Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,
I am delighted to find your web site! You might remember me or my family from the late ’80’s. My maiden name is …… and my mom and dad still live in [town near us]. I am married with 3 kids, ages 4, 3 and 1! My husband is an …… officer, and I am a stay- at-home mom. We lived 4 1/2 years overseas, and now live in …….. I love your curriculum approach and am delving into the training of our little ones. I started reading Teaching the Trivium last night and have been perusing the articles written by Nathaniel on the Christian Logic web site. I am pretty jazzed about the approach. Am I starting too early? I keep a quote of yours on my brain quite frequently of late — “there is only so much time in the day.” I love that. I taught the kids how to roll down a hill today, and about raptors. And left the house a mess. HA! Very strange how I feel like I’ve made some monumental discovery by not fretting about the dirty floor, toilets, sheets, windows…
I hope to hear from you soon. I would REALLY like to know what you recommend for starter materials. C… (age 4) is reading at a first grade level. S… just turned 3 but seems to have NO interest in phonics/reading/sit down and focus learning. Is that his boyness?
When are you coming this way? God has blessed your wonderful family, and it was good to see the pictures posted on your site. C.
Well, of course I remember you! I haven’t seen your mom in ages. So you have three little babies. Send me pictures of your family. I am hoping for the day when I’ll have grandkids. Well, we don’t travel any more. We’re too old. You don’t give lectures on logic when the brain starts to go — too dangerous.
What to do with your little ones? Knowing you and how you were homeschooled, I’ll bet you’ll do a fine job homeschooling your own children. Allow them to develop their creativity in the same way your mother guided you and your sisters. I’m glad you’re not concerned with having a Better Homes and Gardens house. Allow the children plenty of space to work on projects, build things, make collections, and experiment. Try to hit a balance between being too messy and being too tidy. Provide the children with good art tools and supplies, which I’m sure you know how since you come from a family of artists. And finally, the children’s time shouldn’t be unnecessarily filled with formal academics, but give them plenty of time to explore and create.
In fact, I wouldn’t be doing any formal academics with young children. Your oldest has learned to read at quite an early age. That’s good, but not too common. Perhaps the others also will learn early, but I wouldn’t push it. If he is ready, then teach him; if he has no interest, then leave it alone. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t start phonics till age six, unless I perceived that the child had an aptitude for early reading. In the same way, over the next few years you will guide the children in learning how to write their letters. Reading and writing sort of go hand in hand.
Now is the time you can start narration and memorization. These are the types of exercises which build strong brains. And don’t forget to do lots of reading aloud — two or more hours a day if you can. Perhaps Dad can read aloud some Bible stories during your family worship.
Take time to attend concerts and plays, museums and exhibits. Visit workplaces. Give your children experiences from which to build their understanding of the world. But don’t let them explore the world only from a cathode ray tube. Children need real experiences to relate to. Seeing a jet take off on television is not the same as seeing a jet take off in front of you. Watching a computer simulation of a scientific experiment is not the same as doing it in front of your very own eyes.
Don’t forget to teach them to work and to serve others and to obey you and Daddy.
I wonder if you were expecting me to tell you to buy such and such curriculum and spend so and so hours on math and what age to start violin lessons. The years before age ten are very important — but not for doing workbooks. You need to help the child strengthen his mind, develop his creativity, and form his habits of behavior.
If you would like to buy something, find a good microscope and good quality binoculars, and invest in science equipment, art supplies, and other tools.
When you visit your parents next, come to see us.
Another much needed affirmation, thank you! Yes, we do follow a lot of what mom taught me! She’s the best.
We turned off the TV last March…10 months of freedom and a heck of a lot more harmony in our house. We do still have movie night on Friday evenings with popcorn and hotchocolate/ice cream. Usually it’s a movie from the library or friend. The kids look forward to it, and it’s a wonderful reward tool. They stopped asking to turn the TV on after about 3 months! It was more difficult for me than it was for them. I used it as a babysitter so I could “get things done.” Instead, they are BEST FRIENDS, thinking up all sorts of creative play scenarios, making sheet tents, dragging stuff out of the “craft cabinet” heading outdoors, all really great independent things! It’s now the first thing I recommend to other mommies.
We hit the museums frequently here. The older two have a reward chart. At 50 stars they get a trip to a cultural event or museum of their choice. (next weekend it’s the ballet!!) 100 is a biggie: Cal’s is a fish and Caed wants a dress-up kit.
We read everyday, just finished Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. (The kids liked it, but there were some Hindu-philosophy undertones that I read over.) We started Swiss Family Robinson today, but may delay that one for a couple of years. My Swiss accent isn’t too hot (!), and the words are too big for them, so I end up translating the whole time.
I have failed to mention my wonderful husband in all this! Brad is the spiritual leader around here, and boy, is that a good thing! He’s the most patient, slow to anger, steadfast man I have ever met. We are a merger of opposites. It is beautiful how God worked to bring us together.
He is teaching them the Greek alphabet, 2 or 3 times a week 15 minutes or so. He leads our worship and prayer times. He is so intelligent. I could go on for days.
I am struck with the snobbery that could eat us up if we let it. We are proud of our kids and proud of our methodology and decisions, but also humbled at the gifts and responsiblity we have been given with these babies.