Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 1998

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From: Damian Arthur
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,

Greetings from Australia!

Have been doing some “research” online and have come across some very interesting information from yours and similar sites. We are parents who intend to home-school our children. We are very interested in the Trivium method of home-schooling from the little we have read and would like more information before we make our final decision as to the method we adopt.

Do you know if there are many families who have successfully educated their children using the Trivium method? Also, based on your own families experience do you consider a child educated in this manner easily able to slot into college education if they so choose?

We also hope to have a large family (number 3 is on the way and our eldest is four and a half) and need to use a method which is functional with a large number of children (i.e. perhaps 6-10; who knows what the future may bring?). One concern of ours is that up until the age 10 or so if there is no formal way of measuring progress, a less motivated nor capable child might slip through without learning much. Another concern is just how intense the teaching and monitoring of the over 10 year olds becomes, and if it’s quite time consuming will there be sufficient time to spend with the reading etc. to the under 10’s.

I (the mother) was home-schooled in my high school years but was enrolled in a standard text-book/study guide based correspondence school and I know for probably 98% of our high school years we all (my siblings and I) taught ourselves with perhaps 2% of the time needing to ask either of our parents for some help (mostly with advanced math). So overall my parents hardly spent time on teaching us our high school subjects. Is it also the case with the resources used in the high school levels of the Trivium method or should I put it this way: with your children and others you know of, do/did they tend to teach themselves to a large extent from the materials you provided them?

We want the best for our family (obviously) and will invest whatever it may cost to provide them with just that. Yet we don’t want to waste our funds on unnecessary or inferior education. Concerning cost, it seems that with a large family this method could ultimately work out quite economical if many of the materials are used by all the children, am I right?  It would be great if the method we end up deciding is the best for us also turns out to be relatively inexpensive. However, if it’s not going to be I’d rather find out sooner not later.

Last question (for now) do you know any families in Australia especially Western Australia who use this method and if so are they interested in sharing information with us?

Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to your reply.

Damian and Theresa Arthur
Subject: Greetings from Tajikistan
Date: Wed, 8 Apr 1998

Dear Laurie,

I have often thought about writing you and now I am finally getting around to it. We are settled quite nicely now in Dushanbe, Tajikistan a city of about 500,000 people. Most of whom are Tajiks. There is an 8% population of Russians here still, many Russians left after the overthrow of the Soviet Union. If you or your family have any particular questions about this country or our experiences I will be happy to answer them.

I am writing because I have missed getting your “Teaching The Trivium” magazine and I would like to have you send to my mother all of the issues that I have missed.

After several months of moving around and disorder we have finally gotten into a school routine again and it is such a blessing. Nathaniel (my son who is 12 now), is studying Russian everyday with a Russian young woman that comes to our house. Nate is reading Russian already and building vocabulary everyday. His pronunciation is quite good too. He was the one that really wanted to learn Russian so we let him put aside his Latin for awhile in order to devote more time with his Russian studies while we are here in this country where everyone speaks Russian. I noticed that Dorothy Sayers recommended Russian for those who objected to learning a dead language! Anyway, Nate is doing quite well and so we are encouraging him. We are going to start spending more time with Greek this next year and I am looking forward to that.

I would like to ask for your opinion on a recommendation for a good algebra program. I have heard from different friends that they did not like the Saxon Algebra. Have you tried Jacob’s Algebra or Holt algebra? Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. I have also been having the same old problem I always have and that is trying to cover too much information each day and using too many workbooks. How do you keep things simple? Do you struggle with this? I just reread your suggested daily schedule and it looked so simple compared to what I try to do. I keep my kids on a rigid full schedule and I think I am burning them out! My son especially is feeling frustrated because of too much to do. I would like to simplify without compromising the kids’ education. I wonder if other readers could share how they work out their schedules and maintain a classical education. I realize that I have a tendency to try to do too much and therefore take pleasure out of many subjects.

Thank you Laurie for your help, you have been such an encouragement to me.

Your friend, Teresa Rust
Dear Teresa,

To think I’m getting an email from halfway around the globe. I picture you living in the mountains of Tibet in a tent made of skins eating milk curds and salted coffee. I don’t know why that is the picture in my head.

I have only used Saxon Algebra and found it excellent. We use the Jacob’s Geometry and like it very much, and I have heard his Algebra is good, too. Don’t know anything about Holt.

I would think at this time in your life you would take full advantage of your living situation. Workbooks will always be there, but you will not always be in Tajikistan. I don’t have any idea what it is like living in a foreign country or how long you will be there, but there is probably an endless source of unit studies where you are. Here are my suggestions, although, keep in mind I don’t know the situation:

Take advantage of the language situation. If you can surround yourself with people who speak the language (whatever language you are learning) your children will learn inductively. It would be great if they could become bi-lingual. The process of learning another language, even inductively where you are not necessarily learning the grammar, builds and strengthens the mind. Same as narration and  memorization. The Russian is great. I might even be tempted, if you are only going to be there a few years, to drop the Latin and Greek temporarily to take advantage of the language around you.

You are living in field trip heaven. Travel and explore. History, geography, culture, food, art, textiles, history of religions, clothing, flora and fauna, learn local crafts, etc.

And of course there are the service opportunities, which is why you are there in the first place.

If you are only going to be there a year, I might even be tempted to drop math if it interferes with and doesn’t leave you time for these things.

What is education? For some it is books and workbooks. For the few people who are given the opportunity to live in an exotic foreign country it could be something entirely different.

I do not disagree with you that it is our responsibility to educate our children and am trying to see what is the best way to do just that with my daughter.  I have also looked into Classical, Christian private schools that are very parent involved and as of now I think this is the best option if a good school is to be found in our area.  I was also wondering if you might tell me why you would opt for home schooling as opposed to a school such as this.  I would appreciate any help or response you may have time to give.

Dear Krystal,

You have raised a very interesting and important question. Why would I want to homeschool my children if I had the option of sending them to a very good Christian school, especially a Classical Christian school. There are dozens of Classical Christian schools popping up all over the country now. Classical education has become very popular.

I’ll start off answering your question by giving a little of the history of our family. We started homeschooling in 1980. When our oldest was 9, in 1985, Harvey became unemployed. The lumber yard he was managing closed down. In his search for work he and a close friend decided to open a private school based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Harvey was going to be one of the teachers. I forget now what he was going to teach, probably Greek and English grammar and math. They worked very hard at setting up this school, organizing how the classes would be scheduled, deciding on curriculum, etc. But there was one problem, no students. No matter how hard they advertised they could get no students. They were quite disappointed. Harvey went on to other things, but our friend later established a conventional private school, with plenty of students. And we moved away to a different area.

If Harvey had been involved in this Charlotte Mason school, our children would undoubtedly have attended it. In fact, if we had stayed in the area they would have attended the school our friend started. He is an excellent teacher. But that was not to be. Harvey did not start a school, and we did not stay in the area. At the time we were disappointed at both of these outcomes in our life. We did not yet understand, like we do now, the real value of homeschooling.

Homeschooled kids get a good academic education. But then, kids attending a good private Christian school, especially a Classical Christian school, get a good academic education, too. When you homeschool your children you are able to instill in them your Christian values. But then, kids attending a Classical Christian school will be taught Christian values, especially if their parents back up that teaching at home. So what’s the difference? Why would I want to expend the effort to homeschool my children if I could send them to a good private school?

The difference is the heart. Most children who attend a school, be it private or government, Christian or secular, classical or traditional, will be pulled toward their peers. Their hearts will bond with their peers, and the parents will lose the hearts of their children. Oh, sure, the child stills loves Mommy and Daddy, but the heart, the affections, the attentions, the very life of the child becomes bound up with his peers. It’s called socialization, peer group socialization. If you had asked me in 1985 why I homeschooled my children, I would have responded that I wanted my kids to get a good education. I wanted them to learn Latin and Greek. Today, I would tell you I homeschool because I don’t want my kids to be socialized by a peer group; I want to keep the hearts of my children till it’s time for them to marry and leave home.

Rick Boyer in The Socialization Trap says, “Peer socialization breaks down family relationships….[it] separates kids both from their siblings and their parents through time commitments, interests and emotional bonding.”

I don’t know if I have answered your question. I didn’t fully realize all this till just recently. Write me again with your thoughts.

Date: Wed, 08 Jul 1998
Subject: A question…


Hello from Dunkirk, NY.

I have a question for you. At your seminar, you recommended taking the children to the library often. Our problem is that our library (children’s room) is full of light reading and pop-culture junk, like, “Heather Has Two Mommies.” How can I take my children to the library with all that junk there? It is in the whole place, so it is impossible to avoid.

My son, Micah (7 years old), loves to read and will read anything, so I have to be careful. I direct him to the good books, but he always ends up with lots of junk reading, too.

I guess my point is that if I take him to the library to get books and then refuse to get the ones he picks out, what’s the point in taking him? He loves to go to the library and I do not want to squelch that desire.

Can you give me any ideas on how to manage this and still come home with good books AND a happy boy?

Thank you for your time,
Mary Swerens
Yes, you are right, libraries are becoming places dangerous to children. The covers on some books are very wicked. It might get to the point where you will have to just pick out the books for the kids and bring them home. But then how do children learn to do library research? Since you are in a situation where you have only one library to go to you will just have to work with the situation. The Caldecott books are usually safe. Do they have these books in a separate section of the library? Is there a little table somewhere in the library where you could all park and the children can sit and look at the books you bring them?

You are in the process of teaching him to pick out the good books. You teach him by picking out the books for him at first and telling him which kind of books you don’t want him to look at. If he wonders if you will approve of a particular book then he must bring it to you and ask. You explain to him that you are teaching him to be a discerning reader.

I’m afraid Christians are going to have to some day abandon the libraries. We will need to build our own libraries. If possible build up your own personal library. I’m right now buying up books for my grandchildren.

Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998
Subject: Re: A question…


Thank you for replying in what must be a very busy season for you. I wish we could have had more time to talk while you were staying with us. 🙂 I see your point about teaching our children discernment in the library. We can work with that. I guess we have already done a bit of that without realizing it. Picking through junk is such a big part of our lives anyway, since we are Christians, eh? They do have the Caldecott books on separate shelves. That helps. We have been building up our own library, but after your letter, I am encouraged to work more at that. I think I will plan that out a little more than I have in the past. We need to own more classics.

I have purchased Books Children Love, Honey for a Child’s Heart and I have sent you a money order for your list of books to read. That should help a lot!

Mary Swerens
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998
Subject: Early Hebrew studies

Do you have any suggestions for early Hebrew studies that would parallel A Greek Alphabetarion and Homeschool Greek?

I want to make sure that my children can at least use Hebrew as a study tool before they leave home.  I would like to start as early as possible in getting up to speed, rather than waiting until their language skills are completely left to right oriented.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Grant Shull
Shaker Heights, OH
We recommend Behrman House, 235 Watchung Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052

Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998
Subject: Re: Early Hebrew studies

Thank you for the information.  By the way, we found them on the Web at:

They have an interesting line-up of texts.

Grant Shull
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998
Subject: catechism

I am a homeschooling mother of 6 and am always looking for better resources by which to instruct my children more competently.  I have found a real fellowship of thought in your pages.  I have studied the “whole language” crime and now have a few children in my own home who are actually victims of that process.  By the grace of God they are relearning at home.  I have a question for you though.  I am only familiar with catechism as it is mentioned in Catholicism.  What type of catechism are you referring to?  Is the Trivium Catholic based?  I would be really interested in knowing.

Thank you for your reply,
Lynn Mckelvey
Dear Lynn,

All religions have their own catechisms. The catechism that you see in our magazine Teaching the Trivium was written by Harvey. We would be called sovereign grace baptists.

Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998
Subject: Jacobs’ Geometry

Dear Sir:

I am a homeschool Mom. I heard you speak at MACHE in St. Paul this past April. I have been using Saxon Math and am interested in the tenth grade geometry book about which you spoke. My notes just say “Geometry by Harold Jacobs.” I would like more info about this book and how to obtain a copy.

Virginia Clifton
Geometry by Harold Jacobs can be purchased from the Elijah Company catalog (888-2-elijah). In our family we have used the Saxon Math series from Math 65 through Advanced Math (or Calculus), except that we use the Jacobs Geometry and skip the geometry problems in the Saxon Advanced Math. Saxon is weak on geometry. It is disconnected, confusing, and they use the paragraph proof system, which I don’t think is as good a system as the 2-column proof system.

Even though I am satisfied with Saxon Math, I am sure there are other math curricula that are just as good as Saxon.

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998
To: Lynn McKelvey
Subject: catechisms

Greetings Lynn,

Your post about catechisms seized my eye and so I thought I’d pitch in a few thoughts for you about these valuable tools.

Most Christians today are unaware that catechisms have been in use by Christians of all perspectives for some centuries, though discarded primarily in this century because of the distaste generally held for precision of doctrinal statement.  We are living in times in which a person is thought to be very narrow, even harsh and unloving, if he is both convinced of his beliefs and willing to state them in an exact way.


1990’s: “Justification is….well, sort of a really neat blessing God gives us…..and that’s,
like, about all I’ll say because I don’t wanna get into details, you know, because that
gets people mad and stuff.”

Typical Catechism of the 1800’s: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace by which he
pardons all our sins and both accepts and regards us as blameless in His sight, only
for the sake of Christ and His work on our behalf and not due to any of our own works.”

See the difference?  Which of these is more valuable?  There are several very good ones, often including about 75-125 questions.  They are superb tools for fixing doctrinal thought in children’s minds (not to mention adults who need that) in precise ways.  Then, when they read the Bible, hear preaching, read religious books or hear religious talk, they will know the Biblical meaning of the terms used.  A well-catechized child has a rich storehouse of truth in his mind.  Some have been foolish enough to say that this method ought to be avoided because, “We don’t want to stuff their heads full of a lot of truth that they don’t have a love for in their hearts!!” – to which the best answer is, nothing can truly melt down into your heart unless it has first been discovered by the mind, digested there, understood – then we are in touch enough with the truth of God’s Word for it to be possible that we come to love it.  As in anything else, first comes the instruction, then increasing comprehension, and then, we hope, a love for the truth as it comes to be a part of the child.

Some of the main catechisms that are useful are:

The Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Heidelberg Catechism
Spurgeon’s Catechism
Keach’s Catechism

I have not seen Harvey’s but I’m willing to bet it’s a good one, because I know Harvey….

The first two listed above are published by denominations that believe in “infant baptism,” that is, that children should be regarded as part of the church from their birth, the fruit of which is often that they are presumed to be saved until they start to walk otherwise.

The next three listed would be “Baptist” catechisms – not necessarily only found in churches by a “Baptist” name, but in churches that believe children ought to wait for baptism until they make a credible profession of faith of their own.

We can help you locate copies of any of the above.  They are not expensive
– most of them can be obtained for under $4, and some for a mere $1.75.
Let me know if I can help you further.

May great grace be yours,
Dennis Gundersen
Here is a book you might be interested in:

Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information by Xia Li and Nancy B. Crane, Information Today, Inc., Medford, NJ, 1996

It will show you the form to use when citing information from the internet (for bibliographies, footnotes, etc.).

Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998
Subject: Why Study Latin?

Dear Harvey & Laurie,

We have decided to teach our four children (7, 5, 3, and 0.5) (girl, girl, girl, boy) according to the pattern of a Classical Christian Education.  We live in Ault, Colorado.  I have just completed Artes Latinae Level 1 by Waldo Sweet on your recommendation at the Colorado Homeschooling Conference last year (1997).  I am in Unit 2 of Level 2 as I write.  One of the great reasons to teach the trivium is that two generation can get a classical Christian education at the same time (or in my case almost the same time since my oldest is just 7).

I have had quite a few questions from friends about why I would bother to teach my children a dead language over the past year.  By talking to these good friends I have distilled out 10 reasons why I believe the study of Latin is profitable and thought I’d share these with your trivium email loop.  In addition, I have a few comments on the Artes Latinae program which might be helpful to others.

A few reasons why we will teach Latin to our children.

1. The Latin alphabet is a subset of the English alphabet (historically speaking English is a superset of Latin).  Moreover, Latin words are highly phonetic; there is a one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds in Latin.  This doesn’t mean that Latin is _easy_ to learn, but it does mean that these are not obstacles to learning at the outset like in Greek and Hebrew.

2. Latin is the basis for much of the English vocabulary.  I have been amazed that even after just a year I’m able to rip apart and reconstruct English words in a way I’ve never been able to before.  For example, the word “manus” means hand and is the basis for a number of English words like “manuscript”, “manual” (as in labor), etc.  I have found this invaluable when reading Shakespeare, for example, because many of his obscure old-English words are of Latin derivation.  I can’t wait until the end of Latin level 2 when my vocabulary is a bit larger.

3. One never really understands something until he compares and contrasts it with other similar things.  In my study of Latin I have been comparing and contrasting Latin and English grammar.  One benefit of this for me has been to actually learn English grammar for the first time (I was taught English grammar many times in school, but this is the first time I really learned.)  In fact, while studying Latin I became really interested in English grammar and bought a Rod&Staff grammar book which I have enjoyed reading.

4. The study of Latin is a good exercise for the mind.  We are to love God’s with our whole mind and it helps if a person has a well developed mind to love Him with.  I have found Latin quite a challenge for myself–I expect my children will too.

5. Latin as Latin is everywhere and I just didn’t know it.  Many things I never understood are now clear to me.  Legal phrases, abbreviations, Latin references in books (that I used to skip) are now understandable to me.  And when I don’t know the vocabulary I now know how to use a Latin

[As an aside, I just bought a pair of ASICs running shoes and to my surprise the phrase “anima sana in copore sano” was printed on the box. This just happened to be one of the Basic Sentences I learned in Artes Latinae (slightly modified) which means “A  sound mind in a sound body.” I reminded myself of my daughter when we were teaching her phonics.  In her excitement she screamed out   “Mama, mama, that trash can says ‘thank you’, that trash can says ‘thank you.'”  “I know honey now be quiet.” “Mama, mama, why would a trash can say thank you?”  The only difference was that I’m 34 and held my tongue.]

6. Latin is the basis of all the Romantic languages–meaning languages derived from the language of Rome.  Spanish, French, etc.  As I’ve learned the Latin my wife will often turn to me and tell me what the meaning of a word is from her study of Spanish (6 years).

7. In the process of learning Latin, I have learned something of Roman culture and thinking.  This has really helped me to get a start at understanding the context of the ancient world and thus to understan the Scriptures better.  As I’ve worked through Artes Latinae I have made notes in the book where I’d like my children to talk to me about certain things that are said there.  For example, some of the sentences memorized in the book are about the foolish Roman gods.  I plan to take my children to Isaiah to share with them what God says about these foolish false gods.  For one thing, I want to tell my children that these false gods are worthy of our scorn when we compare them to the one, true, and living God.

8. Latin was the universal language of the Western world for at least 13 centuries.  Many books, documents, etc. are written in Latin.  Any study of this time period requiring original source documents will require a working knowledge of Latin.  I can attest that at the end of one year of Latin (or even two) this world of material will not be readily accessible.  It will take effort over an extended period of time to achieve this benefit.

9. Latin is a good stepping stone to Greek and Hebrew but is simpler.  My ultimate goal is that our family will be able to read, study, and memorize the Scriptures in the original languages.  Will we be able to fully achieve this goal?  May God help us.

10. Latin a dead language:-)  The fact that Latin was part of the core curriculum of an educated child 100 years ago and that it’s not today is a reason to study it.  From the above list you can see how irrelevant the Latin language is in our modern age.

A few other thoughts on the Artes Latinae Latin Level 1 materials.

Artes Latinae is an excellent curriculum and is well suited for home education.  The learning is done in bite sized units (called frames)–if one gets lost, it is easy to go back and start a sequence over again.  In fact after “hitting a wall” once I went all the way back to the beginning and quickly went through everything again and took more notes along the way.

One word of caution for goal setters like myself is that the material gets more and more difficult and it takes more and more time to get through the later chapters.  At one point in the later chapters I had to completely set the book aside for a week or two and review and review and review what I had learned up to that point.  I wrote and rewrote the forms of words (verbs at this point).  I thought I was going to finish in six months, but ended up taking over a year to finish the materials.  I spent most days (excluding Sunday Sabbath) working on this for 1-2 hours and drilled on paradigms in the car on my way to and from work.  It was a lot of work.  I wonder if a 10 year old will be able to cover the entirety of Latin Level 1 in 1 year.

I would suggest one thing that is not in the book:  help your children memorize the case-endings of the noun declensions as chants so that they can quickly rattle them off when trying to figure out the case and number of a noun (or resolve ambiguities).  It’s rather catchy and fun and has helped me fix the endings firmly in my mind.  These could even be learned before the start of the course without really understanding their meaning.  Thus, the first declension endings are as follows (in this book–other books have a different order).

-a, -am, -a, -ae, -ae,
-ae, -as, -is, -is, -arum.

And a final note is that I have found many, many Latin texts on the web for future reference and study.  I have been downloading the interesting texts to disk.  This will save quite a bit of money because I don’t plan on printing them out.  I am still not sure how I will be able to pronounce Latin properly without macrons (which indicate long vowels) to guide me, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  If anyone knows how to obtain a copy of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion in the original Latin, I would be interested in obtaining a copy.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Don Cassidy
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998

Please sign me up for the Homeschooling with Trivium Email Discussion Loop.  Thank you for moderating this and offering it to those of us who would love to know more about hs’ing with the trivium.  Could you add me to the Speech and Debate Loop, too?  Our children are still younger but I would love to eavesdrop on the conversations.

Mrs. Bluedorn, I especially want to take time to thank you for your comments about why you homeschool your children that were included in the mailing just sent out.  I have always been at a loss to explain why I (we) choose to homeschool and you captured my thoughts in words for me!!!  I have known that I am deeply concerned about peer dependence but how do I explain that to others?  Now I know — we are doing this for their *hearts*!!! Others may still not understand, especially from their secular viewpoint, but I have words now to use that are simple to use and make perfect sense to me.  Thank you again!

Sally Bayliss
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998

Dear Laurie,
I am taking the Trivium approach as a brand new, very committed home educator. Your whole approach seems extremely sensible to me.  I love the idea of the classical education and teaching my children how to learn.  I like your approach in the Grammar stage. (After explaining your approach to my sister- in-law, who has been homeschooling her six for 14 years, I mentioned that you suggest not starting math until later.  She replied, “Oh, that would save a lot of frustration.”  I said that statement cinched it for me.  The Trivium would be the approach I would pursue.)  The formal education of Hebrew and Greek seems a very daunting task to me however.  I’ve had neither.  Also, the same goes for the Rhetoric stage.  I’m a lousy public speaker.  This is one of the reasons that the Trivium appeals to me so much, I would like my children (5 under 9) to be very  competent in that area.   I appreciated Harvey’s article on the Bible comparisons in the last magazine.  I went out to try to find an NKJV and an MKJV.  Do you know what a difficult task it is to find a simple Bible without all of the commentary?  I never did find an MKJV, with or without commentary.  Any good sources?  When do you start teaching handwriting and what curriculum do you use?  Your daughter has lovely penmanship.  Thank you for all of the wonderful information.

Jodi Mrowiec
I remember using the Bob Jones handwriting workbooks with Nathaniel and Johannah when they were young (12 or 13 years ago).  I taught my other 3 children handwriting the same way I learned it as a child. Teach the child the proper way to form the letters, and then have them do “copywork” to practice these skills. I would teach handwriting at the same time you teach the child to read.

You can obtain the MKJV (Modern King James Version) and Jay Green’s Literal Translation from Christian Literature World, Box 4998, Lafayette, IN 47903, 1-800-447-9142. You can also obtain from this excellent company a good Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (leather) for around $36, and an Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible (print is small, though).

<< Have you tried Jacob’s Algebra or Holt algebra? >>

I’ve used both Jacob’s Algebra and Geometry. I personally liked them and think they would be a great addition to a Trivium curriculum because they really stress logic and thinking things through more than Saxon does. Another program that I am using with my “math challenged” son is on CDs. I bought it from Timberdoodle. Simply called “Math Teacher”, it has several levels from 7th or 8th grade up. The back of the case says that this is the program that is used in high schools in Jerusalem, as well as in France and South America. (The program is available in several languages) What I really like about it is the instant feedback the student gets while working the problem. This is the first computer program that I have seen that allows the student to do the written work on the computer screen, and tells him each step whether or  not it is correct, so the student does not waste time completing a problem the wrong way! My son has learned more algebra this week than he did all last year! We’re sold on this program! They have a web site at

Linda Bullock
Clarksville, TN
>… I was reading the “letters to the editor” section and was
>interested in your answer to a person concerning the sabbath.  In your
>response you outlined different views of theology.  I understand
>perfectly what you were saying …
>Anyway you commented on proof texts and reference texts and my question
>is this:  In your documents on home schooling I have often seen
>Deuteronomy 6:4-7 as a “proof text” regarding our responsibility as
>parents to educate our children and I am wondering if you mean this to
>be rather a reference text as the context of this passage is in regards
>to teaching the Law to the children, not general education.  I do not
>disagree with you that it is our responsibility to educate our children
>and am trying to see what is the best way to do just that with my

If the words “these words which I command thee today” were understood merely to refer narrowly to the immediately preceding command to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” I cannot conceive what part of human life would be excluded. I believe this is why the Lord Jesus described this is the first and the great commandment. There can be none higher nor any broader.

Some would argue that no passage addressed to those under the Law of Moses, such as this passage in Deuteronomy, can be a proof text regarding our duties under the Gospel. And in a sense they are correct. I take it as a command by way of directly applying the moral principles, and I don’t believe its moral force can be evaded by a dispensational argument. Abraham, before the Law of Moses, would “command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice,” (Genesis 18:19) and Christian fathers, after the Law of Moses, are to “nurture them [their children] in the discipline and counsel of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) Perhaps you would consider the last text more direct. I believe it is equally inclusive.

If this does not answer your question adequately, please write back.

Date: Sat, 15 Aug 1998

More questions in response to your responses:

You suggested oral and written narration daily to evaluate the kids’ learning.  Does that require us to keep up with all their reading to know what they’re SUPPOSE to be getting?  Or just letting them express their response to what they read?

Why is reading the classics in their original form as opposed to modern language important?  Seems that’s why some people would get “bogged down” and give up on them.  I agree with developing right appetites, but I don’t get the reasoning behind reading the original versions.

I’ve often thought homeschooling has benefitted me more than the kids (ie:  God has used it many times to bring me to the end of myself and “grow me”).  But would like to know why YOU think homeschooling is for parents.

I just purchased Jay Wile’s “Exploring Creation with Biology”.  I really like the looks of it. Was tickled to get a confirmation from you on that piece of curriculum.  You don’t happen to know where I can find a cheap microscope to do his labs, do you?  Do you guys do the labs?

Doubt we would want to participate in Bettendorf debate group, as we have plenty on our “plate”, but perhaps a few more details would help me decide for sure (ie:  frequency of meetings, etc.).

Please include me on your H.S. with the Trivium AND Speech and Debate Loops.  Really enjoyed the notes you forwarded.  It’s like a international support group!

One more thing I was possibly interested in, too—are tapes from the conference still available, specifically Nathan’s on researching using the Internet?

More later and thanks for your help!
Judy Fiala
Narration serves two functions. You could use narration as a monitor (something like a test) to see how well the child is comprehending the material he reads, in which case you would periodically read the material to see how well he is doing. The more a child has to say in his narration the more thoroughly he has understood the material. If he doesn’t remember much about the material, then he probably didn’t read it very carefully.

You should also use narration to develop and sharpen the mental capacities. Narration can exercise the mind in the same way that jogging down the road exercises the body. Imagine yourself narrating to a friend on Monday the sermon you hear on Sunday–without notes. Most of us couldn’t do this–we haven’t trained our minds to be able to do this.

Concerning reading classics in an unabridged form:

There are four phases of a book–the original unabridged version, the abridged version, the comic book version, and the video (movie) version. Why don’t we just totally skip the first three phases and only require of our children that they watch the movie version of all literature. The answer is obvious. If our children only watched movies instead of reading they would not develop literary mindedness. They wouldn’t develop their mental imagery–they would just be seeing pictures. They would not be developing vocabulary, grammatical construction, paragraph construction, development of thought, etc.

What if we skip the first two phases and only require our children to read the comic book versions of books? They would still get the story, but the vocabulary, sentence construction, etc. would be at the pablum level. This sort of thing might be sort of OK for children first learning to read, but older children must be stretched in their thinking.

We could just stop at the abridged versions. That’s where most of America stops anyway. Read this: Mrs. Swift was waiting for them in front of the house, as the car shrieked to an abrupt halt (taken from Tom Swift and His Flying Lab–a typical fast food type book). It takes no thought to read that sentence. You know all the words and their meanings. Your mind absorbs the sentence easily. In fact, reading aloud these type of sentences tire me. It literally wears me out to read books with such sentences. It tires me out because it dulls the mind. Now, read this: By the time the boat came back to Hall’s, his arms were so numb that he could hardly tell whether his oar was in or out of his hand; his legs were stiff and aching, and every muscle in his body felt as if it had been pulled out an inch or two (taken from Tom Brown at Oxford) This type of sentence holds the attention. It engages the mind. The sentence structure challenges, yet does not overwhelm. You will get that first type of sentence in abridged versions, the second type in unabridged versions.

How do you develop an appetite for good lean steak if all you eat is soybean imitation meat. One develops the fast food appetite by reading the fast food edited versions. The reason that they write those abridged versions is because we won’t read the good literature.

Why I think homeschooling is for parents.

How many of us went through school without learning anything in general, or remembering anything in particular? We were neither interested nor motivated. We were simply serving out 12 year sentence. We now have another opportunity to learn these things as we teach them to our children. We have the opportunity to learn: the math we never understood; the science from a Christian instead of from a naturalistic perspective; the history they never taught us; the classical language they never offered us; the logic they never allowed us to use. We never learn anything so well as when we ourselves have to teach it. What a blessing it is to have children to teach. And there are many things only a parent can teach his child. Homeschooling is saving two generations: first us, then our children.

Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1998

Dear Bluedorns,

Now I would like to make a comment and encourage Jon and Mary Swerens of NY who lamented the reading material available in their local library.  I would like to comment that we also have plenty of books building up self-esteem and multi-cultural worldviews but not too many worthy books useful for building up of knowledge, etc.  What we have done is to try and build our own library by dedicating a large budget to book-buying, sometimes sacrificing in other ways to build our collection.  One other thing we do is to frequent thrift stores.  We have built quite a collection on $.50 and $.25 hardbacks and paperbacks of classics, out of print titles, etc.  My oldest daughter helps me look through the shelves and is able to recognize noteworthy authors, Caldecott and Newberry award winners.  Yes there are some pretty tacky covers on some of the books she encounters but rather than dwelling on the covers, she has learned the “look” of trash and tosses it aside quickly in search of “treasure” waiting to be found.  She is also quite the bibliophile and collects books on her own. (approved of course) It has also allowed us to discuss the fact that some books contain information that is not edifying and serve simply to fill the head with ungodly material and that others are noble and worthy to be read and savored.  She has read so widely and from such notable authors in her 2 yrs. of fluency that I doubt she would desire to read “the Babysitters Club” etc.

By this method, I also pick up duplicate copies for other homeschooling moms I know, thus sharing what we have found to be useful in our reading collection.

When we do visit the library, I inspect every book brought to the circulation desk and sometimes must veto choices on the spot.  Learning to do library research is very important, but if you build your own library oftentimes the research can be done in your home.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate.
Margaret Maurer
Homeschooling a 11 yog, 9yog, 6yob, and 2yob in SC.
Our family likes to hunt through old book stores also. We try to find these shops in all the large cities we travel through. Just this week we were in Louisville and I found a great one. The prices were low and there were lots of good children’s fiction. I picked up Lorna Doone, The Father Brown Omnibus by G.K. Chesterton (has anyone read this?), The Arts by Van Loon, The Boy’s Story of Lindbergh the Lone Eagle by Beamish, The Shoemaker’s Son the Life of Hans Christian Anderson by Burnett, and The Story of Mankind by Van Loon. Then on Thursday when we were home I hunted through a local shop and found The Adventures of Remi by Hector Malot (had to pay $14 for this volume, but it is worth it, as is another book by Malot entitled The Adventures of Perrine), Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings by Harris (sections of this book would be ideal for oral interpretation), and The Story of a Bad Boy by Aldrich.

Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1998

Hi, I’m Debbie Strittmatter, I’m married to Don and we have a 2 1/2 yr old, Nikki.  While we are not officially homeschooling yet, we are very interested in the Trivium approach.  I’m currently homeschooling myself by learning Greek via Homeschool Greek, which I like very much.  We learned of the Trivium and your work through Elijah catalog.  I have to be honest and confess that the first time I read about the Trivium I thought it sounded very boring.  After being thoroughly overwhelmed with all the different homeschooling approaches, I asked myself what the ultimate goal in raising my child was.  My husband and I discussed it and decided that we want our daughter to grow up to be a godly adult who has the integrity and personal resources to think for herself.  I started re-reading the Elijah catalog shortly after that discussion and the Trivium suddenly didn’t sound so boring to me.  It is also interesting to note that during that time period, things were occurring at our church which led me to want to study Greek.

The same things led my husband and I to buy and read Family Worship through your company.  Reading that book fired a desire to understand better what has occured throughout history to bring our world to the position it is in today.  God is pretty amazing, isn’t He?  He certainly turned this person around.  So, that is a pretty longwinded introduction.  We won’t have alot to offer as far as practicals of homeschooling but would appreciate your letting us lurk and glean from others wisdom until we can reciprocate.  I appreciate the work you are doing and the impact it has had in our life.

Thank you,
Debbie Strittmatter Smithtown
Long Island, New York
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998

Yes, we would like to be included on the Trivium Loop. Our names are David and Christine LaSalle, Alexandria, Va. I also have a question about reading aloud to children. Our daughter is 9 years old and a very fluent reader. It is hard to find anything that she can’t read. We are very happy about this and she reads all the time.

I would like to read more to her aloud but she says she prefers to read to herself because she can do it faster. Have you encountered this problem and do you have any suggestions? Should we still read aloud to her? We do read to her brother who is 6 years old.

Thank you. Christine
One benefit I have found from reading aloud to my children all these years is that it has increased and sharpened the children’s auditory learning skills. It also draws us together as a family. My children are 23, 21, 19, 17, and 15, and they still love to have me read to them. Reading aloud with my children surrounding me is my favorite part of homeschooling. I would read aloud to all the children at the same time, and read to the level of the oldest child.

Date: Sun, 30 Aug 1998
Subject: How to Critique Re-Writes?

Dear Mrs. Bluedorn,

I hope to begin classic paragraph re-writes with our 13 year old this year. I have attended your seminar and have read the Benjamin Franklin piece in TTT, but am unsure about the ultimate goal of the exercise.  Is it merely to copy the piece from memory?  Is it to emulate the vocabulary used in the piece?  Am I simply looking for the fact that the child comprehends the piece?  In your “Suggested Course…”, what exactly do you mean by “Slowly increase what you expect from the student.”?  What should I expect?  In short, how does one critique paragraph re-writes?

Thank you,
Jennifer L. Rampy
When you first start out with written narration, it is best to pick out a short easy paragraph. Pick out a paragraph from a book or story that the child is familiar with and enjoys. Have him read it several times and then put it aside. Instruct him to write the paragraph in his own words, or he could even write it word for word. Some kids who have good memories might do this. That’s OK. Later on it will be more in his own words. A 13 year old might be writing narrations from books such as Strawberry Girl, the Narnia series, or the Little House series. His paragraphs might be 2 sentences long at first and then progress to 3 or 4 by the end of the year. A 15 year old might be writing narrations from Little Women, The 21 Balloons, or The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow. He could be expected to narrate paragraphs of 4 or more sentences. An 18 year old might be writing narrations from Lorna Doone, Kidnapped, or The Hobbit. He might be expected to narrate paragraphs of 5 or more sentences. Don’t use this as a hard and fast rule, though. Every child is different and has different capabilities. If a child is having genuine difficulties, then help him out by prompting him with little hints as he writes. If the child is capable then expect more of him. Perhaps you will want to write your own narration along with him to give him encouragement. The goal of the exercise is exercise. Of the mind, that is. We want to exercise the mind, stretch the mind, strengthen the mind, sharpen the mind. If the body is not exercised, it becomes flabby. If the mind is not exercised, it becomes dull. Also, this exercise will improve his writing skills. That’s why Benjamin Franklin did it.

Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998
Subject: Logic and Literature

Your response to this question from Judy (below) was wonderful.

> Why is reading the classics in their original form as opposed to
> modern language important?  Seems that’s why some people would get “bogged down”
> and give up on them.  I agree with developing right appetites, but I
> don’t get the reasoning behind reading the original versions.

Let me add my two cents:  I have just finished reading aloud our fourth G.A. Henty book to our boys, ages 11 and 7.  These books were written over 100 years ago (and have recently been reprinted), and at first it took a while for us all to get used to the author’s language.  But once we got started, we knew him as a friend.  What a wonderful way to learn history!  Each of these historical novels places a fictional boy hero of high moral character in a real  historical/cultural/geographical setting.  (And all were or became Christians by the end of the book.)  It has sparked a lot of interest in these time periods in both boys, which leads to further study in those areas.  But more importantly I know that they are soaking up excellent grammar and sentence structure, which will serve them in good stead later when they’re doing their own writing.

I read the unabridged version of Robinson Crusoe to our eldest son a few years ago when he was only 8.  He never could have read it on his own, but by listening to it read aloud he grasped so much of it.
(And there are some dry passages in that book!)  Towards the end he started to realize that Crusoe was being led to Christ just by reading the Bible, and it had a tremendous impact on him.  We still discuss that book.

I once read The Wind in the Willows to our children, and paused to savor one beautifully constructed page-long sentence.  “There,” I said to them, “isn’t that a lot better than ‘Big Bird Eats Bananas’?”
And they laughed uproariously, because they knew EXACTLY what I meant.

Another point against using abridged, comic book or video versions of the classics:  Many of them are inherently Christian, but the newer versions water down or eliminate the message.  For instance, Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson, to name just a few.
Re: Books not well known

A friend has recommended to me, Racketty Packetty House by Frances H. Burnett, but I have not read it yet. What about “The King of the Golden River” by John Ruskin, The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry, Cautionary Verses by H. Belloc, The Magic Walking Stick, Midwinter and Groves of the Ashteroth by John Buchan. A couple more books to consider: Mother Carey’s Chickens and the Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin, c. 1910, and Joel: A Boy Of Galilee by Annie Fellows Johnston, c. 1898. A Little Maid series by Alice Turner Curtis, first published around 1910
We bought the McGuffey Readers (the Christian School Edition–paperback) in about 1978 and used them till they practically wore out. I love the McGuffey Readers and would recommend them to anyone. We have used them as beginning readers, as material and instruction for oral interpretation, for copywork, for literature study, as examples for art copywork, and for just plain fun reading.

Dear Mr. Bluedorn,

I have been drawn to the trivium for almost a year or more. I’ve been in an intense search for materials on how people think. I have been motivated in this search by observing that several of my children do not seem to think deeply despite the fact that they have been homeschooled.

We reached a crossroads recently with my 13-year-old son and finally put him in school full time. I found that I cannot do this job by myself and need my husband’s help to do it. My husband has “dyslexia,” and so does his whole family. It makes our communication difficult at times, as he does not think in words, but in pictures….

I’m guessing I am not the only one in a position like this, where the husband is not a reader and has been affected by the secular school system’s teaching methods. Where does one start if they are older to develop these stages if they have already passed those ages? What recommendations would you have to a father to begin at to overcome their own reading deficit/dyslexia? This may take several generations to make a change, but how? What tools can be used at an older age?

My husband is willing to read several hours a week in order to set an example. He reads small portions of Proverbs with our sons at bedtime…

I would really appreciate it if you would pray about this problem, which I think has affected many fathers already brought up under the public educational system and makes it difficult for them to pass on God’s Word to the next generation.

S.W., MN
This appears to be a classic case of artificially created dyslexia. I would suggest that you pick out an intensive phonics program and teach him to read phonetically instead of pictographically. Your biggest problem will be breaking the habit of looking at words pictographically. And then encourage him to practice reading aloud (or silently). Find books for him to read that will interest him and that are fairly easy. Does he like fiction or non-fiction best?

Concerning the problem of not thinking: people who can’t or don’t read and who spend their free time watching TV and movies, playing video and computer games, and otherwise spend their lives seeking entertainment will not be able to think critically. Jane Healy’s 2 books, Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It and Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds for Better and Worse, give documentation of this. Teaching thinking is not a curriculum, it is a way of life.

Taken from the Conservative Book Club “And Rightly So” column, #299:

One of our “star” reviewers is Daniel Neyer…One book that seemed a natural for Dan—and, at first glance, for the Club–was Who Killed Homer?The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath. Dan found much to praise in the book, especially its “excellent critique of shortsighted, narrow-minded, self-serving classicists who have killed the study of the classics in academia,” but in the end recommended against our offering it. The heart of his complaint was this:

“By repeatedly asserting that all that is good in Western civilization has come from the Greeks, (Hanson and Heath) overlook one monumental, colossal event: the Incarnation. Did the Church merely take the values of the Greeks and the Romans and transmit them to European man? Or did the Church sift through the ruins of the Greco-Roman civilization, polish and fix up that which was good, discard what was bad, and then dispense the good to Western man?

“As regards the alleged unsurpassed mastery of the Greek poets and philosophers–let me assert with Chateaubriand that the Incarnation deepened the poetic vision of European man. As great as Sophocles was, he is not up to Shakespeare’s level. As great as Virgil was, he is not up to Dante’s level. The Christian tragedies of free will surpass the pagan tragedies of fate…..The authors overstate the entire case for the Greeks. We owe the Greeks a debt with a small ‘d’; the Greeks and Romans owe the Church a debt with a capital ‘D.’ I want to see the Greek and Roman poets and sages appreciated, but I would rather see that whole corpus of art and literature perish than lose Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or any other product of art that stemmed from a belief in Christ.”

I couldn’t agree more. Interestingly, other conservative reviewers echoed Dan’s objections. The American Spectator’s John Dunlap, for instance, wrote that “Hanson and Heath seem unaware that the postmodern nihilism they bemoan is the bastard child of the neo-pagan humanism they espouse.” In other words, a classicism that exalts Greek wisdom above that of the Christian West is not merely deficient, it is dangerous. And therefore, I should think, one not acceptable to conservatives. (end of quote)
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,

I appreciate the invitation to subscribe to your e-mail loop, and I would be
honored to participate.  My name is Nayda Voss.  My husband Chuck and I have
three children, two of whom are school age.  We first learned of the trivium
method at the Christian Home Educators of Colorado Conference in Denver, and
we’ve truly enjoyed your wisdom!  It has freed me to spend more time simply
reading to my little ones(second grade and kindergarten) and to let them
engage in more creative play.  I am easily overwhelmed by the weight of things
we’re “supposed” to be teaching our children, and the trivium has acted as a
screen to help me sift through ideas and activities.  Thank you!  I look
forward to learning more, and to the opportunity to ask questions of you and
other more experienced parents.

In Him,
Nayda Voss
Subject: Phonics and artificially created dyslexia
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998

I read with interest last weeks question from S.W. in MN regarding the family’s “dyslexia” and methods with which to deal with it.  I’m afraid that in this day and age your analysis would not always be taken seriously.

It has been our experience as well that an intensive phonics program seems to resolve most “artificially created dyslexia” problems.  We have been using a program within our curriculum called “Reading with Phonics,” a classic phonics text which uses the Hay/Wingo method, and have had much success.

In recent years it has been taught that we must all learn pictographically because it is “more natural” than a phonetic approach.  Even at the university level teachers are continually pushed to accept the whole language approach in which students must learn pictographically.  A common line of reasoning used to add relevance to this approach is the example of eastern languages such as Japanese or Chinese.  Unknowing teachers are told that these languages are inherently pictographic and students learn them as such. If this is the case why shouldn’t we?  The problem with such perversion of fact is that, if you were to stop most Japanese children on the street they would be able to recite a cute, little song, similar to “Now I know my ABC’s”, which they use to memorize, phonetically, their language.  Even the more complicated Kanji form of writing is phonetically deciphered.

It is quite amazing that, when man accepts that God has made us in an orderly way and that everything in His creation points toward order, it opens our eyes to the wonderful, orderly way in which we all tend to learn.

John C. Burie
Covenant Home Curriculum
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998
Subject: Re: Questions Regarding Writing

I have a few questions regarding writing, especially creative writing. We have been using Sonlight Curriculum for the “backbone” of our History and reading. Sonlight’s Language Arts program is overwhelming, especially creative writing. There are weekly assignments, poems, dialogs, outlines, imaginative writing, etc. It is a bit daunting for my 8yob and 7yog.

Instead, we have been doing copying 2-4 times per week, as opposed to dictation, using a variety of sources, poetry, Psalms, Proverbs, and passages from the books we are reading. They will occasionally, without any initiation, add dialog to pictures they have drawn, tell silly stories, put on plays with puppets, etc. So i know they are not completely devoid of creative abilities. Since my dh is in the habit of keeping a journal, we plan to give them nice journals for Christmas and make journal writing a family affair.

Are we on the “right track” with copybook, journal writing, narration, and their occasional creative written impulse? At what age do children, especially boys, overcome their fear of the written word?

My feeling at this time is to not require any creative writing at this point, except what they initiate, but to encourage their other creative pursuits. My dh is concerned that they will miss out on something if we resist the urge to require the creative writing assignments at this time. Thoughts, anyone?

Tim, Wendy, Chris(8), and Hannah(7) from Double Oak, Tx.
I would agree with you Wendy that copywork, journal writing, narration, and their occasional creative writing is plenty for children the ages yours are. I always like to combine art with writing. They can make little booklets of their copywork, of the Greek or Hebrew alphabets, of little stories they want to write illustrated with pictures, of science projects or history projects. They can use paper out of the wallpaper sample books to cover the booklets. They could even make their own journals booklets. When they get a little older perhaps they can dictate to you a story or a poem that they make up. It’s the holding of the pencil, I think, that discourages the little boys from writing. Writing on the computer helps some. Having a pen pal sometimes helps. They become more motivated to write if there is someone to write to.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998
From: Kevin Holliday

We have become very interested in educating our children using the trivium approach. We have a question about Latin, particularly Artes Latinae which you recommended on the tape we listened to. We have an ad for Artes Latinae from Practical Homeschooling magazine which mentions “Ecclesiastical” and “Restored Classical” pronunciations, and also says “Traditional version also available.” What is the difference between “Eccclesiastical” and “Restored Classical” pronunciations and what are “Traditional” versions?

Bear in mind that we have NO background in Latin and are not asking you to tell us what we should do. We would just like the benefit of your expertise in helping us to choose what would best fit our educational program.
There are three widely accepted systems of pronunciation for Ancient Latin.

When Waldo Sweet wrote the book version of Artes Latinae (in the 1960’s) he used what he called “Restored Classical.” That is the only pronunciation used in the book and tape version. Most American schools teach this system of pronunciation. Since Sweet’s time, opinion has changed as to what was the classical pronunciation. Hence this system has been renamed “American Scholastic.”

The Computerized CD version of Artes Latinae offers three options:

1) American Scholastic
2) Restored Classical and
3) Ecclesiastical or Italian.

American Scholastic is what Waldo Sweet called “Restored Classical.” The new Restored Classical is what many scholars now believe is how Latin was pronounced in the classical period. There is not a great difference between American Scholastic and Restored Classical. The main difference is the word-final “m” as a sign of nasalization of the preceding Vowel. Ecclesiastical or Italian is the pronunciation used in medieval times and in the modern Catholic church.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I have a boy who manifests several of the following behaviors:

1) Hates to hold a pencil and / or has terrible handwriting.
2) Isn’t motivated.
3) Does the minimum required — seems lazy.
4) Wanders around with seemingly nothing to do.
5) Has to be continually reminded.
6) Doesn’t read much.
7) Doesn’t like academics.
8) No project appeals to him.
9) Has a narrow field of interests.
10) Has a short attention span.
11) Often seems “hyper.”
12) Always has to be doing something with his hands or his feet.
13) Doesn’t want to do any of the things I suggest
14) If enrolled in a classroom school he might be “labeled.”

What do I do with this boy?  I feel very frustrated.



Here are a few suggestions:

1) Keep him away from television, movies, computer games, music that contains any kind of a syncopated beat, sugar and caffeine, and allow him only supervised contact with peers.
2) Make him repeat back to you what you’ve told him to do
3) Work with him until you’re satisfied with his obedience. This is of the utmost importance.
4) Make a list of the things he needs to accomplish each day, and have him check them off as he does them, and hold him accountable daily.
5) Wait until age 8 or 9 before teaching him to read. Don’t start academics until age 11. (See our article on “A Suggested Course of Study” in Volume II of our magazine.) Read to him at least two hours each day. If he hates to write, allow him to dictate to you his letters and journal entries, or use a tape recorder.
6) Make use of the child’s one or two chief interests. Use it as an avenue to other things. (e.g. Link guns to the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution to principles of sound government) Get him started in his own business which involves his interests.  For example, if the child’s interest is fencing you might suggest that he give fencing lessons to other children, develop a web page on fencing, write a newsletter on fencing, do a display at the library on fencing, write an introductory booklet on fencing, produce fencing equipment, do a fencing seminar for 4-H. He can become the homeschooling expert on fencing.
7) Give him lots of physical work to do — regular household chores and special jobs. But don’t dump it all on him at once — he probably is the kind of person who is easily overwhelmed and frustrated. Break everything down into parts and mete them out one or two at a time.  Use a chart to keep him accountable.
8) If possible, move to the country so you can raise animals and there will be more outside work to perform (raise rabbits, goats, or chickens,  display these projects at the fair, obedience train your dog and show at fairs, raise earthworms to sell or for your garden, raise berries to sell or barter, raise some specialty animal such as a certain breed of horse, and become the local expert on that breed, have him practice carpentry skills by rebuilding  a small shed or outbuilding).
9) Get the child involved in some kind of community service (visit the nursing home every week for one hour, cook meals for the elderly, do repair work for the elderly, pick up the trash around your neighborhood, make small wooden toys and give them to children in the hospital, make greeting cards and give them away, write letters to relatives or others).
10) If possible, Dad can take him to work once or twice a week.
11) Do  unit studies instead of the traditional textbook approach to academics.
12) Get involved in history reenactments (Civil War, Buckskinners, Medieval, WWII), make costumes and equipment, attend events.
13) Teach him to hunt and fish.
14) Get him a good mountain bike so he can explore.
15) Keep the child on a regular schedule (flexible, but regular)
16) This suggestion we list last, but is really our first: the child should be part of your daily family Bible studies led by the Father.

Sometimes, if the child persists in refusing to be interested, you must insist. The key to all this is to recognize early on that your child is one of these “late bloomers.” You don’t want to wake up to this fact when the child is 17 or 18 and has already developed numerous unprofitable habits and wasteful ways of thinking. Motivating a 17 year old is much more difficult than motivating a 10 year old. Molding a 17 year old is much more difficult than molding a 10 year old.

With any child you must build a solid foundation before you begin academics. With a “late bloomer” the foundation takes longer to build and more patience must be used because the bricks tend to be less than square. But, trust me, by the mercy of God, if you persist, the structure that is built on this foundation will be worth all the blood, sweat, and prayers.

Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998

Hello! I’ve really enjoyed the loop so far! I have a few questions. First we have three boys 6, 7and 8. The one problem we have run into with the Trivium teaching program is not having enough to keep them occupied. We live in town and our neighborhood is not one they can get out in. They do quite a bit of the house work; dusting, vacuuming, dishes, bathrooms etc. We’re reading aloud about 2 hours total, one myself and one my husband. My throat can’t hold out anymore than that. Their school work takes them almost no time at all. All three are enthusiastic learners so I’m considering adding more book work math, history, science etc. to keep them busy. When they aren’t occupied they quickly turn to fussing with each other! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

I was curious to know what the Moore’s deleted from their “Mcguffey’s”? That’s what we use and they are exact reprint’s. Some of the stories are interesting in the extreme endings of their characters but definitely not offensive.

Boyd and Patt Hutchins
It’s hard to raise boys when you live in town! I suggest doing more projects. Build a cardboard fort, study the history of planes and create a display on the subject, gather lots of craft and art materials, study guns and create a display. Prepare a science project for the local Science and Engineering Fair.

One thing I like about Konos and the other unit study curricula is that you can get a lot of ideas for projects. Then perhaps you can display your projects at the library or your local homeschool project fair. October is Homeschool Art Month at our public library. Our art and craft projects are on display for the whole month.

I remember reading a biography of Antonio Stradivari. I don’t recall who wrote it, but it was very good and motivated us to study violin making. We are now reading lots of books about Anastasia (the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas of Russia). It seems obvious to us from all the evidence that she was not killed with the rest of her family in 1918, but survived

Did you know that there is some evidence that John James Audubon was really Louis XVII of France?

I’ll list some other biographies/autobiographies we have enjoyed:

The Autobiography of George Muller (established orphan homes)
The Mercies of a Covenant God, An Account of Some of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Warburton (an autobiography–my favorite)
The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Louis de Conte (Her Page and Secretary)…..written by Mark Twain Thirty
Seconds Over Tokyo by Captain Ted W. Larson
Twice Queen of France: Anne of Brittany by Mildred Allen Butler
First Woman Ambulance Surgeon: Emily Barringer by Iris Noble
Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon by Charles Ray
A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson: Containing an account of her sufferings during 4 years with the Indians and French by Susannah Willard Johnson Hastings

Responding to Boyd and Patt Hutchins about boys.

Since I only have 2 boys (6yo and 2yo) I can only give a few impressions.  First of all, I have come to realize that like miniatures of their dads little boys seem to derive value/worth from their work(play).

Also, that disorder called ADD into which so many little boys seem to fit, appears to me to be wantonly applied to normal little boys who have an innate and God-given drive to DO.  I have found that if my son does not have enough meaningful Activities/ Work/ Chores to fill his time he quickly channels this work drive into destructive channels.  That is not to say that he is doing chores all day or that we have no down time.  But he is almost always involved in a project or imaginative play that is constructive and interesting to him as a male that may appear to be work to some.  One of his favorite activities is to “ax down a tree” in our overgrown backyard. And Mom doesn’t mind at all.  He also likes to do other yard work and he derives great pleasure from completing his chores well.

I am not a believer in over burdening children too early with book work and academics(especially boys).  I would not add book work unless they are pleading for it.  Add projects: a saw, a hammer, small rabbits, binoculars.

We live smack in the middle of a city (pop. 500,000 in metro area) and we have rabbits and a hawk who hangs around hoping we have named one of them Lunch! So my son has many things to keep him physically active and busy that are also fun and rewarding.  Little boys really need this.

Margaret in SC
We have had a hard time finding a good book to read lately. We read a couple of stories out of Twice Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Those were good but not the sort of thing you want to read for days and days. Then we tried a book by Raphael Sabatini. I can’t remember the title. It’s currently at the county garbage dump so I can’t check. We had read his Captain Blood which is an exciting adventure story about pirates, and well written, so we thought his other books would be worth checking out. He wrote lots of books. Anyway, this book we started is not something you would want your children to hear. Then we tried 2 books by Wilke Collins. We have read The Moonstone (one of my favorites–it’s similar to a Sherlock Holmes mystery only with a more more detailed plot) and The Woman in White (a good book also–best read to older children), but these two other Collins books, Armadale and No Name, didn’t make it much past chapter two. But we finally found a book that satisfied us. Dandelion Cottage, by Carroll Watson Rankin, is a sweet little story of 4 girls who are allowed to turn an old cottage into a playhouse. Dandelion Cottage is not as good as Rankin’s other books, The Cinder Pond and Pete’s Patch, but your little ones will enjoy it. You’ll have to find these books by interlibrary loan or in an old book store.

There is one other author I wanted to tell you about. Augusta Jane Evans was born in 1835 and was educated primarily by her mother. This fact will become very interesting to you after you read her book St. Elmo. Evans must have received a classical education from her mother. You can buy St. Elmo from Giles St. Press, 4960 Almaden Expressway, #191, San Jose, CA 95118.

Subject: Artes Latinae question Trivium Loop
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998

We are in unit 18 of Artes Latinae (Level 1)  We are kind of confused with the Past and Present Participle.  In basic sentence 60, is “amissa” an adjective, a past participle, or both?  We are enjoying the Latin still, well, some of us are enjoying it more than others, but this past participle doesn’t seem very well explained in the Artes Latinae.  We have a Latin Grammar book published by Bolchazy-Carducci, but it seems to say very very little about the past participle.

David Morgan
Fresno, CA
An Infinitive is a Verbal Noun — a Verb form which acts like a Noun.
A Participle is a Verbal Adjective — a Verb form which acts like an Adjective.

I’ll explain with English examples.
“Run” is a Verb.
“I run. I ran. I will run. I have run. I had run. I will be running.”
Those are all examples of the Verb “run” being used as a Verb.

“To run” is the Infinitive form of the Verb “run.”
In the sentence, “I like to run.” the Infinitive “to run” is the Direct Object.
Therefore, the Infinitive functions like a Noun.

“Running” is a Participle.
In the sentence, “Running water cleans things well.” the Participle “running” acts as an Adjective modifying “water.”
What kind of water? Running water.

Of course, Adjectives can be used as Nouns.
In the sentence, “Blue is my favorite color.” the Adjective “Blue”
functions as the Subject and acts like a Noun.

So a Participle — a Verbal Adjective — may be used as a Noun.
In the sentence “Running is my favorite sport.” the Participle “running”
functions as the Subject of the sentence, so it acts like a Noun.

I think Artes Latinae is weak on explaining participles. I remember having trouble with it myself. I had to resort to some deductive Latin grammars to sort it all out. The main problem is that I never really understood what participles were in English. It helped when Harvey explained to us that participles are neither verbs nor adjectives nor nouns, but a hybrid–somewhere between a verb and an adjective or a verb and a noun.

They are almost a separate part of speech. Here is something I found in Jenny’s Latin: “A participle (Latin particeps, sharing) shares the attributes of a verb and an adjective.” My problem is that I like things in black and white, not gray. I like there to be nouns here, verbs there, and adjectives over there. Black and white. But participles are in the gray area. They blur the distinct parts of speech. But, on the other hand, we wouldn’t want to live without participles. They add flavor to the language.

Since past participles are declined like first and second declension type adjectives, I put them in the first and second declension type adjective section of my notebook. Present participles are declined like third declension-B type adjectives (there are two types of third declension adjectives– I label them A and B), so I put them with the third declension-B type adjectives.

So, to answer your question, <amissa> is a past participle. Ploratur (is wept over) lacrimis (by tears) amissa (lost) pecunia (money) veris (true).

Lost money is wept over by true tears. <Amissa> is a past participle acting like an adjective and modifying the subject (a noun) pecunia.

Stick with it even if you have to spend several weeks studying participles. It will be smoother sailing after you get past them. Until you reach the verbs, that is.

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998

I am new to this loop and a homeschool mother of 10 years.  Just today, before I read my mail, my 14yo daughter and I were talking about her 11th year.  We both agreed that is was our most difficult to date.  Her perspective was that we had let her run free for the first 10 years of her life then put her in a box (rules) after that.  Our discipline hadn’t changed but her perspective had.  Suddenly she had become aware of more choices in the world and was stepping out from our authority.  I thought to myself, “I have raised this child for 11 years, she is smart enough and trained enough to make good decisions.”  When we would talk about situations she would always give the right answer but when it came down to real life, the wrong choice was more often made.  I realized that the last 3 years with her has been the most emotional and time consuming of all the fourteen years we have parented her.

We are starting to see the fruit of our labor.  She is blossoming into a very mature and wonderful young woman.  All the work has been worth it.  I also learned how valuable it has been to be at home everyday with her.  I don’t know how Christian parents can not lose their children when they are in the public or any school system.

Some things we did:

1.  Keep them busy…at home.
2.  Deut. 11:19  Never stop talking
3.  Depend and rely on them to share the work load in the home…and appreciate it
4.  Develop projects that you can work on together.
5.  Assign some of the teaching or training of siblings to them.
6.  Discover their gifts and talents and ask (need) them to use them in your home or ministry.  Ex:  My friend’s daughter has an ability to decorate, so her mother uses this quality for furniture arrangement and color choice, flower arranging, etc.

I find the more my daughter is depended on for different tasks, the more she lives up to the challenge.  She needs to feel like she is an integral member of our household and relied on for various duties and needs in our family.

God gave her to our family which was lacking in the qualities that He gave specifically to her.  She has filled a gap and we need her, just the way God designed her, to fill the hole that would be there if she was not.

The other side of that is, she needs to learn to temper those gifts so that she doesn’t misuse what God has given her. Sensitivity can become touchiness, neatness can become perfectionism, confidence can become conceited when misused.  Temperance was my daughters’ biggest lesson during these 3 years.
I hope this helps.  After going through this with one at least I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The Amish have a saying, “Up until age 7 they are takers, 7 to 14 they pay their way, after 14 they are givers.”

Thanks for all the interesting stuff I am learning on this loop.
Heidi Petrino
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998
Subject: Re: Recorded books

I would like your thoughts on children listening to books on tape as a partial substitute for mom reading aloud 1-2 hours per day. My 8 yob especially has latched onto several very good books, at least 2 grades above his reading level, which he has gobbled up because he can listen to the tape and follow along. Our library has an abundant selection of these from Recorded Books, and it has been exciting to see him finish books that he otherwise would not be reading for another couple of years. Our girls, both learning English as a second language, also listen to books this way and seem to really enjoy it, and it seems to be benefitting them in the same way. They certainly don’t understand all of the story but to see them following along with advanced words is progress! Why might you stress listening to reading, as opposed to having the child see the words, and can you comment on this method of reading? Try as I might to fit it in I’m just not getting the stretch of reading time to them that you recommend.

Thanks for your input.
June in OH
Our family listens to books on tape quite a bit. Your suggestion of having the child follow along in the book as he listens to the tape is very good. You are combining the auditory with the visual. We just finished listening to Bleak House (Dickens) on tape and have started Our Mutual Friend (Dickens).

Taken from Dialects for Oral Interpretation (this could be used in a speech competition):

The Cultured Daughter of a Plain Grocer (author unknown)

In September last the daughter of a Towsontown man, who had grown comfortably well-off in the grocery business, was sent away to a female college, and last week arrived home for a vacation as her health was not good at school. The father was in attendance at the depot when the train arrived, with the old horse in a delivery wagon, to convey his daughter and her trunks to the house. When the train had stopped, a bewitching array of dry goods and a wide-brimmed hat dashed from the car and flung itself into the elderly party’s arms.

“Why, you superlative pa!” she exclaimed, “I’m so utterly glad to see you.”

The old gentleman was somewhat unnerved by the greeting, but he recognized the sealskin cloak in his grip as the identical piece of property he had paid for with the bay mare, and he sort of embraced it in his arms and planted a kiss where it would do most good, with a report that sounded above the noise of the depot. In a brief space of time the trunk and its accompanying baggage were loaded in the wagon, which was soon bumping over the road toward home.

“Pa, dear,” said the young miss, surveying the team with a critical eye, “do you consider this quite excessively beyond?”

“Hey?” returned the old man, with a puzzled air; “quite excessively beyond what?–beyond Waverly? I consider it somewhat about a mile beyond Waverly countin’ from the toll-gate, if that’s what you mean?”

“Oh! no, pa; you don’t understand me,” the daughter explained; “I mean this horse and wagon. Do you think they are soulful? do you think they could be studied apart in the light of a symphony, or even a simple poem, and appear as intensely utter to one on returning home as one could wish?”

The father twisted uneasily in his seat, and muttered something about he believed it used to be used for an express wagon before he bought it to deliver pork in but the conversation appeared to be traveling in such a lonesome direction that he fetched the horse a resounding crack on the rotunda, and the severe jolting over the ground prevented further remarks.

“Oh! there is that lovely and consummated ma!” screamed the returning collegiatess, as they drove up at the door, and presently she was lost in the embrace of a motherly woman in spectacles.

“Well, Maria,” said the old man at the supper-table, as he nipped a piece of butter off the lump with his own knife, “and howd’ye like your school?”

“Well, there, pa, now you’re shou–I mean, I consider it far too beyond,”
replied the daughter. “It is unquenchably ineffable. The girls are so sumptuously stunning–I mean grand–so exquisite–so intense. And then the parties, the balls, the rides–oh! the past weeks have been one sublime harmony.”

“I s’pose so–I s’pose so,” nervously assented the old gentleman, as he reached for his third cup, “half full–but how about your books?–readin’, writin’, grammar, rule o’ three–how about them?”

“Pa, don’t,” exclaimed the daughter, reproachfully; “the rule of three!
grammar! it is French, and music, and painting, and the divine in art, that have made my school life the boss–I mean rendered it one unbroken flow of rhythmatic bliss–incomparably and exquisitely all but.”

The groceryman and his wife looked helplessly at each other across the table. After a lonesome pause the old lady said:

“How do you like the biscuits, Mary?”

“They are too utter for anything,” gushed the young lady, “and this plum preserve is simply a poem in itself.”

The old gentleman abruptly arose from the table and went out of the room, rubbing his head in a dazed manner, and the mass convention was dissolved.
That night he and his wife sat alone by the stove until a late hour, and at the breakfast table next morning he rapped smartly on his plate with the handle of his knife, and remarked:

“Maria, me an’ your mother have been talkin’ the thing over, an’ we’ve come to the conclusion that this boardin’-school business is too utterly all but too much nonsense. Me an’ her considered that we haven’t lived forty odd consummate years for the purpose of raisin’ a curiosity, an’ there’s goin’
to be a stop put to this unquenchable foolishness. Now, after you have finished eatin’ that poem of fried sausage, and that symphony of twisted doughnut, you take an’ dust upstairs in less’n two seconds, an’ peel that fancy gown an’ put on a calliker, an’ then come down and help your mother wash dishes. I want it distinctly understood that there aint goin’ to be no more rhythmic foolishness in this house so long’s your superlative pa an’
your lovely an’ consummate ma’s runnin’ the ranch. You hear me, Maria?’

Maria was listening.
This week we finished reading Marcaria; or, Altars of Sacrifice by Augusta Jane Evans (she also wrote St. Elmo and  Beulah). We very much enjoyed St. Elmo when we read it a couple of years ago, and I can recommend it to your family, but the plot of Marcaria is just too unbelievable, and the book is full of embarrassing romantic dialog. There are some interesting things about the book, though, that I wanted to pass along. It was written during the Civil War, and the author will give you a different view of the causes of that war then you have probably heard before. Also, the author was educated at home by her mother, and it is quite obvious she studied Latin and Greek and was well read in the “real” classics.

I would like to quote from a passage in the book that I think homeschooling families will be interested in. Irene, a sweet southern bell of 15 years, was sent off to a prestigious boarding school in New York:

“As tall tyrannous weeds and rank unshorn grass close over and crush our slender, pure, odorous flowerets on a hill-side, so the defects of Irene’s character swiftly strengthened and developed in the new atmosphere in which she found herself. All the fostering stimulus of a hot-bed seemed applied to them, and her nobler impulses were in imminent danger of being entirely subdued. …and the associations which surrounded Irene were well calculated to destroy the native purity and unselfishness of her nature. The school was on an extensive scale, thoroughly fashionable, and thither pupils were sent from every section of the United States. As regarded educational advantages, the institution was unexceptionable; the professors were considered unsurpassed in their several departments, and every provision was made for thorough tuition. But what a Babel reigned outside of the recitation-room. One hundred and forty girls to spend their recesses in envy, ridicule, malice, and detraction. The homely squad banded in implacable hatred against those whom nature had cast in moulds of beauty; the indolent and obtuse ever on the alert to decry the successful efforts of their superiors; the simply-clad children of parents in straightened circumstances feeding their discontent by gazing with undisguised envy at the richly-appareled darlings of fortune; and the favored ones sneering at these unfortunates, pluming themselves on wealth, beauty, intellect, as the case might be; growing more arrogant and insufferable day by day. A wretched climate this for a fresh, untainted soul; and it is surprising how really fond parents, anxious to promote the improvement of their daughters in every respect, hasten to place them where poisonous vapors wreathe and curl about them. The principals of such institutions are doubtless often conscientious, and strive to discharge their duty faithfully; but the evils of human nature are obstinate, difficult to subdue under even the most favorable auspices; and where such a mass of untrained souls are turned into a enclosure, to amuse themselves at one another’s expense, mischief is sure to follow.”

A Will to Love: My Journey to Learning to Love My Father
By a Sister in Christ (unknown author)

Taken from Young Women Stepping Heavenward (out of print)

“Hurry up!” Dad beckoned to me. I tried to hurry with the chore I
was asked to do, but fumbled and didn’t do it as quickly as he
would’ve liked. “Not like that,” he reproved harshly, “like this!
Didn’t you ever do this before?” I shook my head wordlessly and
kept my eyes down while fighting back tears. As he roughly
continued to correct me, I stiffened myself. All morning while I
was helping him he had been on edge. Now it was all catching up
with me. How much more was I supposed to take? As soon as I was
alone, I dissolved into sobs and tears. Why does Dad have to be so
mean? Why do I have to go through this? I’m just a girl; I’m still
learning; do I have to do everything perfect? I’d been through this
before. I should’ve been used to Dad’s ways by now, shouldn’t I?
But I wasn’t. Each time it hurt me, and each time I built the wall
around me a little bigger.

The next day I overheard Dad angrily yelling at my sister Carrie
for something she didn’t do right. That hurt me, too. I knew what
it was like, and even though Carrie and I often fought, I still
sided with her. She really didn’t deserve that treatment either.
Later I comforted her about her “word thrashing” and hardened
myself a little more against Dad. I didn’t realize it at the time,
but it was a wall I was building around myself and between my dad
and me. I was being hurt, so to prevent myself from further hurts,
I hardened my heart. By doing this, I was training myself to not
respond to my dad, his reproofs, criticism, and even love. It was
an ugly, thick wall that I would add bricks to every time I was
hurt. Rarely would I take a piece of the wall down because I never
found a good reason to.

I became colder and harder towards my dad. I would usually respond
to him with short answers in a monotone voice. Then there were the
times when I would add bricks to the wall in large quantities at a
time. This often happened when Dad got upset with my mom. Mom is a
wonderful, sensitive mother. It is easier to love her. And I
usually wanted to obey and please her. That’s probably why it hurt
so much to see Dad get angry with her. On one occasion she
misunderstood Dad’s instructions and did something that really
upset him. Carrie and I were with Mom at the time. When Dad started
to reprove her, I started to stiffen. In loud, angry words he
yelled at her. She calmly tried to explain to him why she did what
she did. As he raved on, Carrie and I started to cry. Resentment
towards him grew within me. This was his wife – wasn’t he supposed
to love her and cherish her? I didn’t think, as a husband, he had
the right to reprove and correct her the same way he did with us
children. When Dad noticed we were crying, he turned to us and
forcefully told us that since he was head over Mom he had the right
to reprove her, didn’t he? We didn’t answer. Didn’t he? He asked
again. We still didn’t answer because neither of us was going to
give him any reason to think we approved of what he was doing. As
soon as I was alone, I let myself well up with bitterness,
resentment, and anger towards Dad. He had no right to treat Mom
that way. Is that the way husbands are to treat their wives? That
wasn’t showing love. Isn’t Mom supposed to be Dad’s best friend?
Why didn’t he treat her like he loved her? He can do everything
else so “right” it seems, except handle his anger.

These things all jumbled together in my mind as I sobbed and
nurtured my hurting heart. There were a few occasions when Dad came
back to us children and asked for forgiveness for his actions in a
situation, but that didn’t heal the hurts he left. As I grew older
I realized that the bitterness in my life was wrong. It was not
pleasing to God. There were times I was strongly convicted to do
something about it, but I knew it would take humbleness. I knew I
should go to my Dad and ask for his forgiveness. Through the years,
as I struggled not to get angry at Dad, I was realizing I’m not
responsible for Dad’s actions, but I’m responsible to God for my
response to him. So many times I really wanted to go to him and
make things right so we could have an open relationship, but I just
couldn’t get up enough nerve to do it. Our communication was at the
very minimum. He seemed to be making an effort to communicate with
my sisters and me, but we weren’t responsive.

In my heart I had long ago decided I would never marry a man like
my father. I would stay single before I’d marry a man who gets
angry, upset, and doesn’t show much love. I always hoped that I
could walk down my wedding aisle and be at peace with Dad, but it
didn’t look like it would happen. I was prepared to accept having a
strained relationship the rest of my life. I still prayed for a
love for Dad, but it didn’t seem to come.

I went to a Bible School when I was 18. That’s when I let God
really work in my life; I drew closer to Him. I was finding more
and more peace. Yet there was one area, one room in my heart I was
not ready to face. I worked on every other area but that one. I
didn’t have total peace in my heart and I was really starting to
desire that total peace with God and man. Then at age 19, I went to
Bible School again. There I was bombarded with so much emphasis on
having a good father-daughter relationship. It seemed like God was
really trying to get a message across to me. I was shown how
important my relationship with Dad was. It was more than just
having peace and being free from bitterness. He could be my
protector and friend if I let him. I could go to him with all my
problems, and he could comfort me and love me. Dad – understand my
problems? No way! We don’t even communicate. How could he
understand what me, a girl, is struggling with? But God was saying
“Trust me. Let me show you.” Okay, God, I said, I don’t know about
this, but I really need and want a relationship with Dad, so I’ll
give you a chance.

There was an issue in my life that I was really confused about; I
was about at my wits end about what to do, so I wrote my Dad about
it. In the letter I tried to portray the humble, loving spirit I
knew I should have. My friends were praying for my dad and me, too.
Some of them were struggling with the same thing. A couple weeks
later my dad wrote me back with his counsel. I was devastated. It
wasn’t at all what I wanted to hear, yet I knew he was right. It
was God speaking to me through Dad. As I started to work with him
through the mail and by phone, things started to open up. I also
started sharing with a teacher and was encouraged to do everything
I could to open up our relationship. Finally I had the courage to
go to Dad and ask for forgiveness for having wrong attitudes and
for not supporting him in being my authority by being submissive in
spirit. I did this over the phone, which was a little easier than
doing in person. Dad willingly gave his forgiveness and expressed
his desire for an open relationship, too. The forgiveness I felt
was so refreshing. I saw hope for us, that I might someday really
love Dad and be able to communicate with him. I had a desire to
open up communication.

At the same time I was taking a counseling class which God was
using to speak to me, too, about Dad. It involved biblically
understanding forgiveness of sin, my bondage to sin, finding
deliverance and repentance. This class was a big step towards
change in my life. I learned that Confusion is a step towards
change. Oh- and I was very confused at times! As I looked back on
my life, I saw what a hard heart I had come to have. That hard
heart had been keeping me from enjoying so many things in life,
like open, honest friendships that could really be an enjoyment.
How did my heart become so hard? I had callused it over the years
as emotional hurts came at me so I wouldn’t be hurt again. It makes
a lot of sense, logically thinking: If someone keeps hurting you
and hurting you, you’re going to want to protect yourself, so by
building a fortress wall or a thick callus you won’t be as affected
by their attacks. But in relationships, this self-protection is
dangerous. Yes, especially in my life. I was becoming aware of many
areas and problems that stemmed back to my hardness of heart. There
was a light coming on in my life as I saw what I was letting my
bitterness towards Dad do to me. Love in a relationship is giving,
as well as receiving. To love, I learned, is to be vulnerable.
Vulnerable? That means allowing yourself to be hurt, I thought. Why
would I let myself be hurt by Dad. I’m supposed to be loving him.
How am I going to love him when I’m letting him hurt me? “Let me
show you,” God told me again. I was already struggling to forgive
Dad of the past hurts he caused, now I was being asked to forgive
them and let him continue to hurt me. That sounded harsh and
unfair. But I wasn’t finished learning yet. It was like I had my
fist clenched shut, not letting myself be loved or giving love to
Dad. You see, by unclenching my fist and opening up my hand, I was
making myself vulnerable but also opening myself up to be loved, to
accept love from Dad. This way I could offer him my love, and in
return he could give love to me in my hand. Because he could also
put pain into my open hand, living this way could be more painful
than having a closed fist where I accepted neither love nor pain.
Forgiving and loving Dad is one of the hardest things I’ve tried to
accomplish. Love is a decision, not always an emotion. It’s not
something I can do on my own, especially the times I don’t feel
like it. Instead I petition to God daily.

Now that I’m home from Bible School, I’m finding many challenges in
relating to Dad again. It takes a will to love. I still struggle to
forgive him because healing and forgiveness is a process. It’s a
lifetime of hurts, it’s not something that I can cover over in a
day or even a week. I struggle to love when Dad is unlovely, and I
am feeling threatened. I feel I need to endure this pain, take it
in and be vulnerable as I work to love Dad and get close to him. I
really like the verse in Philippians 1:6 that says “Being confident
of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” To those of you who
struggle in loving your fathers, I pray that this article will
minister to you, encourage you, and point you in the right
direction. This idea of loving and being vulnerable may be new to
you; letting yourself be hurt is contrary to your old nature. But
remember – you are a new creature in Christ, so you no longer live
by your old nature. There is hope for damaged emotions! Ephesians
3:30 “Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above
all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in
us.” I haven’t accomplished nearly everything I want
to, yet, but I can assure you God is working in my life to change
me into what He wants me to be and give me new peace and joy.– By
A Sister in Christ
Looking Back—My Top 10 “school” purchases (not necessarily in order):


McGuffey’s Readers (Christian School Edition, paper)–or any of the old readers. There are dozens of them. These can be found in old book stores, although the reprint of the McGuffey’s Readers can be found in many homeschool catalogs.

Artes Latinae

Bob Jones English Handbook for Christian Schools

Gallery, An Art Card Game (B and I Gallery Specialties, 609 Lincoln Terrace, Morrestown, NJ 08057–don’t know if this address is still good)–Plus, once at a garage sale I was able to purchase a stack of art reprints for 10 cents. I try and keep one or two of these prints taped to the living room walls all the time, rotating them regularly. Here is where you can purchase inexpensive prints: The University Prints catalogue, 21 East Street, Box 485, Winchester, MA 01890. I hope this address is still good.

The Art-Literature Readers–3 Volumes by Eulalie Osgood Grover (reprint of old books–don’t know where you can get them now)–There are other kinds of art-literature readers, but you can only find them in old book stores. I have been blessed to find a few of the Great Pictures and Their Stories–Interpreting Masterpieces to Children by Katherine Morris Lester. Published around 1920. There are several volumes. Perhaps you could find these books through the internet. Christian Liberty Press has reprinted
Masterpieces on Art by William C. Casey. It is a sort of art-literature reader for children.

The Elementary Spellingbook by Noah Webster–reprint

Old Nature/Science Readers–there are several of these. Christian Liberty Press has reprinted a series of them. Others can be found at old book stores.

3-ring binders with subject dividers (for your projects, etc.) and bound books filled with blank pages, lined for writing, and unlined for drawing (for your nature journals, etc.).

Library cards (for your local library, a good college library, and a big university library)

Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998
From: Scott/Carol Bertilson
Subject: Introductions, and using audiotapes

My name is Carol Bertilson, my husband is Scott Bertilson.  We have 5 children aged 8, 7, 5, 4, and 3 years.  We have been homeschooling since the birth of the eldest using primarily the Charlotte Mason approach.

We discovered the Bluedorns at a homeschooling conference a few years ago and are looking forward to using the classical approach.

I make tapes for my children to listen to at night as they go to sleep (they all sleep in the same room).  I got the idea from a tape put out by the Ezzo’s organization.  When they were under 4, I made a tape with all the things I wanted them to memorize: abc’s, counting, Lord’s Prayer, the doxology, scripture songs, and intermixed these with Beatrix Potter stories. I also made story tapes by setting a tape recorder in my lap as I read to them.  I would pile up a stack of books that I thought were worth hearing again and again, and every time I had time to read I would add to the tape.

As they get older I make learning tapes with Spanish lessons, Scripture portions to memorize, skip count songs, etc alternating throughout the tape.  I made a special tape for the Christmas season with Christmas carols and scriptures alternating.

Now they have quite a few of those, plus tapes of classical music (one musician to a tape), Judy Rogers tapes, etc.  We put them to bed all at the same time, and the older ones have lamps so they can knit, crochet, draw or read their Bibles while listening to the tapes.  The rest listen to the tapes until they fall asleep.  This has been a real bonus to our homeschooling since I have been unable to read to them as much as I would like because of illness and having the children so close together.
The library cards I mentioned are just your plain ordinary library cards you get at your local library. Our family also purchased a library card at the University of Iowa Library (for about $20 a year). Speaking of the University of Iowa, Hans and I had an interesting time there a few weeks ago. Hans needed to look up some books on logical fallacies and I was researching the history of math education, plus I wanted to find some good books for our study of protozoa. At this university there is the big main library plus numerous specialty libraries—math, biology, education, physics, etc. We went over to the biology building, and I had the idea of perhaps finding a biology professor who might answer some of my questions concerning protozoa. I went to the central biology office where  pictures of all the professors, along with a description of their areas of expertise, were posted on the wall. I wrote down the names and email addresses of the 3 or 4 professors who did research in the area of protozoa and found out where their offices were located. Then I prayed that the Lord would send me to the right one. Many are too busy to bother with a plain Mom’s questions, but I found a very kind and helpful professor who spent about 45 minutes with me answering questions, recommending books, and even copying pages out of books from his library. We have done this before in several other areas. Last year we talked to two economics professors when we were studying for the debate topic. One year we consulted with math and physics PhD’s to help Nate with a science fair project he was doing. We even were allowed to use some equipment in the physics lab. A chemistry teacher at Iowa State University helped us with a chemistry science fair project once. We have been very successful in finding help in areas, usually science, were we need help. People often like the idea of helping homeschooled students. Another place to get help for hard subjects is on the internet, especially newsgroups and mailing lists. We will have an article detailing how to do this in one of the issues of TTT (1999).

Found another book by Carroll Watson Rankin. It’s call Gipsy Nan, copyright 1926. The copy we obtained from the library has some very nice illustrations by Miriam Selss.
One of the very first books I read when we started homeschooling was Christopher Dock: Colonial Schoolmaster, The Biography and Writings of Christopher Dock by Gerald C. Studer (published 1967 by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA). “This book contains the story of that wonderful old Pennsylvania Dutchman Christopher Dock, a Mennonite who taught school for some forty years in colonial Pennsylvania. … During the years of Dock there were no public schools in Pennsylvania, nor did there appear to be a demand for them. The education of children was regarded as a responsibility of parents and the churches, and its principle purpose was religious–to teach children to read the Scriptures and to lead Christian lives. In keeping with this purpose Dock taught a private (not a parochial) school which was paid for by the parents of the children. … His principle work, Schulordnung (School Management), was published in German in 1770… This was the first book on teaching that was published in America. The excellent translation included in the present volume makes the early book available for those who would know more about this kindly teacher and his educational ideas. … Dock’s ideas about teaching were quite at variance with ideas then generally held by teachers and others of his day.”

I have studied Greek a little in the past, but really got serious about it a few months back, when you spoke to our local homeschool group in Corinth, Mississippi.   I would like to know why ‘psuche’ is translated ‘life’ and not ‘soul’ in Mark 10:45.  I also found it so translated in Matthew 2:20. Any ideas?

Ted Holt
Corinth, Mississippi
PsuchE means “breath.” It is commonly translated into Latin by the word “anima,” which is “breath, wind, air.” Breath is the sign of animal life, hence psuchE is translated “life” 40 times in the KJV. PsuchE is used to refer to the “soul” of a man — the immaterial essence of his life, his innermost being, the seat of his personality, as distinguished from his material body, hence it is translated “soul” 58 times in the KJV. A man is sometimes addressed as his psuchE — his soul. As psuchE is used to refer to breath, then breath of animal life, then inner essence of life, then inner personality, it finally is used to represent the inner thought life — the mind, reason, understanding, the will, the emotions, passions etc. Hence, it is translated “mind” 3 times and “heart” 2 times in the KJV.

Look at how psuchE is used in the following verses.

Matthew 2:20  Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s >>life<<.

Matthew 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your >>souls<<.

Matthew 12:18  Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my >>soul<< is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

Mark 10:45  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his >>life<< a ransom for many.

Luke 12:19  And I will say to my >>soul<<, >>Soul<<, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:20  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy >>soul<< shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

John 12:27  Now is my >>soul<< troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Acts 2:41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand >>souls<<.

Acts 2:43  And fear came upon every >>soul<<: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Ephesians 6:6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the >>heart<<;

Philippians 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one >>mind<< striving together for the faith of the gospel.

And I have a question for Harvey. Have you applied your deductive approach to basic theology, such as the Trinity?  Can the doctrine of the Trinity be deductively proved from Scripture? I ask because I think
it would be important to know how these doctrines were derived and whether the deductive approach is sufficient for interpreting Scripture.

Carol Bertilson
From what the Scripture teaches regarding God we deduce that there are three persons in God and that there is one divine nature. We label that teaching “the trinity.” It is a mystery, but it is not a contradiction. It would be a contradiction if we said that there were three persons but only one person. It is a mystery which describes something outside of our normal experience which we would have to be told because we would never have arrived at on our own.

Likewise, from what the Scripture teaches regarding Jesus we deduce that Jesus is one person but with two natures — divine and human. We label that teaching “the incarnation.” It is a mystery, but it is not a contradiction. It would be a contradiction if we said that Jesus’s divine nature was begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary. It was not. Only His human nature was begotten in the natural world. Again, it is a mystery because if it were not revealed to us. We would not have figured it out on our own.

In no one place does the Scripture explicitly teach the doctrine of the trinity — unless you admit 1 John 5:7 into your Bible. The doctrine of the trinity has been attacked throughout history precisely because it is a logically deduced doctrine. All modern Bible translations leave 1 John 5:7 out. I think it belongs there — but that’s a long story.

Now I am not sure what you mean by the words “whether the deductive approach is sufficient for interpreting Scripture.” What other approach would there be? If you used an inductive approach, you could invent any doctrine you pleased. That is the approach of the cults.

If we all measure by the same standard — Scripture, then we all must come up with the same results. If we come up with different results, then we are either not using the same standard, or else there must be something wrong with out method of measurement — we must be introducing a subjective element. The inductive method is, by its very nature, subjective. It varies with the person applying it. The deductive method, by its very nature, is objective. It is fixed.

If all a is b, and if x is a, then x is b. The only area for argument is in definition: is b actually inclusive of all a? Is x actually b? Definition is a matter of faith.

Proposition One: All true Christ’s have a divine nature (in this case, “all” amounts to only one).
Proposition Two: Jesus is the Christ.
Deduction: Jesus has a divine nature.

The question is, do you believe the Propositions? Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? That is all a matter of faith. So the bottom line is that it takes faith in the propositions of Scripture to interpret the propositions of Scripture, and Scripture cannot be interpreted apart from deduction. Scripture is composed of language, and language is itself deductive logic — unless it is nonsense (e.g. Draw me a square circle at right angles to yellow.). All theology which is not deduced from the language and propositions of Scripture is nonsense. There is a lot of nonsense out there.



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