thank you for you suggestions and encouragement!

    Our 15 year old is wanting to homeschool. He’s been struggling the past few years with most subjects, especially math. I’m not sure where to start with him. Any suggestions? Also, I’ve noticed there’s not a set curriculum for 9th graders on your love to learn site. It sounds like you have been able to prepare your children so well, that by 15-16 years old they’re ready for college classes! Amazing! Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for my son. Where do I begin? I feel like he needs extra help in almost all subjects.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      You are starting with a great advantage…your son wants to homeschool! If a child has a happy attitude towards being homeschooled, you are off to a great start!

      Every person is so very different. And a child does not always grow up to have the same traits. I had one very sloppy little gal who grew up into a “neat freak”. So, there is every variety! I have not been able to prepare all my children for college classes early. Some have been more interested and diligent in their schoolwork than others.

      Now, to homeschooling your son. This is going to be very fun! A 15 year old can discuss things with you, motivate himself to do his work and get deeply involved in projects. I think you two will have a great time. Start with the basics: math, writing, reading. I would do an assessment test and find out just what level he is at. Both Saxon and Singapore Math have free placement tests online that you can use to find out his level. Singapore goes just to 8th grade level. If he enjoys doing online classes, there is a math program that I recommend: Math Whizz. It is on the pricey side but they have a free trial you can try, and my kids loved it and it freed me from doing math. It only goes through 8th grade, so if your son is up to level in math, Saxon would probably be your best bet, along with a DIVE CD .

      For writing, I would just start with a daily school journal—write a page daily on whatever topic he wants. Getting him writing every day is the jumping off point so he can get used to putting his thoughts into words, and it helps you see what type of help he needs…punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. You can teach his what is needed and watch his writing improve little by little. Then he will eventually be ready to tackle writing about what he reads or researches, in the form of a longer report.

      Reading: pick the most interesting adventure books you can find so he will be motivated! Some ideas right off the top of my head: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Sign of the Beaver, The Golden Goblet, Crispin by Avi, Night Journey, God’s Smuggler (Christian), and many more. These are younger books, but the point is to read, not to challenge him right at first. If he is reluctant, read it aloud and discuss it with him. If he enjoys reading, pick a book at or below his level, so it is enjoyable for him. He can write a narrative of what he has read, as a writing topic.

      As this becomes a daily pattern, you can add in Apologia Science and History, keyboarding (I recommend Typing Tutor Deluxe…great program!), and other subjects.

      The most important thing is to give him time, and materials, to follow his interests!

      Best success!

  2. DAWN Taylor says:

    I am thinking of offering homeschooling to children in our area and I would help them through the coujrses. Do you have any recommendations for me? My son went to pubic school and I realize how bad the schools are. Have you heard of anyone ever doing this for someone elses child? I would like them to pick the curriculum and then I could take the time to be with the children and help them through it.

  3. Cathy Vander Vorst says:

    I have used your Happy Phonics with all my kids (8 so far) for many years, with great success. They have taken off in their reading, and absolutely love to read… all except my 11 year old boy. He is still struggling to read (is reading at about a 1st or 2nd grade level). Although we review and review the phonics flashcards (a lot more than I ever did with my other children), he still struggles to decode words. My guess, from the little bit of research I’ve done, is that he is mildly dyslexic as he still turns letters around. He is good with math, but does struggle in spelling/writing. Do you have any experience working through this issue? Is there something else I could be using that would help my son speed up his reading so that it becomes fun and not a chore?

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Hi Cathy,

      Congrats on your great success teaching your children to read! It’s so fun…isn’t it?…to see them take off reading!

      With your son that is still struggling with reading, here’s a few ideas:

      *try making (or buying) flashcards with tactile letters. You can just use glue to trace the letter and then sprinkle sand on the glue. Then when you do flashcards with him, have him use his finger to trace the letter while he recites, F says “eff”, for example. It is more important that he knows the sound the letter makes than the name of the letter, so emphasize that. (He’ll also learn the letter names eventually if he struggles with that.)

      *instead of doing flashcards, play the Happy Phonics games with him. Motivation is a big plus when it comes to learning. If he wants to beat you, he’ll automatically pay more attention, work harder.

      *Have you used Explode the Code? The practice is those books is fun and valuable. I especially like the page where the child has to select the objects that match the clue read by the teacher. For example, “Use a blue crayon to circle something you build to keep animals in that start with the letter sound “eff”. The child finds the picture of a fence and circles it. See the books (Primers A, B, C) that teach the phonic sounds here:

      *Try having him watch videos that show the letter being formed while the sound is spoken…there are a lot of these on the market for kids.

      Basically, your son needs repeated practice until his brain can make that connection…dyslexia may be slowing it down. Practice in seeing the letter formatted correctly and hearing the phonic sounds over and over and over again will do it. Touching and feeling, and hearing…using every sense….will help too.

      Best success!

  4. Thanks, Diane. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question so thoroughly. I am excited to try these ideas.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Keep me posted on if anything helps!
      ; 0 )

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