Monday, June 30, 2008

Individualized Home Instruction Plan

So I help to lead a homeschool group, but I had a panic moment a few days ago. My quarterly report for my girls was due, oh, right then, and my letter of intent (letting the school district know I plan to do this again next year) was due in a few days, and I had nothing ready. We had done the school work, no problems there, but the record keeping and reporting was another matter. I dragged out the calendar and lists and got things together relatively quickly, phew!! And then, well, I was in the zone, so I dragged out stuff for next year too. In New York state we have to hand in an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) each year by August 15th, after we send it that letter of intent (July 1st), summarizing our plan for the next academic year, sort of a syllabus for each child you are homeschooling. You have to list off the required subjects and then how each one will be addressed. Luckily my girls are only two years apart, so we are able to do a few subjects together, Bible (we use Calvary Chapel’s free through the Bible curriculum), History (we use Ambleside Online’s free booklists), and Science (we like Apologia but are doing science as part of a co-op this year). We also do Literature together (sounds good, but it just really means we sit and read good books as a family). Even though I am personally anti-workbook, the kids like ‘em, so they have workbooks for Math and Language Arts (we use Alpha Omega for both). Besides that all, we fill in the blanks with field trips, reading, educational stuff from TV, and a few other co-op classes. Done!!!

I’ve mentioned to people before that this part of the homeschooling deal isn’t too bad – I enjoy planning it out and even teaching it all. The tricky part for me is the day in and day out living life right in front of and with your kids. It’s a good thing, but a hard thing. Because you are together so much, well, you can drive each other a bit batty. And it’s easy to get caught up in the lists of to-do’s and forget why it is that you’re doing this. It’s easy to neglect character development for the times table, and how goofy is that?!? So perhaps this year I need to write an IHIP for myself, and leave spots for me to back up, slow down and refocus, to make sure that I’m not getting off track. Not a bad plan :).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Homeschooling Laws

Each state has its own regulations and laws regarding homeschooling. The best resource for finding out what's what that I've found is the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). We've been members since we've started homeschooling, just in case... We know that our dues don't just make us feel more secure, and offer us that legal protection, but also go to help important legal battles being fought for homeschoolers everywhere. There is a great state by state resource of laws at , and the rest of their site is just full of great stuff too. Anwyay, just my personal plug for them because I think it's important, not because they're giving me anything to say so :).

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I was planning to go to bed a while ago, but my mind was wandering, and I got thinking about the Pizza Hut Book it program ( and wondering when I needed to sign up for next year. (Homeschooling mom problem - never really stop planning and thinking school stuff!) So I googled it, and found out that would be NOW. So, if you haven't done so yet, homeschoolers don't sign up as a group from here on out. Each family is on it's own. Head to the link above and sign up quickly, before spots are filled up. If you haven't done this program before, it's great - free personal pizzas and prizes for reading. Great incentive for kiddos and fun night out for the family. It's for grades K-6, and that's about all you need to know. Go do it :)!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Quick - origin of Flag Day?
Me neither...
Well, here you go...
In 1885 Bernard Cigrand was a young teacher, and decided to assign his students to write essays about the American flag and its significance. This was the beginning of a 31 year mission to bring about a national flag day. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th as Flag Day, to be annually commerated.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mind-Body Connection

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, The Bible

We attended a homeschool convention last weekend (I know, a wild group!!) and heard and excellent speaker on a topic I hadn't really put tons of thought into before. The title of her workshop was called "The Biology of Learning and Behavior." You know, I have a degree in Psychology, and one in education as well. I've been a Christian for years, reading my Bible lots (sometimes more faithfully than others) for many of them, but I had a "lightbulb" moment when I heard her speaking.

Much of what I'm going to summarize here is on this speaker's website, , but I still want to throw out what I brought away from the talks I heard.

Dianne wove together well the different parts of these bodies that we've been given, the different parts of us, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and then broke it down even farther into chemical. I like her approach, because she didn't seek to excuse problems in learning, or in behavior, which is a pet peeve of mine: "I can't help behaving this way, _____ made me do it!!" She rather sought for an explanation so that parents can more intelligently, and more thoroughly, help their kiddos to become all of who God made them to be.

"Children act how they feel." Sydney Walker in The Hyperactivity Hoax

Many quotes and statistics dotted the workshop, and I just walked away feeling like I was a lot more equipped to take care of myself better, and also to train my kiddos to do the same.

One of the key pieces that we learned about was "upset gut", or digestive system, and how so many behavioral, learning, and physical issues are tied into an unhealthy gut. Another quote: "Over 95% of the calming neurotransmitter, Serotonin, is made in the Gut," Michael Gershon in The Second Brain. Some behavioral symptoms of an unhealthy gut: mood swings, spaciness, anger/irritability, inconsistent performance, depression, memory problems, inappropriate behavior, talking loudly, Sensory Integration issues, inattention, and Asperger and Austistic-like behaviors. Some physical symptoms: canker sores, stomach-aches, leg pains, sugar cravings, food and other allergies, enuresis, nervousness, sleep problems, cradle cap, lactose intolerance, thrush and athlete's foot, immune system disorders, and impulsivity. A histamine release is also triggered, which is a neurotoxin to our bodies, causing excess mucus, exis acid, stomaches, dark circls, cnifflin, snoring, excema, and asthma and bronchitis. Wow!

Serotonin is in the health news a lot. We know that it is the happy neurotransmitter in our bodies, relaxing us, helping us feel better, helping us handle stress better, focusing us, but it also reduces impulsivity, promotes good sleep, and actually acts as an antidepressant. Sooooo, if we have an unhealthy gut and that's where most of our Serotonin is made, that's not a good thing. Our body is not working in the way that God created it to. Scripture tells us to take care of the bodies that we've been given. So how do we fix this?
It really isn't too complicated - yeah!!

One of the big reasons for an upset gut is that the bacteria and yeasts in our gut, things that are supposed to be there, are just out of balance. Our culture is a sugar laden culture, and sugar grows yeast, lots and lots of yeast. Many of us have way too much yeast growing in us because we feed them way too often. The yeast can actually get a little overexcited and start making little holes in our gut wall. Things that we are eating that were never intended to enter our bloodstream, things that were intended to pass on through the body, are leaking through and causing all sorts of problems. We need to get rid of some of those naughty little yeasties and get balanced.

Three steps and that's it to get your gut balanced and clear the way for your body to work in the wonderful way that it was designed:

Take acidophilus (available at health food stores and online) 3 times a day for 3 months. This "plants" good bacteria in your gut. Capsules can be opened and mixed into food for kiddos.
After a week of the above, take grapefruit seed extract tablets 3 times a day for 3 months, if over 6, or 1/2 tab 3 times a day if younger. This is an antifungal, which will help weed out the "bad guys" in your gut. Garlic is also an antifungal.
Reduce sugar and empty carbs. Change breakfast menu to include more things like eggs and sandwiches, less empty carbs (cereals). Change snacks to more healthful ones, and add more raw food to your diet. Drink more water.
That's it. We are jumping in and giving this a try, so I'll let you know how it progresses. I've heard lots of success stories, and I figure that it can't hurt. God created our bodies to be his temple, He says. It's probably about time that I clean it up....