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The February 2012 issue is out!
Read the all new interactive-digital edition of the trade magazine for homeschool moms FREE!


Click here to read the magazine and view  a number of videos. Watch a message from Paul and Gena and kids on page 3; find out who TOS Magazine's leading sponsor is for 2012!


TOS February 2012

The Winter Warehouse Wipeout 
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We (the whole family) just love reading The Homeschool Minute 

While we always love and value what the ladies have to say on the various topics, we just LOVE what Familyman Todd Wilson has to say about "keeping it real". He's always very refreshing and keeps us in stitches. Please pass along the thanks to him!
Homeschooling for 11 years and loving it. 

--The Szymanski Family 





I'm bawling this morning. I know lack of sleep is part of it. But this Homeschool Minute is great. I have to confess to you that I nearly didn't open it. The last time the Homeschool Minute addressed this issue, it made me feel inadequate and then just angry. I know I should have written to you then . . . .This issue is phenomenal. Thank you for addressing struggling readers in such an understanding way.

--Debra Brinkman, Yoder, CO




This was JUST what I needed today. I'm sitting here crying over the first and last articles . . . I'm not sure I got past the tears in my eyes for the ones in between. (Okay, I just looked back, and they were advertisements I'd already had a chance to see the video of before, etc.).  

Just had to touch base with you and say thank you. They usually don't tug at my heart quite this much, but these have somehow struck a chord with me today. I appreciate your  

sending them.


Thank you so much. How timely! . . . You all work so hard year round to make our world such a better place! Thank you!! :))

--Beth Lilly, Bristol, PA



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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


February 15, 2012

When Writing Seems Too Hard


Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family



Writing and Handwriting


This week, one of my many tasks was to write about the theme of writing and handwriting. I had a theme and a time limit, but I just couldn't do it until now. And then, I realized that this happens with our children, too. And yet, we become upset with their seeming lack of effort. What I needed was someone to come alongside me and give me some fresh ideas. Sometimes, that's what our children need as well.


Here are some ideas that have helped me:


Dictation: For younger elementary ages, I have the children dictate to me whatever they are to write about. I ask appropriate questions along the way, such as, "What happened next?" "Where were they?" "What time was it?" etc. I write or type it as they dictate, and then they read it back to me (or if very young, I would read it back to them). This not only freed up their minds to think (as they didn't have to worry about penmanship), but they also enjoyed doing it, increased their vocabulary, and were proud of their finished product. I still have them physically write, but I separate the writing process from penmanship or handwriting. Requiring both at a young age will tend to frustrate both of you. Hang on, moms, it does come to pass. I have a couple of college students who are very proficient writers now but were boys with many tears in the early years.


Handwriting: For penmanship/handwriting, we would copy Bible verses or complete a daily workbook page in manuscript or cursive writing. Right now, I am looking into Cursive First for my younger kids.


Five-Day Essay As the kids get older and it is not physically hard to write anymore, I would have them write or type their own assignments according to a "five-day essay" fashion. It looks like this:


Day One: Pick a subject and brainstorm with me some ideas, coming up with three main points. Write the opening paragraph, which includes a brief description of the three main points.


Day Two: Write paragraph two, which describes main point No. 1.


Day Three: Write paragraph three, which describes main point No. 2.


Day Four:  Write paragraph four, which describes main point No. 3.


Day Five: Write the closing paragraph, wrapping up the three points above.


The second week, we would take each of the five days to go over the entire essay and correct only one paragraph a day.


The third week, they would rewrite the essay, focusing on getting rid of "boring" or ordinary words and replacing them with better verbs, adjectives, etc., until they ended up with a polished, finished product. This was not overwhelming and taught them the basics of essay writing, which is important as they go into higher learning environments.


Contests: Another great way to inspire children to write is to give them a purpose for writing--places like local homeschooling newsletters, library poetry contests, bookstore writing contests, Internet contests, etc. Anything to get them to write with a reward attached to it seemed to inspire greatness. You will be proud of the effort, and of course they love the prizes!


Other People: As the children have gotten older, it has been helpful occasionally to have them under the tutelage or requirement of other teachers (co-op writing classes, presentation days, community college classes, etc.). Take advantage of what your homeschool community has to offer.


Praise: Praise their efforts before showing them their errors. Pray continually, and God will be faithful to show you the "write" way for each child. 


Captivating Math and Science Lessons!

AIMS Kids can't help but be interested in math and science when they are given the chance to actively explore these subjects. "Telling" is not our style; we believe in "doing." Please visit our website for sample activities. Grades K-9.    



TOS has entered the digital age with gusto! Now you can not only read the magazine on your desktop, laptop, and Android-based smartphone or Apple mobile devices, but now you can connect with TOS on many social networking sites. Choose one or all of these ways to get homeschool advice, encouragement, and support from TOS:

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Do you want FREE college? The E-book "15 Secrets to Free College" is now available at Learn how huge scholarships can happen for your family! There is free money to college, find out the secrets to get it! Add the E-book to your cart and use the coupon code: OSHM to get the information for one penny!




 E-Book: President's Day 2012 Special Bundle 


President's Day is around the corner--do you need materials to teach about U.S. presidents in an interesting and fun way? Then purchase Presidents of the Past and A Copybook of the United States Presidents: Words from our Leaders


Want to get this E-Book bundle FREE? Normally $17.94, for a limited time, this bundle is free with any $25 purchase from the Schoolhouse Store--compliments of The Old Schoolhouse® and Proverbs 22:6 Academy.


To find out how to get these E-Books FREE, click here.


Relax, Enjoy And Learn Spanish! Let R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish teach you and your family how to learn Spanish and interact in fun and interesting ways. Includes an Easy-to-Use Curriculum with Home Educator Tips, Daily Planning Guide, Idea Sections for Spanish use outside of class time, Activity Book and Audio. 




Hey from Gena 

Gena Suarez
Gena Suarez

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS     


Gena is taking a break to concentrate on magazine business. Veteran homeschool parents will be filling in for her from time to time. This week's article is by Amanda Jones. Amanda  is a homeschooling mother of four blessings and devoted wife to Anthony. The family serves as missionaries in the United States and abroad through their web ministry and various facilitating projects. Amanda writes weekly on matters of faith and Christian growth at both and Her greatest joy is serving the Lord and loving her family with all her heart!




Amanda Jones
Amanda Jones


When writing seems too hard, are we talking structure or form? We have struggled in our homeschool with both-from getting my hyperactive child to focus on one idea and relaying it comprehensively to watching my son with dysgraphia squeeze his pencil tightly, as if willing the letters to look right to his own dyslexic eyes. Writing has not been an easy art for us.


When first homeschooling, I thought my children HAD to do it by-the-book. Just like public school: Teach a lesson, see results.


Not exactly.


Submitting the matter in prayer, I found a way to claim peace. The hard part would be letting go of what I thought they HAD to do and remembering all God requires of them . . . and me.


Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. -Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. -Colossians 3:14 (ESV)

God showed me where I was caring more about what others thought (especially my critics) instead of giving my children the tools they needed to succeed (which for a time were more like crutches). I had been exasperating them with expectations they just couldn't meet. I was complicating the process of learning and ignoring the fact that all things, through the Lord and love, would work together to produce results.


If God gave grace . . . surely I could too.


We began using copywork. I read articles from seasoned homeschoolers who recommended this form of writing for training children in good grammar and structure. Through using good literature excerpts, the children's structure and spelling has improved far more than when I simply taught a lesson and expected understanding and results. They have grown in their ability to contain thoughts and focus main ideas as well. Their own writing projects are seeing far fewer red marks and much more praise!


A wonderful bonus: Some copywork comes from Scripture. It has helped them learn new verses and planted a desire to copy more! I often see them copying their latest favorite verse to save! God is winning their hearts and growing their abilities!


As for my dysgraphic child, I submitted to letting him trace and accepted dictation on big projects and rough days. His handwriting actually improved, and his frustration declined! His writing will always be wild and messy when he's not trying, but he can finally contain his letters and space when needed, something he could never do before.


I praise God for His guidance through the times when the very idea of contained writing seemed hopeless.


The simple answer to when teaching writing is hard: Let go of your inhibitions, ease up on your expectations, and see your children as God does, individually and with love. Learn how you can grow their skills using their strengths and trusting the Lord with each step. Learning gaps and naysayers will quickly be closed and quieted--the results will speak for themselves.


~Amanda Jones

The Familyman
Todd Wilson
Todd WIlson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  



When Writing Seems Too Hard


I've got a headache, and this week's writing assignment sounds a little too hard to me right now. So when your children, or your children's teacher, are thinking the same thing . . . follow my example and walk away from it and come back to it later, and don't feel guilty about doing so. How much later? When it isn't hard, of course. I'm leaving now. Goodbye. I'll be back when it isn't hard . . . and believe me, I sure don't feel guilty.


Be real,



P.S. Check out my son's latest animated Familyman Adventure.
FYI--It's not a girl thing.

Artistic Nature Magazine is more than just an enjoyable experience--it teaches art principles and nature science in fun, motivational ways. The editor, Joymarie, offers unique, easy, and effective methods to teach kids art, with detailed nature coloring pages and careful art instructions for each picture. Subscribe today at www.LightHome.Net! 


Homeschool Blogger Free Classes
Upcoming classes: 

Historical Timeline of English Spelling


Visit to view archived classes! 



Creation Revolution 


In Job 41:1-34 is a description of creature God calls the Leviathan. It is a creature that breaths smoke from its nostrils and fire from its mouth.


Could this creature have been a dragon? Read Leviathan--A Creature Without Fear, to learn more about this interesting creature. Have your children draw a picture as you read aloud the description.


Contest Corner 

For the month of February, 2012  


The Crossmaker


This DVD features a grandfather telling his grandchildren stories about Jesus. The backdrop for the stories is a marvelous artist doing chalk drawings of Jesus and scenes from the stories. There are two stories: The Crossmaker and Jesus Loves the Children. The Crossmaker is about a little boy whose family makes crosses. He delivers the one to be used for Jesus and witnesses the crucifixion. He is crushed by guilt for his part but he meets the resurrected Jesus on the road and finds forgiveness and love. Jesus Loves the Children is the familiar Bible story about the disciples telling the children to leave Jesus alone, but Jesus tells them to let the children come to Him.


The background music is wonderful, and the chalk illustrations are spectacular. But there is much more on this DVD! There are more chalk drawing demonstrations and even a teaching session showing children step-by-step how to make their own chalk drawings. (...)


Read the rest of the review here.


Win this resource for your family!



Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Crossmaker" for a chance to win* this great resource!

2011-12 Schoolhouse Planners  

*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse
® Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the February Contest Corner contest running from February 1, 2012, to February 29, 2012. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Writer Guidelines and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.

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