"I" Before "E" but Not After "C"

Spelling, just like bike tricks, improves with practice!

I am a product of the public schools of the 1960′s. I was taught the spelling ditty: “i” before “e” but not after “c”, and a host of other rules. Unfortunately, I can only remember that one rule, and even so, those rules don’t always apply: for example, in foreign, vein or freight. Spelling rules seem to be made for the logical, perhaps, mathematical mind (not mine), but I am a good speller. How does that work?

I have used many a spelling book and program with my kids over the years, and I am convinced that Ruth Beechick, skilled teacher and curriculum developer, knew what she was talking about. Ruth Beechick did not like spelling workbooks, and taught that spelling out of the context of one’s writing is seldom remembered and can be an exercise in futility. After homeschooling for 20 years, I have to agree.

So, how do you teach kids to spell? Well, here is what I do:

Get them to write. Let them write about their interests—those are the words they need to know how to spell anyway, as they will be using those words often. As you correct their writing, help them correct their misspelled words and transfer them to a spelling list. Every day, have them write those words 3 times. On Friday, test them on their words. Whatever is missed goes onto next week’s spelling list, until it is mastered. Every Friday, when you give a spelling test, go back and pull words randomly from previously mastered spelling lists to keep them fresh in your child’s memory.

Do whatever you can to help them make sense of the spelling of the word when they first transfer it from their writing to their spelling list. If you can simplify a rule to the point that a child remembers it, go ahead.

More often, though, I find myself drawing a little memory clue next to the word, or underlining some of the letters to solidify a crazy spelling. Find a reason to remember a difficult spelling sequence. For example, I point out to my children that the commonly misspelled word, “friend”, is easy to remember if you know that a “friend is with you to theend“. Once a child can see the word “end” in “friend“, it is easy to spell it correctly.

Look for that pesky creature, “a rat”, when you spell “separate”. There is “a rat” in “sep a rate”! Once you can remember that, you’ll never spell it wrong!

Children often struggle with the correct spelling of the words”their” and “there”. How does one remember? Look at the word “there”. “There” is a place, a location. You are either “here” or “there”. The word “here” is part of the word “there“. Have children search for the word “here”. If they see it in the word “there“, they are talking about a place.

Which “hear” hears? “Here” or “hear”? You “hear” with the word that has an “ear” it it: hear!

If you all want to be “together”, then you better go “to get her“.

For very logical types, a spelling rule might hold some weight. But for the majority of children,I have found memory clues to be very powerful in teaching spelling!

 

Curriculum Planning

Homeschooling is a big decision that takes much thought and prayer. For most of us, the move into homeschooling is a step into uncharted territory. We haven’t been brought up in this lifestyle and we aren’t quite sure just how to proceed. Hopefully, you will take my hand and we can walk together for awhile and I’ll tell you about the mistakes I’ve made and what has worked for me, in homeschooling my seven children over the past two decades.

Once you have made the leap, you will find many, many (too many!) materials to choose from. Over our years of homeschooling, I have tried much of what is on the market. If I haven’t used it personally with my children, I may have reviewed it for inclusion in our store inventory. My purpose in writing this handbook is to pass on my experience and hopefully save you from buying materials that are not useful to you.

Before you can choose what to use, you must decide just where you are going. What do you want your child to learn? What do you value, and in what order? When my oldest son Daniel was grown and left home, it became a time of deep introspection for me. I found myself considering the short span that we are given to guide and train these precious children. I looked at the long lists of what I wanted to teach Daniel and realized that, like most things in life, there must be priorities and there is definitely not time to do it all. When Daniel and I parted, I fussed over my mental checklist to determine if he had learned the most important things. I assessed his religious training and he had strong convictions (√ whew!) He had been obedient and respectful of authority (√ ). He could read very well (√ ). He was a good writer and speaker (√). He was socially at ease and had a positive influence on others (√). He knew how to find information that he didn’t know (√ ). He could mend his pants if needed (? not sure). He could accompany any hymn on the piano (NO!) . . ummm. . . and so it goes, on and on forever. Take a minute to jot down what you think is important. Actually, take a week to jot down what you think is important as it comes to mind. Of course, you will want to consider each child’s special interests and talents as they often are a clue to his “mission in life.” You will end up with an enormous list, I know. My list for my boys goes from having strong Christian beliefs to being able to build furniture! Mothers naturally wish the most and the best for their children. You will also want to consider what the world expects our children to know because they will live in a world that has been educated in public schools. When your grown child is ready to give the world the gift he was sent to give, it will matter what he has learned, how prepared he is, and what skills he has.

Most schools follow the same general curriculum which I have outlined (reading, writing, math, science, etc.) but if you feel concern, you can check with the school district to review their educational plan from kindergarten through college preparation courses. Starting about 9th grade, it helps to plan your studies with regard to the college entrance requirements. Most universities will accept students that have graduated from the 2 year program from a local college. Local colleges will generally accept students without high school diplomas. This may be a convenient way to avoid all the grade and credit hassle!

After your wish list is made, try to categorize each thing you want them to learn under a heading. You may find that they fit into the categories that I use for my children. Your priorities may be different, although being Christians means we probably value the same things. Our goals will include a desire to teach our children to love the Lord and to know Him as their personal Savior, their help in time of need and their model to grow to be like. We will want them to love the Constitution and their freedom more than their lives. We will feel a desire to teach them that they are on the earth with a gift to give to mankind and that it is their responsibility to discover that gift, their life’s mission, and to make it their life’s work to give it. We want them to know that they can be a far more useful instrument in the Lord’s hands if they are clear-thinking and articulate. We want them to learn to be self-sufficient and live providently.

My Priorities:
#1 Testimony of Jesus Christ
#2 Character (self-discipline, integrity, punctuality, dependability, cheerfulness, etc.)
#3 Life Skills (being able to take care of one’s self: cooking, laundry skills, finances, etc.)
#4 Basic Academics (3 R’s):
-Reading
-English:
Penmanship, Grammar,
Composition, Spelling, Vocabulary
-Math
#5 Other Academics:
American Government, History, Science
#6 Cultural Refinement:
Music, Art, Foreign Language
#7 Personal talents and interests

With everyday problems, it is very easy to just survive instead of living your plan. Setting educational goals will help you have a definite aim in mind. There are times, such as when a new baby arrives, that I have only been able to maintain the first few priorities in our homeschool. Having a plan has helped me get back on track as soon as possible. Once you’ve decided where you are headed, now it is time to ask how you are going to accomplish this great responsibility in the short 10-14 years before your child is launched into life out from under your tender tutoring.

Round up all the resources that you have that would be useful in any way. List your books, movies, projects, kits, equipment, CD’s, the Scout merit badge handbook, magazines, computer programs, and even names of people. We have met many wonderful people that willingly share some of their knowledge and skill to teach what we are interested in (such as ceramics, gardening, ham radio operation, survival skills, etc.) Now, step back and take a good look. Get rid of all the educational clutter that you thought you might use sometime––it just takes up shelf space and gets more dated by the year. All the stuff that I have dragged home from school district sales or clearance bins usually ends up going to the thrift store. (It looked good when I bought it, really!) The market is rapidly changing, and new technology is bringing us unbelievable resources. Even books from 5 years ago look outdated and often truly are. Since time is so limited, I personally want to use the best that I can afford to educate my children. The exception is very old history books and readers, which are often more accurate than modern books.

I use the library extensively, as well as the internet, but I also plan to spend money for home school materials, because I feel they make this important business of learning all the more exciting. It is easy to interest your children in studying electricity if you have a fun science kit and a book of gorgeous full colored photographs on the subject. Good resources take a lot of the teaching load off Mom and keep the students enthused about learning. Hopefully, you will be able to get ideas that you can use with things you already have, or discover a resource that would fill a gap in your program.

Once you’ve made your inventory, you can assess what you have and what you need. What you use is very important, as it will be the foundation of your child’s education. I have included a copy of my Educational Goals worksheet in the back of this book (Appendix B). You can photocopy 2 sheets per child and write in your goal and the resources you will use. I look at this weekly as I write up my children’s assignments in their planners. It helps me to stay focused on our goals.

Even the best materials and goals don’t work on a child who has not been trained in good habits. Your child must learn to obey, first and foremost, or you can never serve as his teacher. This is best done in toddler days, but if you are beginning homeschool with a son or daughter that has never been taught to obey you, then that is the first lesson or there can be no other lessons! Teaching your child to obey, to do his work and stick with it, to follow instructions, not to interrupt, and much more requires your diligent supervision and follow-through. That is the work of parenting, really. Until my children learned to listen to my directions and follow them, it really didn’t matter how fabulous my resources were! We have all witnessed a wonderfully prepared Sunday School teacher have his excellent lesson wasted because he couldn’t discipline an unruly class to listen and be involved! The same will happen in your own home until you teach your children the first and most important subject, good behavior born of self-discipline. I call it Character, the schools call it Good Citizenship and grade such characteristics as obedient, shows respect for authority, follows directions, is polite, works independently and is prompt.

Remember, as you choose books and other materials to teach your children, that every person learns differently. Public school methods are geared largely to a visual child, the child that absorbs information through the written word. Thus, assignments are given to read the chapter, take notes from the words written on the chalkboard and write out answers to questions. If you have a child that is an auditory learner, it could be very difficult for that child to learn if you only present the written word. Instead of analyzing my children and trying to figure out what type of learners or combination of learning styles they respond best to, I prefer presenting information using a multi-sensory approach. That way, you’ve covered every learning style. So, if you are studying birds: watch a video on birds (visual, auditory), read about birds (visual), listen to bird calls (auditory), gather bird feathers to classify (tactile), set up a bird feeder (tactile). It is exciting for everyone to learn if all the senses are involved!

As the year goes on, re-evaluate occasionally so you can be sure that the materials you have chosen are meeting your educational goals. Don’t lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish! I saw a need for one of my children to have some grammar skills reinforced. I began a program, thinking that I would just take him through the first 5 lessons for review. Life got busy, and as the weeks went by, it was easier to assign the next lesson than to evaluate what to do instead, even though it may not be working. It can be easy to just go with the flow once you have started on a program, and you can drift off track from your goals. Keep checking that you are on course!

What about unit studies? Unit studies work for science, history, literature and cultural refinement and can be exciting and fun for everyone. They do not work as well for math and most subjects of English language (phonics, spelling, handwriting, grammar, vocabulary) because children are on such varied levels. The way unit studies work best is to choose your topic and do some basic groundwork by reading in a reference book, encyclopedia or textbook. Then add projects such as viewing a movie, doing science experiments or working on a geography map with all ages together. Each child can glean whatever he is able at his level from the group activity. Most importantly, assign individual reading, writing, or research on that topic for each child to do independently so he can be challenged at his level and make progress, but without unnecessary frustration. If the whole family studies “volcanoes” at the same time with only your lesson as a foundation, you may find the older children restless and the younger children struggling to understand.

I highly recommend having a student planner for each child to put the whole matter of educational goals down on paper along with weekly assignments for your child. All his work also goes in this 3 ring binder. When you choose a planner, it helps to be able to look at your educational goals right next to your weekly assignments so you stay on course. I like to see the subjects in priority order so the most important things always get done. Keeping each year’s planner contents serves as an excellent record of work done in case any school official is interested to see that you are “really doing it.” As your children get into high school, their planner can help in creating a portfolio from which to receive high school credit.

Don’t forget that your plans need to be made with much prayer, because God has a plan for each of your children. They each have their own special mission in life, and have talents and interests that will lead them to prepare for it. If we get too busy achieving educational goals to keep that perspective, we may prepare them in everything except that special purpose. Look for their special gifts, which are a clue to their mission. Allow time and supply resources so that a child’s interests can be followed and developed. They must have basic skills, but beyond that, it doesn’t really matter whether they study botany or astronomy in science, for example. There is room for individual preferences.

“When you take the very first step on the road, you also take the last.” Take the time to make sure you are on the right road so when you’ve been retired from homeschooling, you can look back on your years with your children and feel confident that you’ve taught them the things that really matter and prepared them for life with your best effort.

Family Acceptance

Question:

I’ve been homeschooling my children, now four of them, for 10 years, yet I still struggle with the non-acceptance of my family who are very involved with the public school system. We never seem to see eye to eye on many issues, even though my sisters and I are all Christians. We don’t even speak of it any more, yet homeschooling is such a defining part of our lives. I’m not sure how to describe the frustration and sometimes downright depression that inevitably follows any family gathering. Is there any encouragement you can give or suggestions you could share with me or others that struggle with these issues?

Answer:

Friends: is this a familiar story? Can anyone relate?

All homeschoolers who have lived with this stand up and say “YES!”. Did you hear that, Libby? I think it was a loud wave that passed through the nation!

Why the non-acceptance? I have often pondered that and I live with it myself. There are some homeschool moms who seem to be warmly accepted by their family, neighbors and church congregations–but often, this is not the case. I think homeschooling must seem to people like a threat to God, family, country and all other sacred institutions. I know I have had comments made to me by well meaning neighbors and acquaintances that by homeschooling, I am somehow undermining the public school system (and hence the foundations of American way of life and the Constitution, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, it appears!). Isn’t it amazing, though, that homeschooled children tend to be the most patriotic, conservative and law abiding young adults?

I think a couple of factors are operating here. One is the feeling that all people must do the same thing to be accepted. If everyone wears jeans and you wear a skirt, there is going to be backlash. If everyone eats Snickers and you choose an apple, it is going to cause comment. I think the non-acceptance others express is a mixture of guilt, self-incrimination, fear that perhaps one might have to consider it for their own children and frustration that you won’t fit into the mold that their mind has settled on as “acceptable” behavior. I do think that well-meaning persons worry that by doing something different, you may be doing something wrong and they don’t want you to be unhappy. Traditions incorporate ancestral wisdom, and going against tradition, even if it is a change for the better, comes with the fear that wisdom may be neglected and the consequences will follow. I do think some homeschoolers invite persecution by isolating themselves from others socially, or putting on airs that they are better than others. I don’t think this is the case for most homeschoolers though. I think the problem lies with the attitude of our culture towards homeschooling. I see Christians getting the same kind of persecution in Hollywood movies. So please know that you are not alone.

A few experiences that have happened to me illustrated that misunderstanding is great indeed! *my neighbor expressed worry that my son would be able to survive when leaving home at age 19, fearing that I had held him “so close that he won’t be able to function without you”. The truth is that my son waved goodbye and went off on his grand adventure smiling from ear to ear (even if my heartstrings were pulling miserably!). *an acquaintance introduced me to her mother as “one of the few homeschoolers who really DO homeschooling!”. (ouch!) *conversations are friendly at church until I slip and mention the unpardonable word “homeschooling” or any indication of it, such as: “my kids and I went yesterday morning and hiked in the autumn leaves”. Then suddenly it becomes quiet and strained. I sometimes think they would feel more comfortable if I had said, “I went out yesterday morning and shoplifted at Walmart”! I know most homeschoolers could add their own stories of feeling so very misunderstood!

My advice? Be YOU. You choose to homeschool. Having your children at home and learning with you is part of your happy, chosen lifestyle. Speak of it, and if others are not comfortable, so be it. I am not advocating being preachy or making those who choose differently feel chastised, but I am talking about being open and honest. It is more true to yourself and the cause of homeschooling to be up front and not try to secret it away. Time will change acceptance. Homeschooling is a rapidly growing movement and in time, it will be viewed more acceptably.

Being Christians should be a unifying factor, but I know from my own experience that divisions in media standards, for example, is enough to make a Christian feel more comfortable with unbelievers (that don’t know any better) than with her sisters in Christ. I believe that the depression that follows family gatherings comes because our spirit yearns for love and unity. Somehow we refuse to accept the idea that it won’t be present in a family gathering. Family means loving acceptance, and when it is not there, it hurts doubly so.

If it is any consolation to you, “the proof is in the pudding”. Meaning, that time will prove to your relatives that your children benefitted from homeschooling. I was highly criticized by friends and family about 20 years ago for choosing to homeschool. It was so painful! And I felt depressed about it at times. But as the years have flown by and my children have grown up into remarkable people with college degrees, those who were my critics have quieted down considerably. Some have even come asking advice on how I was able to keep such a close knit family, how I was able to keep my teens on the straight path in such turbulent times, or how I can find such satisfaction in motherhood. All I can really say is, “homeschooling has been a blessing to our family”.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33)

Jump In

My son is making goals. It gives him a lot of satisfaction to think and plan about the goals he wants to set. It almost makes one feel the satisfaction of accomplishing something, doesn’t it?—just to dream and plan about it.

But planning to do something is not doing it! It is just thinking about doing it!

So often, this can be the case with homeschool. A malady can set it for homeschool mothers—the “I-Need-to-Plan-First” sickness. Now, I don’t think there is a thing wrong with planning. Things go very well when there is pre-planning. But if the need for planning is delaying actually getting started doing something, then I would advise you to just “jump in”!

Jumping right in and doing something is somehow magic. Just taking action has power. And when we jump in and do something, the desire to do it well sets in and replaces inertia and procrastination.

I wanted to teach Louisa real art. She loves art and I thought that ceramics, sculpting, watercolor painting and working with other media would be exciting to her. I bought some clay and mentally planned to do a unit on ceramics. I could see the outline and lesson plans in my mind. First, we’ll learn about the origin of clay. Then we’ll do a simple pinch pot. Then a coil pot, then slabwork, then sculpture. . . . As usual, it can get pretty grandiose in my plans!

Well, as it turned out, I was still in my nightgown when Louisa got the clay out and showed a lot of interest in opening it and making something. I wanted to say (and probably did), “No, no, no! Not now. I haven’t got it planned out yet!” She was eager and what ended up happening was that the clay got opened, and we ended up making slab pots (still in my nightgown). This was not how I wanted it to happen, but it was really fun. And doing the more advanced slab work first helped me to be realistic, simplify and mentally organize. Spontaneity is a good thing. Procrastination and inertia are our enemies.

Don’t let the desire to “do it right” keep you from acting. Weeks and months fly by and looking at it now, a slab pot made without any planning is a lot better than no pot at all! Besides, we got hooked and made pinch pots soon after. Now we are planning to paint octopi on them, like the Minoans did. Louisa carefully looks at our history book photos of artifacts and sighs with new-found understanding, “How did they make those pots so big and good?” Glad inertia didn’t stop us!

(Ancient Minoan ceramic pot)

Jump in!
Diane

Making 'Em Mind You

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How to Educate Your Child

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Mom's Sanity

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A College Degree for Girls? I Don't Think So. An Education? Why, of Course!



My daughters and I: Julianna, Emily and Louisa

I have Brooke Reynolds to thank for causing me to write this article. She and I got into a discussion about what homeschool girls should be doing between the age of 16 and the time they enter marriage. Brooke is 18 years old and is currently pursuing a music education on scholarship at the University of Utah. She enjoys it and finds it challenging, but she wonders if college is exactly the right thing for her.

I know lots of young women who have been tenderly taught in homeschool yet “graduate” from their family homeschool wondering what to do next. Working doesn’t seem to be what they want to do full-time. Entering college seems to automatically lead to following the coursework to attain a degree, which seems to automatically lead to becoming career-ready. Society seems to dictate that college is the next step in a young person’s life, but once involved in college, many homeschoolers realize that what they didn’t want in a public school setting is ever present in a college environment. Truth is not the standard taught in every class. Most students are involved in the “credit game” (credit, then forget it). The desire to gain true and useful knowledge is not the first priority of most college students.

I have older sons, and for men in this society, a college degree is a necessity. College has proved frustrating to them. Even if they begin a course with high interest, most of the classes have managed to deaden that desire to learn very quickly with a lengthy syllabus, huge list of terms, class attendance requirements, test schedule, etc. What started as a tremendous motivation to learn accounting ended up as dreaded drudgery. I marvel that in nearly every educational area, delightful learning has been regulated and expanded into so many nonsensical terms and extrapolations. The accounting in Accounting 101 is not the same accounting that you would find stimulating and useful in the business world. Somehow, a college course can turn a chocolate eclair into a dried out pancake.

Obviously, some courses are more directed and interesting than others due to the competency of the teachers. Some schools are probably better than others, too. Two of my sons have been extremely motivated and stimulated to greater learning by one excellent Spanish teacher. I learned to write because of a demanding high school English teacher that pushed me beyond my normal performance and taught me to appreciate Shakespeare. But I can also clearly remember my days at college some 20 years ago. There were some wonderful teachers and a few courses that taught me home nursing of the sick and nutritious food preparation, which has been practical knowledge. But, of all the classes I attended to earn my bachelor’s degree, only a few stand out in my mind as feeding my hungry interest for truth in the subject, and even fewer have been useful in my adult life.

Being involved in a college program means you end up taking classes in which you have no interest and that hold no practical application for your life. It’s “credit and forget it,” again. One young woman told me she’d just taken Botany at a good university. In spite of my zeal and enthusiasm for discussing Botany with her, she could recall very little. I questioned why she took the class, since her disinterest was apparent, and she replied that she had heard it was the easiest course to take to fulfill the Science requirement in her major.

What should a young woman be doing, if not college? I have pondered this question long and hard as my daughters are growing up, and I have friends whose daughters are already college-aged. As I look back from a more experienced perspective, I am shocked at how unprepared I was personally to give birth, to nurture and raise my large family and deal with all the challenges that a wife/mother/homemaker career holds. Had I been able to see the future (or had a wise and experienced advisor), I could have done things quite differently. Those precious preparation years between approximately 16 years of age and marriage could have been spent in rigorous, exciting learning for the work that lay before me.

Over many years, I have learned mostly through the school of hard knocks how to do the things necessary to pleasant home life. Had I been prepared with these skills before marriage, it would have proven very practical and would have greatly improved the quality of my life and my family’s well-being. I see young mothers overwhelmed with the demands of housekeeping, child care and pregnancy. Few are prepared to handle the high intensity of these callings. Many are unhappy, just as unhappy as a man who majored in Physical Education would be in a desk job. If a young wife has career training, it is natural for her to long to go back to doing what she is good at and turn from this challenging and unfamiliar new job. Some choose to escape through a part-time job, mall shopping, hobbies or unwillingness to have more children. Lack of preparation doesn’t make for a content young wife and mother. It is tough on marriage, too. I heard a respected man tell about a young woman whose mother passed away suddenly when she was just 17 years old. This young woman took over the household and tried to do her mother’s duties, such as cooking and laundry; she burned dinner and turned her father’s shirts pink, learning in the process. When she married, her adjustment was easy and stress free. Her newly married friends complained about how difficult it was to adjust to married life, but she had made an easy transition because of her preparation.

I have been a mother for 22 years now, and I am certain that with my big family I have washed three times the amount of laundry in my homemaking career than my mother washed in hers. And yet, I still don’t feel very confident. Why didn’t I learn from my mother, whose clothes always look so bright and clean and stain-free? I suppose I wasn’t paying attention or didn’t see the need to learn how to do laundry properly, or maybe I was too busy with college classes! Since doing laundry is a daily affair and creates the first image that others see for all your family members, I think it is an important skill to learn. There is no better time than when a young woman is living under your roof to tutor her in the details of laundry and every other homemaking skill that will be required of her in her lifetime. Many of us don’t learn the important lessons of a homemaking/mothering career until we are up to our ears and screaming for help. What a happier world it would be if we came to our marriage/family life prepared!

If I could have the perfect college coursework for future wife/mothers, it would be thoroughly saturated with the word of God, and other sources of truth. I would pick and choose ways to learn the skills: studying good books on my own; tutoring under a grandmother, mother, neighbor or friend; taking correspondence or on-campus college courses, community classes—wherever I could find knowledge. Learning would retain its joy and interest. My education might look something like this:

Semester 1

Old Testament
First Aid
Basics of Good Nutrition (I do not recommend using the government structured diet, RDAs, etc.)
Planning Nutritious Meals
Sewing (with emphasis on mending, remodeling clothes, children’s clothing)
Manners, Social Skills, Etiquette

Semester 2

New Testament
Family Relationships (using The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey as the basic textbook)
Happy Marriage (how a man ticks)
Natural Health Care (using good foods, vitamins, herbs and natural remedies)
Making Your Own Herbal Remedies (herb identification and preparation)
Bread Baking

Semester 3

Psalms, Proverbs
Pregnancy (how to take care of yourself, remedies for morning sickness, pre-conception foods, vitamins, herbs to reduce chance of birth defects, etc.)
Drawing (useful for teaching children, etc.)
Laundry How-to
Preparing Nutritious Meals
Haircutting

Semester 4

Parables of Jesus
Childbirth (options, natural remedies to help in labor, etc.)
Piano or musical instrument
Money Skills (shopping savvy, yard sales, making do)
Handling an Infant
Choosing and Care of Major Appliances
Practical Writing

Semester 5

Bible Geography
Postpartum Care (building your strength back, proper recovery care)
Calligraphy
Voice (with emphasis on family fun songs, patriotic songs, songs to teach children)
Quantity Cooking (Once-a-Month cooking, cooking in bulk, etc.)
Care of Furniture and Carpets

Semester 6

Bible Cultures
Breastfeeding (how-to, problems and solutions, herbs to help)
Toilet Training a Toddler
Child Discipline
Cooking from Scratch (how to make canned soups, mixes, prepared foods from scratch)
Common Childhood Illnesses

Semester 7

Sermon on the Mount
Weaning
Preparing Your Body for Subsequent Pregnancy (building up strength, using natural helps to prepare, etc.)
Teaching Skills (how-to, best resources, etc.)
Fast Meal Preparation (nutritious meals in under 30 minutes)
Art for Children
Simple Home Repairs

Semester 8

Books of Revelations
Making Special Foods (green drink, sprouts, healthy candy, healthy holiday foods)
Time Management
Keeping Fit and Energetic
Sewing Shortcuts
Chores System
Storytelling

A College Degree for Girls? I Don’t Think So. An Education? Why, of Course!

My daughters and I: Julianna, Emily and Louisa

I have Brooke Reynolds to thank for causing me to write this article. She and I got into a discussion about what homeschool girls should be doing between the age of 16 and the time they enter marriage. Brooke is 18 years old and is currently pursuing a music education on scholarship at the University of Utah. She enjoys it and finds it challenging, but she wonders if college is exactly the right thing for her.

I know lots of young women who have been tenderly taught in homeschool yet “graduate” from their family homeschool wondering what to do next. Working doesn’t seem to be what they want to do full-time. Entering college seems to automatically lead to following the coursework to attain a degree, which seems to automatically lead to becoming career-ready. Society seems to dictate that college is the next step in a young person’s life, but once involved in college, many homeschoolers realize that what they didn’t want in a public school setting is ever present in a college environment. Truth is not the standard taught in every class. Most students are involved in the “credit game” (credit, then forget it). The desire to gain true and useful knowledge is not the first priority of most college students.

I have older sons, and for men in this society, a college degree is a necessity. College has proved frustrating to them. Even if they begin a course with high interest, most of the classes have managed to deaden that desire to learn very quickly with a lengthy syllabus, huge list of terms, class attendance requirements, test schedule, etc. What started as a tremendous motivation to learn accounting ended up as dreaded drudgery. I marvel that in nearly every educational area, delightful learning has been regulated and expanded into so many nonsensical terms and extrapolations. The accounting in Accounting 101 is not the same accounting that you would find stimulating and useful in the business world. Somehow, a college course can turn a chocolate eclair into a dried out pancake.

Obviously, some courses are more directed and interesting than others due to the competency of the teachers. Some schools are probably better than others, too. Two of my sons have been extremely motivated and stimulated to greater learning by one excellent Spanish teacher. I learned to write because of a demanding high school English teacher that pushed me beyond my normal performance and taught me to appreciate Shakespeare. But I can also clearly remember my days at college some 20 years ago. There were some wonderful teachers and a few courses that taught me home nursing of the sick and nutritious food preparation, which has been practical knowledge. But, of all the classes I attended to earn my bachelor’s degree, only a few stand out in my mind as feeding my hungry interest for truth in the subject, and even fewer have been useful in my adult life.

Being involved in a college program means you end up taking classes in which you have no interest and that hold no practical application for your life. It’s “credit and forget it,” again. One young woman told me she’d just taken Botany at a good university. In spite of my zeal and enthusiasm for discussing Botany with her, she could recall very little. I questioned why she took the class, since her disinterest was apparent, and she replied that she had heard it was the easiest course to take to fulfill the Science requirement in her major.

What should a young woman be doing, if not college? I have pondered this question long and hard as my daughters are growing up, and I have friends whose daughters are already college-aged. As I look back from a more experienced perspective, I am shocked at how unprepared I was personally to give birth, to nurture and raise my large family and deal with all the challenges that a wife/mother/homemaker career holds. Had I been able to see the future (or had a wise and experienced advisor), I could have done things quite differently. Those precious preparation years between approximately 16 years of age and marriage could have been spent in rigorous, exciting learning for the work that lay before me.

Over many years, I have learned mostly through the school of hard knocks how to do the things necessary to pleasant home life. Had I been prepared with these skills before marriage, it would have proven very practical and would have greatly improved the quality of my life and my family’s well-being. I see young mothers overwhelmed with the demands of housekeeping, child care and pregnancy. Few are prepared to handle the high intensity of these callings. Many are unhappy, just as unhappy as a man who majored in Physical Education would be in a desk job. If a young wife has career training, it is natural for her to long to go back to doing what she is good at and turn from this challenging and unfamiliar new job. Some choose to escape through a part-time job, mall shopping, hobbies or unwillingness to have more children. Lack of preparation doesn’t make for a content young wife and mother. It is tough on marriage, too. I heard a respected man tell about a young woman whose mother passed away suddenly when she was just 17 years old. This young woman took over the household and tried to do her mother’s duties, such as cooking and laundry; she burned dinner and turned her father’s shirts pink, learning in the process. When she married, her adjustment was easy and stress free. Her newly married friends complained about how difficult it was to adjust to married life, but she had made an easy transition because of her preparation.

I have been a mother for 22 years now, and I am certain that with my big family I have washed three times the amount of laundry in my homemaking career than my mother washed in hers. And yet, I still don’t feel very confident. Why didn’t I learn from my mother, whose clothes always look so bright and clean and stain-free? I suppose I wasn’t paying attention or didn’t see the need to learn how to do laundry properly, or maybe I was too busy with college classes! Since doing laundry is a daily affair and creates the first image that others see for all your family members, I think it is an important skill to learn. There is no better time than when a young woman is living under your roof to tutor her in the details of laundry and every other homemaking skill that will be required of her in her lifetime. Many of us don’t learn the important lessons of a homemaking/mothering career until we are up to our ears and screaming for help. What a happier world it would be if we came to our marriage/family life prepared!

If I could have the perfect college coursework for future wife/mothers, it would be thoroughly saturated with the word of God, and other sources of truth. I would pick and choose ways to learn the skills: studying good books on my own; tutoring under a grandmother, mother, neighbor or friend; taking correspondence or on-campus college courses, community classes—wherever I could find knowledge. Learning would retain its joy and interest. My education might look something like this:

Semester 1

Old Testament
First Aid
Basics of Good Nutrition (I do not recommend using the government structured diet, RDAs, etc.)
Planning Nutritious Meals
Sewing (with emphasis on mending, remodeling clothes, children’s clothing)
Manners, Social Skills, Etiquette

Semester 2

New Testament
Family Relationships (using The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey as the basic textbook)
Happy Marriage (how a man ticks)
Natural Health Care (using good foods, vitamins, herbs and natural remedies)
Making Your Own Herbal Remedies (herb identification and preparation)
Bread Baking

Semester 3

Psalms, Proverbs
Pregnancy (how to take care of yourself, remedies for morning sickness, pre-conception foods, vitamins, herbs to reduce chance of birth defects, etc.)
Drawing (useful for teaching children, etc.)
Laundry How-to
Preparing Nutritious Meals
Haircutting

Semester 4

Parables of Jesus
Childbirth (options, natural remedies to help in labor, etc.)
Piano or musical instrument
Money Skills (shopping savvy, yard sales, making do)
Handling an Infant
Choosing and Care of Major Appliances
Practical Writing

Semester 5

Bible Geography
Postpartum Care (building your strength back, proper recovery care)
Calligraphy
Voice (with emphasis on family fun songs, patriotic songs, songs to teach children)
Quantity Cooking (Once-a-Month cooking, cooking in bulk, etc.)
Care of Furniture and Carpets

Semester 6

Bible Cultures
Breastfeeding (how-to, problems and solutions, herbs to help)
Toilet Training a Toddler
Child Discipline
Cooking from Scratch (how to make canned soups, mixes, prepared foods from scratch)
Common Childhood Illnesses

Semester 7

Sermon on the Mount
Weaning
Preparing Your Body for Subsequent Pregnancy (building up strength, using natural helps to prepare, etc.)
Teaching Skills (how-to, best resources, etc.)
Fast Meal Preparation (nutritious meals in under 30 minutes)
Art for Children
Simple Home Repairs

Semester 8

Books of Revelations
Making Special Foods (green drink, sprouts, healthy candy, healthy holiday foods)
Time Management
Keeping Fit and Energetic
Sewing Shortcuts
Chores System
Storytelling

15 Years of Research in the Homeschool “Lab” by Cyndy Weiss of Richmond, Washington

As a “research associate in the field of child development and human relations”, some days my research seems more productive than others. My younger lab assistants continually challenge my theories. My able teen-age lab assistants are truly helpful and quick to point out where I can improve. Of course, research in the field (excursions to the science center, camping trips, park days, etc.) is always great fun.

Preliminary “lab reports” from my 15 year experiment has given me the courage to stay in the laboratory and keep on experimenting. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
• Increase tolerance for noise, confusion, dirty walls, and unclean windows. The great “unmaker” is far superior to all of my attempts at organization. Patricia Clafford put it so well: “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”
• Make a conscious decision ask yourself over and over, “Does this really matter?” and only give energy to things that really do matter. I truly believe I have enough time to do what is most important.
• Catch your children doing right things. Nothing improves a child’s hearing more than praise.
• Remember—you are not having “school at home.” You are choosing a different way. Experiment with your options and your confidence will grow.
• “Trust your children!”
• Take time to pursue your own interests. Be a role model of a true homeschooler—discovering in your own areas of interest.
• Have your own quiet time daily. Be strict about “Mom’s Time”. Daily fill up your own cup so you are more patient with those who are so demanding.
• Interruptions always happen—plan enough time for them.
• Make a “What NOT to do” list to help you in prioritizing or putting “FIRST THINGS FIRST”. No matter how hard you try, you never will get it all done.
• Ask: “What is most important during this season of my life?” Choosing between two good things is much needed skill in an era full of wonderful opportunities. One thing that helps me is to go to a quiet place and ask myself, “What is happening to me because of what I am choosing to spend my life on? Am I becoming a better person because of choosing this activity?”
• Do not compare yourself with others. Let go of self-condemnations that come with judging yourself by other’s standards. You are unique. Your home based education will be uniquely.
• Your individual worth is not dependent upon your performance or the performance of your children. Understanding this is key to allowing your children the freedom to teach themselves what they need to know.

These are some of the important things I have learned in my Homeschool Laboratory. I’m sure you could sit down and compose your own list. Please share it with me and other homeschoolers. We’re all still learning what works and what doesn’t work as well. So, put on that white lab coat and have a great day in your “Lab”!

Cyndy and Mark Weiss have 3 children using public high school and junior high school resources for music, lab science and foreign language; 6 more full-time homeschoolers range from 2-11 years of age. One daughter is a sophomore on academic and music scholarship at Univ. of Puget Sound in Tacoma and an 18 year old son works full time at Microsoft.