Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 1999

by | Articles, Trivium & Classical Education | 0 comments

Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998
From: Wayne S Walker

Dear friends,

Last month we began a discussion of the pros and cons of a “classical education.”  That discussion will continue this month.  To make sure that we understand what we are talking about, let us first define a “classical education.”  A “classical education” is one that is based on “the trivium.”  According to Harvey Bluedorn, “the trivium” was not just a mediaeval invention.  The Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews all recognized it.  This “trivium” consists of grammar, logic or dialectic, and rhetoric.  Grammar is the accumulation of facts or knowledge. Logic or dialectic is comprehending the relationships between the facts.  And rhetoric is the application of what is comprehended, or wisdom.

It is often argued that “the trivium” matches the stages of child development.  The grammar stage consists of memorization and learning of information which a young child soaks up like a sponge (grades 1-4).  The logic or dialectic stage involves seeing why or the theory behind the facts as a child becomes more inquisitive and analytical (grades 5-8). The rhetoric stage results in the expression of what has been understood and occurs when a child is more creative and expressive (grades 9-12).

Thus, more than just being a curriculum, although some understand that in its most basic sense it does have a core curriculum, a “classical education” is actually a method of teaching, and can be applied to any subject.

In The Teaching Home, Sept./Oct., 1997, (pp. 35-50), the special section dealt with “The Principles of Classical Education.”  Editor Cindy Short wrote the following excellent introduction to the subject.

“The essence of a classical education is the accumulation, integration, and application of knowledge.  The art of learning itself is developed by memorizing whole categories of facts, analyzing relationships between them, and expressing the derived principles. This is accomplished by adding certain subjects and learning activities not common in today’s educational practices and by doing so in a specific sequence. The subjects added to an ordinary curriculum are Latin (or Greek), logic, and debate.  The activities (abandoned in varying degrees by modern educators) are rote memorization, copy work, recitation, narration, logical analysis, essay writing, speech presentation, and debate. The sequence is important — first the input of raw data, then logical reasoning based on known facts, and finally expressive communication of understood principles. After these skills have been developed, the student is ready to study in depth whichever advanced subjects he chooses to prepare him for his life work. He will retain these skills and use them throughout his life whenever he needs or wishes to learn something new. A classical education cultivates character qualities and mental habits that fit the student for thoughtful living and responsible leadership even in a climate of fuzzy thinking and propaganda. Such a student, if he is knowledgeable of the Scriptures and dedicated to the Lord, will be well-equipped to lead his family, his friends, his church, and his entire world into the truth that sets us free as we follow Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).”

There follows an extremely interesting and convincing essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning: Mediaeval System Taught How To Think And Learn,” by Dorothy L. Sayers, which she originally delivered as a speech at Oxford in 1947.  One of the reasons that she argued for a “classical education,” in addition to its superior results, was precisely because it could be applied to the learning, application, and expression of Biblical truth in the world.  Also in this same issue, David Kertland wrote that a “strong, biblical world view is best achieved by applying the classical method to biblical instruction.”  Thus, we see the call for a “classical Christian education.”

However, as noted last month, there are those who object to this concept.  In the Nov./Dec., 1998, issue of The Ohio Home School Companion (pp. 13-15), Earl Rodd wrote an article, “Biblical Education into the 21st Century” (part 2), in which he drew a comparison to (actually, a contrast between) classical and Biblical education.  He said, “When we train our children, we cannot expose them to every culture and every language in the few years we have them at home….A classical education will teach logic and rhetoric–and often does so by putting emphasis on the Greeks rather than the Hebrews….A ‘classical’ education that gives more emphasis to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, or Shakespeare, rather than stressing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Job fails to understand how God view education….The history of the church is full of examples of educational movements and institutions which began with Spirit-led vision and distinctly Christian purposes and then compromised in the use of classical curriculum and slowly lost their entire Christian orientation.”

Obviously, it would be possible to have a “classical education” without any Biblical basis at all, simply using “the trivium” to study secular subjects, worldly literature, and Graeco-Roman philosophy. Parents who want to bring their children up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord so that they will know and serve God would certainly want to avoid that extreme.  But it would also seem extreme to omit studying the cultures and languages (primarily Greek and Latin) from which our own western culture and English language have derived so much just because they did not come directly from the Bible.  A “classical Christian education” will include in that study a background of Judaeo-Christian history and philosophy, which will show that the best of Greece and Rome is good because it parallels Biblical teaching and the worst of Greece and Rome was the result of their departure from Biblical principles.

The main opposition to a “classical education” seems to be that it will include studying about things which are in opposition to the Bible. Rodd also wrote, “Proponents of classical education defend the study of mythology (which is really the study of false gods, idols or demons) by saying that the myths are an integral part of our western literary heritage.  They reason that the ‘great’ literature uses symbols and images from the myths.  When we seek a biblical education, we seek to redeem the time spent reading so-called ‘great’ literature and use it for the study and activity we find from obeying the written and living Word of God….Thus, in a Biblical education, we not only redeem the time spent studying myths, but also the time spent reading fiction which requires us to think about false gods, idols, and demons.”

What is wrong, per se, with knowing about these myths?  The very names of our days of the week and months of the year are derived from pagan gods.  To know their origin and the stories behind it does not mean that we give any credence to the idols.  Some of these heathen deities are even named in the scriptures.  Knowing about them helps us to understand those scripture references and the general background into which Christianity spread in the first century.  By way of personal example, I am a gospel preacher and believe in the absolute truth of the scripture.  Yet, I grew up interested in, reading, and studying about Greek and Roman myths (and Norse too).  However, even as a younger child, I knew that they were just what the name implies–myths, fiction, unreal stories made up by men.  Because of the Biblical training that I received in my home and in the church, there was never any temptation to think of them as real or give them any acceptance as a standard for living.  But knowing about them and what their results were makes me appreciate even more the superior standard that we do have in the scriptures.

It is true that in homeschooling, we will not be able to, and in fact should not, expose our children to every culture and every language. But as we study the history of the wicked world in which we live, and especially as children grow older and become more inquisitive, they will be exposed to culture and ideas that are not in harmony with the Bible. Of course, any introduction of such things will have to be age appropriate, but when it does come what shall we do–just deny that they exist?  Or can they be studied in a way that will be helpful?  The fact is that the Greek language can be studied using the Greek New Testament, and Latin can be studied using the histories of Caesar, Livy, and others, or the writings of later “church fathers” such as Augustine–without any references to mythology, if that is what one prefers.

The Teaching Home issue cited previously also had an article, “A Biblical World View Approach to Classical Education,” by David Quine.  He wrote, “Since classical education includes the study of ideas coming from a variety of different sources and viewpoints, some would feel that classical education would be nonbiblical.  Whether or not Christians should read Greek and Roman literature is not, however, a 20th century question.  What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens? is a question that was asked during the first several centuries of Christianity.  How does one reconcile the study of classical thought with the teaching of the Bible?….As you might expect, the Church has not always agreed on the answer as to whether it is biblical to include ideas from a variety of sources.”

He then quotes from Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the premier “Christian” philosopher of the twentieth century, in How Should We Then Live?, who wrote, “We must also consider the relationship between Christian and classical thought….The writings of Greek and Roman thinkers who had such an impact upon Renaissance and post-Renaissance culture were in many cases available to be read because their works had been pre- served, read, and discussed by mediaeval intellectuals.  So how did the Middle Ages handle its pagan cultural heritage?  It is important to assert that although early Christian writers like Cyprian (d. 258) and Tertullian (d. c. 230) had a strictly negative attitude toward classical Greek and Roman learning, Paul had not been so inhibited.  When it was his purpose, he cited Greek authors just as he at other times employed the subtle rabbinic lines of reasoning which he had mastered as a pupil of the great Rabbi Gamaliel (d. pre-A.D. 10), grandson of the yet greater Rabbi Hillel (70 B.C.-A.D. 10).”

Schaeffer continued, “Ambrose (339-397), Jerome (347-419), and Augustine (354-430), following Paul rather than Tertullian, learned to appreciate and utilize classical learning.  Indeed, they set out thoroughly to domesticate it within the context of a majestic curriculum of Christian education which became the general model followed right up to the Renaissance.  But if a robust Christian faith could handle non-Christian learning without compromising, it was all too easy for Greek and Roman thought forms to creep into the cracks and chinks of a faith which was less and less founded on the Bible and more and more resting on the authority of church pronouncements.  By the thirteenth century Aquinas (1225-1274) had already begun, in deference to Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), to open the door to placing revelation and human reasoning on equal footing.”

Quine then comments, “Historically, the ability to handle non-biblical ideas seems to be conditioned upon two important bases: a ‘robust Christian faith’ and a proper view of Scripture.”  Regarding a robust Christian faith he wrote, “It seems that the Apostle Paul and the early Church did not forbid the teaching and using of classical ideas. However, according to Dr. Schaeffer, a person must have a ‘robust Christian faith’ in order not to compromise the truth….This robust faith is a life based on the risen Christ.  He has strength for all things but it is a strength that comes from Christ Who empowers us.  It is then that we are fully equipped with the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) with no ‘cracks or chinks.'”

Regarding the Bible as final authority he said, “Traditional classical education would say that we read the Greek and Roman literature to understand and appreciate their thoughts and ideas.  However, we must not simply read to appreciate the beauty of any language.  We must consider and evaluate the truth of the ideas embraced.  We must be teaching our children to evaluate the thoughts and ideas presented….In order to safeguard our children from ideas not consistent with Scripture, we must have a biblical world view approach to classical education.  The Bible must be the final and ultimate authority–the standard by which all ideas are measured and evaluated.  We must never mix Christian thinking with Greek or Roman thinking as was done during the Renaissance.”

So, there is a Biblical defense for a “classical education,” when adapted to the principles of scripture.  If we prepare our children especially during the “grammar stage” with sufficient Biblical truth that produces genuine faith (cf. Rom. 10.17), then they should be able to handle in later years the gradual introduction of and exposure to the Greek and Roman culture from which our western heritage draws.  Each homeschooling family must decide and choose what type of curriculum and methodology is best for it.  I do not believe that anyone would, or at least should, say that those who do not opt to follow a classical approach to education are somehow wrong or ignorant.  At the same time, it ill behoves anyone to imply that those who do recognize the benefits of a classi-cal education are necessarily un-Biblical or anti-Christian.

I would like to close this discussion with a quote from Dr. George Grant from his article, “The Resurgence of Classical Education,” in The Teaching Home (op. cit).
“So, what is classical education?  Very simply, it is a conscious return to those academic disciplines and methodologies emphasizing the basic thinking and character skills necessary to launch young men and women on a lifetime journey of growth and learning….If we are buck the trend of malignant modernity, if we are going to recover our Christian heritage in education, if we are going to be able to pass that heritage on to our children and grandchildren, if we are going to undertake the initiation of unending begin-nings, then we must return to the dumb certainties of Christendom’s experience.  And that experience begins at

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998
From: Helene Meath

I am confused. What do you now recommend for Latin, Artes Latinae or Wheelock (which I have never heard of). Which language should we do first?
Latin, right? Your Homeschool Greek is now set up like Artes Latinae too? Do you have a Homeschool Hebrew or any in the works or what do you recommend instead?

We like Artes Latinae best. Wheelock is one of the standard Latin deductive grammars used in public and private schools, although some homeschooling families now use it.

Generally it is easiest to start with the Greek alphabet first, when the child is young (anywhere from age 4 to 10 or so), go on to Latin grammar at about age 10 or 11, and go on to Greek grammar at around age 13 or 14. But this is certainly not a hard and fast rule. Some people prefer to just do Greek, some just Latin, some prefer Hebrew. The point I want to make is that there is no authority out there who says you must do such and so at such and so age if you want to homeschool your children by the classical approach.

There are 3 ways to teach a language: deductive (Wheelock, Wilson, Jenny, etc); inductive (Ecce Romane); and programmed interactive (Artes Latinae).
Some grammars are a combination of these approaches (Latin is Fun). See our catalog for more of a description of these 3 approaches. Our Homeschool Greek is a combination of deductive and programmed interactive.

Concerning Hebrew, we recommend Behrman House, 235 Watchung Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052. They produce a programmed interactive Hebrew grammar. But we don’t study Hebrew in our family, so someone else might have a better recommendation. Does anyone have something to add here?

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998
Subject: Re: “What do you suggest”

To the person having problems with their 7 year old:

I think I have a good suggestion for you.  First of all, a 7-year old, in my opinion, is not ready for a highly academic curriculum.  This is a time for a broad range of stories, activities, and involvement in family life.  One curriculum I have found to be extremely useful at this age is the Five in a Row volumes by Jane Claire Lambert.  This involves reading an excellent story selection every day for a week (hence the name five in a row), and then tackling a subject related to the book each day.  For example…Social Studies is Monday, Language Arts is Tuesday, Art-Wed., Math-Thursday, and Science-Friday…..all related to the book.  There are three volumes covering an entire year (including summer).  You can purchase them through God’s World Book Club at 800-951-BOOK.

One other thought.  I was having problems with my kids at one time when I stumbled upon a book about learning styles…..”The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Tobias.  It really opened my eyes to the different personalities of my kids and how they absorb information.

Hope these suggestions help.
Nancy Smith Kilkenny
Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999

Can anyone give me some good ideas for high school geometry?  I am finding it difficult to get materials with sufficient depth and also sufficient teacher guidance for the “teacher who has not studied it in far too many years.  My oldest son taught himself from a college review text but this will not work for my daughter who is weaker in math and needs direct instruction.  We have used the Keys to Geometry but find it too easy–no proofs, etc.  ABeka is way too complicated.  Computer programs, thus far, seem unorganized and lacking in instructional content.  I’d appreciate any suggestions as we have to do this four more times!!

Debbie G.
We have been satisfied with Geometry by Harold Jacobs (can be found in the Elijah Company catalog). It is easy to use and self teaching, yet thorough. He spends a whole chapter on logic.

Date: Thu, 07 Jan 1999

My wife and I really enjoyed your web site.  The information supplied was a tremendous aid in helping us with different homeschool methods. We are currently schooling our 7 year old daughter and were looking for a 2nd grade curriculum for next year.  The Trivium approach is very interesting and we would like more information about it, specifically, how would we begin to incorporate it into our home (for 2nd grade).  It seems we were already using the basic method but didn’t have a name for it.  Any info you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

God Bless and thank you,
Patrick Russell
From: Ida and Alex Wilkins
Subject: curriculum for kindergarten
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998

I am enjoying your email loop, but wanted to address a question specifically to you, so here we go. My daughter is 4 years old and will be 5 in February.  I am currently teaching her phonics with Play N’ Talk.  I plan to work with her on her numbers and math enough to have her ready to start Kindergarten in August of 1999.

I am in contact with some friends in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who started a Classical Christian School, and they begin with Saxon 1, Spalding and Five In A Row for Kindergarten.  I love books and my daughter does too, so the Five In A Row is agreeable enough to me, but I was interested in what you and maybe others started out with.  My only objection to the Five In A Row is that I am not really sold on unit studies, although it may not be as critical for the really younger children.

This school starts History (with the Veritas Press history cards), Grammar (using Shurley Grammar) and Science (they didn’t specify what they use for science) in first grade.  I was just wondering if there is any particular reason not to go on and start with those things in Kindergarten too.

I guess I would also like to know if you use a specific curriculum to study literature, and if so, what curriculum do you recommend?  The school in Baton Rouge uses Spalding plus Literature, so I probably wouldn’t be able to use that very easily since I’m not using Spalding for phonics, reading and spelling.

Anyway, those are my questions, and I’d love to hear from you.

Dear Ida,

Are you planning on homeschooling your wee one or sending her to a private school? I will assume you plan to homeschool. The private school curriculum you described used in Louisiana sounds like the common classical Christian school curriculum used in many classical Christian schools all across the country. These classical Christian schools combine the philosophy of the “early academics approach” along with the classical matrix of grammar, logic, and rhetoric to produce their curriculum.

There are many ways to apply the classical approach of education to homeschooling. Some homeschoolers who want to follow the classical approach use the type of curriculum that is used in these classical Christian schools. Our family applies the classical approach to homeschooling differently. We would disagree with the “early academics approach” and would lean more toward the traditional classical “later academics approach” combined with the trivium mattrix. There is only so much time in the day, hence, we suggest that academics are not necessarily the focus before age ten. Rather, this is the time to sow the seeds of honoring God and parents, developing the capacity for language and the appetite for learning, enriching the memory, and instilling a work and service ethic. This is the time to lay the foundation for the academics which will follow.

You are correct in teaching your daughter to read using a good intensive phonics method such as Play N’ Talk or Spaulding. I would only perhaps suggest that age 4 is somewhat early to begin the study of phonics, although it is certainly true that some children catch onto reading sooner than others. Looking back, if I had it to do over again I wouldn’t even start the study of phonics till age 6, unless I had a child who showed readiness at an earlier age.

I personally like unit studies and think they fit in well with the classical approach. They work especially well with children in the grammar stage. I have never looked at Five In a Row. Perhaps someone on this loop could comment on that. As far as history is concerned, I suggest you spend a lot of time reading aloud biographies, autobiographies, and published journals and diaries (use the library). Make your own time line. Teach her to sew costumes. For science, read aloud books on different scientific subjects (use the library), visit science fairs, take field trips to museums and zoos (see our article in TTT on teaching science). What you want to do at this age is develop in the child a curiosity toward history and science.

I would wait to teach English grammar and math till age 10.

Concerning literature, well, the best way to study literature at a young age is to just read literature. Good literature. Find yourself a recommended reading list and work through that list. Again, use the library. I hope all this recommending of libraries doesn’t weary our loop subscribers. I just remember what it was like to have 5 small children and not a dollar to spend on books. The library to us has always been a lifesaver. Am I alone here?

Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999
Subject: Re: Henty books

Greetings in the name of our Lord!  I am currently reading our sixth Henty novel to my boys, ages 11 and 7.  We managed to borrow five of them in the past year, and I bought two new ones from Timberdoodle as Christmas presents.  The boys were thrilled that these are our own!

So far we’ve read In Freedom’s Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce (1314 AD), which renewed their interest in their 1/16th of Scottish ancestry (and gave me a totally different view of the times than “Braveheart” did).

Then we read By Pike and Dyke:  A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic (1579 AD), which gave us all a lot of information about this period of Reformation history.

This was followed by For the Temple:  A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem (70 AD), which gives new meaning to the word “tribulation.”  It also sparked a keen interest in the Roman Empire, which was further fed by Beric the Briton:  A Story of the Roman Invasion (61 AD).  We rented the old film “Spartacus” afterward to help visualize the setting, weapons, etc.

Another friend loaned us an original copy of With Lee in Virginia: A Story of the American Civil War (1860s AD), which fit right in with the boys’ interests in the Civil War.  We used it to study my great-great-grandfather, who served in the Union Army.

Right now we’re reading The Young Carthaginian:  A Story of the Times of Hannibal.  As with all these books, we use an atlas to track the movements of the characters and the locations of the battles and other events.  The boys have ancestral roots in the regions of Spain that Hannibal subdued.

Next we will read our other Timberdoodle find, St. Bartholomew’s Eve:  A Tale of the Huguenot Wars (1580 AD), which I will tie in with our ancestors from France who emigrated to America right after this period.

Ideally I would have liked to study these books in chronological order concurrently with units on these periods of history, but these books were available for a short time, and we seized the opportunity.

All of these stories feature a young hero who is caught up in the events of the period and who usually finds himself at the service of the central historical figure of the time (Hannibal, Wallace, Nero, etc.).  The hero is always bright, hard-working, respectful of his parents, chivalrous to women, and courageous, but not willing to give his life away needlessly.  In the stories of the Christian era, he is usually a believer or he becomes one.  In the pre-Christian era, he is moral and often uncomfortable with the pagan practices of his time (child sacrifice, etc.).

Yes, there have been instances of bigotry or racism, but these are discussed and dealt with, just as we did when discussing Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, or any other older book.  Henty’s British view of the American Civil War is especially interesting.

Hope this helps!
Ginny Youmans, wife of Sergio, mother of Andre (11), Emilio (7), Olivia (5), Cassandra (2) and #5, who is on the way!
Hickman County, Tennessee
Subject: High School Geometry
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999

<Can anyone give me some good ideas for high school geometry?>

We, too, have used Harold Jacobs’ Geometry book.   As Laurie mentioned, it begins with an entire chapter on “The Nature of Deductive Reasoning.”  When a mathematics textbook begins with logic, you can bet that you will find an emphasis on logical thought throughout!  The book is thorough and challenging.  Each lesson is followed by three sets of problems, the third being a logical application of the principles covered in the form of a brain-teaser or puzzle.  At the end of each chapter, a page of summary and review of definitions, postulates, and theorems covered in the chapter is presented.  A short algebra review is also given after each chapter to keep algebraic ‘tools’ sharp in the student’s mind.

As far as helps for the parent-teacher, we did use the teacher’s key (With five to teach, we don’t have time to work all those problems!) to check our daughter’s work.  I don’t know if a Teacher’s Edition is available to aid the parent in presenting concepts.  The material is organized in such an orderly, logical way that our daughter worked through much of the material on her own.  I think Mr. Jacobs’ presentation is clear enough that even with math that is a bit rusty (we had to get out the oil can with a few of our daughter’s  questions), a parent could teach through the introduction to each lesson and give a student enough guidance to work through the problem sets.

An occasional proof written in paragraph form rather than merely using mathematical symbols, has proven to be a useful exercise to help develop verbal expression of logical thought.  If your daughter shines more in language skills than in mathematics, this might allow her to use her strengths to advantage in learning more difficult material.

Hope this is helpful.
LaJuana Decker
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 1999

Regarding the pros & cons of the classical education topic:

Fifteen years ago I attended two seminars on the Principle Approach and America’s Christian History – and am curious that when discussions arise on the study of logic that the works of Montesquieu, Blackwell and Locke, among others are never mentioned.  The reasonings of these men from Biblical principles to application of government & life is excellent and worthy to be studied by students of logic, and for all when learning of America’s history.  It saddens me when I do hear proponents of classical education criticizing the study of our history to the degree that they do when such powerful works based upon God’s principles have so much to offer.  I do believe their study should have a prominent place in a classical education – as the “biblical” and “classical” components are so evidently combined in them.  These writers certainly, themselves, benefited from a classical education, and put it to the best of use in their considerations of  biblical application to government.  Such reasonings to conclusions and application had never been done, and have not been done since as they were in the formation of our country.  Might it be that these works are just not well known in classical circles of study yet?  Or are there criticisms of these works that I am not aware of that would lessen their validity as classical works to study?

Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999

We are listening to Ernle Bradford’s “The Mediterranean”–(he’s the author of The Great Siege).  Wow, this is an exciting and comprehensive history of western civilization and its roots!  The Books-On-Tape catalog which carries the unabridged recording says in their catalog:  “Ernle Bradford is a sailor-historian who cruised the Mediterranean for many years.  He believes that to understand its history one must first understand its geography, and he sees the interplay between east and west across the Mediterranean as the yeast of our culture.” Our family is enjoying the many unknown facts of people and cultures in Bradford’s captivating narrative…We highly recommend it.

And yes, all our children love G.A. Henty!
Sincerely, Victoria and Mark Kukielski
Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999
Subject: trivium in French?

Hi !

I’m from France and in the U.S. for a period of 6 months. I have two children 3 yob and 18 mog, and heard about homeschooling last August. In France, it’s very unusual and I hope to get a lot of information during my stay in the U.S. (Indianapolis, In.). I heard about you through Lucy Shockney. I enjoyed your web site and especially Nathaniel’s work in organizing this site, and his home page –very interesting his point of views and very well written. I’d like to know if there is a written catalog and if you have information about people using the trivium in France or Quebec? Thank you a lot for any information.

Agnes Ohlenbusch
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999
Subject: frustration and failure

Dear Laurie,

I’m afraid writing to you will only frustrate me further, but here it goes.

I’ve always wanted a classical education for my children.  I’ve taught my eldest son to read and to spell use the Writing Road to Reading method and I must say he reads very well.  So, I can pat myself on the back for that!  I had wanted to expand and get into a real education with him.  He is ten years old now.  I have three other children,  …. (8), ….(4) and ….(8 months old).  A… is now learning to read.

I had to jettison N… (the eldest) to the public school system right after the Thanksgiving break.  Even with the abuse that gets hurled at him at the school, he is very happy.

I am dissatisfied with the education he is getting at the school because they appear to be majoring in the minor subjects and minoring in the major subjects.  But the stress in our household has been such between children and parents getting sick and a lack of partnership between my husband and myself that I get weird from the stress of it.  The requirements of the state don’t help much in that way either.  Friends tell me to ignore the state and just do what I believe is necessary. It’s true they don’t follow up on their demands but who is to say that won’t change?

Also, my children are widely spaced enough that the younger ones can’t make head or tails of what the older ones are learning, so I can’t group them together.  Also, I am afraid of damaging my relationships with the younger children by concentrating on the older ones (in fact I’m trying to make amends to my third child).  He’d much rather spend time with his sister then sit for a few minutes of reading with me.  My hope is that N… would be able to come home for school next year but I don’t see how it can be managed.  Any ideas?  If any of this makes sense to you, please reply.
Dear Mary,

I don’t know if I can be of any help or encouragement to you, but I’ll try. Your children are so very young. Ten years old is so young to be put into the unnatural environment of a government school. In your letter you mention some very real concerns you have, but none of those problems will be solved by putting the oldest in school.

Most children who attend a classroom school — private or government, Christian or secular, classical or traditional — are pulled toward their peers. They bond with their peers, and they are drawn away from their parents. The authority of the parents is undermined — subtly and perhaps quite unintentionally, but nevertheless unavoidably. In The Socialization Trap, Rick Boyer says, “Peer socialization breaks down family relationships…. [it] separates kids both from their siblings and their parents through time commitments, interests and emotional bonding.” 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. Parents lose the hearts of their children. If you had asked us in 1985 why we homeschooled our children, we would have responded that we wanted our kids to get a good education. We wanted them to learn Latin and Greek. Today, we would tell you we Homeschool because we don’t want our kids to be socially bonded to their peer group. We want to keep the hearts of our children where they ought to be, with their parents, until it is time for them to marry and to leave home. We parents need the sanctification which comes from teaching our children, and our children need the same from us.

You mentioned that your little one likes school. Many children do like to be around their peers. These are the very children that should especially be kept away from their peers.

I don’t know your situation, but may I make a suggestion? Perhaps you would want to evaluate the discipline in your family. Do your children obey you willingly and cheerfully? Are you satisfied with their obedience? Of course, we will never get perfection, but you know what I mean. Do you have the hearts of your children? Reading between the lines I’m guessing that you are frustrated because things are not going like you would like it to. There are fights and no communication with your husband. The children don’t respond like you would like. You find yourself getting angry over little things. Perhaps you loose your temper. We travel all over the country giving our seminars and staying with literally hundreds of families. I can tell you that you are not alone. Families that may look perfect to you have the same problems everyone else has. Every day I find I fall down and every day I find I must ask the Lord to lift me up.

Your little ones don’t need much formal academics at this point. They just need you and Daddy loving them and each other and saying sorry when you fall. Read to them, read good thick books that you enjoy to all of them at the same time. Read the winter away.

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999
Subject: Poems with principles

Here are two poems by Kipling that teach good principles, inspired me as a student, and should be read and then taught to every school child. This is the sort of thing that gives them the backbone to not submit to pressure in the face of overwhelming odds.

Daniel New

The Dane-Geld
A.D. 980-1016
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say:–
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:–
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:–
“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
Nor matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”


Norman and Saxon
Rudyard Kipling
A.D. 1100

“My son,” said the Norman Baron,
“I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England
that William gave me for my share
When we conquered the Saxon at Hastings,
and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it
I want you to understand this:–
“The Saxon is not like us Normans.
His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious
till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow
with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’
my son, leave the Saxon alone.
“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers,
or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon;
you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the country
to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets,
and, if you are wise, you will yield.
“But first you must master their language,
their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret
when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying;
let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting,
hear ’em out if it takes you all day.
“They’ll drink every hour of the daylight
and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport, not the rabbits, they’re after
(we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers.
That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher
makes the best man-at-arms you can find.
“Appear with your wife and the children
at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops;
be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking,
instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper;
and never you tell ’em a lie
From: Sergio & Ginny Youmans
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999
Subject: Greek pronunciation question

We’re trying to teach our children the Greek alphabet, but neither my husband nor I know how to correctly pronounce sounds of some of the letters–omicron and omega.  We have a copy of your daughter Johannah’s alphabet book, and she writes that omicron sounds like the o in smoke, while omega sounds like the o in arrow.  To us, those are the same sound.  In the book English from the Roots Up it says that omicron sounds like the o in obey, and omega sounds like the o in go.
Again, these are the same sounds for us.  Are we missing something here?  My husband speaks three languages, and I have a degree in linguistics, but I still can’t figure out how to pronounce these letters!  Help!  Can you give us some other examples of each sound?

I will quote from “A Greek Alphabetarion”:

The sound of Omega is partly the same as English “O.” In English, we commonly give “O” these two sounds: the short “o” in “on” and the long “o” in “own.” Greek Omega never has the “short o” sound of “on.” Greek Omega only has the “long o” sound of “own.”  Omicron only has the “long o” sound of  “note.” You will remember that the Greek language gives every vowel two quantities: short and long. However, the Greek vowel named omicron has only one quantity: short. The Greek vowel named omega has only one quantity: long. Our English-trained ears do not notice the difference in quantity between the “o” in “note” and the “o” in “known.” But in Greek we must notice the difference.

As you lengthen the shorter quantity “o” sound in “note,” and glide it toward the consonantal sound of “w,” you will produce the longer quantity “o” sound in “known.”

Short omicron is the sound in “note.” Long omega is the sound in “known.” Omega is the long of omicron, or omicron is the short of omega. Omicron means little “o” and omega means big “o.”
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999
Subject: Hebrew studies for high schoolers & others

Stuart and I, with some close friends, have been making a go at Hebrew, on and off, for a couple years now.  One of our friends had a year of it in college. We’ve tried 2 seminary texts, and have been thoroughly muddled and unhappy.

We’ve now found EKS Publishing, in Berkeley, CA, which produces Hebrew materials for laypeople.  I think I heard about it here in this discussion group. We’re using the First Hebrew Primer, written for adults, and it’s very easy to understand and use, and even fun.  It’s biblical Hebrew (as opposed to prayer book or modern, which mainly indicate different vocabularies learned), and includes translating the entire book of Ruth.  I could definitely recommend it for a High School student.

Also, Behrman House, which the Bluedorns recommend, produces materials for children.  Their interactive primer (teaches how to read and vocab) is advertised as being able to be used “by any child who can read.”  It looks very simple and easy, too.  They also have Modern Hebrew textbooks, which look like high school level.

As an aside, one great supplement to our study has been an interlinear Hebrew- English bible, so you can absorb vocabulary while practicing your reading.  It seems the next best thing to conversing in Hebrew.  We plan to memorize Hebrew scripture verses together with our boys (4 and 6) to help them learn vocabulary until they’re ready to study it… although, I think the older one could start reading it soon.  They both know the alphabet.

We haven’t gotten too far, but thought I’d share what we’ve learned as an encouragement to others.  We do enjoy it, and it’s a thrill to be able to (attempt to) read the Bible in Hebrew.

Stuart and Jennifer Loucks
Vallejo, California
From:”Barbara and Mario Martinez
Subject: Kindergarten
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999

> My daughter is 4 years old and will be 5 in February.  I am currently >teaching her phonics with Play N’ Talk.  I plan to work with her on her >numbers and math enough to have her ready to start Kindergarten in >August of 1999. > I am in contact with some friends in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who >started a Classical Christian School, and they begin with Saxon 1, >Spalding and Five In A Row for Kindergarten.

Dear Ida,

I just came out of teaching Kindergarten. Here are a couple of programs to look at:

One is The Writing Road to Reading  by the Riggs Institute (they have a web site which is highly informative). Also SingNLearn (also on the web) have some great stuff.

Sing N Learn.. get their catalogue, not just the web site. They have great tapes with Bible versus set to song  (they have a wonderful one called “Sing the Word v2”); they have many children’s books on tape.  (Also.. don’t hesitate to find books on tape at your local library. ) They are well produced, by and large, and seem to be reasonably priced.  They also sell something called “Sing, Spell, Read and Write” which many parents have used for kindergarten.

I also used some of the tapes from Audio Memory (also on the web).   The Geography one has some nice songs which teach the countries of the world (an a big map to color!), another one is on the Presidents.. another on States and Capitols.. Addition.. etc.  You can get one at a time, as you get tired of one.. or perhaps if you have another friend with a similar age child, you can swap tapes? None that I have listened to so far have rock.. and I just let the tapes roll while they Painted or  played with Knex or Capsellas or colored or while we did other things (like mush).  It gives the vocal cords a rest, the kids will learn something more than “a tisket a tasket.”

I’ve had more than one person tell me to steer clear of Saxon math before 54. I didn’t listen very well. I should have.  However, if you are inclined to get a solid early math book, I can give a good plug for Math-U-See.  It is effective, and works.  The Mac the Muskrat skip counting tapes are EXCELLENT and worth the $10.00

You might want to consider some McGuffy Readers. I have the 183? version. The early primers are actually better.  The virtue of the later primers, seems to be that they added primers for the upper grades (near as I can tell?).   I found a couple of work books to go with the First Reader, and flash cards to go with the primer.  The picture primer *might* be appropriate for the second part of Kindergarten.. maybe earlier if you child is reading anyway.   Another good approach is The Victory Drill Book.  It starts with the CVC words, and builds a phonics base, and is significantly cheaper than Sing Spell Read and Write ($15.00 +shipping for the book). Scripture is introduced early on, once a child has enough words. It also includes some tips for teaching fluency.  The Josephine Pollard books are nice once you get past the long vowel sounds.. The story of Geo Washington works well right after McGuffy Reader 1.  However, it is always good to know when you are looking about at garage sales, what to look for.but that is probably more for the 6-7 year old set at this point.

Well.. hope this helps. Grace and Peace

From: jubilee canavan
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999

My name is Julie Canavan.  I would like to subscribe to the loop. I have a 5, 3 year old and a 3 month old.  I am determined, with God’s grace, to homeschool our children.  I am so excited about the Trivium. I feel like my whole education was wasted, though, the opportunity to relearn is simply tremendous.

I have read much about classical education and would like to pose a question about anyone’s thoughts on the book, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, by Laura Berquist.  Do you think it has any gaps to fill?  Or would following it provide the guidelines necessary for a complete preparation for university studies?

And, how do you not get bogged down with “keeping up with the Jones'”mentality?  I feel really confident about our choice and direction but, I can’t stop comparing the results with public schooled children.

Thanks, Julie
I would suggest surrounding yourself with people who think like you do. If you surround yourself with people who use the government schools then you will find yourself constantly being tempted to compare your children’s achievements with theirs. If you want to compare things, compare the behavior of your children to the behavior of government schooled children.

Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999
From: Helene Meath

I have a question about diagramming sentences. What is the point and what is the practical value? I have never understood this. I diagrammed in 9th grade for about 10 weeks maybe and that’s it for me. Yet people tell me I’m a good writer. Isn’t that the rationale behind grammar study, to make better writers? Maybe someone that knows the rationale behind diagramming (besides “it’s good discipline for the student”) could post about this. Thanx!
Diagramming is just one method of learning grammar. Another way of learning grammar is the method used by the curriculum Easy Grammar, where the student labels and underlines in different ways the words of the sentences. Another way is by “parsing” sentences which is what they did in Laura Ingles Wilder’s time. Another way is used in Winston Grammar. I personally like diagramming because it is so organized and precise. Diagramming also involves logic. When you diagram you study the logic of the language of the sentence.

There will be no logic loop this week. Right now there are 5 people in this house sprawled out in various positions on various pieces of furniture in various stages of the flu. I am frantically trying to catch up on my email ‘cuz I know I’m next. We have determined that girls complain less than boys when sick. Laurie
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999

The Friesen’s asked about a grammar handbook that included diagramming sentences.  I have liked Louise M. Ebner’s _Exploring Truths_ as a pretty thorough grammar that is appropriate for 6th grade or above.  Scripture is used throughout for the examples and exercises.  Hey, why not think about something worthwhile as you learn the function of a gerund?  There is a companion book _Exploring Truths Through Diagramming_  that gives practice in diagramming through exercises of increasing difficulty. While it is not very long, I think it covers almost everything that may come up in diagramming, and once you have the basics, its easy to provide more practice by just choosing sentences from other texts.

I’ve had these for a few years, so I hope they are still available from AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 37422.  An added bonus is that they were very inexpensive!

Sylvia Hill
Taken from Drums by James Boyd (1925), a book we just finished reading:

The time is about 5 years before the War for Independence. The place, North Carolina. Thirteen-year-old Johnny has been sent from his backwoods home to Dr. Clapton (a Church of England pastor) in the nearest city to be tutored. He had been homeschooled up to that point. In this passage Dr. Clapton is determining where Johnny stands academically.

“Now,” he said, “fetch down your school books and we shall see.”

What Dr. Clapton saw by the end of the morning was this: that Johnny wrote a fair hand and spelled within reason, that he read the easier passages in Caesar’s Commentaries passably but with no pretensions to elegance; and that his efforts to write Latin were uniformly deplorable. In the realm of science he could add, subtract, divide and multiply infallibly if given ample time, but of fractions the less said the better.

“You must learn to cipher, Johnny. It is unfortunate that gentlemen’s sons should employ their time in the commercial branches, and I should never subscribe to a young man’s going a step beyond fractions and decimals, unless, of course, he were to enter his Majesty’s navy, and even there I consider that the mathematics should be left as far as possible to the lower ranks. But with clerks and stewards what they are nowadays, a gentleman must know fractions if he would protect his affairs.”

“Yes, seh. Dadder said I must learn fractions.”

“I have no doubt. A knowledge of ciphering is commonly demanded by the parents of this Province.” His eye wandered. “I have concluded,” he murmured, “that ciphering is one of the unavoidable disadvantages of a new country. Yes.”…

“…as to Latin exercises; that is more serious. When I was a Colleger at Eton the meanest scholar your age could do his fifty lines a day with never a false quantity.”
People often ask if it is “too late” to start the classical approach with their 11 (or 13 or 15 or 17) year old. I always respond that it is never too late. But I would like to mention that in some cases it would be very difficult. If you have, say, a 15 year old who has been raised by the government school, fed television and such like for 3-4 hours a day, seldom been read to and reads only lite literature, and generally not been trained how to think or been trained not to think, then homeschooling with the trivium will be a great challenge for you. But, if the student and the parents are motivated and willing to make changes in their life, then it can be accomplished. A classical education is not just Latin and logic, but a way of life.


Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
Subject: Re:  Sentence diagramming

Carol Friesen asked about a grammar handbook that uses sentence diagramming.  I have found Learning English with the Bible:  A Systematic Approach to Bible-Based English Grammar by Louise M. Ebner (AMG Publishers).  This is a three-volume set (workbook size) consisting of a textbook, an answer guide, and a diagramming guide (which includes an answer guide for the diagrams).  It uses Scripture in the KJV and includes “exploring truths” exercises that require the student to look up additional verses, read them, and explore them further (could be used as essay questions).  It’s meant to be a consumable workbook set, but I’m frugal (and I have at least four more students after this one), so I have my son use a separate sheet of paper for his answers.

Ginny Swarr Youmans
Subject: Advice needed
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999

I’d like everyone’s advice for a friend who is planning on removing her son from public schools and homeschooling him.  This is a major step for this woman as she is a single mother.  She is planning on quitting her job and starting to drive a school bus so that she can be home with her son.

Here is her situation:

He is currently reading below grade level (he is in the 5th grade) but is ineligible for remedial reading.  Even though his teacher believes that he is in need of assistance, the child scored too high on the state reading exam to qualify for the assistance program.  His teacher does not expect to promote him to the 6th grade next year.  The child is the “class clown”.

Can anyone recommend any books or personal experience that would help my friend with this problem?  I’m passing any advice I receive on to her.  She doesn’t have a computer.

Thank you,
Debbie Strittmatter
Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999

I am Barbara Smith of Palmerston North, New Zealand.  My husband, Craig is National Director of Christian Home Schoolers of New Zealand and The Home Education Foundation of New Zealand.  Craig runs an email discussion group for all home educators, and last week began a discussion group just for Christian Home Educators,

I would like to join a Classical Christian Home Educators discussion group in the USA where Classical Christian Home Educating has been going for longer.  All the people I know in New Zealand who are using the Classical Home Education approach have not been doing it for more than a year.  The trivium is a new concept to most people in New Zealand. Those who are using the Classical approach are adding bits (mainly Latin, another living language and more indepth history) to what they have already been doing.  Although some people had read “The Lost Tools of Learning” noone did anything about it until the end of 1997/beginning of 1998 when we got the Sept/Oct 87 Teaching Home on Classical Education.  We then began surfing the internet and reading as much as we could.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Barbara Smith
Subject: getting back into Artes Latinae
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999

Dear Harvey and Laurie,

I wonder if you would have any suggestions for us concerning getting back into studying Latin using Artes Latinae.  Our homeschool always seems to have major interruptions.  In the past two years we have had times where we have had to set aside homeschooling for 2 months or more.  When we stop the Artes Latinae program for even a month it is so hard to get back into it again.  One time about two years ago, my son and I went way back in units and restudied everything.  Then after my daughter was born I took off two months.  When we tried to get back into Artes Latinae again it looked like we would have to go way back again.  This is discouraging for my now 13 year old son who loved Latin at first.  We have dropped Latin now for almost a year because it is so discouraging to have to go back so far in review.  The program doesn’t seem to have any way to quickly review what you are rusty on.  I have considered changing programs but can’t seem to use any other program with the ease we could Artes Latinae when we were first regularly using it.  I have a baby and other young children and liked Artes Latinae because I didn’t really have to prepare ahead to teach the lessons.  The big problem, though, is what I have mentioned.  How to get going again after having stopped it for a long time.  Any suggestions?  Did you ever have times when you discontinued studying for a while like I described?  If so, what did you do?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Janet Dodds
All foreign languages need to be studied on a regular basis–at least 4 times a week and it’s best not to take the whole summer off. If you stop for any length of time it is perfectly normal to feel lost and need to go back and review. It happens to everyone. That’s the nature of language study. Don’t let it discourage you, though. Just go back and review. We’re not interested in producing Ph.D Latin scholars, so don’t think “I’ve got to get through such and such amount of material.” Just everyday study, little by little is what we want. We use language study to develop the mind, just like math. Perhaps the boy could just study Latin by himself, without you. But if you do that you should get the tests to check his progress. My daughter Helena didn’t study Latin last year and when she started again this year she had to nearly start over.
We are still in the midst of the influenza here. Twelve days of fever is too much for the body of this old lady. Johannah has pneumonia, but is doing better today. Our family would appreciate your prayers.
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999
Subject: Re: Latin and other languages

The following letter came in on our New Zealand discussion group.  Can anyone help us?  Thanks, Barbara.

Thanx so much, Barbara. When my 11 y/o daughter saw me contemplating the list she said “Latin”! I don’t want to learn that-NO ONE speaks that anymore!! I want to speak Mandarin, Japanese, Korean ,”Malaysian” whatever….!” She is passionate about all things Chinese. We have several Taiwanese friends and she has taught herself a lot of Mandarin, enough to be able to converse simply with their children. So much for a classical education (which I would like her to pursue). What do you think about pushing Latin anyway? I learnt Latin and French at high school and have found Latin very useful in so many ways with English language, medical studies etc, but how helpful do you think it will be for someone so set on the East? Comments would be welcome!
A classical education isn’t just Latin. It’s a way of life. I would let her pursue the Chinese languages. Perhaps you will find she has an aptitude for languages and will want to study Latin or Greek later.

Managers of Their Homes
A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homes-School Families by Steven and Teri Maxwell

When I asked Teri why they were writing this book she said, “our goal?is to help free mothers from any burden of discouragement they carry when they can’t keep up with the demands on their time.” Well, they have reached their goal!

For our family a schedule is mandatory in order to accomplish anything. This is a necessity for my sanity! With no schedule to follow, the days just melt away with me simply trying to mop us the messes and have some semblance of dinner ready before daddy gets home.

By following our own families custom schedule we have a vision for how it is possible to accomplish certain things that we need to each day. Furthermore, with our schedule we are able to successfully finish MORE than ever before, so it is not just our basic needs that we finish. With a plan we are able enjoy some of the before only dreamt of things, like quilting and putting together this publication!

The beauty of this system has been the ease of setting it up. Someone who has never worked out a schedule before will find it so easy with this that they will wonder what all the fuss over scheduling drudgery is about. You are lead through it so gently and in such small, easy to swallow steps (just the way we should train our children!!!) that it just seemed to effortlessly come together. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking that this is only for the inexperienced “scheduler.” I have put together many schedules over the years. Yet with this book and kit I was astonished at how effortless it was. If I became a little overwhelmed I put it away for a while. With this it was fun – kind of like one big puzzle.

The book is a treasure chest of “golden” ideas. If you haven’t already been convicted and convinced about your families need for a schedule the first chapter will really speak to you. If, on the other hand, you are just having trouble working your schedule out, the chapter on “Challenges” will be a tremendous boost. This chapter reminds me of the charts that come with appliances. “If your dryer is…try this.”

Step by step instructions and an interactive scheduling kit for making your own personalized family schedule that includes all the family members come packaged together. I have read more organizational books than you can shake a stick at as my Great Grandma would say. This one is tailor made for homeschoolers and will be invaluable to you!

Review by Lorrie Flem editor of TEACH

Used with permission. TEACH (“To Encourage And Challenge Homeschoolers”) is a 20 page quarterly publication  full of encouragement and practical advice for educators. To receive a free email sample, contact us at Send $2 for a print sample to: 18016 West Spring Lake Drive, Renton  WA  98058
Here is a excerpt from Marilyn Howshall’s newsletter Lifestyle of Learning Newsletter, April, 1997, Box 1750, Eatonville, WA 98328:

Many questions I receive have to do with how to get rid of boredom and how to develop self-motivation in children. The common complaint is that the child is not interested in learning or pursuing his own education and in some cases even in developing his own interests. To combat this condition, the parent’s focus must shift away from the academic needs of the child and over to the needs of his heart and character. For a season perhaps you will need to set a rule in the home for how free time is spent in the afternoons. The purpose for this approximately three hour block of time (at least four days a week) will be to help the child overcome laziness of mind and action and thus, developing self-motivation in him which will eventually eliminate the boredom.

Begin by rereading the chapter in Wisdom’s Way of Learning which presents the Seven Natural Vital Signs of the Learning Process. Then determine your block of time and help your child list all the possible activities that can be pursued during that time. The activities must be acceptable to you.

Select several activities that you know he could eventually like or he already likes to do and make him choose among them. They must be valuable activities that could lead to productivity, service, or study. He does not have to spend the whole three hours on one activity or interest but he must stay within his predetermined list for several months. This will develop self-motivation in him as he will know he gets to choose and may begin to suggest other acceptable interests to include on his list. This is what you want to see because he will actually be evaluating the worth of activities at that point.

Then help him each day to develop the pattern of choosing among his list of activities. In so doing he is learning how to make wise decisions for how his time is spent. Remember that this block of time must be his free time and the activities on the list should not include your general academic requirements. This is also not a time for friends, exercise, chores, or anything else that regularly occurs throughout the day.

Help your child to understand why you are doing this by explaining that boredom is a condition that developed in his soul and that it is not the way God intends him to be. God has a plan for his life, and pursuing the development of interests will lead him to discovering what that will include. Talk with him of the need to overcome all fleshly tendencies and to become a good steward over the time given to him. Pray with him…and in any case appeal to his heart in all your communication with him. Your goal is to build his character and develop in him a sense of purpose. His true character will show up in his choices, so this is why you want to focus on his free time. As he begins to enjoy this time everyday and really pour himself into his activities you will notice self-initiation and self-motivation develop which in turn will develop in him short-term vision for many aspects of his education.
Authors, Authors: A Chronological annotated bibliography of authors and literary works of western literature from ancient times through 1798 compiled by Patricia Anne Mc Farlane, 17114 Barcelona Drive, Friendswood, TX 77546 (713-482-0866)

My sister who is expecting her fifth child at the end of March is currently homeschooling her oldest two daughters, grades 1 and 3. She is knowledgeable in the classical approach, tries to use it herself, and also has helped to start a classical school that meets twice a week with paid teachers. The philosophy of the school is patterned after George Grant’s model whereby parents still homeschool the majority of the time-the children simply meet for the “extras” 2 afternoons a week.

Her dilemma is that she fears her oldest especially is not getting “enough” at home. The interruptions of the younger two are a major distraction. She is contemplating sending the oldest three to her church’s very popular day school next year-(she has in fact received much heat over the last three years for homeschooling-she has little support for it in her church in Jackson, MS, since the church has a school.) The church is affluent by and large and the conventional wisdom among young mothers there is to send the children to school as early as possible so that they, the mothers, can socialize, do volunteer work, etc. My sister is swimming upstream in that environment. She used to be one of them until she read Mary Pride’s THE WAY HOME.

Yesterday she called me to ask my advice about school enrollment-whether or not to do it.

I told her I understand her dilemma and her concerns about her childrens’ education and I strongly encouraged her to reconsider keeping her children home. Her oldest likes being homeschooled, but she is not “Speedy Gonzales” which is one of my sis’s concerns. Janie, my sis, thinks maybe another teacher would be able to “get more out of her” than she can. I reminded Janie of the pitfalls of even a “good” Christian school-peer dependence being the biggest, along with hours away from home, and then homework on top of that. I reminded her that there are distractions in any classroom. I exhorted her to be more consistent with discipline, and to relax more about school. I told her that if she is spending time with her children in the scriptures each day, reading aloud to them and having them read to her, having them narrate back the story, maybe learning their math facts, etc, and copying some good writing here and there, that she really has nothing to worry about for at least 3 more years. I encouraged her to take more walks with her children so that the youngest one, aged 11/2, can get the wiggles out. She is doing a lot “right”. Her children are exposed to great literature daily. The classes they take at their “school” are excellent.

She didn’t sound convinced at the end of our conversation. I think she is really worried that they aren’t doing as much as are their cohorts at the day school. I think she wants a break. She really does so much of this alone. (Her husband, who is very supportive of homeschooling and the classical approach, but who must work long hours and travel internationally for the family business, can’t help as much as he’d like.) I’ve even urged her to change churches-there are others in town with more support for her, but she and her husband like some of the things their big church has to offer. Finally, I told her to love her children. I told her what you said about having their hearts. She knows the truth. Is there anything more you would add to what I’ve told her?

Thanks a bunch. Julie Wilcox
Dear Julie,
I think you have covered everything with your sister. In the end we have to just let go. When we surround ourselves with people who think differently than we do, and we experience very little support for our own position, then, in a moment of weakness (like when you are expecting a baby and feeling overwhelmed) we are tempted to give up and go the easy route (private school). It’s called socialization and peer influence, and I’m not talking about the children here. We as adults are just as influenced by the opinions of our peers as we know our children to be. We as adults want to “fit in.” That’s why it’s very important to properly “socialize” ourselves and avoid the influence of those who are intent on persuading us to go a route we ought not to. If you are one of those who is easily influenced by people and who likes to please people, then you ought to be careful who you surround yourself with. We all try to be careful who our children play with. We don’t want our children constantly surrounded with children who have different values, goals, and beliefs than we do. Of course, you know I’m not saying that we must never associate with those who believe differently than we do. That would be impossible and absurd. But if you attend a church where you get no support for homeschooling, if you live near relatives who only tear you down, if your friends and neighbors don’t homeschool, then it is no wonder that you will start to doubt the value of homeschooling. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down.

Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999
Subject: Book reviews

I am writing from Bethlehem Books, a publishing company dedicated to reprinting quality children’s literature. It is our opinion that children’s literature really began to hit its stride in the early 1900’s. I see that you have a book review section on your web page, concentrating on well written exciting stories. I was wondering if you’ve ever seen a copy our 1904 classic “The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow.” This heroic saga was written by historian Allen French in the style of the Icelandic Sagas, and is one of the best adventure books we have ever read. It was the first of the thirty books we’ve published, and probably is still our finest.  You can find more information at Bethlehem Books. Homeschoolers ourselves for fifteen years, we’ve always admired the trivium approach, and attempted to implement it.

Thanks for your time,

Peter Sharpe
Bethlehem Books
15605 County Road 15
Minto ND 58261
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999
From: “john d. langdon”
Subject: HAM RADIO

Hello Harvey and Laurie,

We received the latest issue of the Teaching The Trivium and your very first article; “Why Classical School At Home?” was one of the finest to date.  I thank you for the valuable insights.  I have two questions for you; #1.  How may I, a dad, and my sons become licensed Ham Operators?
a.  Where may I obtain good information on Morse code?
b.  Are you aware of Ham Radio “kits” which we may build?
c.  In short, would you be willing to point out to us the most thorough means by which we may become licensed operators for the Ham Radio?

#2.  Concerning Francis Turretin’s Elenctic Theology, volumes 1, 2, & 3;
a.  In one of his topics concerning “Free Will of Man”, he gives a Greek word, for “Free Will of Man” that was coined in Alexandria. Would you please give me more information on this topic along with the Greek word that Francis Turretin was speaking of?  This will aid us much in our studies in theology.

I thank you for your time and any information you will provide.


Doug and Leslie
Radio Shack carries a very good tape set for learning Morse Code. That’s what we used and recommend. I would also find some local ham radio operators. Just ask around in your community to see who are the local “hams.” These people are always very helpful in finding out where the licensing tests are given and all kinds of other information. They will also help you find a good radio. I don’t know anything about building a radio, but I’m sure you can find information on that in one of the many ham radio catalogs. Your local hams will lead you to these. Here are a couple addresses: Amateur Radio Catalog, 5710 West Good Hope Road, Milwaukee, WI 53223 and QST (a ham radio magazine), 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111. Also, there are a couple of ham radio newsgroups that are very helpful. Laurie

Francis Turretin’s Elenctic Theology is a valuable work in theology. It is the basis for virtually all of the English theologies up until modern times. He was a Reformed theologian. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to afford buying it. So I can’t answer your question. Perhaps someone on this list could help.

Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999
From: James A Willcox

Dear Bluedorns:

Recently, we received your most recent issue of TTT.  It was very insightful and timely.  We do have a few questions regarding the method of “delayed math”.  We have been studying the classical method for the past year.  When we were introduced to the Triv., we felt as if we “had found the answer” and indeed we have!

However, as you are well aware, your methods differ from that of Doug Wilson of Logos School and the Dettweilers (spelling?) of Veritas.  They believe that the time is ripe during the grammar stage for the “filling of facts” and encourage the memorization of many things.  They begin Latin in the third grade and start with Saxon 1 in Kindergarten.

This is very different from what you suggest for the grammar stage regarding math and Latin.  In fact. many other classical/Trivium catalogs have curriculum available on every subject, starting at the first grade.

Does a child really learn all that he has to ( or would have struggled to learn ) in the 5 or 6 years previously–in one month or so? If so, how do you present this material  to the child of ten, when you have the text for a 5th grader??  What do you all use to ensure that your ten year old is prepared enough to process into Saxon 54 and will not struggle with the concepts presented there?

What is your opinion on starting Latin in third grade?  What disadvantage or advantages can you see?

There is no doubt that if one adopted the idea that we should simply teach our children to have servant’s hearts, to read, gather information for nature notebooks, and do handicrafts until age 10…there would be more time in our day to spend on things that mattered.  (I bet my house would get cleaned more often, too!) 😉

Thank you in advance for your response,

James and Dawn of Utah
I will try to describe the similarities and differences, as I see it, between our application of the Trivium and the application of the Trivium of others.

Similarities (these are just 2 of the similarities):
1. Memorization is important and should be started when the child is young–maybe 2 or 3–and continued on throughout life (it’s good for us old folks, too). Time should be spent everyday reciting memory work. Memorization builds and strengthens the mind. We might differ from others on WHAT should be memorized. We suggest having the child memorize passages of literature such as the Bible, essays, fiction, speeches or poetry. Perhaps the child could memorize passages of the Bible in Greek or Latin, and the same passages in English, in order to give them a feel for those languages. Memorizing passages of literature prepares the child for the study of formal grammar at age 10. He gets a feel for the way sentences are put together and builds his vocabulary. It also prepares the child to be a good writer. What goes into a child’s head as a little one will come out later as he writes.

Others would say the time should be spent memorizing facts–dates, Latin verb endings, geographical data, etc. I would just like to make two points. 1)There is only so much time in the day, so we as the parent need to determine what is the best use of that time; and 2)The beauty of homeschooling is that you as the parent (not a newly-graduated-from-college young person teaching in a private or government school) are in charge of deciding what the child should be memorizing. If it is important to you that the child have all the states and capitals memorized by age 10 then by all means do it. I would suggest that both parents sit down and write out a list of those things they think are important for their children to memorize adding to this list as different ideas come and go.

Because of the way the brain is structured, memorizing passages in the language would be much more effective than memorizing deductive paradigms in the language. The time for formal grammar — paradigms and such — is at age ten or after. Jane Healy goes into a detailed explanation of the difficulties which arise from stuffing formal grammar into a head at too early of an age.

Let me say one thing concerning the memorization of dates. We would recommend your family make a time line. Get a very long piece of computer paper, draw a line down the middle, mark if off in 50 year or so increments, tape it to your living room wall and leave it there for the next 20 years. Every time you read something historical mark it on your time line. The children could even illustrate the time line. Some put their time lines in 3 ring binders. That works well also. A time line, especially if it is in full view of the children all the time, gives them a continual view of the continuity of history. This will make it easier for you to memorize dates, if that is important to you. But most importantly, it gives the child an idea of what happened when, in relationship to other events. Hey, Daddy was in college when they landed a man on the moon!

2. Reading aloud is important. We recommend at least 2 hours a day. My guess, but I don’t know, is that others recommend about the same, although if you have your children in a private school it might be hard to work in 2 hours a day.

1. Math — Others recommend starting the study of formal math at age 5 (kindergarten) using a first grade math book. We would recommend starting formal math at age 10, starting with a 6th grade math book. See our recent article in volume 6 of TTT for more of a discussion on this subject. By age 10, the child will have informally, either with your help or often without it, learned a great deal of math. Now, if the child lives in a home where neither parent is around much, where the child is watching TV or videos much of the day and not given time to explore and investigate the world around him, and where the love of learning is never encouraged, then that child will never be able to start a 6th grade math book at age 10. But my guess is that most homeschooling families interested in pursuing the classical approach will not have homes like this.

Here are some examples of how children can learn math informally:

playing games such as Rummikub, chess, checkers, cards games, dominoes, jacks, pick-up-sticks, hopscotch playing store or restaurant with brothers and sisters cooking helping Dad around the house and learning the measurement system children learn counting and numbers in all kinds of ways while doing chores (setting the table, etc.) handling money playing with cuisennaire rods observations while driving in a car (mileage signs) baseball statistics

This concept of waiting till age 10 to begin the study of formal mathematics, and then using a 6th grade math book to start, is one that is very controversial. When we start talking about it in our seminar it is always interesting to watch the reaction of the audience. Eyes start to stare, jaws sag in some, some start to smile and really light up, some shake their heads and roll the eyes. But, you know, this idea is not something original with us. We didn’t think it up. We read about it first in the writings of Raymond Moore. When I first read about this concept of delayed academics (in 1978 or so), I disregarded it as quackery. After all, our oldest child Nathaniel was quite smart, not a genius exactly, of course you know, but bright. I’m saying this facetiously, because he was, and is, just an average kid, but when a person is young and his children are little, he tends to have elevated views of the intellegence of his children. Anyway, we were sure we could get Nathaniel through all the grades by the time he was 13. So we began with math (and the other academics) at age 4 and a half. It is through our own experiences with our five children, our reading of the research done by the Moores, our own research (see Volume 6 of TTT for a history of the teaching of math), and the experiences of many others who have communicated with us that we have come to the conclusions that we have.

You expressed concern that perhaps a 10 year old would not be ready to start in Saxon 65 if he has done no previous formal math. All I can say is that, from my own experience and from the experience of many others, an average 10 year old raised in a nurturing home is perfectly capable of jumping into Saxon 65 at age 10. Other 6th grade math books would probably be just as good, but I only have experience with Saxon.

2. English grammar — Others recommend starting the formal study of English grammar in the first grade (age 6). We would recommend starting at age 10 (grade 5). Our reasoning is that grammar is an abstract concept, like math, and is best left till the child is able to reason abstractly, around age 10. See our article on math in Volume 6 of TTT. Memorization and narration and reading aloud and copywork before age 10 will prepare your child for the study of formal grammar at age 10.

Different parts of the brain handle the language itself, and the grammatical analysis of the language. The part which handles the language is developed enough by age four or so. He learns the language inductively. He knows the subject comes before the verb, and the direct object afterward, even though he has no way of conceiving what a subject, a verb, and a direct object are. He learns vocabulary and style without any way of conceiving what a noun, verb, or preposition is, or what iambic pentameter is. He just enjoys language. The part of the brain which handles the formal grammar is developed by age ten or so. If you try to teach formal grammar too early, you will put the information in odd places of the brain and it is more difficult for the brain to assimilate and use.

3. Latin — Others would recommend starting the study of Latin in the third grade (age 8). The children would be memorizing vocabulary, case endings, verb endings, and simple translation at this age. In grade 4 the student would begin the study of Latin grammar. We would recommend the study of Latin grammar begin at age 10 (grade 5). If desired the book English From the Roots Up could be studied before age 10, but it is certainly not necessary. As mentioned above, we see some value in having the young child (before age 10) memorize passages of the Bible in Latin or Greek.

4. Probably the biggest difference is that we believe the child’s place is in the home, not in a classroom situation.

<many other classical/Trivium catalogs have curriculum available on every subject, starting at the first grade>

You are correct here. For example, some Trivium catalogs sell the the Shurley grammar, to be used starting at grade one. I am sure the Shurley grammar is a fine grammar, but it is certainly not the only English grammar curriculum that can be used by a family pursuing the classical approach. There are many wonderful grammar curricula out there. We have, for the past 10 years, used Noah Webster’s Spelling Book to teach English grammar. It’s not a grammar textbook per se, but can be used to teach English grammar, although if you are unfamiliar with English grammar yourself it would involve some work for you. Websters is not for the person who wants everything all laid out workbook style. I like Websters because it is inexpensive ($8), nonconsumable, good for teaching spelling and vocabulary, and his sentences are beautiful. But Noah Webster’s Spelling Book is not the only good book for teaching English grammar. There are others that will do the job just as well.

Another example is the teaching of reading. One catalog seems to say that Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is what you need to buy to teach reading if you want to follow the classical approach. Actually, there are numerous good intensive phonics programs available to families who want to pursue the classical approach. I am a little disappointed in one thing, though. All of the phonics programs have gotten quite expensive. The teaching of reading doesn’t have to be expensive.

Another example is literature. One catalog recommends you purchase for your 1st grade student (from them) the book Corduroy. Not 2nd grade nor kindergarten, but 1st grade. I love the book Corduroy. I probably read it 15,000 times to my kids. It’s in every library, and you might be able to find it in a used book store. Unfortunately, many families just beginning to homeschool will see that Corduroy is recommended for the 1st grade and think that, yes, they must read Corduroy in only the first grade, along with all the other specific books recommended for the 1st grade, and if they don’t read Corduroy in the first grade then they are “behind.” It puts an unnecessary burden on homeschooling families. Why not recommend instead that Corduroy be read sometime (and many times) between the ages of 2 and 12? One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we are not bound by grade levels and graded reading lists and required subjects and books such as What Every Second Grader Should Know. Grade levels and graded reading lists and such are for private and public classroom situations where the teacher must gear his teaching to the average student in his classroom of 25 students. We as homeschooling families are not bound by those types of things.

The one Trivium catalog I have looked at is very valuable for its lists of recommended reading for history. I suggest disregarding the grade levels, though. Good history books are becoming harder to find in libraries so you might want to purchase some of these history resources. It’s the same with science books.

Let me go over very briefly the 10 things we recommend for children before age 10 (these are not listed in order of importance):
1. Teach reading (intensive phonics) and handwriting (copywork).
2. Teach obedience.
3. Memorization.
4. Work and Service.
5. Read aloud at least 2 hours a day (history/geography, science, literature).
6. Arts (includes music appreciation).
7. Family worship and Bible study.
8. Field trips and library research.
9. Narration.
10. Plenty of time for play and exploration.
Harvey and Laurie
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999

Dear Bluedorns,

We met you at a seminar in North Platte, NE about three years ago when your children had chickenpox.  We have been home schooling for 14 years  and have 11 children ( Aimee-19, Kim-18, Jim-16, Robert-14, Christina-13, Deborah-11, John-10, Daniel-8, Steven-5, Melissa-4, and Lee-2). We have been worshipping at home for the last 3 years as there are no reformed churches within an hour or so of our home (probably more like 5 hours away).How can we find other reformed families to home church with ?  We have been trying to get transferred  anywhere south/east of Nebraska since moving here 4 years ago.  Our desired location is southeastern Alabama.  Have you taught any seminars there?

Now my trivium question:

I’m always thrilled by reading a description of the grammar phase. For example,”In science he learns the names and classifications of plants, animals, minerals, etc. and makes collections of specimens.”  What is a resource for teaching this, as this teacher doesn’t know the classifications herself? I need something that is progressive and orderly .  I have various collections of specimens and flashcards of animals with scientific names but it all gets stuffed to the back of the shelves because I can’t come up with a way to start our study or a way to know that we have accomplished  our objective(?).  My approach has been very hit or miss, so I’m afraid the children’s learning in the area of science is hit or miss also. I really want to improve this area of our home school and am open to any and all suggestions, or  stories of your experiences  teaching science with the Trivium.

Thanks for your help,
Cherry Messer
I love science and wish our younger children were as interested in it as I am. Nathaniel, our oldest, was always ready to study science. When he was 13 (10 years ago) I read in the newspaper about a science fair to be held in two weeks at the local mall. It was open to all students in the area, even homeschooled students. We decided to try to come up with some projects to enter into this fair. Since Nathan was interested in model rockets he decided to do an experiment on how high a rocket would fly with different weights in its payload. He built some kind of tool that would measure the height of the rocket using angles and geometry. His project was very simple. His project write-up and display were very simple. And he won first place over all the other government school 8th graders–there must have been about 20 other kids. Johannah’s project was something about making bread using different ingredients. She got 3rd place. Their projects were so simple that we were quite surprised that they won. I think it was the simplicity, though thoroughness, that impressed the judges. So every year for the next 5 years Nathaniel and sometimes Johannah or Hans entered a science fair. Nathaniel won 1st place each year. Am I bragging too much? Forgive me. But it was so much fun. We loved going to the libraries researching the different projects. It was always a challenge to think up the different topics for projects. One year he made wine under pressure (simulating pre-flood days). Another year he grew plants under some kind of electromagnet. That was the year he won 3rd place over all the high school students in the Quad Cities, a very large area. Our experience has been that homeschooled students most ofter do well at these science fairs. The judges like original ideas and a thorough understanding of the topic. Some science fairs will allow students to display projects that are more like demonstrations (how a volcano works) or collections (the different kinds of insects found in my yard) in place of a real science experimen hypothesis, proceedure, data, and conclusions. Demonstrations and collections are good beginning projects for a student in the grammar stage (ages 8-12), while students in the logic or rhetoric stages should be doing real science experiments. There are also science contests that homeschooling students in the logic and rhetoric stages can participate in (see our Trivium Resource Packet for a list of contests).

Concerning classifications, one year we put together a notebook of the classifications of plants and animals. The notebook was divided into the 5 kingdoms. Not all are agreed on the exact number of kingdoms, but the 5-kingdom system is increasingly being accepted as the best. We use the Bob Jones Biology book for our information. Each kingdom was divided into phyla, each phylum was divided into classes, etc. You might want to draw out a chart of the system before you start your notebook, in order to get an idea of the scheme of things.

The 5 kingdoms are:
Monera–bacteria and blue-green algae Protista–protozoans, algae (except blue-green) Fungi–mushrooms, molds, yeasts Plantae–trees, ferns, flowers, grain Animalia–worms, sponges, insects, vertebrates

In our travels we once stayed with a family that was really into collecting things. Their boys had large collections of snakes, lizards, spiders and rocks, all very neatly organized and contained in boxes and labeled. It was a wonder to behold. I would suggest that you discuss with your children what they would like to start studying and collecting first. Rocks is a good thing to start with. Start studying rocks using books at the library. Talk to people who make rock collecting a hobby and find out how they organize their specimens and where they obtain them. Use newsgroups and mailing lists on the internet to do your research. See our article in Practical Homeschooling on how to use the internet to do research.
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years – by Rachel Field

My daughter (11 1/2) has read and reread Hitty.  It is one of her favorite books, and she has summarized the tale for us many times.  We have given many copies away of it as gifts.  I have not read the book myself to comment on, but did read Field’s Calico Bush – which was another of Kelly’s favorites, and it was excellent.  Is there a specific question about the book?  If so, I could have my daughter address it.

Karen Miller
Mother of 5 – almost 6
San Mateo, Calif
Hitty is one of our most favorite books also. Another book by Rachel Field that we especially enjoyed is Hepatica Hawks. It’s about a girl who works for a circus.

Does anyone know anything about the book Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Read?
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999
Subject: classical books
From: James A Willcox

As previously stated, we have been asked to give a workshop on the Trivium at our state convention. We have some questions that we would relish the opportunity to ask your opinion on.

We are trying to anticipate some of the questions that we are going to be asked regarding the Trivium after we present our workshop.  We are quite sure that someone is going to ask a question regarding literature:  “Of what useful purpose is it to read things to your children (or let them read to themselves) books that are not Christian in nature or overtly Christian??  Why let your children read books that are not written by non-Christians?”

We know homeschoolers who do not read ANYTHING that is not by a Christian author and even so, reject many books if they appear to have too much “conflict or evil”.  This would include, but not be limited to: the Narnia Chronicles, The Hobbit Series, George MacDonald, Dickens, etc.

We want to be very sensitive to this.  Just a short while ago, I (Dawn) did not have the thoughts I do now.  My husband is a self taught learner. He has always read “classic” books.  He created an appetite within himself to crave good literature.  I, on the other hand had never read any of the books he has read.
Now, I devour them.  I spend time reading things that I was never taught to read when I was younger. Our seven year old, who is a vivacious reader, said to me, “Mama, have you ever read Leo Tolstoy’s stories for children?  My answer was that I had not. “Oh Mama!  They are lovely.  You must read them after me!”
Oh brother!  Spoken only as a child can! I thought that you would like this…….guess what I did before I stayed home with my kids???  I taught public school!!!!

So, what is to be said about Silas Marner (family conflict, lying, children out of wedlock), Jane Eyre (lying, insanity, passion, drunkenness), The Brothers Karamazov (murder, deceit, rage, degrades religion), any of the Narnia books (witch, magic, fantasy, unicorns, satyrs, etc.), or A Christmas Carol (ghosts, magic, death, scary atmosphere)?

“What benefit or value is there in letting your family read these books or books like them?”

With highest regards and rich blessings to you, James and Dawn in Utah
This is a very good question and needs to be addressed. The first time this question was asked of me was several year ago at a homeschool convention in Houston, Texas. A woman was looking over our Hand That Rocks the Cradle (the list of books we have read and recommend) and wondered why we recommend the book Johnny Tremain since it is a book about war.

I do know that some books we read and approved of and enjoyed 15 years ago we would not necessarily approve of today. Take for example the Jeremy books (by Hugh Walepole). We read them several years ago and I remember loving them. I recently reread one of them and couldn’t believe I ever liked it. Jeremy, the main character, is quite disrespectful of his parents, and what is worse, his disrespectfulness is approved of by the author. In other words, if the boy showed disrespect and was punished for it and this conflict was resolved in the book, then that would be OK. But in this story, he showed disrespect and the author just allowed that to be a part of Jeremy’s character without showing that it was wrong. Fifteen years ago I didn’t see that problem. Today I see the problem very clearly.
We took the books off of our list.

Another option is to read the book very critically, pointing out the problems and faults, and analyzing the author’s philosophy. In other words, use it as an example to show the children what to keep their eyes open for. Of course, you should never read anything uncritically, but you also don’t want to spend all of your time criticizing.

It’s not an either/or question. Every parent has to make these judgement calls for their own family, and we can’t fault families who choose not to read some literature.

It must be pointed out, however, that all of those bad things which you mentioned are also in the Bible. We skip some sections when reading the Bible to smaller children. When they’re older, they can learn discernment like the rest of us.

We, on occasion, read theological authors with whom we disagree. Obviously, we read very critically, and they often end up being much more profitable than author’s with whom we agree — precisely because they make us think. But we would not want a steady diet of the stuff.

Now if you can read theological authors with which you disagree, then it is not that great a stretch to read other authors with which you disagree. However, novels are specifically written to infuse readers with the subtle philosophies of their authors. So caution is in order.

What about the books by Charles Dickens? We very much love Dickens. But Charles Dickens was an immoral man. He deserted his wife of many years, a wife who bore him several children. In fact, it is sad to say that many of the great fiction writers were immoral. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took cocaine. These things have to affect the literature that they wrote. Do not make a steady diet of one author. Read critically. Don’t live for entertainment.

These are just some of our thoughts on this issue. We would like to hear what others think.
Harvey and Laurie

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: “Dr. Phillip and Cynthia Dennis”
Subject: Christian schooling versus homeschooling

Dear Bluedorns,

This topic might not be a comfortable one for discussion in your Trivium newsletter, but I would like to ask you, even if privately, whether you would care to comment on this statement below.  And no offense will be taken if you do not.

I am asking because we  have a family with very young children (boys, 6 and 3) in our home church, and this family is trying to decide what to do educationally with their older son who will be in “kindergarten” next year.

Honestly, when our sons were growing up, there was no real choice in the matter — we had to homeschool as there just were no really decent Christian schools around, let alone Classical Christian Schools.

We would like to give good scripturally sound advice to this family in our home assembly and would value your thoughts on this topic.  And I must admit that I do tend to believe that homeschooling is favored above a Christian school setting, even a classical one, though I am not sure I could defend that belief scripturally, and so perhaps I must give it up.

Statement by someone on the christian-classical egroup from yesterday: >> Neither Christian schooling nor homeschooling require any defense. And neither is educationally or ethically superior to the other; it’s a matter of what your goals are and where your tastes lie.<<

Sincerely, in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Cindi Dennis in Thousand Oaks, CA
Here is a letter taken from a christian-classical egroup:

Dr. and Mrs. Dennis:

I’ll will predicate my comments with the disclaimer that each family chooses the educational method for its children according to those things it considers important.  Whether it is a high degree of protection, or a high standard of academics, a more rounded sphere of social interaction with other children, sports, etc….the family will gravitate toward the model that best affords it to accomplish its stated or unstated desires.  Because we all stand before the Lord giving account for what we do, each family must obey the commandment to train up the children in the fear of the Lord in the best way it knows how.  Hopefully we all agree that state schools are not an alternative.

I was the one that made the statement that homeschooling is disrupting to the home, and that that was the reason we chose to go the traditional school route.  Please believe me when I tell you that I was not trying to insult anyone. In answer to your request, I will expound.

It’s a matter of time and resources.  A father and a mother can not accomplish the same level of academics with their children without it affecting the management of the home, the relationship between the husband and wife, the kids’ education or the view of the husband in the arrangement.  Something has to give, the more children you have to care for at home, the more one of these areas will be sacrificed.  Again, it’s simply a matter of resources, time and mathematics.  This is assuming that the chores of the home have not been hired away to a third party. That would be considered delegating and in principle is no different than a traditional school.

I’ll simply use this as an example, not a final proof of the above.

When starting our school in ……, I spoke with well over 30 families about starting a school.  All of them were homeschoolers. And although the majority did not join our school, all of them agreed that one of these 3 areas was being sacrificed with homeschooling.  Most of them agreed that more than one area was being sacrificed, and that was usually the time between the husband and wife. Shocking enough was the agreement I received from most of them that somehow it had turned things around.  The husband was viewed as the helper of the wife in the education of the children or in the cleaning of the home.

This is why my wife and I chose to start a school before we even started homeschooling. In principle, it has to.  You are going to either give in on the home, the husband, or the academics.  In practice, we’ve talked to too many families which have shared with us the reality of this.

I was asked to expound, and with as much grace in my heart and words, I have, hopefully to the offense of none on the list other than to encourage us more to love, good works and a healthy discussion of how we are to rebuild the ruins.
This is like saying, “housing cows is disruptive to the cow barn.” I suppose it is if you don’t want to use the cow barn for what it was designed. Our concepts of “home” and “family” have been so fundamentally altered by the artificial culture created by socialized education thet we have forgotten what are the true purposes of the family. The real problem is that the modern cultural concept of “home” and “family” are disruptive to the legitimate Biblical family function of homeschooling, not vice versa. I am not saying anything about private classroom schools and hired tutors when I say this. Private schools and tutors have their place, and each father can sort out what that place is with respect to his family’s calling and conditions and circumstances. But every family is a homeschooling family — whether they realize it or not, whether they like it or not, and whether they do little or much of it. So let the cows into the cow barn and stop thinking of what transpires thereafter as a “disruption.” “Oh mess and bother!” I’m sorry, but that’s the real world. I suppose the next thing I’ll hear is that having children is disruptive of marriage.

It appears that you have some strange perfectionistic “ideal” of family life, and anything which disrupts this hallucinary “ideal” is bad, is wrong, is ugly.

James 1:2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 1:3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 1:4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Colossians 1:10  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
1:11  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

One can respond to stress in the family in one of two ways: “O bother!” or “O thank you.” You can look at it as a drudgery requiring disruption and sacrificial loss, or as an opportunity allowing for growth and adjustment. “It’s simply a matter of resources, time and mathematics.”

You listed four areas:
>A father and a mother can not accomplish
>the same level of academics with their children
>without it affecting
1) the management of the home,
2) the relationship between the husband and wife,
3) the kids’ education or
4) the view of the husband in the arrangement
…somehow it had turned things around.
The husband was viewed as the helper of the wife

You describe the problem well. People raised in this culture do not know how to live a real family life. They have some dreamy storybook or Hollywood ideal about 1) home management, 2) husband and wife relations, 3) education, and 4) the husband-father’s role, and they try to make their life conform to this world’s ways.

Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Naturally, there is stress between the world’s ways and God’s ways. Giving in to the world is not the solution. Giving in to God is. I won’t address the four points specifically because everyone’s situation is different, and I can’t cover every possibility. Let me make these general observations:
1) According to the Bible, the wife’s role is as the house-manager. She must manage it according to her husband’s desires as those desires are under God’s law. He doesn’t need to micromanage her management.
2) The relationship between husband and wife grows not through times of isolated intimacy, but through working toward the same goals together.
That’s what makes the isolated times of intimacy precious.
3) The children’s education is the father’s responsibility. Many parents have a ridiculous conception of what is required, and overburden themselves with all kinds of activities and studies which are either redundant or unnecessary. Determine your limits and work within them — don’t try to cram everything possible within them. Don’t pig out on education. Learn to say, “No!” to all the good things available.
4) I don’t remember the Bible saying that the father can’t be a helper to his wife. All I remember is that the wife is a helper fitted to her husband. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive. Now a true reversal of roles would be if the wife becomes the head, and the husband submits to the wife. But especially in this reversed culture, because of the added burdens placed upon the family, the wife needs the husband’s strength to lean on for help, and the husband needs the wife’s tenderness to lean on for relief.

You can’t be saying that all homeschoolers are in open sin, but all private classroom schoolers are living the ideal life and have no problems in these three (or four) areas. So what do you mean? I’m guessing some families have shared their problems — things they haven’t worked out yet, and perhaps are looking longingly for some way out of the problems — or at least someone else’s sympathy. If you keep looking for a way out, you’ll never solve your problems, you’ll just multiply them. The multiple divorce rate in the country may serve as an example of how our culture has lost the whole idea of family and people are taught to look for some way to shift responsibility and get out of their commitments instead of taking responsibility and working them out. And the raging socialism feeds the fire.

This culture is a ruins because of its unbibilical ideals — ideals which have unfortunately been adopted by professed Christianity. Who wants to rebuild the cultural ruins? They will not stand on their own. Yet people — including especially many Christians — still feel some cultural obligation to keep propping them up. We need to rebuild the family from the foundation up — not on the model of our crumbled culture, but on the biblical model of God’s order. We do not need to reform or reconstruct our culture. We need to reconstitute biblical culture from the foundation up.

First Corinthians 5:6  …Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. …

You implied earlier that there are little or no disruptions from shipping your children off to a classroom school. Well, one great big and obvious disruption is the fact that your entire family life is made to conform to the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly time schedule of an outside institution. Timing is a big part of life, and someone else’s timing is an enormous disruption.

Which is a better evening scene in your eyes?

1. After supper and family worship, Father reads for one hour from some exciting sea adventure, followed by a half hour of brothers and sisters playing board games or playing together musical instruments. Then bed at 9.

2. After supper and family worship children go to their rooms or sit at the dining room table doing homework for school the next day. Mother must spend some time helping the younger ones with their homework. There might be time for a quick story before bed.

Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999
Subject: Comparison of Trivium Methods of Teaching

Dear Bluedorns,

Thank you for the comparison between your Trivium-based method and that of some other classical educators (in the last issue of the Digest). You make a very good point that a child’s memory is not infinite and we should sort out what we think is most important for our children to know.   I like your emphasis on memorization even as early as ages 2 or 3.  I am going to take your advice and sit down with my dh to make a list of our priorities — if not today, then sometime before next fall!

I’d just like to add that I recently reread Ruth Beechick’s little booklets about the 3Rs and to some extent she seems to fall into the same camp as you and the Moores — teaching younger children mostly through their participation in “real life” and only getting into the textbooks at 4th or 5th grade.

I’m glad I ran across your web page last summer.  Your ideas have really helped me to back off with my children to some extent while expecting more of them in other ways.   This is our 5th year of hsing, but in the past I had thought of “delayed academics” as another way of saying “slacking off” or “not expecting much of the children.”  I tended to equate academic rigor with plenty of time spent over workbooks and texts.  Then, when these methods resulted in an aversion to academics on my part *and* my childrens’, I didn’t know what was wrong!

My oldest, now 12, struggled through grammar and math every year, though, like your oldest, he is very bright — maybe not a genius, but quite bright :D.   Suddenly, around the time he turned 11, these things clicked for him and now he is easily doing Saxon Algebra 1/2 and actually enjoying grammar and sentence diagramming.   On the other hand, though most of the grammar and math drill was a waste of time, he remembers practically every story I have ever read him since he was 5 or 6, and often spontaneously brings out analogies from Scripture or history to support a point he is making.    How I wish I’d spent all those hours reading to him and filling his memory with Scripture and poetry rather than hitting both our heads against a brick wall with dreary math facts!

The point to me is that your method does not imply letting younger children waste their childhood, but using this time to lay foundations of service, concrete experience, and ideas of eternal value that will serve them through life.  Math facts and language analysis can be learned at much less cost when the child’s mind is prepared to comprehend them.

I have 4 younger children and one on the way, so I have plenty of time still to learn from past mistakes.  My next oldest is just ten and is benefiting greatly from a more relaxed approach to math and writing.   I still tend to get a little anxious that we are not doing “enough”, so it helps to hear your testimony about your children and their successes.

Willa Ryan
(with dh Kevin, hsing 5 in CA)
From: “Nathaniel Buckingham”
Subject: John Buchan
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999

Greetings from Scotland!

I am a John Buchan fan living in Peebles, near his haunts which inspired many of his novels.

WITCHWOOD is a brilliant novel but it is NOT set in 17thC England!!  It is set only a few miles from here in the Scottish Borders, and I travel & walk that road to Tweedsmuir regularly. Buchan’s description of the area is superb in the novel and when you know the landscape it brings it even more to life – my favourite novel.


Ian Buckingham
What is the latest FALLACY IN THE NEWS?

When I say something, I try to express myself as clearly as possible. I try to make my words easy to understand. Well, sometimes people aren’t so clear. Sometimes people become purposely ambiguous. They try to slur the meanings of words in order to make their point seem more logically possible than it actually is. Unfortunately, this logical ellipsis goes unnoticed by most listeners. They assume the speaker is right because…it sure sounds like he makes sense. That is why the slurring of the meaning of words and phrases becomes a very dangerous logical fallacy.

Last week, when speaking about his new proposals for national regulation of education, Clinton discredited those who might disagree with his approach by saying:

“Now, some in Congress believe the national government has no business helping communities improve their schools.”(…)”But I think strengthening education is a national priority.”

This fallacy of diversion could be called “irrelevant conclusion.” This is a very slippery fallacy. The key element is a statement which is generally accepted (“strengthening education is a national priority”) and which seems, on the surface, to be related to a prior statement (“national government has no business…”). The reality is that this second statement (“national priority”) has no necessary logical connection to the first statement; therefore it is irrelevant to the conclusion. When this second statement is cleverly slipped before the audience, unless they notice the subtle change of subject, they will be either completely deceived or thoroughly befuddled by the outcome of the argument.

Bill Clinton correctly described his opponent’s position: “national government has no business helping communities improve their schools.” Then he stated something with which most everyone, including his opponents, would agree: “strengthening education is a national priority.” He left it to his audience to draw the conclusion, “Your opponent’s admit it is a national priority but they don’t want to treat it like a priority.” That is the seemingly obvious but unstated contradiction between the two statements. However, what Clinton actually meant by the words “national priority” is that education is an issue which everyone in this country should consider important. Now Clinton equated this with Congress acting. But there is no necessary logical connection between the two. Eating breakfast in the morning should be a priority to everyone in the nation, but that doesn’t mean it should be on Congress’s list, let alone at the top. Bill Clinton is talking in two different senses and making them sound the same. He does all this in such a clever way that it looks like anyone failing to endorse his legislation is a hypocrite.

How should we respond to this fallacy? The only way is to point out the diversion, as we have done. Clinton is talking about two different things that seem similar, but not the same. The nation’s priorities and the actions of Congress are not one and the same thing. Unfortunately, what makes this fallacy so effective is it often takes more explaining than most people’s attention span can take. And in our day, when nearly everyone has been raised on socialized education, it is particularly difficult to point out an error to which their philosophy blinds them. Hence you not only have to straighten out the words, you also have to straighten out the philosophy. Good luck.
Subject: Paton
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999

Greetings.  I’ve enjoyed reading your site.  Since you appreciate good books, I hope you don’t mind my sharing one I really like:  John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides.  It has a wonderful gospel message.  The literacy level reminds me of Dickens.  It was first printed in 1889 and has been reprinted by The Banner of Truth Trust in Carlisle, PA, for $23.99, hb.  But it can be bought for $14.35 (plus $3.50 shipping, unless your local bookstore can order it for you) through the Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service, 133 N. Hanover St., Carlisle, PA  17013.  1-800-656-0231.
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999
From: “Dr. Phillip and Cynthia Dennis”
Subject: New Leonardo da Vinci Book

Dear Bluedorns:

Last night I had a chance to briefly review this title at my local Borders Books & Music.  Although I didn’t have time to read the entire book (smile), I think it will be a very popular book with homeschoolers, and I expect we’ll soon see a lot of on-line homeschool suppliers carrying it (or maybe they already are!).

Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas by Janis Herbert Reading level: Ages 9-12 Paperback – 136 pages (December 1998) Chicago Review Press The ISBN # is 1556522983

This is not only a biography of  da Vinci, but it is also full of activities (21 if I remember correctly), and full of beautiful color sketches and paintings by the artist. Some of the things covered, and which children can work on right from instructions in the book, include how to launch a catapult, drawing animals, the human skeleton,  making maps, understanding more about how to look at a painting, etc., etc.  I see all kinds of possibilities for working this book  into studies in history, science, art, math, etc.

In a somewhat similar manner to the Holling C. Holling books, there are sidebars in the da Vinci book which explain different topics including artistic perspective, the Renaissance, and the Mona Lisa.  Then at the back of the book is a glossary of words, recommendations of other Renaissance artists’ biographies, PLUS various web sites addresses that might offer more information on da Vinci, etc.  I *meant* to copy down some of the web site addresses to see if they were good ones, but I got distracted and forgot!

I also forgot to look at the price on the book, but I’ll bet it’s available on, or the Barnes & Noble site.

If anyone on this list already has the book and is implementing some of the projects, I would really appreciate hearing how they are working with it and what they have learned, etc.

From: Lorenzo J. Casanova
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998

Please add us to your Trivium Loop, as well as the Speech and Debate Loop.  For so long we have felt like lone soldiers, with so many questions and very few practical answers.  I’ve been slowly reading through the previous loops (#1-9) and already feel like I belong to an “army” of dedicated parents who understand the difficulties of trying to apply this wonderful approach to education!  Thank you for the efforts you are going through to provide this resource for us!

We have two children — Daniel (14 – Logic) and Melissa (7 – Grammar). We’ve been homeschooling for 7 years and muddling through the Trivium for about 5 years.   After attending one of Doug Wilson’s seminars in North Carolina a few years ago, I thought I could easily tackle trying to teach the way the Classical Schools do — teaching each subject from the perspective of each particular stage (i.e., teaching science from the grammar, logic, or rhetoric perspective.) That was before we got into the Logic Stage!!!  Not being well-versed in Science or History myself, teaching these subjects is a daunting task alone, without trying to figure out the Logic of each and apply that as well.  The net result was I spent an entire year focusing on my son to the exclusion of my daughter.  So now our curriculum has filtered out in practice to look very much like any other approach out there, with the exception of adding Formal Logic and Latin.  Is anyone else discovering this to be a problem?

My heart keeps saying that if the Trivium really works, I should be able to delete almost everything, focus on Latin and Logic, and my children will still be ahead of the game.  Didn’t the Quadrivium cover the “subjects,” after the Trivium was complete?  But then my head tells me it can’t possibly be that easy!  Help!

Is the addition of Logic and Latin enough training or do I need to figure out how to teach science and history from a Logical stance?  And has anyone figured out how to do that, without it becoming an overwhelming task?  I would love some input on this. ( We are beginning Book 2 of Critical Thinking and Unit 18 of Artes Latinae Level 1.  We haven’t started Speech and Debate yet, but hope to next year.)   Thanks!

Virginia Casanova — Gainesville, FL
Here is my idea of an ideal logic stage curriculum(approximately ages 13-15):

The times here are approximate. Thirteen year olds might take less time, 15 year olds more time.

Math–Thirteen and fourteen year olds will be studying algebra, which is logic applied to arithmetic. Algebra is not as difficult a logic as geometry. Geometry could be studied at age 15 or 16. I’m leaning more towards recommending geometry start at 16. Some can handle it at 15, but don’t worry if you need to put it off till 16. You want the child to understand geometry, not just memorize procedures. So, the study of math will be the same in a classical approach as in most any approach. It’s just that as you study the concept of the trivium you will understand WHY you don’t try to teach a 10 year old algebra or geometry, but wait till they are in the logic stage. Math usually takes 45 minutes a day or maybe an hour.

Science–Have the child enter a science fair or science project contest. These types of projects usually take several months to complete. A 13-year-old could start out with a simple project involving some special interest that the child has (model rockets, rock collecting, plants, etc.). See our discussion of science fairs in previous loops. A 14-year-old’s project would be a little more complex, etc. Working on a science project incorporates grammar and logic: library research (collecting data), verbal communication skills (interviewing people and talking to the science fair judge), writing (each project needs to be written up in a sort of report), deciding on an hypothesis, analyzing the data and coming to a conclusion, etc.  Some days you will work on the science project several hours, and some days not at all. Perhaps, on average, 30 minutes a day.

History–Have the child enter the National History Day Competition or prepare a history project for display at your public library or homeschool project fair. Preparing a history project will involve the same skills as a science fair project. Perhaps 30 minutes a day.

Literature–You could assign a 13-year-old an “easy classic” such as Bradford’s History of Plymouth and give him 2 or 3 short (not terribly difficult) essay questions to write when finished. If you were a Separatist, would you have gone to America or stayed in Holland? Which character in the book is your favorite and why? A 13-year-olds essay could be half a hand written page, while a 15-year-olds essay could be a whole hand written page. Here you are combining literature, history, and composition.  I would like to some day prepare a list of the classics dividing them up into 3 groups: easier to read, more difficult, and difficult. Probably 45 minutes per day.

Speech–Have the child write and present one speech per month and one oral interpretation per month. It would be nice if the child could perform these in front of a group of peeople such as a 4-H group, church, or your homeschool support group. A 13-year-old’s speech could be something simple such as a report or a description of your last vacation, while you would expect more from a 15-year-old. Some children in the logic stage will be ready to start debate, some will need to wait till age 16 or older.

Logic–A 13-year-old would start with Critical Thinking Book 1. Fourteen and fifteen year olds would be in Book 2. Logic should be studied every day. It would be nice if the father could take this over. Probably 20-30 minutes per day.

Latin/Greek–30 minutes per day for a 13-year-old, maybe more for older children.

Reading aloud–You would continue with the 2 hours of reading aloud. Read from a wide variety of literature. Keep up the narration and the time line.

Memorization–Keep up the memorization. His oral interpretation pieces could be memorized or perhaps a passage from his literature assignments.

Family Worship–30 minutes per day plus whatever time he spends on his own person prayer/Bible study time.

Does this seem like too much to you, or not enough? One problem with this suggested course of study is, what if you have a child who, even at age 13 or 14, just hates to hold a pencil? In those cases I suggest doing as much of the work as possible orally. For example, instead of essays he could do more oral narration.

We just watched an excellent video:

Simple Tools for Brain Surgery–Four Mind-Opening Questions (featuring Bill

Here’s what it says on the back of the video case:

Non-Christians seem to have the advantage in our culture. We, as Christians, are sometimes intimidated by or even afraid to talk with many atheists, new-agers and evolutionists. Too often, we fear we won’t have answers to their tough questions. Be encouraged.

As Frances Scott Key, the author of our national anthem wrote, “I do not believe there are any new objections to be discovered to the truth of Christianity. Men may argue ingeniously against our faith, but what can they say in defense of their own?”

Now, you can learn how to engage people in conversation without fear. You can learn how to ask them to give a reason for the hope they say they have.

On this video you will learn–and actually put into practice–four killer questions that will help to destroy the secular thinking that is encasing the minds of friends, relatives and others.

Learn to destroy sloppy, secular arguments without destroying the person.

World View Academy

Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999
Subject: phonics

Here’s my 2 cents to second the recommendation for TATRAS as an inexpensive intensive phonics program, since Harvey said they are all getting so expensive. I publish a magazine called TEACH and in the upcoming May issue I have reviews on some different products, one of which is TATRAS. Here is that column:

Column As I See ‘Em
Taking the Phobia out of Phonics and Language Arts

Let me preface this with two comments. First, almost any program will work IF you use it. But most importantly, know that the best way to insure they become excellent readers is how much they are read to when they are young. Curling up with them and reading will stir up a desire in them that can only be quenched by them learning to read. There is no better motivator than your reading to them!

TATRAS by Frank Rogers
5 stars
TATRAS is an acronym for “Teach America To Read and Spell.” When you talk to this “Mr. Rogers” you meet a jewel of a person who you immediately know actively cares if you are successful in teaching reading and spelling. His enthusiasm is contagious! This 3-ring binder, cassettes and wall chart are all you need to begin learning vertical phonics with your children. Vertical phonics is learning all the sounds that each phonogram makes at the outset rather than at some future point bringing up the fact that ‘a’ also says it’s name and the “ah” sound. Isn’t this logical? You learn that ‘a’ says three sounds from the beginning so that when decoding words, if the short sound of a doesn’t make sense then you try the second most common sound for ‘a.’ Through timed drills improvement is rejoiced in daily and within one week my six-year-old son, Drew was sounding out words. You would have thought he hit a home run he was so tickled! My four-year-old, Dessaly is happily working on the first set of 8 phonograms and two-year old, Kiley already knows the sounds of ‘a.’ In order to make this a family affair we also took Mr. Rogers up on his challenge that TATRAS was a remedial spelling program. My oldest two (12 and 9) have been working on timed drills learning the sounds of 34 single-sound phonograms. I was amazed and pleased that I could see almost immediate improvement in their spelling. If you are interested in trying TATRAS without purchasing the complete program they have a beginning set for 1 year of Kindergarten which comes with what they call the “Penny Primer” and Dessaly calls with pride, her reading book. This lets you get your feet wet without diving in. One small complaint I have is that it is difficult to understand just where to begin by reading the book. However, if the cassette tapes included with the program didn’t take care of that (which they do), he is just a toll-free phone call away. No one else has ever offered anything close to this support in all my years of homeschooling! I equate this program to Levi’s versus Guess jeans. Here is what you need to learn to read and spell in an enjoyable, time-efficient manner. No fancy frills to raise the price. My Daddy’s business card said, Price + Quality = Value and TATRAS gives you more quality for your dollar than any other phonics program out there!
Concerning math

There is nothing magical about Saxon Math. There are plenty of perfectly good math programs available to homeschooling families. I don’t believe one is more “classical” than another. Different children will learn differently and you will need to use the program that fits your child best. The ideal situation is if you could try out a few pages of a math program before buying it. Perhaps some of these math programs have web pages where you can actually look at some of the exercises. I always used Saxon (except for geometry) because back when we started math that was about all there was. I have been happy with it since it is so self teaching.

This is how we progressed with math in our family (and our 5 children are pretty much of average abilities):

age 10–Saxon 65 (6th grade)
age 11–Saxon 76 (7th grade)
age 12–Saxon Algebra 1/2 (8th grade)–this is a pre-algebra course, which is appropriate for a student just barely entering into the logic stage age 13–Saxon Algebra 1 (9th grade)–this is a full algebra course, which is appropriate for a student in the logic stage age 14–Saxon Algebra 2 (10th grade) age 15–Jacobs Geometry (11th grade) age 16–Saxon Advanced Math (12th grade) age 17–Saxon Calculus (only our oldest child did Calculus)

This is how we scheduled math, but you might want to stretch out one or two of these books to take 2 years to complete. Some are not ready for a full algebra course at 13 or for geometry at 15. Don’t let peer pressure rule you. And I mean here adult peer pressure. Just because someone says to you that their child finished a certain book by a certain age doesn’t mean your child has to finish that book by that age.

Whatever you do, I wouldn’t require the child to do more than an hour of math a day. An hour a day is plenty, unless the child really wants to do more.

It might not be wise to start a full algebra or geometry course (Saxon Algebra 1 or Jacobs Geometry) before age 13 since algebra and geometry are a combination of logic and math and best studied by students in the logic stage.

Our daughter Ava recently read the biography of Kettering, a great inventor and mathematician. Did you know that he did very poorly in math in grade school? It was not till high school that he started to understand and excel in math.

Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999
From: Willa Ryan

I really enjoyed your description of an ideal Logic-stage curriculum.   It gave me some concrete  ideas of where to go with my oldest, who is now 12.  I did the math — counted up the time estimates you gave — and the total daily comes up to about 6 hours a day, counting reading aloud and family Bible study.

I realize this is an *ideal* — but is this about the amount of time you think a student age 13-15 should spend on his studies?   Also, how much parental involvement is required for a child this age?   Obviously, reading aloud and Bible study are family affairs, and you said that Logic is best done with the father — do the essay writing, science and history projects need a lot of input from an adult, or can a student this age accomplish a lot without direction?

At this point in our homeschooling I see the grammar stage as being a time to “collect” information and the “logic” stage as a time to make connections between the facts learned earlier.   He deals with information in a different way than he did when he was younger. Dorothy Sayers speaks of this stage as the “Pert” stage and says every child goes through it naturally, and the task the teacher has is to channel it properly.
Concerning how much time should be spent on academics:

It’s always difficult to determine a certain number of hours that a child should be spending on academics. Do we count the time spent thinking about a subject for an essay? Do we count the time at the library researching a topic? Do we count the time the 12-year-old boy spends rolling on the floor and complaining that he can’t think of anything to write about? Some kids can zoom through their math lesson while others take the full hour. So, any time frames we suggest are only that: suggestions. I’m not going to consider the 2 hours of reading aloud, family worship time, personal devotion time of the student, or any extra reading done by the student (beyond what is required in literature, science or history) as academics. That’s just “living.” It seems to me that 3 hours of “pure” academics for a 13-year-old is plenty. And perhaps you would want to lengthen that to 4 hours for a 15-year-old. My 15-year-old tells me she spends on average 4 hours per day on academics.

Concerning parental involvement:

The years from ages 10 through 12 are the most time consuming for the parent. After that (logic and rhetoric stages), there is much less need for parental involvement. You will almost always need to do logic with the child. That has been my experience, anyway. Of course, it all hinges on what kind of materials you use. Try and find self-teaching materials if possible. That’s why I like the Jay Wile science courses, Artes Latinae, the Critical Thinking materials (some of them), and Saxon math (and Jacobs Geometry). The year we used Bob Jones Geometry and a different chemistry course was a hard year for me. I had to do a lot of helping.

I must say, though, that for our family, the girls were more independent learners than the boys, at least through age 14 or so

It depends on the child as to how much help they will need with essay writing. I have the children bring me their outlines, we go over them, they bring me their rough draught, we go over that, and then we go over the final copy. Some children have no problem with writing, and some hate it. Your reading aloud throughout their younger years will certainly help the situation.

The first year your child does a science or history project he will need you to walk him through it. And that is the year you, the parent, will learn how to do a science or history project. Attend science and history fairs now when the children are young to get an idea of what to expect. Yes, they will need you at first, but as they get older, say 15, they will need you less and less. Actually, I love working on projects. It’s one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. One year (probably 8 years ago) the girls did a project on the history of hats. I have part of the project taped to the wall here in the office, and I look at it all the time. It is a poster with pictures and descriptions of all the different hats of the 1800’s. I love it. One year Nathaniel produced wine under high atmospheric pressure. We enjoy doing research at the big university libraries. Of course, it was always a challenge to keep the little ones occupied while we were working.
Laurie Bluedorn
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999
From: Ruthmarie Lawler
Subject: Just in case you haven’t seen this – it’s wonderful!

Saint Jerome’s Advice to a Homeschooling Mom practical wisdom from 400 AD by Rob Shearer Publisher, Greenleaf Press

Homeschoolers, church leaders, and Christians of all persuasions in the late 20th century often make the mistake of believing that the problems that we face are unique. The family is under attack, the government is incompetent or corrupt, or both. Public schools don’t work. Public morals no longer exist. It comes as a surprise to us to discover that other ages have been equally difficult and equally turbulent. One of the lessons of history is that there has been no such thing as “progress” when it comes to human nature. We are still wrestling with sin and its consequences.

We also wrestle with some of the basic tasks of parenting and teaching, above all, teaching our children to read. Earlier this year, I was reviewing some of the letters written by the early church fathers. I used to have to make a major research trip to a university or seminary library to get to the 38 volume set of the Early Church Fathers, translated into English. In one of the great accomplishments of the late 20th century (there has been technological progress!), these volumes are now available quite economically as text files on CD-ROM. There’s no flashy interface like some of the Computer Bible software (that will probably come
later) — just the words of some of the early giants of the faith like Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome.

You can imagine my surprise and delight when I came across the following letter, which might be entitled,  Jerome’s Advice to a Homeschooling Mom.
One of Jerome’s acquaintances had written him asking for advice on how to educate her daughter. Jerome takes it for granted that mom will be teaching her child to read – perhaps the earliest reference to Christian homeschooling. Read the letter below, and then, I’ll close the article with a few comments.

excerpt from Jerome’s Letters (from the CD-ROM edition of The Early Church Fathers, available from The Electronic Bible Society, PO Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370)


Laeta, the daughter-in-law of Paula, having written from Rome to ask Jerome how she ought to bring up her infant daughter (also called Paula) as a virgin consecrated to Christ, Jerome now instructs her in detail as to the child’s training and education. Feeling some doubt, however, as to whether the scheme proposed by him will be practicable at Rome, he advises Laeta in case of difficulty to send Paula to Bethlehem where she will be under the care of her grandmother and aunt, the elder Paula and Eustochium. Laeta subsequently accepted Jerome’s advice and sent the child to Bethlehem where she eventually succeeded Eustochium as head of the nunnery founded by her grandmother. The date of the letter is 403 A.D.

. . . Get for her a set of letters made of boxwood or of ivory and called each by its proper name. Let her play with these, so that even her play may teach her something. And not only make her grasp the right order of the letters and see that she forms their names into a rhyme, but constantly disarrange their order and put the last letters in the middle and the middle ones at the beginning that she may know them all by sight as well as by sound.

Moreover, so soon as she begins to use the style upon the wax, and her hand is still faltering, either guide her soft fingers by laying your hand upon hers, or else have simple copies cut upon a tablet; so that her efforts confined within these limits may keep to the lines traced out for her and not stray outside of these.

Offer prizes for good spelling and draw her onwards with little gifts such as children of her age delight in. And let her have companions in her lessons to excite emulation in her, that she may be stimulated when she sees them praised. You must not scold her if she is slow to learn but must employ praise to excite her mind, so that she may be glad when she excels others and sorry when she is excelled by them.
Above all you must take care not to make her lessons distasteful to her lest a dislike for them conceived in childhood may continue into her maturer years.

The very words which she tries bit by bit to put together and to pronounce ought not to be chance ones, but names specially fixed upon and heaped together for the purpose, those for example of the prophets or the apostles or the list of patriarchs from Adam downwards as it is given by Matthew and Luke. In this way while her tongue will be well-trained, her memory will be likewise developed.

Again, you must choose for her a master of approved years, life, and learning. A man of culture will not, I think, blush to do for a kinswoman or a highborn virgin what Aristotle did for Philip’s son when, descending to the level of an usher, he consented to teach him his letters.

Things must not be despised as of small account in the absence of which great results cannot be achieved. The very rudiments and first beginnings of knowledge sound differently in the mouth of an educated man and of an uneducated. Accordingly you must see that the child is not led away by the silly coaxing of women to form a habit of shortening long words or of decking herself with gold and purple. Of these habits one will spoil her conversation and the other her character. She must not therefore learn as a child what afterwards she will have to unlearn. The eloquence of the Gracchi is said to have been largely due to the way in which from their earliest years their mother spoke to them. Hortensius became an orator while still on his father’s lap. Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple who can restore it to its previous whiteness? An unused jar long retains the taste and smell of that with which it is first filled. Grecian history tells us that the imperious Alexander who was lord of the whole world could not rid himself of the tricks of manner and gait which in his childhood he had caught from his governor Leonides.

We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear unattainable. Paula’s nurse must not be intemperate, or loose, or given to gossip. Her bearer must be respectable, and her foster-father of grave demeanor. When she sees her grandfather, she must leap upon his breast, put her arms round his neck, and, whether he likes it or not, sing Alleluia in his ears. She may be fondled by her grandmother, may smile at her father to show that she recognizes him, and may so endear herself to everyone, as to make the whole family rejoice in the possession of such a rosebud. She should be told at once whom she has for her other grandmother and whom for her aunt; and she ought also to learn in what army it is that she is enrolled as a recruit, and what Captain it is under whose banner she is called to serve. Let her long to be with the absent ones and encourage her to make playful threats of leaving you for them…

There are a number of things that are striking about this letter. First, as already noted, Jerome starts with the assumption that Laeta (the mom) will be teaching her daughter herself. Then, in the specific advice he gives he shows that first, he strongly believes in phonics (“see to it that she learns all the letters by sight as well as by sound”), but also that he believes that manipulatives are a useful aid to instruction. Then, he suggests some practical tips for teaching handwriting and follows with a ringing call to make school fun (could this be a call for delight-directed studies, or even unschooling?). He also recommends that even for spelling and memorization, the Bible should be the child’s most prominent textbook.

His closing comments suggest a warm appreciation for family ties and the natural affection between not just parents and children, but especially between grandparents and grandchildren. Surprise, surprise! Even in 400 AD parents faced the same practical problems that we still face today. Each generation has to climb the same hills and overcome the same obstacles. Jerome’s little letter was an encouragement to me in our own efforts at homeschooling. It also serves, I think to humanize the early church fathers and helps to understand and appreciate their struggles. Take heart, moms and dads. We have a great cloud of witnesses who have been through the struggles before and who have not left us bereft of some of the wisdom of their experience. Not everything new is better, not everything old has been surpassed. We would do well to study and reflect upon not just the faith of our fathers, but their practical wisdom as well.

Robert G. Shearer
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999
Subject: Classical Education

I’d like your opinion on something. I have shared with you before about what we are doing with our kids right now…a lot of reading, Saxon math, and some spelling, geography and grammar written work. Lydia (9 yrs). is a strong reader but very weak in writing and spelling. Our friends here send their 10 and 8 yr. olds to a one-day-a-week classical school for homeschoolers. It’s from 9-12 on Thursdays and they receive all their assignments for the week. They are studying the arts, Latin, Galileo. They have detailed writing assignments about what they read and so on. They don’t want to send their kids to a Christian school, but believe this is just the help and guidance they need to homeschool. Their kids are way ahead of my kids in their writing skills, and when I hear and see their work I think “uh-oh, we’re behind and I’m not doing enough.” Should these age kids be doing this much written work? They work on school a lot longer than they used to, but their work is impressive. I’m more of a radical and am hesitant to put myself under a program like that, but I don’t want my kids to be slack and not work hard either. It costs them $600 a year to send each child to this school. As always, thanks for your input. I am enjoying the loop!!
In Christ,
Carol B.
Wow! $600 times two equals $1200 per year. Pro-rated, 1/2 day per week = $600, 5 full days per week would be $6,000 per year. You could buy the best ever microscope and the best ever telescope for that much money.

People are always in such a hurry. Hurry up and grow up. Hurry up and act like an adult. Hurry up and make me look like I have smart kids because that will make ME look smart. Eh, ye have wee ones. Don’t be in such a hurry. We were in a hurry with our oldest ones, and we paid for it dearly. Unfortunately, most people, like us, have to learn the hard way. Our oldest ones are our guinea pigs.

Here is the most important lesson I have learned in my homeschooling experience: children shouldn’t be around other children very much, especially before age 10. “Socialization” after age 10 should be on a limited basis; one-on-one with other like-minded families. I don’t recommend any group socialization (homeschool co-ops, youth groups, Sunday schools, classroom settings, etc.) for children. It develops the wrong type of appetite. The children develop an appetite for being surrounded by their peers. This advice I am passing on to you comes from our own experiences and from our observations of all the many homeschooling families we have talked with and stayed with over the years. It is only now, since our children are nearly grown, that this has become real to me. For years I complained to God that my children didn’t have any “best” friends. We have lived far out in the country since 1982 and getting together with other children was never convenient or even possible most times. Our socialization has always been on an occasional and one-on-one basis with like-minded families. And now, looking back, I would not change even one iota of our experiences. My Heavenly Father knew what we needed and kept us from what we didn’t need, even though I was sure, at the time, my kids were going to grow up “backward” as far as socialization.

The other part of your question is: should my young children be doing more formal academics. I think you know what my answer to that is. : ) You are already doing plenty with your 9 year old. You said “I don’t want my kids to be slack and not work hard either.” There are better means than academics to teach hard work at this age. Concentrate on work, service, and obedience. Don’t give in to adult peer pressure.

I hope this helps. You are being exposed to something that is happening in the “classical circles.” These classical schools, full time and part time, are popping up all over the country by the dozens. We hear about a new one every week. They often start out as part time, drawing in the homeschoolers, and they advance to full time, continuing to draw in the homeschoolers till the homeschoolers are no longer homeschoolers. Let’s face it, it is much easier to send the child to someone else to teach. And I’m not saying you should never use other people to help you in your homeschooling. Our boys take classical guitar lessons at Augustana College. Our children have also taken piano lessons for many years. But we believe in equiping parents so that they can teach their own children.

Subject: Books for younger readers
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999

Last fall I came across a series of historical fiction books all beginning with the title, “We Were There…..” at the battle of the bulge; Cortes & Montezuma; on the Oregon Trail, etc. Many are battles from Revolutionary and  Civil Wars and WWI &WWII.   Written by historians for historical accuracy, they are also interesting to read (and better than Trailblazer books) for the younger child.  They were published by Grosset & Dunlap in the 1950’s.  I have found most through interlibrary loan in our state. These are not “easy readers”, but an independent reader could certainly read a chapter a day. Enjoy!

Cheryl Nelson
From: “Neil Medhurst”
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Reply to Arlene Hardman.

I understand the frustration of testing, particularly with a child who is a perfectionist. If you decide you need to try and cover the required ground in a “non-academic” way you could try using games. We play with dominoes. We have/are using these as a fun way to learn things like addition/subtraction facts without realizing it. In addition a game format involves enjoying something together. We play games like: “This domino has 7 spots on one side and 6 on the other, what type of domino is it? (ans “A 13 domino”). The person who answers gets the domino and then picks one up. The children think it is particularly funny when I get the answer wrong  – actually a trick to make them work out an extra answer! With my 11 year old we have invented other games for other arithmetical facts; and we sometimes play dominoes! I believe someone in the U.S. makes a maths pack based on dominoes but I haven’t seen it – I think Hewitt stock it. However you will still be forcing your daughter to spend more time on this than she would need to if you left it another year or two. If I had to decide between learning what the state expect or an unprepared for test I guess I would look at how upset my child would be by the test, and if I opted for testing find the most minimalist test the state would accept.
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999
From: Edward Frami

Some ammunition for winning those Home Schooling Arguments

Washington Times

Misguided innovation
“[A]ll children do not progress through all subjects at the same rate. Some are keen to do math, others find it a chore. Poetry and literature are voraciously consumed by certain students, while causing indigestion in others. These observations are usually taken for granted by anyone who has raised children or attended school, and they provide a powerful argument against government-enforced, uniform, age-based curriculum standards. Who does not remember the pupils who were continually struggling to keep up with the rest of the class, or those whose academic appetites clearly outstripped those of their teachers?

“In the absence of rigid age-based grading there is no need to teach students of vastly divergent abilities in the same classes. Grouping children by age rather than by their mastery of the subject matter is a recent and misguided innovation adopted by regimentation-prone government schools. Once this artificial and harmful practice is dispensed with, teachers will find out what the Jesuits discovered centuries ago, that teaching children of roughly the same ability, regardless of slight age differences, is more effective, easier, and more pleasant for all concerned.”

–Andrew J. Coulson, from his new book, “Market Education: The Unknown History”
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999

Dear Laurie,
Your response to the woman’s question about putting her kids in one-day-a-week classical school was just what I needed this morning…
A few days ago I was in the quandary of wondering again if my kids (11, 9, and 6) are getting enough of what they “need” when a friend started telling me she was concerned that her  kids in school weren’t getting all they need!  Ha!  God lets me know in so many ways.
Thanks for your great newsletter.  It’s the only one I subscribe to.
Mary Scheller
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999
Subject: relax

Thank you for the reminder that we do not need to compete with even homeschoolers around us.  Periodically, we have a day (like today!) where I am not organized and the boys capitalize on my lack of input.  Right now, all three (9,7,5) are in the backyard dressed as cowboys putting on packs, making camp, and plowing ground for a small garden.  On these days, my spirit tells me that this is an excellent use of time, although my mind nags at me to call them inside to work.  We try to find a balance.  Today, my 9yo instigated starting school work, and both boys spent about an hour to hour and a half covering math, copywork, spelling, reading, grammar and spanish.  We’ll read aloud in a little while and my 9yo will read on his own, but meanwhile they can ride their horses, I mean bikes :-), around the backyard.  A 9yo in jeans, chaps, bandana, cowboy hat, boots and pack on a horse/bike is more pleasing to me than a beautifully written report.  In my way of thinking, we’ll have time for those reports later on.
I almost cried when I read your letter. It seems like only yesterday that Hans (now 19) was dressed in his cowboy outfit and sitting on his horse (the living room couch armrest). I have a picture of it. He would sit there by the hour riding his horse. I wish I could go back 15 years and watch him again. Savor the moment. Enjoy their youth. It doesn’t last long.
We just finished reading “Westward Ho! or: the voyages and adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, of Burrough in the county of Devon, in the reign of her most glorious Majesty Queen Elizabeth” by Charles Kingsley. The book is 427 pages and is an abridged version of the original, the original being 3 volumes long.

Westward Ho! is a very detailed piece of historical fiction concerning the westward expansion of 16th century England and Spain into the Americas. It is a bit tedious to read at times, but it has important historical value.
Has anyone read any of the short stories of O. Henry? One of my favorites is The Last Leaf. My all-time favorite is The Ransom of Red Chief.
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999
Subject: Re:  socialization

<<For years I complained to God that my children didn’t have any “best” friends. We have lived far out in the country since 1982 and getting together with other children was never convenient or even possible most times. Our socialization has always been on an occasional and one-on-one basis with like-minded families. And now, looking back, I would not change even one iota of our experiences. My Heavenly Father knew what we needed and kept us from what we didn’t need, even though I was sure, at the time, my kids were going to grow up “backward” as far as socialization.>>

God bless you! You have helped me have peace on this issue of having “best friends” (or even having many friends at all, for that matter) which has been nagging at me since we started homeschooling. My kids have one or two good friends apiece, which just hasn’t seemed like “enough” compared to their public-schooled counterparts. I, too, have asked God for more friends for my kids. And (foolishly!) it never occurred to me that THIS situation is exactly how the Lord wants it to be! Thank you for throwing a new light on this subject for me.

Lynn in Pittsburgh
Date: Sat, 10 Apr

Dear Laurie,

My reasons for writing are several-fold. Please bear with me. It dawned on me as I am suddenly feeling more isolated than ever that my support-loop cronies might understand and offer help and encouragement.

First of all, I am happily homeschooling 3 children, ages 16 1/2 and 15-(both girls)-and an 8 1/2 yr old boy. The girls love homeschooling and my son has even stopped asking if he can go to school (at least for now). For these things I am very thankful. However, I am suddenly feeling more alone than ever in what I do. I am in a large support group in my town, but more and more homeschool mothers “drop out” once their children reach jr hi/ hi school. What was once a real source of comraderie has dwindled to only a handful of mothers like me that are “sticking with it” in the upper grades. I really miss my old friends, but as they put their children in school (largely public) it’s as if some have never homeschooled. They become “public school mothers.” I guess the “war mother” analogy comes into play here. We all want to believe we are doing the right thing with our children. All of the mothers say their children just love public school, are doing well, and many have said “It’s not so bad. What were we all so worried about?” Please understand, I have no desire to send my children to school of any sort. I guess I am lamenting that, the more that drop out and say school is great, the fewer there will be who hang in there. Just as it is hard to implement courtship vs. dating when nobody else nearby is doing it, it is hard to keep one’s chin up homeschooling high-schoolers when there is so little support, even in (especially in?) the local church. I guess I feel even more in crisis because my dearest friend at church-one of the few homeschoolers and my only soul-mate here (besides my husband) is moving! Anyway…

I am attempting to teach my children classically and will continue. They are getting a great education-thanks, Bluedorns! However, as we near college-age I’m feeling a little stressed. I have it easy (?) in that my girls have no desire to go to college. They want to be wives and mother lots of children and homeschool them-yea! Many of you will now wonder what all the fuss is about! My struggle is not to think worldly thoughts and assume the girls need to go to college. The world (and much of the Church) says our daughters (especially) need an education so that they can “have something to fall back on just in case.” My husband’s ministry is to college students at a large secular university and most of the girls admit to us that they don’t really know why they are here-they want to marry and stay home with children, too. My husband and I both believe that, at the very least, the girls in our group should be home with their parents and attend school locally, if they must attend, though we do not undermine parental authority by voicing this to them. Their fathers have bought into the world’s view of things, obviously, or they wouldn’t be here! We are also seeing first-hand how unnatural it is for any of our students to be choosing mates without parental guidance. If our girls do attend college, it will be locally and they will live at home. Again, they are not desiring this for themselves right now, and we don’t know how our thinking may change in the process. They have respectively 2 and 3 more years of high-school, thankfully. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of college, SAT’s, etc. I would really welcome input from some of you godly parents who have given this some thought yourselves and who may have gone through it already. We are very willing to be creative. I read several years ago Mary Pride’s THE WAY HOME  and ALL THE WAY HOME-both highly recommended. I should read the latter again. One thing I know and appreciate about homeschooling–it makes one open to all kinds of “radical” ideas! I welcome ideas on alternatives to college such as apprenticeships, distance learning, etc. My girls and I would love to be “homeworkers”. Suggestions are welcome.

Now, a word of encouragement to all of you, especially to those who are young in this homeschooling endeavor-keep on keeping on. Listen to the wise advice of Laurie and others who tell you not to sweat it when your children are young. Teach them to “love the Lord with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.” That’s huge. I am really seeing the benefits of homeschooling, especially in my girls. They are godly young ladies and I give the Lord all the praise. They are wise beyond their years and are even becoming my counselors at times! They are critical thinkers. I’m thrilled with the product thus far.

Another word of encouragement-I now see how beneficial it would be to have a large family. We are blessed with three children but we especially grieve for our much younger son who doesn’t have a close sibling/playmate. The girls are great with him and my husband is faithful to spend loads of time with him and be his role-model. If the Lord blesses you with a large family, be thankful. You are truly blessed, for “children are a gift from God.”

One more thing-I know some of you are laboring without homeschool support in your areas. I don’t want to complain about mine. It’s just changing and I’m trying to find my niche! Thanks again for the loop, Laurie!

Thank you all for bearing with this lengthy message. I welcome help re: my girls! I’ll take suggestions on my son, also!

Thanks a bunch! Julie
I know what you mean about homeschooling families giving up once their children reach the teen years. We went to a homeschool ice-skating event a few weeks ago, and our kids were the only older kids there. I am seeing it more and more all over the country. What I don’t understand is why people want to give up just when it starts to get fun. The junior-high and high-school subjects are so interesting and challenging. Science fairs, biology, history…there is so much to learn. I’m giving myself an education as I educate my children.

And you are right, once your friends put their kids in the government school then it seems like you don’t have much in common anymore. You don’t and you won’t. Ask the Lord to bring to you like-minded families. If he wants you to have fellowship, He’ll bring them your way. But I know there are plenty of homeschooling families in rural areas that go for seasons not having much fellowship. That happened to us for several years. One thing you don’t want to do is surround yourself with people who oppose what you are doing, especially if you get discouraged easily. Try to fellowship with like-minded people. Of course, don’t take what I say to mean you should never associate with other who disagree with you. We can’t and wouldn’t want to do that. You know what I mean.

I’ll tell you how I have used the SAT and ACT tests in our homeschool. If we had a particularly stressful day with various ones not cooperating with me, then I would go to the library and check out the SAT or ACT practice test books. The sight of those books struck terror in the hearts of my kids. “Oh, please, Mom, you aren’t going to make me go to college, are you?” Peace was restored and cooperation regained.

If you teach with the Trivium you have raised self-learners. College becomes sometimes unnecessary. Why pay a professor many thousands of dollars to teach you something you can easily learn on your own. Of course, if the child wants to be a doctor or go into any of the licensed medical fields then he will need to go to college. Or if his goal in life is to work for a big corporation then he will probably need a degree. What we would like to suggest, and we are only suggesting here, is that perhaps you could steer your son into making his own job. Building his own business. There are other options besides the usual “I’m 18 so I need to go out and find a job” mentality.

We don’t even use the term “graduate” in our home, and the age of 18 doesn’t signal anything different than the age of 16 or 17. Learning goes on. Let me give you some examples from our own family. Nathaniel (age 23) is giving himself an agricultural education. He raises bees and is right now, as I type, preparing an acre of land the neighbor is letting him rent. He is planting it in pasture for our soon to be purchased cow. He did a tremendous amount of study first to find out exactly how to do this. Nathaniel also corresponds with several other young men all over the country, discussing his favorite topics of law, theology, and the like. He taught himself how to make web pages and has designed our web page and the Quit You Like Men page. He has scheduled out for himself a certain number of hours each day to be spent in study, work, etc. For him, there are not enough hours in the day.

With Johannah (age 21) it is the same. She spends her day studying art and painting and producing our artwork, helping with the housework and our business, teaching herself and Helena French, and working on the products she is producing. She is currently working on 2 booklets: Hand That Rocks the Cradle Volume 2 and a booklet on how to get involved in Civil War reenacting. Summer is coming and we usually can a couple hundred jars of food, which I could never do without her. She is also working on filling up her hope chest.  Hopefully, we are helping her to prepare for marriage. My point here is not to brag up my kids, but to show you that children can lead productive lives without going to college.



I wanted to share with you something that happened on our trip to Missouri last week. We spent 4 days traveling around looking for land, hoping to find something we could buy. We have several friends down there and would like to move if the Lord wills. But nothing came up, so we stay here for the present. But what I wanted to tell you about was that one evening we were staying with the …… family, and we started to discuss the courtship issue. Here we were with our family, their family with 7 children, ages 3-17, and another family with little ones, discussing courtship with like minded people. The older kids weren’t  embarrassed to be there while we discussed it. They sat there and listened and added to the conversation from time to time. It seemed perfectly natural to be discussing this subject. Then we played the game Dictionary till midnight. It was very pleasant. Socialization at its finest.
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999
Subject: soapbox

Let’s recommit!!  I homeschool because I have always wanted to.  When my son was two I attended a CHEA convention at Disneyland and went from there.  It has never been a question. People ask when I felt called to homeschool. Never!!  When you make correct choices, you often won’t get an emotional calling.  Yet  what of those who struggle with the choice, not sure if they are damaging their prodigy, keeping them from society and therefore from all the “joys” of those school days?

My mother in law gave me hooked on phonics when my son was three.  We tried it when he was five, he hated it, we struggled, I packaged it back up and put it on a shelf.  I’m cleaning off my shelves getting ready to move to Brazil and what do I find….my old Hooked on Phonics!  I might as well get a buck for it so I advertized it for $50 in the Penny Saver.  It was gone in a flash, but what is really telling is the number of calls I have received and some of the stories behind those calls.  Kids who are “behind”, “struggling”, “Learning Disabled”, have bad teachers, stomach aches and headaches, etc, etc, etc.  (So much for the joys of school days!)  They need help learning to read so the deperate parents turn to ….Hooked on Phonics.  When asked why I was selling it, I told the purchaser I hated it and gave her advise on some good curriculum.  She bought it anyway.  Desperation…

So, you homeschoolers out there!! Blessings to you for giving your children the best you have to give.  Bless you when you are exhausted. Bless you in your exhilaration.  Bless you when you are irritable.  Bless you when the questions keep flowing and you keep going.  OK…I’m jumping off the soapbox!!

With love…Paige Anderson
From: “Sergio & Ginny Youmans”
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999

I would like to respond on Laurie’s behalf to Adrienne’s comments about socialization.  I think Adrienne may have misunderstood the discussion.  I don’t think Laurie is saying that socialization is wrong–she is saying that the world’s form of socialization is wrong.  Yes, we are supposed to socialize our children, but not so that they are bonded to their peer group.  Proper socialization, if we study Scripture, comes about through the family, not through the peer group.

Our family believes that weekly fellowship with our church family is very important, as Adrienne points out.  But we have also found that Sunday School and youth group are not Biblical ways to fellowship. We have always found that in previous churches our children acted up more and displayed undesirable language and behavior immediately after Sunday School.

This is not to say that our children are pure and innocent and that other people’s children are bad influences.  We believe that all children are born with a sin nature, ours included.  By putting them together in large groups of the same age, we are simply allowing them to descend to the lowest common denominator.  Especially if the teacher or leader is not right on top of the situation, correcting any negative comments or behavior.  The youth group, particularly, seems to nearly always be led by the youngest, least mature member of the pastoral staff, at a crucial time when the teens should be bonding with their fathers.  Not with their peers.  Not with their “cool” youth group leader.

I have taught in the public schools and in a very good classical Christian school.  While the content and parental involvement in the two settings was extremely different, unfortunately the peer dependency issue was almost exactly the same.  Even in the classical Christian school, where a large percentage of the students were believers who had very involved parents, we had the “popular” students and those who were left out.  I heard the conversations about secular rock music and make-up and clothing and boy-girl relationships.  Peer pressure is a very strong force, even for adults.  What makes us think that our children can withstand it when we often struggle with it ourselves?

My husband and I are often told that our children are well-behaved when we eat out or attend public functions (or just sit together in church).  Some people are just flabbergasted that they are quiet and polite and well-spoken, which makes us wonder what most of the kids they are encountering are like!  Ours are normal, energetic, talkative children.  What really floors us is when, after complimenting us on our children’s good behavior, people often ask if we’re not concerned about their socialization.  What do they think socialization is supposed to be?  Rude, sullen, disrespectful groupthink?

We don’t think so.  The question should not be posed as “is socialization good?”, but rather, “what do you think is God’s way of socializing children?”

Ginny Youmans
Hickman County, Tennessee
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999
Subject: O. Henry

>>Has anyone read any of the short stories of O. Henry? One of my >>favorites is The Last Leaf. My all-time favorite is The Ransom of Red Chief.

My mother-in-law read The Ransom of Red Chief to my dh hundreds of times when he was a boy.   To this day, when he has a really rotten day at work and can’t shake the tension, I can soothe him to sleep by reading this story to him — he’s in dreamland by the time we get to the ransom part!! Great story.

Lynn Bruce
From: “Teresa Rust”
Subject: The Ransom of Red Chief
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999

Dear Laurie,

I just recently read “The Ransom of Red Chief” aloud to my 13yos and 10yod. We all loved it! My son was a little irritated with me that I had never told him about this story before. After all, I have been reading to him since he was 6 months old, and he felt cheated that he had to wait until he was 13 to be exposed to that wonderful short story!

My favorite book on how to write research papers is The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content,  sixth edition, by Audrey J. Roth. This 300 page paperback takes the student step by step through the process of writing a research paper, from choosing the topic, narrowing the topic, searching for information, recording information, organizing ideas, writing the paper, documenting the paper, preparing the works cited, to final presentation. At the beginning of the book is a timetable and checklist for preparing the research paper and a research paper process log. This book breaks down a seemingly overwhelming project into bite-sized pieces.

I ordered this book from our local bookstore. The publisher is Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California.

Another book I want to mention is one that everyone should have in their library. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is a little paperback first published around 1919. This “little book,” as it was called at Cornell, gives in a brief space the principle requirements of plain English style. Here is the Table of Contents: elementary rules of usage, elementary principles of composition, a few matters of form, words and expressions commonly misused, and an approach to style. Published by Macmillan Publishers.

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999
From: Karen Mohs

>Karen Mohs, the author of Latin’s Not So Tough is a member of this list. Perhaps she can tell us about her >curriculum.

Thanks for your interest in Greek ‘n’ Stuff.

The Latin series (Latin’s Not So Tough!) currently has three levels available.  Upon completing these levels, the student will have been introduced to the Latin alphabet, diphthongs, special consonant sounds, first conjugation verbs – present tense, first declension nouns – all cases, and the “-us” and “-ius” second declension masculine nouns – all cases.  Of course, expanding the student’s Latin vocabulary is also a primary focus of this series.

The activities, which are geared for early elementary children, are designed to make the study of Latin enjoyable for both parent and child.

I hope this helps.  If you have specific questions, please ask.  (If we don’t respond right away, please be patient.  We will be “on the road” a bit this summer.  We will get back to you at the earliest opportunity.)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Laurie and Harvey for this excellent discussion loop.  We appreciate all your hard work.

In His service,

Karen Mohs
Greek ‘n’ Stuff
You’ve all probably read The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds, but have you read any of his other works? He writes historical fiction–usually early American history. Two Logs Crossing is a story almost as good as The Matchlock Gun. We’re in the process of rereading all his works. They are written for younger children, but the girls and I are certainly enjoying them again. Laurie
We’re in the midst of reading In Ole Virginia by Thomas Nelson Page. It’s a collection of short stories about the South during and after the Civil War. If you like reading aloud dialect, you’ll love this book. Here’s a sample: ” ‘Twas cu-yus, he say, he wan’ go in ‘turr ah-my.”
From: “Michael and Ian Dodds”
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999

Karen Rhodes asked for a source for A Child’s History of England.  I’m assuming the one by Charles Dickens.  I just got a copy through the ebay auction. If you type in Dickens, it will take you to a long list of Dickens’s books being auctioned off.  If you keep looking hopefully someone will be auctioning another copy before too long.  I recently also got some other old books that I had been looking for for a long time from the ebay auction.  If nothing comes up under a particular author, it pays to look under the title.  I was looking for Tales of a Grandfather, by Sir Walter Scott.  It wasn’t under his name but only under the title for some reason.
Janet Dodds
We also have A Child’s History of England. I didn’t realize it was written by Charles Dickens. In my copy the title page is gone, and the spine only says Dickens. I love the book. I read it aloud many years ago to the children, and this year Helena (age 15) is reading it to herself. It is written in a story-telling sort of way, and, although there are no pictures (in my version), it will keep the interest of even a little one. The book covers English history from the Romans to James the Second. I don’t know how accurate it is as I’m not that familiar with English history. It is a secondary source and perhaps Dickens had his share of biases. Here is an excerpt:

“Richard, the son of the Black Prince, a boy eleven years of age, succeeded to the crown, under the title of King Richard the Second. The whole English nation were ready to admire him for the sake of his brave father. As to the lords and ladies about the court, they declared him to be the most beautiful, the wisest, and the best, even of princes, whom the lords and ladies about the court generally declare to be the most beautiful, the wisest, and best of mankind. To flatter a poor boy in this base manner was not a very likely way to develop whatever good was in him, and it brought him to anything but a good or happy end.

The Duke of Lancaster, the young king’s uncle, commonly called John of Gaunt, from having been born at Ghent, which the common people so pronounced,–was supposed to have some thoughts of the throne himself; but as he was not popular, and the memory of the Black Prince was, he submitted to his nephew.”

Ebay auction is a great place to find antiques, including books. My girls go there often to find old sewing and crochet patterns. Laurie
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999
From: James A Willcox

Do you have a recommendation for a Latin and Greek dictionary? Are some better than others?  Is it safe to just select one from the local book store?

Thank you in advance,
Dawn Willcox
Harvey has about 20 Greek lexicons (like a dictionary but without the pronunciations), but his favorites are Liddell and Scott’s Abridged Greek-English Lexicon and A Greek-English Lexicon and New Testament Synonyms by George Ricker Berry. His copies are old, but he thinks they are still in print. The standard Greek lexicon is by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, but Harvey doesn’t like it because he doesn’t trust the definitions and it’s overpriced.

For Latin he likes The New College Latin and English Dictionary by John C. Traupman (AMSCO School Publications) and The White Latin Dictionary by John T. White (Follett Publishing Company). There are probably several Latin dictionaries that are just as good.
I’d like to post on this loop some comparisons of the different Latin curricula, comparing what you get for what you pay, and what you end up learning.

Artes Latinae

What you get for what you pay:

Student Text Book 1 (Units 1-15)–$27
Student Text Book 2 (Units 16-30)– $27
Teacher’s Manual–includes lexicon (Units 1-30)–$13 Graded Reader–includes lexicon (Units 1-30)–$15 Teacher’s Manual Graded Reader (Units 1-30)–$15 Unit Test Booklet (Units 1-30) (optional)–$10 Guide to Unit Tests (Units 1-30) (optional)–$11 Cassette tapes for Units 1-4 (tapes for Units 5-30 are definitely optional–we didn’t use them)–$28

Total–$146 (I am not including the tapes for Units 5-30, but I am including the optional tests)

The above mentioned books and tapes are considered Level I (credit wise, this is one year of high school Latin or one semester of college Latin–AL meets the foreign language requirement for university entrance). This Level I can be started by any student ages 10 and up (it is my opinion that age 11 is early enough to start Latin). We found it to be very easy to use for an average 11 year old–I never tried it on a 10 year old, but I have had literally 100’s of mothers say their 10 year old could easily do it. Nathaniel was 13 when we started AL (that was the year we found it), and our other 4 children were 11 when they started. Today, if I had a little one to educate (I wish!) I would use AL. It would take about 4 years to complete Level I if you start at age 10 or 11 (and 1 to 3 years to complete Level II). It would take about one year to complete Level I if you started at age 16 or 17 (and another year to complete Level II). Remember, all these are estimates. I think 20 minutes a day studying Latin is plenty for a 10-11 year old. You might want to lengthen that to 30 minutes for a 13 year old and even to an hour by the time you are 17. When you are finished with Level I you will have learned the following (taken from the Teacher’s Manual):

1. Know 141 Basic Sentences (from classical literature) well enough to reproduce them when prompted either by a picture, by a Latin paraphrase, or by an English translation when the sentence is clued by the first letter of each word.
2. Know a vocabulary of approximately 700 words well enough to recognize the meaning in context. Of these the student will have an active control of approximately 300 which he can use in constructing new Latin sentences (The vocabulary load has been purposely kept low in order to concentrate upon the structure. In Level II the emphasis shifts to the acquisition of vocabulary).
3. Know noun forms well enough to decline any noun in AL: Level I, when told what declension the noun belongs to.
4. Know verb forms well enough to be able to conjugate any verb in AL: Level I in the indicative system active, when told to what conjugation the verb belongs. He will also know the third person passive, singular and plural, of these same verbs.
5. Pronounce new Latin sentences correctly.
6. Recognize words when they occur in contexts with meanings different from those which he has learned.
7. Read at sight in the Graded Reader material (from classical literature) similar to that occurring in the Text Book. He will also be able to answer Latin questions about the content.
8. Converse in Latin about pictures showing familiar objects and situations.
9. Construct original Latin sentences.
10. Know 34 lines of Readings (from classical literature–poems) well enough to reproduce them with the removal of four words in each line.

Here is an abbreviated Table of Contents of Level I going from Unit 1 to Unit 30 with an APPROXIMATE schedule of what you will study at what age:

Student Text Book 1–first half (starting at age 10 or 11):

Latin pronunciation (vowels–long and short, consonants, double consonants, diphthongs, syllables, words, sentences) distinction between noun and verb, subject and object distinction between noun and adjective question words quis and quem Latin word order two-kernel sentences connector et subject/object distinction, nominative and accusative cases (singular) structural and dictionary meanings orientation to adjectives intensifiers modifiers -ne questions transitive/intransitive contrast sed antonyms

Student Text Book 1–second half (starting at age 11 or 12):
ablative case
prepositions cum, in, sine
the five declensions
characteristic vowel
ablative of 4th and 5th declensions
preposition sub
passive voice
poetical devices
personal and impersonal nouns
agreement of adjectives
adjective declensions
nominative, accusative, and ablative plural of 1st and 2nd declensions plurals of 3d, 4th, and 5th declensions explanation of concept of number noun and adjective paradigms neuter nouns singular/plural contrast

Student Text Book 2–first half (starting at age 12 or 13):
plural of neuters
basic sentence construction
word formation
hic and ille
present and past participles
absence of est in sentences
ordinal numbers, 1-10
subordinate clauses
relative pronouns
dative singular
dative plural
special verbs with the dative
genitive singular

Student Text Book 2–second half (starting at age 13 or 14):
genitive plural
explanation of noun system
1st and 2nd person singular of 2d conjugation 1st and 2nd person singular of other conjugations 1st and 2nd person plural of all conjugations sum and possum crisscross order tenses #1 and #3 (past and future incomplete action) synopses prepositions with accusative tense #5 (completed action in present time) principle parts tense #4 (completed action in past time) tense #6 (completed action in future time)

Conclusion: It will cost you $146 for the above Latin grammar, all taught in an easy-to-use, go-at-your-own-pace format. Later, I’ll do this same analysis for Level II.

When you are considering which Latin (or any language) curriculum to use you need to compare:

1. What you get for what you pay–some may seem inexpensive, but you need to look at what knowledge you end up with when you are finished with the curriculum. Compare what you get for what you pay.
2. Ease of use (if you, the parent, know the language or if you have access to a tutor, then most any curriculum will do, but if you are starting out with no knowledge of the language then you need something self-teaching–see our discussion of the 3 ways to learn a language–deductive, inductive, programmed interactive–on our web site)
3. When you want your child to start studying the language–some curricula are geared for young children, some for older children, some for adults

The CD version of AL is nice, but it is too expensive for most. If you’re a millionaire, buy the CD.

The advantages of the CD version are:

1. You have 3 pronunciations to choose from. Sometimes it’s interesting to switch between the pronunciations just to see how they differ.
2. You must type in your answer to each frame, while with the book version you are required to only say the answer aloud, and sometimes required to write the answer down on paper.
3. Some children are more motivated to learn if they can learn it on a computer.

The disadvantages of the CD version are:

1. Some children don’t need their watching-a-computer-screen-appetite fed.
2. Expensive
3. You need electricity to run a computer 4. If you want to look something up in the text you have to go to the bother of going to the computer, bringing up the AL program and finding what you want, while if you have the textbook you can just grab it and thumb through the pages to find what you want.
5. You can’t work on your Latin while in the car or other places away from home, unless you have a laptop.

There are three pronunciations of Latin (actually there are many more than 3, but 3 major pronunciations):

1. ecclesiastical or medieval–this is the pronunciation you might want to go with if you are Catholic and want to study Catholic theological and historical documents, or if you are studying music or if you are into medieval studies or into church liturgy studies
2. Restored Classical–this is the pronunciation used in Rome during Cicero’s time. It is the pronunciation used in most colleges and universities
3. American scholastic–this is the Americanized version of the restored classical. It is used in most high schools in America (this is the pronunciation used on the cassette tapes and the pronunciation we use)

If you call Bolchazy-Carducci (the publishers of AL) they will advise using the Restored Classical, although the American scholastic is fine also.

Here is some information taken from the AL web page:

What material does the series cover? In the course of the two-level series, students will cover all of basic Latin grammar; acquire a core vocabulary; study Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum and the epigrams of Martial; be prepared to begin a course in Cicero; and will meet the foreign language requirement for university entrance.

Which version should I buy (traditional textbook or CD)? These questions are important from an educational and a financial standpoint. An understanding of the needs of the students, as well as personal preference, will play a significant role in the decision-making process. The traditional version of Artes Latinae has withstood the test of time and many customers choose it today. Some lack regular access to a computer with CD-ROM capacity. Others have the computer capability and simply prefer the book and cassette version. Nearly 200,000 students have learned their Latin using the original version; some of the most frequently cited reasons include: They prefer that their students use and value books. They do not want their students to spend so much time in front of a computer screen. Their computer(s) may break down and then students would have to postpone lessons. Teachers who want to give home assignments know that some students will not have a computer available at home. Home school families find books easier to use when traveling. Some students learn better with books and tapes. Many customers with computer capabilities choose the CD-ROM version to take advantage of several enhancements : A choice of pronunciations including Dr. Waldo E. Sweet’s original, Dr. Robert Sonkowsky’s Restored Classical pronunciation; and the Continental Ecclesiastical pronunciation. The sound component is easily accessed through the click of an icon, rather than the starting, stopping and rewinding of a separate cassette tape. Students can more readily identify their errors, as incorrect responses appear on the screen in red at the same time the correct responses appear. The “white space” of the individual frames is more attractive and enhances readability by minimizing distraction.



Date: Fri, 28 May 1999

I have two daughters, 4 & 6. This year I have simply been trying to devise ways of spending more of my day doing things WITH my daughters. Until this year, they had much more time to play freely. I’ve simply spent the year trying to learn to cook and clean and exercise and study TOGETHER. It was hard to break our habit.

I have trouble making up my mind what to require of the 6 yo. When people say “Oh, they’re young, just read a lot,” I think, We do that, but what is next?
She needs more discipline and purpose.

I am not sure what to have her doing other than helping me in home-making.
Academically I have found time for only a bare minimum:
1. my read-alouds
2. her read-alouds occasionally (she reads as a pastime)
3. using pennies to do sums under 10
4. nature study (caring for a few flowers and caterpillars & tadpoles)

We spend our first reading time after breakfast studying Bible history by simply reading from an old Hurlbut’s. We have memory verses usually from the NT later in the morning.

I once toyed with the idea of having her memorize some Greek passages. I would quote from John 1 a little more each week. She seemed to like it. I did not persist because I’m having trouble fitting in “academics”.

I ought to spend more time with her doing something like weaving or stitching or some handcraft. I ought to emphasize memorization, which is typically pushed out of our day by other things. But I feel there is no time, especially if I am trying to guard her free play. She used to spend her mornings inventing stories with her sister while they played with small toy animals. Now when she gets free, she ranges around in the back yard playing with the dogs and in the hiding places under trees. I value her play-time highly.

It seems that, by the time I finish doing the chores, the readings, the garden or tadpoles, and the basics (meals, grooming), it is always time to give them their running-around time before the Nap Book. (She doesn’t nap after the Nap Book but is to spend the hour drawing or loop-weaving or reading.)

What can I leave out? How can I educate without depriving my daughters of the example of a home-maker mother? Should I do memorization and stop trying to feed tadpoles?

And wouldn’t I love to know what Laura Ingalls’s mother did exactly, when she “heard their lessons”! What do you think? She set them down with a passage and said “Read this, and recite it for me after lunch?” At age what? How long a passage should a 6you be able to handle? And what about the 4 yod?

Thank you,
Mrs. Wendell McGuirk (Stephanie)
There never seems to be enough time in the day. And since there are only 24 hours in the day, we as homeschooling parents must decide what is most important. We must prioritize our time and get rid of the time wasters. When my children were small, before 1984, my biggest time waster was house cleaning. I was overly particular about cleaning the house. I would clean the bathroom everyday, I spent lots of time straightening up (toys, shelves, cupboards) and picking up, the dishes were always washed and put away, the laundry always caught up, the floors always vacuumed. My front porch was even spotless! I spent too much time cleaning the house. Now, I do believe it is important to keep a house orderly and clean, but there is such a thing as going overboard. And I was definitely going overboard in those early years. If your major goal in life is to be photographed for Better Homes and Gardens, then you should spend a lot of time decorating and cleaning, but for the majority of us, we have a better use for our time. It makes me cry to think of all that time I wasted. If I could only go back and spend that time reading to and holding little ones. In a few more years all my little ones will be gone and I’ll be left with this old house to clean all I want.

In 1984 the Lord delivered me from this. Right at that time we had moved to the country, got 4 goats, chickens, and a dog, I had just had our 5th child (and the oldest was 8), I was looking at doing our 3rd year of a canned homeschool curriculum (with stacks of workbooks that reached to the ceiling), and we had a huge garden that produced tons of vegetables to can and freeze. One morning I looked at the floor and was thinking, “You had better get down there and clean it (like always).” Then the Lord put it in my head that I needed to just ignore the dirt on that floor. If I continued to try and keep up with my cleaning standards I would drive my family and myself crazy. There were more important things I needed to do with my time.

Praise the Lord, He gave me the grace I needed to ignore that dirt. I started to relax more and ignore more. I started to spend more time doing things with the children, like reading and hiking outside. Now, some of you will not be able to relate to what I have just written. But, I fear there are many here who know just what I’m talking about. There is a happy medium to house cleaning. Some keep a house so spotless you feel almost uncomfortable in it, and some don’t work at housekeeping at all. There must be moderation in all things.

Just now as I was writing this Ava dropped a big kettle of hot strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. I think it was a test from above. Practice what you preach, He says. No big deal, she’ll clean it up, I think to myself. Thank you, Lord, for letting me not be bothered by a little bit of sticky stuff.

I’m wondering if any of you have experienced this (or could it possibly be something only MY little ones did?—I kind of doubt it): I’m sitting on the couch (a chair would never do) reading a good book, like The Long Winter by Laura Ingles Wilder, with one child sitting on my right and one child sitting on my left and one child on the back of the couch behind my neck and one child on my lap. The fifth child would have to make do. Everyone HAS to be situated just so to see all the pictures, which MUST be examined minutely. I think this is one of the ways God taught me patience. Let them look at the pictures and ask their questions, we’ll eventually find out if Almanzo gets home out of the storm in time. Last year Johannah painted me a picture of this cosy scene, using a photo taken of us long ago. I was wearing braids and sitting on the old brown couch so I know it had to be LONG ago. If I could have just an hour of that time again, right now, I would gladly read Corduroy fifteen times in a row and not complain.

Does anyone here know what I’m talking about?
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999
From: Tim A. Mixon, M.D.

Harvey and Laurie,
I am a mother of two preschoolers ages 3 and 1 and have felt the Lord leading me to homeschooling.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your latest articles in Practical Homeschooling, especially the latest one, “Building a Firm Foundation…”  Under Reading and Handwriting, you mentioned using a “good intensive phonics method.”  I would like to know which programs/methods you consider to fall into this category.  I am familiar with Detmer phonics and Sing, Spell, Read and Write.  I have also been very impressed with Sonlight Curriculum which has its own phonics program.  I’m not sure if the Sonlight program would be considered intensive or not.  Please give any insight into this that you can.  And yes, I know this is still a few years off for me, but I tend to live in the future.

Thank you,
Beth Mixon
Temple, TX
There are many intensive phonics programs. Unfortunately, most are quite expensive. I will never recommend one that is expensive no matter how good it is. The teaching of phonics doesn’t have to cost a lot. I like Alphaphonics (just the book and tape, not the new package deal). We just got a phone call yesterday from a linguistics expert who has been studying Greek for the past 40 years and is also a public school reading instructor. He gets the kids who can’t learn to read. He has them reading in a matter of months using Alphaphonics (just the book and tape).

Date: Mon, 07 Jun 1999
From: “Rev. Gregory & Mary Schultz”

> Like Michelle, I am looking for resources that clearly tie in Biblical
> history with what was happening concurrently around the world.

Debbie and Michelle,

We recently acquired the WALL CHART OF WORLD HISTORY, by professor Edward Hull.  It is published by Barnes and Noble, and is in an oversized hard cover.  It is over 15 feet long, and includes Biblical and world historical events.  It was first drawn in the 1800’s (which is why I like it).  The chart does a good job of giving a visual overview.
We use it often.

Mary Schultz
This is my favorite time-line also. It is a beautiful piece of art and very thorough. I see it being sold at all the homeschool conventions. Does anyone know who carries it?
From: “Carol Blumentritt”
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999

Thanks for my first installment of your Trivium discussion loop. I was particularly interested in the memorization question posed by one of the

This returns to my original question:
> How  much info do we want the child to memorize?
> Shurley and Veritas and some science curriculums, etc there is an
> abundance of materials on tapes with catchy little songs and the goal
> of memorization.  Is there a necessary level of detail to memorize?

I’ve been wondering this myself. I belong to another discussion group of people who use Sonlight curriculum and want to approach it classically and it seems that the instant recipe for making a subject “classical” is to add something with jingles/songs/chants. We have Shurley Grammar, Lyrical Science, Grammar Songs, Geography Songs, History Songs, and someone has now come up with jingles for Spelling Power. This seems to me to be an oversimplification of the classical approach and reduces subjects to a string of facts that can be put to a jingle. I’m familiar with the poll parrot comparison for the grammar stage and realize that memorization is very useful but just wonder if this isn’t overkill.

I’ve been slowly working my way through your archives but haven’t gotten to anything on memorization yet. Do you remember the archive number? I would be interested in reading your thoughts on the subject.

Carol in CT
You have made a very important observation. It is something I’ve been wondering about also. How is it that one spelling curriculum or one grammar curriculum is more “classical” than another?
From: “mark maurer”
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999

This response is for Stephanie McGuirk and her 4 and 6 yr old girls.  You say your daughter needs more discipline and purpose and you’re absolutely right.  In MHO children at this age need less academics and more discipline. And the way I mean to use that word is as in discipling.  Allow your daughter to be your disciple…..Learning how to sort laundry, set and clear the table, make her bed and do her “personal” chores without being prompted or helped, be responsible for the cleaning of her own room, helping in other parts of the house cleaning.  She will learn many “academic” things by being a part of your life.  She IS very young and the days go so fast.  I know it doesn’t seem like it now in the midst of a 4 and 6 yr  old’s life.  If you sit down to have formal “school” let it be maximum 3xweek.  If all those fun ‘planned’ nature activities are stealing your time and joy …chuck them!  Then walk to the nearest mud puddle or drive to the little stream once a week to check on God’s nature activity.  Let your nature studies be walks in the park, or neighborhood or state park trail.  You’d be surprised how much can be enjoyed in your own backyard that requires no maintenance.

Hold off on math.  If she insists buy an Abeka or something workbook and let her “do school” by doing a few pages a couple of times a week.  Read good literature a little above her level and build her vocabulary for when she is reading.  Her comprehension will be so much greater and her word recognition easier when she is an older reader.  Read her great stories of the Bible and maybe begin memorizing a child’s catechism or memorize a verse or very short passage once a week  working up to longer ones _as she matures_.  If this is rambling please forgive.  I am so in favor of under doing it at this age than overdoing it, sometimes I have too much to say.  I have seen these principles work well in our own home (4 children) and the mom is much less harried and stressed.  It is very important for you to be at peace with what is happening in your home.  My dear old pastor always said that the wife and mother set the mood for your home.  What mood do you want in your home?

Take it easy and enjoy your babies now.  One day the baby season is over! And all those little jelly faces are clean and it’s not so hard to keep the house clean anymore and every little one is well on their way to becoming the individual God has planned.  I don’t mean to wax melancholy but sometimes (oftentimes) I have regrets over being too ‘requiring’ when the older ones were young.

There is a time for much structure and much ‘requiring’ but it’s not when they are 6 or 4.

I mean this to be an exhortation and I hope I have spoken to your need and not offended.

In Him, Margaret in SC
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999

<<We are currently using Shurley Grammar >>

Could someone suggest a Grammar program that would nicely follow Shurley Grammar?  My son just finished up the Shurley 7 program and I am not sure what do with him next.  I have heard that Voyages is a good program.


If the student has studied 3 or 4 years of English grammar and is now studying Latin and/or Greek grammar, he may not need to study English grammar any more. You learn plenty of English grammar by studying foreign language grammars.

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999

I have seen the wall chart of world history at Barnes and Nobles.  We bought one years ago at a bookstore in an outlet mall.

We are reading Farmer Boy right now.  I’m allowed to sit in a chair (while kids listen and play legos or draw) but it is MANDATORY that I alert them when we get to a picture!  My oldest is only 10 but he’s read Farmer Boy so many times that he goes in the other room so I’ve already lost one.  Good thing there are plenty of other wonderful books that he joins us to listen too.  We even have a neighbor who has been joining us for our read aloud time.  This is my favorite time of the day, and as long as he plays quietly and listens it’s ok with me.  I also love reading to them at night.  Their room (the three boys) is dark and I sit in the doorway where the hall light shines on the pages.  Last night the story was fairly exciting, thus the cries of, “that’s not really the end of the chapter, is it?”  Other nights my husband reads a biography of Eric Little and I hear his voice breaking as he is touched by parts of the story.  Little boys know that Dad is profoundly affected by the story of one man’s faith and commitment.

Meanwhile, we read the same stories over and over again to our two year old.  I’m glad that the past ten years have ‘mellowed’ me somewhat so that I can just read the same books and enjoy the process.  I was told when my first two were little that this ‘season’ truly didn’t last long.  I’m thankful that by our fourth we’ve learned to enjoy this time without looking ahead as much.

We’ll joyfully wear out our second copy of Goodnight Moon.

From: “mark maurer”
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999

I have been reading with interest the comments on the rush to “classical” in every subject from every curriculum provider.  No, classically educating your children does not mean you memorize every list or jingle that comes your way. It seems to me that classically educating children involves recognizing and working with the “grain” in a child’s developmental stage.  For example, in the grammar stage, the children are learning the “grammar” of a subject.  By this I mean he is acquiring the basic tools of the trade with which to understand more fully and critically think about that particular subject in the logic stage.  In the rhetoric stage he can take those building blocks from the grammar stage and the thinking skills learned in the logic stage and apply that knowledge to delve into new and more complex areas of studying the same topic and form and express and opinion of HIS OWN and also defend it.

How wonderful.

So now you must ask yourself “Is it necessary for my child to memorize a list of presidents and their terms of office in the 1st grade?”  The real question is “Is this a “grammar” building block for some other study in the logic and rhetoric stage?”

My point is, don’t memorize for the sake of memorization; this is not the thrust of grammar stage education.  As a family we have chosen not to memorize a multitude of things unless it is clearly a building block vital to the furtherance of their understanding in the logic stage.  We all know that grammar stage children memorize much quicker than at any other stage, so that vehicle for information storage is apropos then.

Also I would like to comment on something with which I am quite successfully teaching my 7yob to read.  It is called “A Handbook for Reading” and it is published by ABeka.  From the introduction to this handy little book:  “The idea for A Handbook for Reading came from Noah Webster’s famous American Spelling Book, familiarly called The Blue-Backed Speller, which was first published in 1783.  Webster’s purpose in his book was two-fold:  to teach reading and spelling by the phonics method, and to give wholesome, character-building reading material to America’s youth.  It was said of him, “He taught millions to read, but not one to sin.” ”

Margaret in SC
FREE Latin Booklet

We have produced a new product on Latin. “Learning Latin at Home with Artes Latinae” is a 17 page booklet explaining: –What books most people really need with Artes Latinae (you’d be amazed how much money you can save by not buying all the materials you don’t need to use), –How we use each book, –Some practical suggestions you may find useful such as making a life-long Latin notebook, and –Answers to all those questions which Homeschool parents frequently ask us.

You can find this booklet as a download on our web site.

From: “Barbara Haney”
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999

Here are some things mine did at 4 and 5 that paid off big time later.

1) We had a garden. At 4 and 3, my youngest little ones helped enormously, and their big job was to water. I also gave them their own little “plot” which they believed to be enormous (actually about 2 ft by 2ft). We started the seeds in “Dixie” style cups.. they had a blast! Green beans tend to be a great plant to start with, as they grow fast and tend to withstand the abuse. An onion and a potato can also be easily grown; onions in coffee cans and a potato in a big old trash can. Broccoli and carrots are also good, if your climate is amenable.  This year, my daughter, now 7, grew her own flowers and collected the seeds for next year.

2) Visiting farms/dairies, museums, nature preserves, public utilities, and the like can be fun, and can teach them a lot! Nearly every state has a land grant university and some agricultural department experimental plots. Some are quite interesting, and others..well.. yawn, unless you are a farmer. Nearly all of them have dairies, or some kind of large animal research station. Many commercial dairies and food processing facilities are quite happy to give a tour, and often have a regular tour schedule.

3) Preserving/home production: Mine still remember making cheese at home (milk, rennet, and a couple other ingredients), soy milk, yogurt, jellies, fruit roll ups, and all kind of other things. We pressure canned our own veggies, meats, and other dishes. You will find a lot of information on the net,including news groups and web pages.

Well, I hope this gives you some ideas.
The Exhaustive Concordance to the United States Constitution with Topical Index and Rapid Reference Constitution, Dennis Bizzoco, editor, Hardback, 186 pages. Call Firm Foundation Press at 423-499-0428 for ordering information.
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999
From: Stephanie McGuirk

With small children:  Once the children can recite a passage or an alphabet or other list, how do different parents go about reviewing it to make it stay? Do you have a routine for having the children recite their repertoire?
I would just spend some time each day, maybe 5-10 minutes per child once or twice a day, reciting. Does this seem too little or too much? The idea is to exercise the mind, in the same way that you would exercise the body. Certainly the child will not need to review everything, every day that he has ever committed to memory. At some point you must go on and memorize new things. Some things perhaps will be forgotten and replaced with the new. Some things will never be forgotten. I still remember some of the introduction to Canterbury Tales that I had to memorize for high school. I remember it not because it was any good (wan that April with its shura sota–something like that), but because of the trama I went through having to get up in front of people to recite it. Laurie
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999

I loved Mark Maurer’s idea to let young children plant a small garden.  After I read it my daughter and I decided to plant a late garden and she thoroughly enjoyed it.  Since she has four brothers we decided this would be a project for ‘just girls’…..what a special time we had!  I love all the great ideas I am picking up from this loop…thank you!

L. Clayton
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999
Subject: Re:  Math question

I don’t have specific Florida information but I do have an idea.  Just because a child is not plowing through math book pages every day doesn’t mean he isn’t learning math.  My 5 year old loves to play War with cards and thus knows greater than and less than all the way to 10.  We even have a set of cards from Fisher Price where the ‘war’ is between 5 + 5 and 4+3. He’s slower with those but he still likes the game.  I would suggest getting a scope and sequence for your state and then writing an evaluation for your son.  You may be surprised by how much he can do. For example, one of the first concepts is one to one correspondence.  If the child can set the table when you say there will be 4 people eating (placing a knife and fork at each place) he understands the concept!  If you need a ‘test’ of some sort, maybe
you can find or develop a simple test of the required concepts.  I suspect he could do well on the test without formal teaching. Other informal math ideas are Math Mouse Games, Math-it, Ruth Beechick’s An Easy Start in Arithmetic, Family Math, and dominoes. If you have to satisfy a state requirement, maybe it could be satisfied through informal means. It’s possible that just having a math sounding book to write down would be enough to fill the square. If you feel you need curriculum to fulfill your requirement, I suggest purchasing some inexpensive workbooks and doing a page here and there.  Some kids think this is fun (my 8yo does!).  You don’t have to do all the pages or all the problems on each page.   If your evaluation is in the form of a test, you will have to teach your son how to answer test questions.  If you choose evaluation by a teacher (possibly a home-school friendly certified teacher?) maybe the evaluation could be oral.  Then your child would easily shine. Hopes this helps stir some ideas.  With those Florida requirements, I’d be sure to be a member of Home School Legal Defense Association.  Doesn’t seem fair that Texas has NO requirements, but you’ve reminded me to be especially thankful!

Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999
From: Robin M Avery

I would like to reply to the question in the loop (#64) about Phonics for Reading and Spelling, as I have used that program.I used Phonics for Reading and Spelling for my first child, about 1993. This comes in a large 3-ring binder full of information, and for those interested, the chapter headings are as follows:  Introduction, Our
wonderful, wacky language, Materials, Handwriting and the phonograms, Teaching the spelling words, Spelling word list, Reference charts, Teaching reading (only 5 1/2 pages), Flowcharts for teaching reading, Phonograms and spelling rules, Spelling scale for home educators (a series of spelling tests).

This is a very detailed book.  The author lists 23 spelling rules and discusses her over 72 phonograms thoroughly, including how to say them (tape and basic flash cards included) and how to instruct your child to write them.

It was my experience that this program works well if your child learns to read and spell at the same time and progresses in each of these at the same rate.  The flowcharts are set up for this progression.

We could not use the flowcharts, and mostly used the book for spelling. We spent alot of time on the spelling practice, but the spelling rules and charts were way over her head.  Yet the type of instruction they used for writing the phonograms was not needed, as by then she could place her letters under the dotted line and on the bottom line as needed, (or starting at the top, etc.) and we did not use the special station descriptions, as these would have been very tedious to use.

The spelling scale for home educators is a set of quick tests that I can still use on her today, at 12 years old.  It includes a grading system which  can tell you at what grade (year and month) level your child is spelling.

This is the only program we used for reading/spelling in the early years.  Today, our 12 yo daughter loves to read;  however, she cannot spell even close to her grade level.  I do not fault the program above for this.  It is highly possible I did not teach spelling correctly, or at the right time or in a meaningful way to her.  She seems able to learn to memorize words for short spelling tests we do very informally, yet later in her writing she spells in a way that IS wrong, yet IS phonetically correct.
It’s a girl!

We just adopted a girl. She is about 4 years old, more or less, and was born on an Amish farm in Iowa. She is beautiful, with large brown eyes (about the size of silver dollars) and silky brown hair. Johannah named her Dulce, since she’s the one who paid for her. Dulce is very good tempered and never kicks, which we are thankful for as some girls who are adopted at an older age tend to be skittish. She doesn’t even knock over the bucket very often. Must go now. Dulce is calling me. She likes to have company when she is playing in the pasture. BTW, does anyone know what we can do with 27 gallons of milk?

From: “Michael and Ian Dodds”
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999

I suspect that you may have already answered some of the questions I have related to math in previous loops.  I’ve looked through a lot of the ones in the archives and haven’t found what I am looking for and don’t have time to read through each one.  If you can refer me to a specific loop or directly answer me, either way would be great.

I am trying to figure out how your recommendation about delaying formal math until age 10 would work out in practice.  Specifically, when does the child learn basic math facts?  It seems to me that you can’t do much math without knowing the math facts.  If you wait until age 10 to start learning the facts, how could you start doing Saxon 65?  Don’t you have to at least know the math facts to make any progress there?  On the other hand, if you learn the facts before age 10 it seems like you are starting formal math before age 10 because you would have to understand somewhat to learn the facts successfully.  At least that seems to be my experience.

My son who is 10 1/2 has had a terrible time learning just addition and subtraction math facts.  I know I started him on math too young.  We were going through a workbook and he could make it through counting on his fingers.  He could go a certain distance that way, but after a while it became evident that he couldn’t go on successfully without learning the facts better.  I had tried calculadder, which had been successful with my older son.  This boy refused to try to go fast on calculadder.  He insisted on doing each problem twice to made sure it was right.   Then I tried Math-it.  I’m not sure what the problem was here, but it didn’t work.  We went to just flash cards.  We did them over and over.  It was really a drag.  In the mean time, he was fourth grade age and in a third grade book.  I decided he should not go on to multiplication until he learned the addition/subtraction facts.    He ended the school year still not knowing many of the facts.  I don’t know what to do with him this coming year.   My older boy started Saxon 54 when he was third grade age.  I don’t think this younger boy could handle it now and he will be the age to start 5th grade.  I think I really bungled this whole thing up and I would like to know your suggestions on how to pick up the pieces.  Also, I have an almost 8 year old daughter that seems to be much like this younger son.  I don’t want to make the same mistakes with her.  What would you suggest?
I’ll tell you how we approached math. Perhaps you can use some of these suggestions. Our children who were below age 10 “studied” math informally. We played dominoes, Rummicube, card games, dice games, score-keeping games, and other counting type games. We taught the children to count and write their numbers. I remembered them playing store and restaurant and asking me how to add up a series of numbers. They built calculators and cash registers out of matting board scraps that we obtained at the local art store. They played with play money and coins. Your average homeschooling family life is full of informal arithmetic exercises. Of course, cooking and chores involve lots of informal math. By the time a child is 10 he will probably know how to add. He probably won’t have many of the math facts memorized, though. Some memorize these facts easily, some have a more difficult time. At age 10, I made for the child (or had the child make) 2 arithmetic grids–one for addition and subtraction and one for multiplication and division. I’m not sure what they are really called. Each grid consists of a square piece of paper with the digits 1 through 9 running in a column along the left side of the page (with 1 at the top and 9 at the bottom) and again in a row along the top of the page (with 1 at the left and 9 at the right). Where the two 1’s come together (similar to a mileage chart where you are trying to find out how far it is from one city to another) you write the digit “2” (1+1=2). Where the 1 on the left and the 2 at the top come together you write the digit “3” (1+2=3). You continue like that till the grid is filled in. This would be the addition and subtraction grid. The multiplication/division grid would work similarly. They are a sort of answer key for the math facts. I don’t know if I’ve explained it very well. Perhaps someone here knows what I mean and can explain it better.

At age 10 we start the child in “formal” math with a 6th grade math textbook. I give the child these two grids, and they are allowed to use them when doing their math lessons. At age 11 I take away the addition/subtraction grid. The child should have the addition/subtraction facts memorized by then. If I think that he doesn’t have them memorized then we would drill on them till he does have them memorized. At age 12 I take away the multiplication/division grid.

This system worked well for us. All 5 of the children have done well in math, finishing the Saxon Advanced Math textbook (Nathan went on to Calculus, Helena will do the Advanced Math book this coming year). I would say that our children would be considered average in math.

Concerning your 10 year old son, I would just continue working on the addition/subtraction facts. Perhaps a reward ($$) could be given if he has them memorized by such-and-such a date. Perhaps this could be a summer project. I don’t think you have bungled anything. Hans, who is now 19, didn’t start formal math till age 11, which is when he started Saxon 65. I remember he liked me to sit with him while he did math. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand the concepts, he just wanted someone there by him. Sometimes we would do the problems orally. Sometimes I would write out what he dictated to me. He was one of those who was allergic to pencils. But by the time he was in Algebra I he was doing the math lessons by himself. I seldom had to help him with math after that. I believe that was the way it was with Nathan also. With the girls, though, it was different. They almost never needed my help, even from the beginning.

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999

Dear Bluedorns,

I have spent a lot of time researching classical education and know that it is what I would like to do with my children.  However, I am very confused at how to start at the age levels my children are at.  I have been using the Weaver Curriculum with my children for the last 10 years.  I feel that my children are very weak in the subject of grammar, especially my 11 and 13 year olds. I am not so concerned at where to start with my younger children (9, 7 and 6) as I am with the older two. My 11 year old is very quick and catches on to whatever I am teaching him.  My 13 year old was late at learning to read and has a very hard time with math. He is currently using the  Saxon 65 book and struggling with it. How do I find out where to start with him when he is at the age he is and not shove him into something he may not be ready for? Is there some kind of testing I can do with him as far as where to start with him in classical education, so that I can tailor his next year to his needs and not overwhelm him with the changes in our school direction?  Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.  I’ve been trying to get our books for this next year and when I look at what it seems I should be ordering for him I’m afraid I’ll be missing huge gaps in what he needs to know up to this time.

Thank-you,  Mary Beth Bando
If you think your children are weak in grammar, then you know what to work on this coming year. There are lots of very good English grammar materials available to homeschoolers. I don’t believe that any are more “classical” than others. Age 10 is a good time to start the study of English (or any language) grammar. I think Easy Grammar is a good place to start. Three years of English grammar study is plenty, especially if you are also studying Latin, or any other language, grammar. Grammar and composition go together. The child practices his grammar lessons by writing, so the child, at age 10 and up, should be writing something every day.

If your son is struggling with math, perhaps you could go slower in the textbook or step down a level. Our goal is not to make university mathematical professors out of our kids, but to pursue understanding of mathematical concepts. Take it slow. Don’t make it your goal to “finish the book,” but to gain understanding, no matter how long it takes. What’s the hurry anyway.

Opposing Viewpoints in American History Volume I: From Colonial Times to Reconstruction ($21.20) Opposing Viewpoints in American History Volume II: From Reconstruction to the Present ($21.20)

“An anthology of primary documents–the speeches, letters, articles, and other writings that are the raw material from which historians seek to understand and reconstruct the past. Assembled in two volumes, these viewpoints trace American social, political, and diplomatic history from the time of the earliest European contact through the end of the Cold War…

To help sustain student interest and stimulate critical thinking, Opposing Viewpoints in American History, unlike other primary readers, pairs these primary documents in a running debate format. The guiding philosophy behind this compilation is that by comparing and contrasting opposing viewpoints on an issue, students will be challenged to think critically about what they read….Introductions and timelines supply basic historical background for each section of the book. In addition, prior to each viewpoint the editors have provided essential biographical information about the author; a brief overview of the issue being debated; and questions designed to stimulate interest, reenforce comprehension, and encourage critical thinking.

The combination of primary texts and background information make Opposing Viewpoints in American History, by itself or in conjunction with other American history textbooks, an effective way to teach and engage students in the study of American history. ” (taken from the preface)

Contents (partial)
Volume I

Origins of English Settlement

National and Economic Reasons to Colonize America (1582 and 1585) Richard Hakluyt the younger and Richard Hakluyt the elder

A Puritan’s Reasons for Colonizing America (1629) John Winthrop

Virginia is an Abundant New Paradise (1613) Alexander Whitaker

Virginia is not a New Paradise (1624) Richard Ffrethorne

European Colonists and Native Americans

Indians and Colonists Should Live in Peace (1609) Powhatan

Indians Should Be Conquered and Exterminated (1622) The Virginia Company of London

A Puritan Missionary’s Account of Indians (1646) John Eliot

A Puritan Captive’s Account of Indians (1682) Mary Rowlandson

Puritans and the Question of Religious Tolerance

The Antinomians are Following the Spirit of God (1637) Anne Hutchinson et al

The Antinomians Were Heretics Destroying the Community (1644) Thomas Welde

A Defense of the Salem Witch Trials (1692) Cotton Mather

An Attack on the Salem Witch Trials (1692) Thomas Brattle

The Great Awakening is a Welcome Religious Revival (1743) An Assembly of Pastors of Churches in New England

The Great Awakening has Led to harmful Religious Zealotry (1742) Charles Chauncy

68 more articles in Volume I (308 pages)
82 articles in Volume II (340 pages)
From: “Sergio & Ginny Youmans”
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999

In response to Corinne’s concerns about play-fighting, exposure to violent TV shows, etc.:

I share your concerns about your sons’ exposure to fighting and violence on television.  Our sons are 12 and 8, and we’ve always tried to limit their TV time (violent or not).  We started out with our firstborn with the declaration that we would not have toy guns or other weapons (we also foolishly didn’t believe in spanking back then), but he quickly learned to “shoot” with sticks, and he fashioned a very realistic-looking semi-automatic pistol out of Legos at age 3 or 4.  When his brother came along they began playing shoot-em-up, including a few extremely realistic death scenes, but we told them that we don’t want them to emulate sinful behavior in their play.  They even used Toobers and Zots (marketed as a non-gender-specific, nonviolent toy) to make laser guns and other space age weaponry.

Now they each own their own BB rifles and bows and arrows, and they are being trained to use them safely (including a homeschool archery team).  Since we started this we’ve noticed less pretend shooting in their play.  They seem to take weapons (and their potential effects) more seriously now that they’ve been trained how to use them and have been entrusted with some of their own.

As far as those nasty shows like Hercules and Zena, we point out how unrealistic they are and ask them questions about what they see.  “Do you think normal people would be able to stand there and beat each other for ten minutes without falling down or getting bruised or bloody?”  “Do you think Hercules is a man who walks with God?”  “Is Zena your idea of what to look for in a Godly wife?”  We don’t let ours watch this kind of stuff at home, but they are exposed to it sometimes at other people’s homes.  And we want them to develop discernment about what they see and measure it by Biblical standards.

We’ve also started reading G.A. Henty novels, which usually center on a period of history that includes war.  But the hero is always noble and moral, and even during battle he fights fairly and does the right thing for the right reasons.  Your sons may be a little young for Henty right now, but keep him in mind for the future.

I, for one, don’t think you’re overreacting.  Children, especially boys, remember negative images that they see much longer than they remember positive things they’ve heard.  My son once walked into a room where a relative was watching “Cops,” that real-life show that depicts crimes in progress.  My son was about 5 at the time, and I told him to leave the room because I didn’t want him to see it.  The relative scoffed and said that it was real life and I couldn’t “shelter” him forever.  (There was some underlying animosity about Christian homeschoolers there that provoked this response.)  I pointed out that there were lots of things in real life, such as murder and rape and assault, that I didn’t necessarily want him to experience in order to learn about, especially at 5.

Ginny Youmans
Giles County, Tennessee
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999
From: David Hill

Dear Laurie and family,

I’ve been enjoying Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, illustrated by N.C.Wyeth, and published by Simon and Schuster, originally in 1921, but republished in 1949 and again, more recently. The forward is by Kate Douglas Wiggin. It’s a massive hardcover of 504 action packed pages (ISBN 0-684-19340-X) that sells for $28 US or $40 Can.  Cliff hangers in almost every chapter, the noble traits of chivalry and honour, the struggle of Wallace and Bruce for liberty and justice tempered ever with mercy, this would be a great study for Junior High or up. There are quite a few battle scenes, so I don’t know how appropriate it would be for the younger set. The story does illuminate that period of Scottish history and inspire the highest of ideals. Each chapter contains little nuggets that are great for copybooks. This line is but one example:”Father,” said she, “hast thou not taught me that God shieldeth the patriot as well as armeth him?”  The vocabulary is rich and well suited to this tale of high adventure set in the Middle Ages. Well worth the price.

In Longfellow’s poem, Emma and Eginhard, are these lines about Eginhard:

Smaragdo, Abbot of St. Michael’s, said,
With many a shrug and shaking of the head,
Surely some demon must possess the lad,
Who showed more wit than ever school-boy had,
And learned his Trivium thus without the rod;
But Alcuin said it was the grace of God.
Thus he grew up, in Logic point-device,
Perfect in Grammar, and in Rhetoric nice;
Science of Numbers, Geometric art,
And lore of Stars, and Music knew by heart;
A Minnesinger, long before the times
Of those who sang their love in Suabian rhymes.

This past year in second grade, we memorized Longfellow’s Psalm of Life. God willing, I want to do more memory work next year. Perhaps a poem or prose passage a month. A friend suggested:  “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep…” (Psalm 107:23-31)  Other ideas are the mercy speech in Merchant of Venice, Polonius’ speech on manhood that concludes with the well known lines “To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day thou canst not then be false to any man,”  “If” by Rudyard Kipling, the hymn “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,”  Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils,”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, a patriotic poem, or one of Edgar Guest’s “I have to live with myself and so I want to be fit for myself to know.” It’s fun thinking up a list that is varied and inspiring. Poems learned in childhood are with us for life and often give inner impressions an outer voice.

Thanks to one and all on this list for the excellent ideas and thoughtful discussion.

Joyfully in His service,
From: “J Dunken”
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 1999

Dear Harvey and Laurie,

I received a copy of Practical Homeschooling today in the mail with your article in it on 10 things to do with your child before age 10. It must have been an answer to prayer because a couple weeks ago, I was given a copy of the catalog put out by Veritas Press on classical education. For some reason I looked through it very closely and loved what I saw. I have 5 children, my oldest of whom is almost 7 and my next oldest is 5-both boys. I have been following the Principle Approach for the last couple of years but it is very difficult because I have 5 children under 7 years of age, including a nursing infant, and I don’t have time or energy to put into making up my own lesson plans, and re-educating myself. The P.A. does not have prepared curriculum but encourages you to make up your own. I have the Noah plan, and most of the guides. Anyway, to make a long story short, I have been very frustrated because I want the best for my children from the start, and this summer I have been so confused as to what to do this Fall, so I actually began looking in the Charlotte Mason method which is very easy on the teacher. I believe it is too child-centered though, as I want my boys to be wise, learned men like our founding fathers-able to reason and relate, etc. Then this acquaintance gave me the Veritas catalog to look at, and I realized that the classical method is what I need for my boys, and later on for my girls as well. I was going to go with the Moore formula, until I happened upon the P.A. a few years ago. Anyway, I looked up your web site, and I have a zillion questions! Your article in the PH magazine really caught my eye, because you mentioned delayed academics and narration. I was very pleasantly surprised that you embrace parts of other methods-I haven’t heard of that before-it has always seemed to me to be one or the other. I am getting SO tired (its almost midnight) so I will ask you a few questions, and say good-night. First of all, I have the Noah Webster speller you mention, but I have never been able to figure out how to use it. Can you possibly send me your inserted article, or email it to me?  What do you think of the book, “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons?” About delayed academics-the Moore approach and the P.A. are opposite, so what do you think about our founding fathers learning academics at a young age? What do you think of Veritas Press? They seem highly academic at a young age. Is there anything in their catalog you would really recommend for a kindergartner and second grader? My baby just got up-gotta go. I am so excited to have found you! I have been looking through catalogs for 2 weeks, and trying to figure out curriculum for the coming year. It has been VERY stressful.

Joanna Dunken, Redding, California


One of the problems with homeschooling today as opposed to homeschooling 10 or 15 years ago is that today there are so many books, curricula, homeschooling approaches, and educational philosophies to choose from. So many good ones. And we always want the perfect one for our family. So the search is on to find the perfect one. The perfect suggested course of study. The perfect reading list. The perfect advice. When we started homeschooling in the fall of 1980, when Nate was a mere 4 and one half, the only thing we knew about was Christian Liberty Academy. There were a few more correspondence schools available back then, but we didn’t know about them. And there were no curriculum fairs or homeschooling catalogs or homeschooling magazines. So it was CLA that we signed up with. There was no stress about it. There was one choice available and that was the one we took. Today, if I was young and a new homeschooler, I would be terribly stressed out. I’m the kind of person who likes to look at all my options before I make a decision. I want to examine everything and know everything about everything. (Is there anyone else out there like that, or am I alone in this?) Today, if I was young and a new homeschooler, and I walked into a curriculum fair I think you might have to carry me out in a stretcher. Too many choices. Too many good choices.

There are lots of good intensive phonics reading programs. Some families will try one, find it doesn’t work, try another, find it doesn’t work, try another, find it doesn’t work, try another, and at last it works. So in their mind this last one is the best one, when in reality, what might have happened was that the child was finally old enough and mature enough and finally ready to read. Homeschooling families have lots of good choices as far as intensive phonics programs are concerned. “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons” is supposed to be a good program. Many have recommended it. And it is inexpensive, so it has my vote. TATRAS, which is recommended by Lorrie Flem, is another good one, and inexpensive.

The Principle Approach is very compatible with the Classical Approach. Unfortunately, I have never been able to understand how to practically apply the Principle Approach to homeschooling. The authors of The Well-Trained Mind have done the best job I have seen in taking the fundamentals of the Principle Approach, as developed by Rosalie J. Slater, Verna M. Hall, Dan Eby, Paul Jehle, and many others and applying them to history and language arts.

Verna M. Hall and many of the other purist Principle Approach people would probably not agree with the delayed academic approach of Raymond and Dorothy Moore. And Mr. and Mrs. Moore would probably not agree with all of the applications of the Principle Approach. I personally don’t agree with ALL the aspects of either of these approaches, just like I don’t agree with ALL that Charlotte Mason wrote and believed. But that doesn’t hinder us from taking out of these approaches, and using in our homeschool, those aspects with which we do agree. It’s not an either-or situation.

I think there are lots of great books in the Veritas Press catalog. Check the archives for more discussion on this.

From: Brian E Arend
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999

I have a question concerning my 3 year-old son. Lately he has been asking questions like: “What does water begin with?”. When he asks these questions, I tell him the letter and the sound it makes, but I wonder if there is something more I should be doing. I had originally planned on waiting before I started anything with him, but now I am not sure if I should just continue doing what I am doing, or try to go a little further with him. I definitely do not want to overly push him, but I also do not want to waste an excellent opportunity. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

I would answer his questions and then later in the day review with him what you told him. Bring it before his mind in different ways. Write the letter “W” on the blackboard or on paper to hang in the living room. Talk with him about the other words that start with “W.” When the children and I used to play on the swing set when we lived in Walcott, Iowa I would sing to them the alphabet song, and they would try to sing along. When we played with clay I would make the clay into shapes of letters and encourage them to make them, too. We were always making cards to send to the relatives, and I would encourage the little ones to try to write their letters on the cards, even if they really couldn’t read or write yet. I would give them a pile of macaroni or rice or beans and we would glue these items onto paper in the form of letters. We would line their toys up on the floor in the shape of letters. During our family worship time the little ones just learning to read would be required to find in the text we were reading a letter that they could recognize. We did a lot of phonics instruction during our family worship time. Hope this helps. I had to tax my brain quite a bit to remember all this, it was so long ago.

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999

Maybe I shouldn’t be giving advice since my oldest is only 9 and she’s a girl. However, she loves reading (although I almost ruined her by trying to teach her to read when she was 4 1/2 and she wasn’t ready.) I do have a 6-year-old boy who, although he is not fond of his Alphaphonics reading lessons, is dying to learn to read. He will pick up a Henty book and try to pick out the words he knows. He can’t wait to read a “real chapter book”, although he doesn’t really want to do the reading lessons to get there. Knowing our background you can take or leave my suggestions.

You may be doing this already and if you are the best advice I can give you is to keep doing it–that is reading aloud good books to him. The Henty books, Ralph Moody Books, Landmark history books/biographies and many others are geared for boys. Also The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia are usually good with the boys. (Although my 9 yog loves all of the above as well as my 6 year old boy.) I recommend Nathaniel Bluedorn’s “Hand That Rocks the Cradle” for other suggested titles. I think it especially important that your husband reads to him and he sees your husband reading books (not just newspapers and sports magazines) silently to himself. I usually read one-2 hours a day to kids in the afternoons and then my husband reads about 30 minutes at night while we are cramped together in our king size bed. On winter evenings he often does read- aloud in the living room by the fireplace and I sometimes serve popcorn. If your husband is not open to reading aloud maybe he would be open to listening while you read at night to the children. During the day while I’m reading I let the kids busy their hands with a quiet activity if they want such as drawing, Legos, etc. I will stop once or twice and require narration, or telling back in their own words. We don’t do narration at night when Dad reads. At night when Dad reads there is no activity as we are using this as winding down time. When people ask my children what their favorite subject is they almost always say “read aloud.” I believe that as you open up different varieties of good literature through read aloud he will be more inclined to read similar books on his own. I also suggest requiring him to read at least 30 minutes a day from something you pick out (maybe one of the books above or something else). If he balks and says he doesn’t like it, tell him after 30 minutes he can read something he wants, upon your approval of course. You might break up the 30 minutes so that he reads aloud the first 10 minutes of the book to you and the last 20 to himself. At the dinner table when Dad is home, he could show interest by asking about the books ya’ll (yes, I’m from Texas) are reading and what’s happening in the stories. If Dad has time, your son could read 10 minutes out loud from your assigned book to his Dad. Don’t forget poetry, even if your son says he’s not interested. I always begin read aloud with 5-10 minutes of poetry. In my oldest girl’s required silent reading time I require her to read 5 minutes of poetry before her book. (No, my husband doesn’t read aloud poetry. It’s not his style.) I don’t know what your son’s academic schedule is but you might consider laying off a subject or two this year to emphasize reading since this is the foundation of every thing else, especially a classical education. Be patient, and even though he may be reluctant for even a few more years, I believe your persistence and dedication in this area will pay off and you won’t be able to keep him supplied in books!

Debbie French
From: “Jim Hardman”
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999

A little while back, someone asked about homeschooling overseas. I was a missionary in Venezuela for a time, and, although my children were too small to be in school at that time, there were others on the field who were homeschooling. I would make a couple of observations. Where you are, there will be no public libraries, so bring lots of good books. Especially plan for things you want to cover over the next year or two, so you aren’t stuck without things. Depending on the postal system, you may be able to have books shipped by sea for a much cheaper rate, or sent to a postal box, but in Venezuela, it was always problematic when, and if, you would receive things. If people come to visit, load them up with books!! (especially family members, who are more forgiving.) Think also about art supplies you will want. I could get some things in Venezuela, but at 2 to 3 times the cost of the States, and often much poorer quality. Crayons were really waxy, and didn’t work well at all, for example. You can be creative about the art part of things, but take some basics, so you aren’t scrounging without things, or paying much more. I don’t know your situation, but that was my experience. It is perhaps easier to consider a more complete program, so you have all your materials provided, or pick what you want to study, become familiar with what that material requires for added resources (Greenleaf, for example) and make sure you have everything when you go.

You will find that people stateside are very willing to help missionaries where they can, so if you are stuck needing something, people will work with you to get it there. (Our mission board would keep track of people traveling to our area, and send important things with them, so they wouldn’t have to deal with the mail system). Hope that helps, and feel free to contact me privately.

Arlene Hardman
From: “Dale Dykema”
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999

Gun Fear is Pacifistic Response

The present flurry of fright over guns is another illustration of the timid and frail state of the Church. Christians who are not thinking biblically blame the bottle for alcoholism, drugs for delinquency and guns for murder. The wickedness of people is the real cause of the horrible sins that have recently plagued our nation. Politicians usually try for a quick solution, thus they vote to take away the guns of the good, law abiding people. Nothing is said about the moral degradation of the people and their leaders.

Weapons are a requirement for this sinful world. Pacifism is a Humanistic cop-out. It leaves the maintenance of peace and safety to others and foolishly counts on the goodness of man. The American founding fathers knew that a well armed citizenry was necessary to keep tyrants at bay. They wrote this into the Constitution. Which of us would want to sit helplessly while someone murdered our family one by one? Don’t we have the guts, let alone the duty, to stop the lawbreakers?

People who won’t allow their children to play with guns are unintentionally teaching them the Humanistic false gospel, the idea that man is basically good and will work out his problems. Ancient Israel did this after their initial entry into Canaan. They failed to drive out the pagan nations and, instead, inter-married and joined with them. God’s wrath was brought upon them for this, until they repented and listened to His prophets. It is not a nice world we live in and extreme measures are often needed to protect the good and punish the evil. The school shootings should have been expected. The state school curriculum of anti-Christian teaching, anti-law, immoral life style, murder of abortion and evolution will always produce the mindless, purposeless people who see no right and wrong. Rebellion is in the main-stream of the public curriculum. Guns have their place in a world that murdered Jesus Christ. Capitol punishment is commanded by God and is also necessary because of total depravity.

Instead of giving our guns to the civil government, we should all arm ourselves so we can protect the families that the Lord has given to us.

Letter from John Quincy Adams to his father John Adams dated March 16, 1780

My Work for a day.

Make Latin,
Explain Cicero, Erasmus, Appendix
Peirce Phaedrus
Learn Greek Roots, Greek Grammar

As a young boy can not apply himself to all those things and keep a remembrance of them all I should desire that you would let me know what of those I must begin upon at first. I am your Dutiful Son,

John Quincy Adams

Letter from John Adams to his son John Quincy Adams dated March 17, 1780:

My dear Son,

I have received your letter giving an account of your studies for a day. You should have dated your letter.

Making Latin, construing Cicero, Erasmus, the Appendix de Diis et Heroibus ethnicis, and Phaedrus are all exercises proper for the acquisition of the Latin tongue; you are constantly employed in learning the meaning of Latin words, and the grammar, the rhetorick and criticism of the Roman authors. These studies have therefore such a relation to each other, that I think you would do well to pursue them all, under the direction of your master.

The Greek grammar and the roots I would not have you omit, upon any consideration, and I hope your master will soon put you into the Greek Testament, because the most perfect models of fine writing in history, oratory and poetry are to be found in the Greek language.

Writing and drawing are but amusements and may serve as relaxations from your studies. As to geography, geometry and fractions I hope your master will not insist upon your spending much time upon them at present, because although they are useful sciences, and although all branches of the mathematicks, will I hope, sometime or other engage your attention, as the most profitable and the most satisfactory of all human knowledge, yet my wish at present is that your principal attention should be directed to the Latin and Greek tongues, leaving the other studies to be hereafter attained in your own country.

I hope soon to hear that you are in Virgil and Tully’s orations, or Ovid or Horace or all of them.

I am, my dear child, your affectionate Father,

John Adams

P.S. The next time you write me, I hope you will take more care to write well.
Can’t you keep a steadier hand?
We just finished reading Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill (originally published in 1946, now published by Bethlehem Books, 15605 County Road 15, Minto, ND 58261). It is historical fiction about the early French Canadians living in “New France” in 1692. Very good reading. Probably meant for young children, but the girls and I enjoyed it.

We are now reading Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson (first published 1960, Bethlehem Books). From the back of the book: “This meticulously researched novel is set in the time of the Judges, and incorporates Biblical facts with a gripping story, set against the wide background of ancient civilizations.” It’s so good I’d like to finish it tonight, but we’ll have to wait till tomorrow. Laurie
From: “Carol Blumentritt”
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999

You mentioned in loop 77 that the authors of The Well-Trained Mind> have done the best job I have seen in taking the fundamentals of the > Principle Approach, as developed by Rosalie J. Slater, Verna M. Hall, > Dan Eby, Paul  Jehle, and many others and applying them to history and language arts.

What fundamentals are you referring to? Are you referring to the principles themselves (which I did not see at all when reading the book) or to some other aspect of methodology (perhaps the keeping of notebooks)? I’m only vaguely familiar with the Principle Approach.

I thought the book was a good synthesis of classical and Charlotte Mason ideas, with some Ruth Beechick thrown in. If there are some principle undertones, perhaps this book is on its way to being a blend of all teaching approaches!!! Well, I guess not–the authors didn’t seem too thrilled about unschooling.
Anyway, I’m interested to read your thoughts.

Carol Blumentritt
I’m referring to the methodology of the PA. Here is a quote from the Elijah Company catalog: “The PA may be applied to the study of any subject with the use of notebooks to record “the 4 Rs” (Researching God’s Word; Reasoning from the researched Biblical truths/principles; Relating the truths and principles discovered to the subject and the student’s character; and Recording the individual application of the Biblical principles to the subject and the student)… Students become self-learners… Students create their own “textbooks.”

The authors of The Well-Trained Mind show us exactly how to make these notebooks/textbooks using the 4 PA principles of researching, reasoning, relating, and recording. They do not, however, use these principles in a biblical sense, but apply them strictly to the study of history, literature, grammar, and such in a secular manner. Perhaps they had to do this, as someone else on this list mentioned, to satisfy their publisher.

I made an observation while reading the book The Well-Trained Mind, and I would like someone to check on my figures. I added up the amount of time per day the authors recommend for academics from K through 12th grade and came up with the following figures. I took the minimum number if a range in times were given. For example, if they recommend 20-30 minutes per day on some subject, I used the 20 minute figure.

(These are the times per day they recommend for actual academics, including required silent reading, for the student. These figures include a 10 minute per day period for family worship, but it does not include the time mother or father reads aloud–except for grades 1-4 there is included about 20 minutes per day of mother reading aloud history related books. )

Kindergarden–1 hour 20 minutes
First grade–3 hours 49 minutes
Second grade–4 hours
Third grade–4 hours 52 minutes
Fourth grade–5 hours 34 minutes
Fifth grade–6 hours 41 minutes
Sixth grade–6 hours 51 minutes
Seventh grade–6 hours 51 minutes
Eighth grade–6 hours 58 minutes

(These times–grades 9-12–do not include family worship or debate or family read alouds)

Ninth grade–7 hours 33 minutes
Tenth grade–7 hours 33 minutes
Eleventh grade–6 hours 21 minutes
Twelfth grade–6 hours 21 minutes

Could someone check my figures?
From: “Dan Harangozo”
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999

I’m writing in response to Dana who asked about incorporating copywork. Our 7 year old son is copying the Bible. He began the project at 6 years old (I wouldn’t recommend starting that early for the average child, but he has always a few years ahead of his peers), and his goal is to be done at around age 16 (a 10 year project). He is now in Genesis chapter 6. When he started, he was writing one word per day. After a week he was ready for 2 words, and he gradually increased the amount according to his own pace. Now he writes one verse per day and soon will be ready to increase it to two verses.

The benefits of this have been so wonderful and numerous that I can’t possibly list them all! Not only has his handwriting (we chose to use italic handwriting) improved unbelievably, but he is also learning (without even realizing it!) spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. all by osmosis. He has never had lessons in any of the above, yet if I receive a letter that contains errors in the above, he can go through and pick out every one of them in no time, because he has to closely observe those things in order to accurately copy the Bible. It’s great for me because it doesn’t take up any of my time. He works on it totally independently except that I proofread with him when he’s done each chapter. There is no record keeping required for this aspect of his education because he is creating a beautiful record of his handwriting that will be memorabilia that he will treasure all his life. It will show how his handwriting progressed, from young boyhood to manhood. Above all, the greatest benefit is that he is being saturated in the Word of God. When he is grown there will not be any part of the Bible that he has not read. He often brings up, in everyday conversations, facts and truths from the first six chapters of Genesis that are relevant to the discussion. He knows it better than I do, and I can tell he is comprehending much of it.

The only problem is he’s going to have to build a bookcase to store all the binders that he will need to contain the pages! And that sounds like a great homeschool project, actually no problem at all!

Dana, you can also get good ideas about how to do copywork from Ruth Beechick’s books, such as A Strong Start in Language (part of the 3 R’s series).

Lorna Harangozo
This is one of the best ideas I have ever heard.

Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999
From: daniel new

> A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to
> our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this
> enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The
> stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the
> world a few months later.
> As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me
> to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the
> stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating
> tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations.
> He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He
> was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill, and me to
> our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to
> see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.
> The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but
> sometimes Mom would quietly get up – while the rest of us were
> enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places – go to her room,
> read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the
> stranger would leave. You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions.
> But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity,
> for example, was not allowed in our house-not from us, from our
> friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional
> four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my
> knowledge the stranger was never confronted.
> My Dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home – not
> even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and
> enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other
> alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars
> manly, and pipes distinguished.
> He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were
> sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I
> know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were
> influenced by the stranger.
> As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger
> did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my
> parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
> More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with
> the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents’
> den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting
> for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
> His name? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> We always just called him . . . TV.
From: “Owen Rigdon”
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999

I have been gradually aligning myself to the classical style of educating but am still being pulled in many directions. I have seen several areas described in some of your literature that help, but do you have any suggestions how a victim of public school can go about preparing for this type of homeschooling? I feel like this is the way to go for my 7 year old boy, but feel a bit overwhelmed due to my lack of experience with many of the topics. Any information you’d like to share would be appreciated!

What can an adult do to prepare himself and his children for a classical education? Especially an adult who was raised in the government school system?
This is a question that is on the minds of many. I’ll just give you a few

1. Turn off the TV (of course, you knew I was going to say that).
2. Start reading. If you don’t like to read then start learning to like to read. And start reading aloud to your kids. Not just the 10 minutes before bedtime let’s read Green Eggs and Ham type of reading, but the let’s read Treasure Island (unabridged version) this week to the 6 year old type of reading.
3. Investigate the world around you with the children. When our kids were little (and even now that they are older) we explored everything from the men black topping the road outside our house to listening to all the visiting artists who came to town to searching through all 10 libraries in our area. Ask questions and learn from the experts. Ask the Lord to give you an inquiring mind.
4. Talk with your kids. Argue (not in the sense of fight, but in the sense of
debate) with your kids. Get involved in politics if you are so inclined. Our involvement in the US Taxpayers Party has led to some very interesting discussions.
5. Don’t talk baby talk to the children. Throw out the “grade level” mentality, in fact forget which grade they are in. Children are capable of understanding much more than we give them credit for. Read to them books above what you think their level is. Encourage them to listen to adult conversation.
6. Make sure the children obey you. First time obedience.

Don’t think in terms of “well, I need to take a course somewhere to prepare myself to give my kids a classical education.” It is in the process of teaching your kids that you will be teaching yourself.

We’ve made a bunch of mistakes in our homeschool. Here’s some of the things we have learned:

1. Children should be more than just academically prepared for life.
2. Boys and girls do not necessarily need to study the same things.
3. Homeschooling can be undermined by outside socialization.
4. Communication is the key to family harmony.
5. Discipline is a disaster if yourself you do not master.
6. Family worship is more than just a nice thing to add on at your convenience.
7. Fathers should be more than figuratively the head of your school.

We will be discussing some of these things in the next issues of Practical Homeschooling. Laurie
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999
From: “James A. Willcox”

I am writing to comment on fathers involvement in reading. I started to read to the children on a regular basis using the suggestions from the Bluedorns (letting the kids quietly work, or play while I read).

I have since become more aware of the daily activities and readings of the children and have tried to participate by questions, and explaining the moral, or relating the reading to the Bible/Christianity. We saw the fruits of this in about a week, the children being more cooperative and enthusiastic during school time. Time is always an issue, and as a physician there are times when I do not see the children (or my wife) awake for several days in a row.

As has been described elsewhere, something has to give, the lawn, housekeeping, …golf…. I have used woodworking to spend time with my daughters, give instruction, yet still allow some recreation for me. I suppose that just as the decision to teach at home seemed overwhelming at first and now is an inseparable part of the day, taking time away from other activities/work eventually yields rewards far greater than what we gave up.

escaping from mediocrity,
James W.
A Girl’s Best Friends
by Jessica R. Erber

I hadn’t thought very specifically about having a contented heart until Mrs. Novak called and asked me to write an article on how and what God has been teaching me in this area. I wasn’t sure what all to say, seeing as I am far from being able to be described as a contented person, but in hope that my struggles might encourage someone, I agreed to try my hand.

As I looked at the things I’ve struggled with, I’ve found that a Discontented Heart is one of the most sneaky. It very easily hides itself in some very innocent looking thoughts.

“If I only had one of those, why I could . . . If only I could see 10 years into the future. . . If only I had a best friend that I could talk to . . . .If only I wasn’t so tempted to . . . If only . . . If only . . .”

Who hasn’t had these or similar thoughts. These thoughts may appear harmless, but the imprint of Discontented Heart is on them. It is the tell tale, “If only.” Of course, this beast has other paw prints as well, such as “I wish” or “I want.”

One “I wish” that I especially remember struggling with was the “I wish I had a Best Friend.” You know, the kind of best friend you can tell everything to. The kind of friend you can become attached to, and love ever so dearly. I prayed and prayed for a best friend, (and I came up with some very good reasons why I needed one) never realizing how farsighted I was.

Well, some time passed, and I tried a couple times to turn a friend into a Best Friend, but nothing ever really came of these. In fact, looking back, I noticed that the four friends I especially tried to turn into Best Friends, all ended up moving away. Now I see that as a blessing from the Lord, but then it was ‘a trial that good friends must overcome.’ But through these years God was slowly working in my heart. So subtly was He working, that, until something happened last spring, I hadn’t realized the change that had taken place.

Last spring, we were at a family’s house for dinner. Now, this family was homeschooling their children, but their daughters wanted to go back to school because they didn’t have any friends. During the evening, the one daughter turned to me and asked, “What do you do for friends?”

The question totally stumped me. I didn’t know what to say. My closest friends lived an hour away, and hence we didn’t see them that often. I don’t correspond very much, either. And yet I didn’t feel like something was missing, or that I was left out or bored or lonely. What did I do for friends anyway?

“I do have friends,” I began hesitantly.

“Do you see them often?” She interposed.

“Well, not very often.” I had to admit.

“Aren’t you bored then?” She inquired.

Bored? Oh no. But why not? Then it dawned on me. I had my family. They were the ‘best friends’ God had provided for me. God had answered my prayers before I had even asked them! In fact, He had placed into everyone’s life the desire and need for a friend. But He did not plant that desire without also placing in each person’s life the people needed to fulfill it. He has surrounded each of us with the ‘friends’ that will best assist us in fulfilling our purpose in this life. Finally, my quest for a best friend was over. I had found that the ones God places closest to us are the ones we are to be closest to.

My mother and sister are now my chief confidantes. They are the kind of best friends that you can tell everything to. The kind of friend you can become attached to, and love ever so dearly. The kind of friend that will help me grow; one that has already gone through what I am now going through; one who has struggled, and triumphed; who can see farther down the road, rather than just grope in the dark alongside of me. What a perfect kind of friend. I would encourage each of you to take advantage of the friends God has placed in your very home. And don’t simply look to your parents, and older siblings, but remember that your younger siblings need friends too.

Though this is just one area, in which I have been discontent, I feel that it has an application that lends itself to other areas as well. And this is it: That God has provided everything that we need. And those unpleasant things that we “wish not” and yet have, are here for a purpose as well. Often their job is to smooth our disagreeable side. How often we “wish not” to be attacked by temptation. And yet I read a very interesting quote by Samuel Rutherford in which he said, “I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of hell, is to live without temptations; if my waters should stand, they would rot. Faith is the better of the free air, and of the sharp winter storm in its face. Grace withereth without adversity. The devil is but God’s master fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons.”

Yes, we must be content not only with what God has not given us, but also with those things that He has given us. Granted, not all “I wishes” are wrong. God has placed in each of us desires to motivate us on to greater heights. How often we “wish” to have a closer relationship with our Lord. Or “want” to accomplish something truly good and noble.

So, next time you hear yourself say, “I wish,” “If only,” or “I want,” pause a moment and think. Is this a goal to strive after, or is it evidence of the habitation of “Discontented Heart?

May God bless us all with strength and courage as we strive to follow Him more closely.

Jessica Erber is the daughter of Roger and Maggie Erber, board members of Illinois Christian Home Educators. Jessica has been homeschooled all of her life.
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999


While reading the Well Trained Mind I’ve kept track of same daily lesson time figures for each grade level, and our figures are very close. In general I think their whole plan is overkill and takes way too much time.

Years ago I tried doing phonics, math, spelling, grammar, cursive, history, science, piano, violin etc. every day. Guess what? We never had any time to READ. Weeks would go by without reading anything of any significance with the kids. It felt out of balance for us. So after the first two years, we quit most of that and mostly read, read, read. My 11 year old son is an excellent speller, without much in the way of formal spelling lessons at all. I think it is because he reads so much. On the bright side, I think the Well Trained Mind had many good ideas and excellent resources to use, and is still worth looking at.

Mary Scheller
From: “David Morgan”
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999

I must thank you for your logic books you carry. Rebekah has finished them, and I think it really helped her in debate. Rebekah and her partner finished 2nd in the CHEA State Final, and went on to nationals and finished 8th. They lost (barely) to the team which eventually came in first. The girls actually defeated the winning team in arguments and logic, but the winning team was very smooth and persuasive. I think much of Rebekah’s success in debate can be traced to her preparation in logic. We know some debaters who pay up to $1500 to go to a 3 week debate camp, but I think they would be better off just going through the “Building Thinking Skills” and “Critical Thinking” series.

David and Jennifer Morgan, Rebekah, Jeff, Sasha, Laura, Alexsey, and Anya
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999

I just wanted to thank you for being available to be used as an answer to prayer. We have a 10 year old son and our daughter is eighteen months old. We have always been a HS family. When we began, I was drawn to the Weaver Curriculum. It seemed to match the most natural way my son was learning and I still believe that the Lord and His Word should be the basis for everything. It was wonderful!

However, this year I started having questions about Classical Education. I started checking it out, but I just couldn’t quite understand the terminology. I was beginning to wonder if it was too late to start my son on this method. My goal has always been to teach him to love the Lord and be able to learn about whatever, whenever, and enjoy it.

Thank you for explaining the Trivium in terms that a public school graduate can understand. I am looking forward to learning more and implementing the Classical Method with my students.

Thank you again and God bless each of you, Patricia Wohlers The Wohlers Wisdom Academy
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999

I have used both 100 Easy Lessons – and am now using Writing Road to Reading. Both are phonics based programs. I feel WRTR is much better. My oldest got bogged down around the 50th lesson in 100 Easy Lessons. He was using invented spelling (I guess you could call it phonetic) freely, too freely. What I like about WRTR is that it is a Spelling, Penmanship and Reading program all in one. Spalding uses the Extended Ayres List as soon as you’ve learned the first round of basic phonograms. Spelling is reinforced and practiced to mastery. The precision and exactness of the WRTR program gives the child the sense that precision and exactness is required in spelling as well.

If you are schooling classically I feel WRTR is an excellent addition. Right from the beginning an exact method for forming your letters is taught. This method uses auditory training – strengthening your child’s ability to listen and “decode” new information. Learning to mastery is stressed throughout, no guesswork allowed. Writing the phonograms and Ayres’ spelling words reinforces the visual and kinesthetic ways of learning. Again, mastery and automaticity is the standard. Learning the basic elements of writing and reading is the key. Later the Ayres list reinforces and expands on these basics. Comprehension follows last. This fits very well into the Trivium. A 3rd grader who has spent 2-3 years with WRTR should be able to read any text at the high school level. He may not understand what he is reading – but he has the basic tools to help develop comprehension as the years go on.

WRTR is a much more comprehensive program than 100 Easy Lessons. The Extended Ayres List will take your child through a 9th grade spelling level. No other spelling or penmanship program is needed. Remember – it may take more time to work through WRTR – but it is 3 programs in 1, only grammar needs to be added around 2nd or 3rd grade. My son has flourished with WRTR. His spelling is much better and he has set for himself the goal of perfect spelling. He learned this goal from the preciseness that has been developed using WRTR. I use Reading Works as a supplement to WRTR. It helps clarify and simplify some of Spalding’s more difficult methods. I recommend that if you use WRTR you check into Reading Works. I have also used Bonnie Dettmer’s and Wanda Sanseri’s supplements. I like Reading Works the best.

Please feel free to email me about any further questions. You might want to ask at an email loop with many participants that have used WRTR for 10 years or more and have much more experience than I. It is basically a homeschooling group so please draw on their knowledge.

Christine Dattilo
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 1999

Greetings, Bluedorns –
I’d like to get your advice as to how to structure a lesson using the Greek Alphabetarion. In other words, how do you actually use it each day?

Michael Rampy
Here are some suggestions:
For an 8 year old, take one letter per week (more or less, depending on the child — less time for older or more advanced children). When you get through the alphabet then start over again. The goal is to become thoroughly familiar with the Greek alphabet. Write the letters, practice saying the sounds (you may use the tape and / or flash cards), make posters of the alphabet, make greeting cards and decorate the edges with Greek letters (this may impress the grandparents), make your own flash cards, compare the sounds of the Greek letters with the corresponding English letter sounds (Alpha and “A” — some letters in Greek have no corresponding English letter), combine learning the Greek alphabet with art, make up a simple song of the alphabet (some sing it to Onward Christian Soldiers, we’ve heard others as well), make your own tape of the sounds, make up the game of “Concentration” or some other such game with the Greek alphabet (some games are in the book). Do one of these activities each day. Don’t forget to make a Greek notebook to keep the student’s copywork exercises and later his exercises from Homeschool Greek. This notebook will actually be a rewriting, in the student’s own words, of our book A Greek Alphabetarion.

After the student knows the alphabet (sounds and symbols), then practice reading Greek (there are exercises in our book). He will only be reading Greek at this point, not translating from Greek to English, as he hasn’t studied Greek grammar yet. Of course, by the time he is good at reading Greek, he’ll be able to recognize some of the Greek vocabulary, especially if he is practicing reading his Greek from an interlinear (Greek on top, English underneath). He could practice memorizing passages from the Greek New Testament. When the student is proficient at pronouncing Greek — that is, recognizing the letters and sounds so as to be able to pronounce each word — then he can begin the study of Greek grammar. If the student doesn’t master the alphabet first, then he will find grammar to be most difficult. We suggest that you delay the study of Greek grammar (or Latin grammar or any language grammar) till age 10.

Question for discussion:
If you could study only one foreign language, which would you choose?

Harvey and Laurie
WARNING–Reading the following may be hazardous to your schedule.

Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999

Can you find the names of 25 books of the Bible in this paragraph? This is a most remarkable puzzle. Someone found it in the seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping himself occupied for hours. One man from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Roy Clark studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Victs mentioned it in her column once. One woman judges the job to be so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help calm her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot…. that’s a fact. Some people will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. The truth is, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have. Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation may help, books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. And punctuation or spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete. Remember, there are 25 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph.

Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999

I actually cried for joy when I found this website! I am homeschooling my five-year-old daughter and it has been quite painful, not because of her, but because I have realized how totally inadequate my education has been. I graduated from a liberal arts college with a degree in English, and am, at the age of 28, finally aware that I know or understand very little about anything. My college education did not challenge me, it was basically geared toward educating those who did not learn how to write in high school. As I stare bleary-eyed at my computer screen, knowing I will be sorry when my two-year-old son wakes up at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, I am thanking God that He led me to homeschooling! I am so excited about educating myself along with my daughter I can hardly wait. Thank you so much for your fascinating, intelligent, and Godly website. I plan to order all the back issues of your magazine as soon as our budget allows.

Sincerely, Mrs. D. Boals
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999
From: Larry & Patricia Maxwell

Here is a site I found tonight that has the Bible in multiple languages with search capability.

It has several English translations, Greek NT (printable, but no markings), Hebrew OT, Septaugint, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, Spanish, German, etc. What a great source for copywork!

Here are some books we have recently read:

Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard (Bethlehem Books, 15605 County Road 15, Minto, ND 58261) This is a history of Charlemagne as seen through the eyes of his daughters and his son Carl. Very interesting historical fiction. Ages 10 and up (that’s what it says on the book cover, but I think a 5 year old could easily profit from it). The girls and I enjoyed reading this book.

10,000 Ideas for term papers, projects, reports and speeches: intriguing, original research topics for every student’s need by Kathryn Lamm (published by Macmillan, 1998, ISBN 0028625129). It covers 130 different subject areas, with each research topic keyed to level of difficulty, availability of research material, and possibilities for variation. Valuable resource.

An Overview of Constitution Law audio tape series by Paul W. Jehle “Get a glimpse of the true meaning of the United States Federal Constitution from the view of those who framed it. In these sessions, explore the intent, and abuse, of the principles of Constitutional Law as we go line by line through the Articles and Amendments of the US Constitution.” Heritage Institute Ministries, Box 1353, Buzzards Bay, MA 02512. Highly recommended if you want to study the Constitution.

History of the United States, or Republic of America: Exhibited in Connexion with its Chronology and Progressive Geography by Means of a Series of Maps by Emma Willard (450 pages) Originally published in 1829. Now republished in 1998 by Greyden Press (614-488-2525). The maps mentioned in the book have not been republished.This is an excellent general history of the United States with some source documents reprinted in the appendix. Written from a Christian perspective. I wish the maps which are referred to in the text could be found, but the book can be used without the maps. Price is kind of high–$40.

A Short History of Western Civilization by John B. Harrison and Richard E. Sullivan. I looked at the 3rd Edition published in 1971 by Alfred A. Knopf. This is your typical Western Civilization college level textbook. It is written from a purely secular perspective and distorts Christian history. This edition has lots of PC. Don’t bother.

Eyewitness Science Astronomy by Kristen Lippincott (published by Dorling Kindersley) This is one of those scatter-brain books where you bounce around from topic to topic and just look at the pictures. Lots of pretty pictures, though. PC and secular throughout.

The Dorling Kindersley History of the World by Plantaganet Somerset Fry (published by DK in 1994) Same as above. Evolutionary and secular. Can anyone tell me–are all DK books secular and evolutionary? If so, why are they represented at all the homeschool book fairs?

The girls and I are very excited today. A few weeks ago we won a bid on ebay auction for 10 paperback John Buchan books, unabridged. They arrived from Canada today!


When our children were young and just learning to draw I bought for them from Dover the book “Animals: 1419 Copyright-Free Illustrations of Mammals, Birds, Fish, Insects, etc., A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources”
Selected by Jim Harter

This book is full of black and white pen and ink drawings (with short descriptions) that the children copied into their own little art booklets. They also entered these drawings into the 4-H fair.

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999
From: “Sleadd7”

>>>I dearly need some advice. Does anyone have ideas that have worked for them on what to do with preschool and toddler age children when you are
>teaching older ones? My children are ages 7,5,3,1, and 6 months. My first 3 are boys, and they wear me out. They are constantly running, wrestling, talking loudly, etc. and I have often wondered if I should allow this, or if I should curb some or most of it. I do curb it at times, because my nerves need a break (!) or a sibling is sleeping. What are some good inside activities to keep boys occupied besides just letting them run wild? (We don’t have much of a yard.) Don’t get me wrong here-my boys are pretty obedient, they are just…….full of energy. Joanna

I’ve been thinking about you all day and what I would recommend in your situation, but I need to know more about what you’re trying to do with your boys before I could be more specific with schedule ideas. Does your oldest read yet? Your 5yo? Are you still breastfeeding? etc. But as a mother of five also, I will go with some general principles I’ve learned that I hope will help you cope.

1. My husband’s advice to me recently was, “We need you to be MORE mom, and LESS teacher.” I took that to heart by realizing that when my children are preschool-age, they REALLY need my time with them–cuddling, reading, talking, rocking, walking, playing, etc. You have THREE preschoolers, which is a full time job right there!

2. So how do you make sure your oldest ones are also progressing academically? That’s the bugaboo, isn’t it–defining your priorities, because you have only so much time and energy. It’s okay to say you can’t do it all! Perhaps you need to find ways to delegate out some of your workload. Jesus said, “My yoke is EASY and my burden is LIGHT”. I know now that anytime my load seems more than I can bear, I’ve probably taken on more than He wanted me too, and I need to scamper back under HIS yoke, eliminate what is NOT in His will, and relax again. I am the type who thinks I CAN DO IT ALL! and I am constantly having to scale back my responsibilities. You are in a place now where you could easily become very burned out and/or ruin your health. Maybe I’m paranoid about this because it has happened to me (I have Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia, and I’m convinced it was because I overworked myself during all that childbearing and ran my immune system down), but I am meeting more and more women who are getting sick too, and we homeschool moms are especially vulnerable, because we take our parenting so seriously and want to do what’s best for our children. Here are some ways to delegate your workload; some of it will require even more work on your part initially, because it requires training your children, but in the long haul it will save you much trouble in the future, especially if you continue to have more children.

3. Your oldest boys CAN be taught to be nurturers! Take the next six months to have Husbandry School for them. Tell them you will be training them in how to be great fathers someday, Let your 7yo take some responsibility with the 1yo. Put your 6mo on the bed and change his diaper, with your 7yo watching and trying it on the 1yo. Then let that be your son’s first duty in the morning–to change the 1yo’s diaper. When he gets it on right, give him a sticker and a hug and a kiss and tell him what a great father he will be someday! The 5yo might even want to get in the act. Give them other lessons in simple domestic chores; how to fill a bottle, how to make toast or a peanut butter sandwich, etc., so they can make their own simple breakfasts /lunches. I rarely fix these meals anymore for my children. My 8yo son does lunch for a week on rotation quite easily. He can warm up soup, make a cheese sandwich, etc.

4. Your boys also CAN learn some decorum around the house. We do NOT allow running and shouting in the house. If they get too rowdy and loud, I either separate them or send them outside to do laps around the house and burn off some steam. Maybe you can take them to a park occasionally; they do need appropriate way to get exercise. There are exercise videos for children available out there, that you might try to buy. At nap time I require that they BE QUIET until Mom gets up from her nap. I require them to station themselves with a book or a pile of books, either in their beds or at the sofa, and STAY there until I get up. I may nap for 1 or 2 hours. They cannot talk, or walk around, or play with toys; they can only tiptoe to the bathroom if they need to. You deserve to expect that respectful treatment from them, and your health demands it! You would probably need to sit down with your boys, and with your husband helping you, and have a long talk to explain your new rules if you institute them, but it is doable. I just started the reading-at-nap routine this summer, and it’s working for me.

5. For school, I would just do alot with reading aloud and looking at good books. Perhaps you can find another mom to coop babysitting with you so you can go to the library alone every two weeks and bring home a pile of good books. Remember to search the children’s nonfiction section for good picture books about animals, plants, the stars and planets, etc. You will end up with a very good, wellrounded curriculum with very little forethought and planning this way. Then while you are holding the baby, pair the kids up again, the oldest with the youngest, the two middle ones together, looking at or talking about their books together. That can be plenty of school for awhile! I would delay trying to do any academics with the 5yo for another year, just for your own sanity, especially since he is a boy, and you with the six mo.

6. I would say two sessions of 30 minutes each day with the 7yo is about as much as you might hope for this year until your youngest is older. Two subjects is probably enough: phonics/reading and math. Of course his reading can include books on science and history, etc. He won’t suffer by waiting on his spelling and writing until your baby is older. You need time to hold that baby, even if you aren’t breastfeeding anymore. You’re still postpartum! And there’s the laundry…can you get a housecleaner once a month at least?

7. I feel for you in cramped quarters; that really exacerbates your situation, doesn’t it? Do you have a garage or carport where they can run bikes around or play? You might try to get a small gymnastics pad that they can wrestle/tumble on in the garage. Discovery Toys is a great source for educational games and toys. They are spendy; I was blessed with a sister who gave me a bunch of her used games, and we use them for school frequently. Try going to some used book/curriculum fairs where you might find some used games.

I hope this helps you. Take good care of yourself; pamper yourself occasionally; it’s important that you stay healthy and happy, or you won’t be of any use to your family at all! I have learned this the hard way; I hope you don’t have to.

God bless you.
mother of Naomi 12, Nathan 10, Aaron 8, Alexa 6, Caleb 2
We’re back from our travels; 5400 miles in one month. We went from the far northland of North Dakota (our 48th state), where we were most graciously taken care of by the James Bartlett family, to Decatur, Alabama, to the hot, humid climate of Fort Lauderdale, FL (hoping to see an alligator), on to Maryland (had to pass by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian due to lack of time) and Gettysburg and on west to Ohio and Chicago. It was in Maryland where we were told that Harvey’s mother died, causing us great sorrow and distress, but it was the Lord’s timing, so we are content with that.

It was a pleasure meeting and talking with many of you, also making new friends. We had an unusual experience with some friends in North Carolina. I’ll write about it soon.

Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999

Dear friends,

I could use some suggestions from those more experienced! I have a 10 yob who has done very little formal academics. He is very creative in nature, devours books (although he didn’t “learn” to read until 9 yo.), draws continually, has an inventors mind (like his beloved daddy), can recite to you anything he has read from a book, is fascinated by history, but despises using the pencil! He is very obedient and will do whatever I ask but is coming to despise math b/c of it’s continuous writing. We have done lots and lots of mental math over the years and I write a lot of word problems out on the board and he will do them. But we started Saxon 54 this year ( I’ve heard I could go to 65 but I found 54 for free and decided to give it a try.) When he sees me pull out the book his face does these strange contortions! He will complete the pages and get the answers correct but he loathes it! Any suggestions? Is it time for him to just buckle down and do it? We’ve tried Miquon b/c of the manipulative advantage but I didn’t care for some of the way they presented the material. Just my opinion. Laurie, I remember you said that one of your boys was that way. You mentioned the fact that you did a lot of the writing for him. How old was he before he did his “own” math writing? Do I oblige him in this? Anyone who has one of these wonderful children under their roof and has had success in this area would be a great encouragement to me. Feel free to write me personally or through the group.

Sandy Eplett
Mom to Austin, Jordan, Zoe’ and Anai
I wonder why it is that some boys just hate holding that pencil. I wish someone in a university somewhere in the land of degrees and professors would do a study and tell us why. Perhaps it is because just the though of all that “work” they must do in holding the pencil just so (and holding the pencil never really feels comfortable to them) and writing out each and every letter (and they know they can never get the letters to looks exactly just like in the books) is too overwhelming to them. And then on top of that they must sit still for so much time when they really just long to be jumping and rolling and talking.

I think a 10 year old should be doing some writing every day, even if it is just a little bit. Allow him to do as much of the math orally as possible or write out for him what he dictates to you. Your son sounds like a delightful laddie who is willing to please his mommy and daddy in most anything.  Help him out with his weaknesses. In another year or so he will be more ready to write out on his own his math exercises.

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999
From: Pam McDonald


I have been homeschooling for 15+years and have had 7 children during that time, with a total of 10 so far (7 boys!), and I would agree with Arden on her wonderful advice, especially the part about being more mother and less teacher. The practical working of that in relation to learning is that I keep my little ones with me at all times. The baby sits on my lap or at my feet doing whatever I am doing with the older ones. The toddler also stays with me, “doing school” too. I let them play with toys, or nurse, meeting their needs as we are all learning together. I found that God gave us our little ones to enhance our curriculum, rather than to detract from it. As we are learning to read and write and do numbers we are also learning to yield our rights and to be patient and kind to others. I consider all of our children to not only be siblings to each other, but teachers also. Our newborn teaches us to be selfless, and to love babies. Our toddler teaches us to be persevering and patient and to laugh at ourselves. I would also like to share some other practical things that work for me.

I find keeping a regular schedule is a life saver. I don’t mean a feeding schedule, but a simple event oriented schedule so each member of the family will understand that after we eat breakfast we do chores then school, after we eat lunch we read books and nap and after dinner we do chores, baths, devotions and bedtime. Life is so much easier when I don’t have to catch everyone and get them going the same way all of the time.

Another tip that has helped me tremendously is to do spend time with the youngest children first. While the older children are finishing chores I take the littlest ones and spend time with them, reading, doing puzzles, just playing and being Mommie. I emphasize that we work before we play and I consider this part of their day as school. I have found that by giving the little ones their time first they will be content to play quietly at my feet for awhile by themselves giving me time to work with the older ones. I will say that I consider my little ones to be those under 8-10 years old!

My schoolday for my current 9 and under goes like this: rise, get dressed, groom and tidy bedrooms. I have been up for awhile and help the little ones follow my directions. It takes time to get everyone ready, but for the little guys it is a lesson in itself, so don’t feel bad taking the time to do it.Breakfast is very simple and wholesome on schooldays: cooked cereal and fruit After breakfast we do chores. When all of my little ones were your children’s ages we all did them together. Chores teach so much character so I am glad we have them. After chores we all convene on the couch for school. I start with Bible reading and Bible stories. Then we cover phonics. Everyone gets a chance to say them, the youngest copying the older. After phonics the readers read aloud to all of us. Baby nurses whenever he needs. Then we get out the math manipulatives. Everyone does math. The older one does addition and subtraction stuff with the blocks, the preschooler adds them while the toddler counts them. Baby “eats” the bigger ones. We all work before we play and its hard work to count blocks. It’s fun too!

After we do our reading and math we all move to the kitchen table for assignments. I put the toddler’s high chair up to the table too. Each child old enough to care has a notebook filled with all sorts of papers. First each child works on his writing. Some scribble, some make circles, lines and dots, others copy my printed letters, some work a handwriting book. Of course even little ones get to use a pencil! Then I have those who can write a story or copy a passage from the Bible or book we have been reading. The little ones “write” or “copy” also. After writing they all illustrate their work using either cut and pasting or coloring. During this table time I am working primarily with the older ones(over 8-10 years old) while supervising the younger. I bring an older one to the table so I can keep my eye on the younger ones. This works well for me as we do it everyday, we always work before we play, I change the activities just before the children get bored and therefore naughty.

After about an hour of table time (remember we first practiced writing, then wrote stories then illustrated them so I kept the little ones moving at a pace just ahead of their boredom) I let them move to the living room for duplo or blocks time. The living room is adjacent to the kitchen table so they are right there for me to see, but they can have more room to move about and be a bit noisier without disturbing us. The little ones can play nicely without me for about an hour for several reasons: they already feel connected to mom since they had my total attention first thing in the morning and they are very ready to play since they have had a structured morning. I want you to understand that while the little ones did “school” it was still age appropriate things they were doing. When my children were all young I used duplo time for reading aloud to everyone. They learn to play quietly and contentedly while listening to me read. Now for read aloud time most of the children prefer to sketch or color.

After duplo time (I do not call it play–it is still school time) I can let the younger ones play outside my kitchen window (where I am still working with the older ones) for about an hour. The 7yr old can supervise while you get lunch if need be. I think it best if you can go out to play also. This is play time! They have worked hard all morning and play feels so wonderfully fulfilling to them now! They play until just before lunch when we have a pick up time. I should mention that during school time I always emphasize tidying up as we go along. It teaches the little ones to pick up after themselves and gives them a little break from their work, stretching the time a bit more.

We all eat lunch then read aloud some more and then our entire household goes quiet for a 2 hour time period. I nap also. This is an essential for all of us. We used to live in a condo and did not have any yard at all. For exercise we went on a 3 mile walk each day (still do!). We also walked to a park several times per week. Children need lots of physical activity.

I am not saying that all of this is easy. It is not! Everything we do that is worthwhile takes time and concentration. Keep at it and you will see wonderful fruit from all of your sowing! BTW, I don’t see much mature fruit until after about 10 years old–the “light bulb”age! Gal 6:7-9 tells us to not be weary in well doing for in due season we will reap, if we faint not!

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999


Just wanted to say thanks for visiting with us in Warren, Ohio. It will be nice to connect faces with names now, this makes reading the loop messages more meaningful. What I appreciate about your approach is that you do synthesize all the homeschooling “methods,” and use the best of each as they all have some merit. I also was encouraged by your relaxed attitude toward academics in the early years. Dr. Moore’s approach has taken a beating lately in the classical education realm, with the emphasis on early and rigorous study. My last two kiddos did not read till 9, and only after WRTR. My first taught himself at 7. The impression given by so many classical folks is that if you use these methods your two year old will be reading Latin.

Thanks again,
Peg and Jim Earl
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999

Dear Harvey,

David Hickerson, after extensive and accurate research, updated and expanded the Orton Phonograms found in Ramalda Spalding’s classic phonics program, Writing Road to Reading. As far as I know, Spalding was the first to teach all the phonemes associated with a letter or certain letter combinations in the form of a chant. I read Ann Gillingham’s published work, and do not find anything like that. Frank Rogers has made a brilliant analysis of various possible phonics programs and classifies the “Spalding family” of phonics as vertical phonics. I like his adaptation of Spalding, but think that Alpha-Phonics is better for bilingual children because of the way it uses alliteration and rhyme. David Hickerson has one entire lesson in PhonicsTutor which teaches his phonograms. I made my own phonogram cards by taking David’s alphabetical list from his new Teacher’s Manual and putting them in order of appearance in Alpha-Phonics. I sort of couple vertical and horizontal phonic with linguistic phonics. Quite a brew, but a rich and powerful one.

The Hickerson’s and I are doing a presentation for the West Texas Educators Conference here in Odessa on the 15 of October. I hope to make a video of it. I have a video of a workshop I did on Alpha-Phonics at the conference in 1997 before I knew about Spalding and vertical phonics. Perhaps I could get you a copy. I am heart sick that Sam put his book into a box with lots of other paraphanalia. It is not available for individual purchase – just at the time when it should be selling like mad. Surely if our Sovereign God wants it back in print he will move, and that right early. I pray for strange things sometimes. I think I know what I am talking about since I taught Alpha-Phonics for five years, and have trained several teachers who are having similar spectacular success in public school classrooms. This year I have 19 second grade bilingual students. I am happy to report that this year is no exception, except that this year I am coupling the program with vertical phonics. I anticipate even better results. I taught Spalding last year to first graders with mixed results. What ever else it is, it isn’t a FUN program like Alpha-Phonics.

Changing subjects a bit: You might like to read the invaluable introduction to Leonard Bloomfield’s Let’s Read, recently reprinted. I think that actually children use analogy (a power of the mind) to learn to read. Bloomfield explains the process quite well. I am sure that you are aware of Bloomfield, the author of the great linguistic classic, Language (1933). He may have been a behaviorist, but he had insights that are only now being adequately confirmed.

Alpha-Phonics is little more than an adaptation of his method, although Sam Blumenfeld told me on the phone that they are quite different because he teacher the individual phoneme. The phoneme is so abstract (actually a fiction – because of coarticulation) that I hesitate to think that is the unit that students use when they begin to read. Intrasyllabic units such as onset and rime probably explain how they get started. Under good teaching and with lots of reading, they develop a refined phonemic knowledge. The subject of reading is much more complicated that most folk think. The age at which a child begins probably has a lot to do with the method. Begin early enough and they might just be able to learn to read by simple immersion in the text, in particular a phonetically controlled text like Bloomfield’s.

The beauty if Alpha-Phonics is that a person who can read can teach it, even if he is not a reading specialist. That is a major consideration for those of us recommending methods to parents. That is why Homeschool Greek is such a Godsend, well, one reason!

Donald Potter
Before we left on our last trip we read That Printer of Udel’s (can’t remember the author). We bought the book from the Conservative Book Club as the write-up on the book in their monthly newsletter looked interesting. About 2 or 3 chapters into the book I started to get weary. That happens to me when I read a poorly written book. It literally wearies my voice, my mind, and my patience. I’ll read a few sentences and then drop my head and sigh, “I can’t stand this.” Usually the kids will encourage me to read on a little longer to see if it is really bad or just portions of it are bad. With this book I continued on to the bitter end. And I think I know why–I paid a lot of money for the book. If it had been a library book I would have abandoned it immediately, but if I actually spend money on  something I tend not to want to waste it. The book wasn’t bad in the sense that it was immoral, it was just very poorly written and much of the plot was quite unbelievable. I threw the book away.

Now we are reading John McNab by John Buchan. It promises to be another good Buchan spy novel.

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999

1. I saw in an archived digest that Dennis Gundersen has said that he knows how to get a hold of some different Catechisms. I am looking for a Spurgeon’s Catechism. I need one with a believer’s baptism point of view. Is Dennis still here? I checked out our local Christian bookstore and they could not find this Catechism on their supplier’s list.
2. I am passionately researching Grammar for my son for next year. I have received the Shurley Grammar information they supply and am not that terribly excited (cost for one). I borrowed a friend’s copy of Winston Grammar and feel that this is not in my style or child’s style. What I am looking for is a way to instruct my son in sentence structure and the different elements of grammar. I would like to diagram and could probably instruct him just from a grammar reference book like the Rod and Staff grammar reference. I like the sounds of the Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book and the thought of “beautiful sentences” for examples. Will this book (Webster’s) assist me in instructing parts of a sentence and elements of grammar. I realized recently, while studying Wheelock’s Latin myself, that I am really lacking in this (grammar) area myself. I would like our children to know the difference between a subject of the sentence and the direct object of the verb 🙂 in order to make their study of Latin go more smoothly. Thank you for your help.

Blessings In Christ, Laurie in Chicago
I just read an article in the magazine Early American Life (August 1993) called Schoolbooks (page 14-16). The author of this article does a short study of the
3 books “that shaped the minds and characters of millions of Americans for more than two centuries. The humble volumes of The New England Primer, Noah Webster’s American Spelling Book, and William Holmes McGuffey’s series of Eclectic Primer and Eclectic First and Second Readers not only taught generation after generation of American youngsters to read, but instilled in them moral principles as well.” The New England Primer was used during the colonial period, while Webster’s speller was used in the period following the American Revolution. McGuffey’s was used during the westward expansion. “These key works did not succeed one another in a neat pattern, for their lifespans overlapped. And they were by no means the only publications available for instructing American children in the rudiments of reading. But their impact upon the personality of the American people far outstripped that of their competitors.”

The article goes into an explanation of how the New England Primer (basically a textbook sympathetic to the English cause) was used to teach the early American children how to read (in home and school). “But following the American Revolution, the need arose for a new kind of reading textbook. The political independence wrested from Great Britain would mean little if the fledgling United States remained culturally dependent. This important dilemma was resolved to an important degree by a young New England lawyer/schoolmaster, Noah Webster….Then in 1782 Webster applied his talents to producing a three-part text specifically designed for American schoolchildren. The first section, bearing the ponderous title of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language…Part I: Containing, A new and accurate Standard of Pronunciation, was published… 1783….This was the work that four years later would be renamed The American Spelling Book, and eventually become legendary as the ‘blue-back speller.’ The other two books, a grammar and a reader, never approached the success and wide-spread acceptance of the speller.” [Has anyone seen these other two books?]

“…until well into the nineteenth century the spelling book was the book that taught children to read. It was also intended during that era to instruct them in proper pronunciation.”

“…Initially McGuffey’s Eclectic First and Second Readers differed from The New England Primer and Webster’s speller in that they were not designed to teach children the fundamentals of reading. Students were assumed to have already acquired the basics of literacy…” Later, McGuffey came out with a Primer and Speller which were used to teach children to read.

What I found interesting about this article was that Webster’s speller was used to teach children how to read. I think the average homeschooling mom, herself schooled in the government schools and taught to read by whole language, would have a hard time teaching reading using Webster’s. But if you were already familiar with teaching reading (and the phonics system) then you could use the speller to teach reading to your children.

Back to the question asked by Laurie in Chicago, Webster’s speller doesn’t teach English grammar. But I used the sentences in Webster to practice the grammar I taught the children (using the Bob Jones English Handbook). If English grammar is a weak subject with you (actually you probably aren’t weak in it, you have just forgotten most of it and can quickly relearn it), you might want to use a different curriculum to teach your children grammar, especially if this is your oldest child. I think the oldest child is the most difficult to teach. We are rusty on our mathematic and grammar skills, there having passed many years between our own high school years and when we first start teaching math and grammar to our children. It gets much easier with the second child. Except for logic. The fifth time round I finally got it.

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999

Which Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament should we study? I didn’t realize there were different versions until I came across a web site that declared that the King James Version is based on better manuscripts than are modern translations like the NIV and NKJV.

Since then, I’ve found other websites that promote use of the KJV. One of them even said that the KJV was a better Bible than the Bible was when it was written in the original languages. Another one called Latin “the devil’s tongue.” I don’t suppose these people wouldn’t be interested in the Trivium.

Ted Holt Corinth, Mississippi
I have answered this with a little more detail in our magazine.

The short answer is that there are lots of bad arguments on all sides of this question. Yes, some people think you can correct the Greek New Testament text with the inspired and inerrant King James Bible. I am not among them. Yes, some people think the NIV is the best possible translation. I am not among them either. There are three basic tests:

1) The accuracy of the Greek text used to translate from.
2) The accuracy of the method used in translating into English.
3) The propriety of the style of writing in English.

In my opinion, the NIV flunks all three. The NKJV comes in much better on 1 and 2, but regarding 3, it dumbs down the vocabulary and uses poor grammar. The KJV also comes in a better on 1, 2, but regarding 3, the archaic grammar and vocabulary tends to detract from the clarity.

As far as Greek Texts are concerned, there are elaborate arguments about the number of hand-written manuscripts and the ages of these manuscripts and the quality of these manuscripts and the type of errors made by scribes in these manuscripts. The modern critical Greek texts (upon which the NASB and NIV and other modern translations are based) are largely constructed from what scholars argue are the “oldest” manuscripts, arguing that the oldest must be closest to the original. But this argument quickly breaks down when the evidence is actually examined. This handful of so-called “oldest” manuscripts were still written centuries after the time of the apostles. There is ample evidence that the text of the Greek New Testament had already been greatly corrupted well before then. Though these manuscripts were all found within a relatively small area and time span, they nevertheless greatly disagree among themselves. According to Biblical law, witnesses which do not agree in substance are to be thrown out. But then, if Jesus — the Word of God manifest in the flesh — was convicted and put to death by witnesses who could not agree among themselves, then why should we expect the Bible — the Word of God written — to avoid the same fate of being thrown out by conflicting witnesses? The vast majority of the manuscripts (upon which the King James and the New King James are based) — about 95 to 98% of all manuscripts, depending on how you evaluate them — these majority manuscripts are found spread across a wide area and over a long time span, and yet they virtually agree with one another in all details. Yet these manuscripts are thrown out in deference to the small handful of those witnesses which disagree among themselves, and whose major mark of unity is that they disagree with what should rightly be characterized as a continuing tradition of independent witnesses in the vast majority of manuscripts.

I personally use Stephanus 1550/1551, which follows the traditional or majority of manuscripts. Zane Hodges and Arthur Farstad wrote what they call “The Majority Text,” attempting to make corrections to the traditional text. I don’t entirely agree with the methodology which they used, so until someone does a better job, I pretty much stick with the traditional text. Stephanus 1550 is available from several sources, and there is an electronic version — but without accents, breathers, subscripts, punctuation, etc., which makes it harder to read. I’ve been working for several years on a computerized diacritical text of Stephanus 1550 (diacritical means it has the accents, breathers, etc.) and I am nearing the end of the project. It’s more complicated than you might think.

There, that’s a nontechnical thumbnail description of the whole thing, which no doubt invites more questions. There are many poor articles written defending the KJV and the traditional Greek text, and many poor articles defending the NIV and the modernized Greek text. You’ve got to gather the facts and use your own critical thinking skills to evaluate the evidence before coming to a practical conclusion as to what Greek text or English translation you should use.

I refer you to my previous article for more information.

A good book on the methods of translation is:
The Future of the Bible, Jakob Van Bruggen, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, Nashville, 1978.

A good book on the Greek texts is:
The Identity of the New Testament Text, Wilbur N. Pickering, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, Nashville, 1980. (A revised edition is expected soon.)

Here are a couple of books which argue the other side (and which I believe are riddled with factual omissions and errors, characterizations, and logical

The King James Version Debate, D. A. Carson, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1979.
The King James Only Controversy, James R. White, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, 1995.

Date: Tue, 26 Oct 99

Dear friends,

Please help! What do you do with a messy child? I was never trained that cleaning up was part of the job myself. In fact, when I got married I turned in desperation to the woman who was discipling me to teach me how to clean. My long-suffering husband is very practical and orderly (although he does squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle).

Fortunately, our first two children responded to example and a little explanation and are relatively neat, with room for improvement. Number three, Abigail, doesn’t even see a mess, much less clean it up. I confess that is exactly the way I was when I got married!! This has been a problem for awhile, and did prompt me to be more proactive in the training of our next child. As a result, we have a two year old who is more conscientious about putting things away than her six year old sister!

What do I do now? Daddy thinks it’s time to discipline, not to train. It seems quite straight forward to him – if you make a mess, clean it up! As for me, I remember my mind going numb as I looked at a big mess, and that as a 25 year old! I needed someone to help me know where to start and I know Abie does too, but how to go about it? I have a really hard time following through, and any slip-ups on my part cause a real backslide on Abie’s. I’ve just gotten over a six-week illness ending in a miscarriage, so my resources are low. Does anyone have any advice?

Katherine in Cambodia
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 99

Re: “Why do little boys hate pencils?”

Well, not all of them do. In our house it is a daughter, not a son, who had an aversion to writing. Her problem was a later than usual development of fine motor skills, a situation more common in young boys.

Gross motor skills are usually quite advanced if the fine motor skills are lacking. You will have a child who performs great feats of physical dexterity for his age, and yet views a session with a pencil as torture.

In my opinion, the cause is NOT too much energy to sit at a quiet job. It is simply very difficult for them to make their smaller muscles perform as they want them to do. It is very frustrating to understand how to do something, and yet be unable to do it to your (or your teacher’s) satisfaction.

I agree that the little fellows should be given lots of “hands-on” projects to do, but I think we can go a bit farther than that. We can help them to develop fine motor skills without giving them such a demanding and frustrating task as writing. The projects that they work on could become progressively smaller, and therefore progressively reliant on fine motor skills. The biggest boon for such a child, in my mind, is drawing. Make sure, however, to protect them from discouragement. Their drawings won’t be as “good” as a more manually dexterous child. They will probably draw the same image over and over again at first. This is great! Take a representative drawing to the printers and have some cards made up featuring your son’s “OOgie People.” Encourage, encourage, encourage the use of his hands with an instrument.

When he does start to write, be sure to take as many obstacles as possible out of his path early on. Make sure he holds his pencil correctly. (I hesitated to correct my pencil-despising daughter and it has caused her much grief. It would have been much better for me to patiently pursue the correct hold to begin with, even though it felt odd to her.) Make sure he forms his letters correctly. There is a reason for the ways we form letters: fluid and non-fatiguing writing of long strings of letters. The Getty-Dubay Italic is the most logical system available, as well as the most comfortable. I would highly recommend it for the reluctant writer, followed at the child’s own pace. Let him use “helps” like specially lined paper as long as he likes. You may need to reduce the first writing lessons on a copier. Large letters are actually harder to form in the more cramped style of a reluctant writer. Finally, this is a physical skill, and may be accompanied by muscle fatigue, or if he’s tense, muscle cramps. Squeezing play-dough is a great break or warm-up.

Before you know it, pencil hating will be a thing of the past. His fine motor skills will catch up to the rest of him one day, so don’t lose heart!

Katherine in Cambodia
From: Kaleidoscope Academy
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999

>One classical school was using Saxon all through high school, and >the students found, when they went to college, that they were not able >to figure out the math!

My friend’s son used Saxon’s Advanced Math, Calculus, and Physics. When he tested at a local junior college he did well enough to skip (C.L.E.P.?) the first year math requirements. After one year at that college he tested for a university in New York state. He did very well and is now at that university majoring in engineering. He is “acing” all of his math classes. His professors are impressed with his knowledgeable grasp of mathematics and they (profs., parents, and student!) seem to
think that the Saxon curriculum is responsible for this.

A son of another friend used Saxon from K – 12 (physics & calculus too). After high school he wanted to go into a specialized field in one of the armed forces. He needed to score high on the tests in math to get accepted. He scored highest in the group that was tested and was immediately accepted into the field he desired.

After home schooling for 13 years I have heard of success and failure from people using ALL of the major math curriculums. Bob Jones, A Beka, University of Chicago, and Saxon. It only makes sense, with all of the different learning styles, teaching styles, personality traits, etc., not everyone is going to have the same results with the same texts. What works best for your child may not work at all for mine and vice versa. It’s the same for each subject and even within our own families. After
trying 3 different phonics curriculums, Alphaphonics finally worked with my first daughter, while my second daughter learned to read with flash cards alone. So instead of trashing other phonics curriculums, I just tell why these two methods worked for my daughters. The reason they did work for us may be the reason they wouldn’t work for your children. What we need to understand is that we don’t all learn the same so we need the variety of texts available in each subject. That way every child
has the same opportunity of learning and not failing simply because there was only one grammar curriculum available and it didn’t “click” with “The Way They Learn.” (Which is, by the way, an excellent book {The Way They Learn} to help you understand how each of your children learn.) In the traditional classroom with many students and only one teacher in each class, there are going to be those who don’t do well (in any given subject ) because the texts are geared toward one learning style, etc. That is one of the many downfalls of an education that is not one-on-one and personalized. And that is probably why some college students, who used Saxon in high school, are not as prepared for college math and others, using the same Saxon texts, are. If I hadn’t been able to try different phonics curriculums with my oldest daughter, she still might not be able to read well. They don’t get that same luxury in the “school room” setting.

So Saxon math might not work with your children but it has worked just fine with other kids. By high school we should know our children well enough to know what type/style of curriculum to use. Aren’t we blessed that we can use what we have learned and apply it to EACH of our children to give ALL of them the best INDIVIDUALIZED education possible. So instead of listening to all of the negative (and positive, I’ve thrown away many dollars because I bought everything that worked for everyone elses child) comments about this and that curriculum, do YOUR homework. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of the said texts and why they did or did not work for your friends or for curriculum reviewers. I’ve read reviews by Mary Pride in which she raves about a certain text and the reason she likes it is exactly why I avoid it.

You might also ask yourself what your goal is behind learning a particular subject. Take Latin, for instance. Do you want your children to be able to converse in Classical Latin with Douglas Wilson, have a good foundation for ENGLISH vocabulary or somewhere in between? Our goal is a good foundation for English vocab, so Latina Christiana serves our purpose. For those of you who have never heard Harvey and Laurie speak, you really must get your hands on their cassettes or go to the next convention nearest you! They will lay a foundation for home schooling that will help you in choosing what is right for YOU and YOUR children. Some of
their workshops include: “The Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling,””Teaching the Trivium,” “The Logical Defense of the Faith,” and more. Doing your own “homework” will be more difficult at the moment, but in the long run you will save money and time. Let the Lord lead and get to know each of your children well enough to individualize their education.

Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: “Thomas C. Calvert”

I read the comments on boys who hate pencils with great interest. My oldest boy is nearly eight, and has struggled with handwriting. I worked very hard at teaching him to hold his pencil correctly, and used rubber pencil grips for a couple of years. We didn’t spend a lot of time on it, and there wasn’t any blood, sweat, or tears, but I was just very diligent to always check his hand and make sure he was holding his pencil properly whenever we were drawing or writing. He managed this way for a couple of years, but this year my younger son was wanting to learn to read, and so I left the older one to do his drawing/handwriting more on his own. He took a pencil without a rubber pencil grip and before I knew it he had changed his pencil hold completely. He said that he was more comfortable writing in that position, and that it was easier for him to write. His handwriting has improved some, and I find it interesting that his pencil hold looks exactly the way my dad’s does. (He also has some of my dad’s other characteristics). . I think it is important to be sensitive to your child to find what works for him. This is not to say that anything goes, but I have relaxed my expectations in trying to fit him into my mold.

The standard pencil hold just doesn’t work for some children. I also noted that the Getty/Dubay Italic teachers manual shows an alternate pencil hold. Now I let my son use his own unique pencil grip and it seems to work much better for him. For our children who are now less than 8 years old, we don’t do a lot of handwriting, but we do lots and lots of drawing. When they learn to read I show them how to form the different letters correctly, and have them write out words they are reading (We use Alphaphonics) This only takes about 10 minutes a day. We have art books around the house which I use sometimes to teach various drawing techniques, but mostly they just draw on their own. My son who struggled with handwriting is one of my most avid artists. He mostly draws pictures of machines, boats, cars et cetera. I keep a lot of books in the house about how different things work, including The Way Things Work by David Macaulay. He loves to look at these books and will spend hours drawing the things he reads about, although he still doesn’t care to practice handwriting very much.

By the way, I just read the note from Katherine of Cambodia, and I was glad to hear of another Mom using drawing to work on fine motor skills.

Anne Calvert, from Pensacola, FL
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 1999
From: “Thomas C. Calvert”

>>Please help! What do you do with a messy child?
Katherine in Cambodia

To Katherine in Cambodia,

My heart goes out to you. In regards to your daughter Abigail, I know what you are talking about. I have one of those in my house too. Here are some things that have helped me. First, some kids just have too many toys, and this is a problem for the ones who are not naturally orderly and neat. When this child looks around the room and sees hundreds of toys left all over the room in disarray, they feel overwhelmed. For toys like Lincoln logs, blocks, brio train sets, etc… I put them up on shelves in boxes. Put all the toy train stuff together in one box, Lincoln logs in another etc. The rule in our house is one box at time. You have to clean up your first mess before you can get anything else out. I always check to make sure there are no messes left lurking around the house before I will let them take down a box. Another thing, if your child wants to get out the Lincoln log set with over 2,000 pieces right before dinner, and cleaning them up after dinner will mess up your bedtime routine, it’s OK to say no. I do this regularly with no guilt whatsoever. Keeping the household running at a slower pace helps me not to get too tired and run down. Also, if you have 3,245,967 plastic-do-nothing toys cluttering the house, and you are using up your time and energy keeping up with it, you will probably find your life easier if you get rid of some of it. Read Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett if this is a problem in your house.

You will have to take some time to organize your daughter’s room for her, with her helping you out. Put up shelves, buy boxes, bookcases, whatever is needed to contain her things. Sort things into logical groups, (beads in one box, doll clothes in another). For toys that don’t fit into any particular category have a box for odds and ends.

Teach her the rule, “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place”. Simplify as much as possible. I had to put my daughter’s baby doll collection in under-the-bed storage boxes because they just covered the floor. I told my daughter that they needed to be put in proper beds, because they couldn’t just sleep on the floor, and so we had a nice “play” time together putting her dolls into the boxes and arranging the pillows and blankets so that they would be comfortable. Keep all the toys put away when she is not using them.

One thing that is helpful in our house is that I require the children to groom themselves, make their beds, and pick up their rooms before breakfast every morning. This means that everything gets picked up at least once a day. This keeps things from building up til the mess seems insurmountable. For children under 9 years old I supervise in the beginning stages. I stand in the room with them and cheerfully give orders. “Pick up that truck” “Put it in the box” et cetera… If a child puts a toy into the wrong box, I make him correct the mistake. I always make them do everything properly. I help smaller children make their beds and give instructions to the older ones as they do it, demonstrating as necessary. In the beginning I just take as much time as is necessary to get it all done, and then have breakfast. When they had the routine down I told them that if they didn’t do their morning chores on time then they wouldn’t get any breakfast, although we have never had anybody miss breakfast over this. My kids know that I mean what I say. Don’t allow children to dawdle around, teach them to move quickly. Sometimes I have them choose a number for me to count to (under 100) while they pick up all their matchbox cars and trucks, for example. The kids think it is a fun game. They work like crazy to beat me, and as long as they are working quickly I make sure to count slowly enough for them to succeed. When they beat me I say “What, are you finished already? How did you do that so fast?” in pretended disbelief. Then I tickle them a little and tell them that next time I will beat them. If they are being poky, I count as fast as I can and when I finish counting before they are done, I calmly and sweetly apply the switch while telling them to do their work quickly. This may sound harsh, but actually my kids don’t mind it because they know I am doing it out of love. I never do this in a spirit of anger or retribution. In fact, it makes my kids more secure and happy. I use this game to teach them to move quickly. After they have learned this I begin to discipline them for moving slowly, even if I am not counting.

Uncooperative slowness is a symptom of lazy rebellion. When this manifests itself I use the teachings of the proverbs in the Bible regarding the rod and reproof. As the children get more practice following the morning routine, it will take less time. I will never forget waking up one morning after my husband and I had been out late, and realizing that I had slept in. I imagined the kids running around tearing the house apart in their pajamas. I dressed as fast as I could. To my surprise they had cleaned their rooms, made their beds, and done their grooming as well as their abilities had permitted, and were sitting on the couch reading, waiting for their breakfast Through regular practice it had become a habit, they did it every morning without even thinking about it. To get to this point I had to follow the morning routine religiously, inconsistency ruins everything.

Sometimes there is just more work that one person can keep up with around the house. I find myself in a position where I just can’t do it all. If I get caught up on the laundry, the bathrooms are neglected, and if the dishes are all done then floor looks disgraceful. The only solution to this is to train the kids to do it for you. I consider this training in self-sufficiency to be more important than academics, and once you have accomplished it the discipline transfers over to their study habits. Also, when the children are helping around the house you have more time for other things. It may be necessary to let the dusting and vacuuming go for a little while, in order to get the training done.

If you don’t know where to start, just pick one thing, anything, and put it in order. Then maintain it. When this feels manageable, find something else and put it into order. Then maintain that one and the first one at the same time. Go through the house systematically in this manner until you find that there is nothing left to do. This is true of the housework and also of the child training. Train your children to clean their rooms every morning and then maintain it. Then train them to clear the table and wipe it, and wash the dishes after every meal, and maintain it. When this also has become automatic move on to something else, like vacuuming and sweeping the floor. Eventually you will have worked yourself out of a job. This requires a great deal of time, intelligent planning, and diligent effort. Once the children have been trained you have to maintain the training, but the effort is minimal in comparison to the actual training itself.

Reading this message over, I felt that it gives the impression that my house is always immaculate, with never any rough spots. This is not the case. Actually I am in the process of retraining my children for the second time. Since my last pregnancy, my fifth, I have suffered from poor health. I spent a lot of time in bed for several months after the baby was born, and after that I suffered from exhaustion. The training went by the wayside, and the household routine fell apart. But I know the road to recovery and am now training my kids again with renewed vitality. The results I am getting already give me hope that soon life will become easier. Some good advice I received from reading “The Homeschooling Father” by Mike Farris was to always give each child the most challenging chores he can manage around the house.

One other piece of advice. Try to temporarily eliminate any activities or projects that might distract you. Put all your energy into training. Cook meals that are easy, or freeze them ahead of time. Do anything you can to lighten your load while you get this underway. Once you are finished with this project you will have time and energy for other things. This is the way I do it, and I hope this information will be helpful to you.

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999
From: Kingen Family


My name is Alison Kingen. My husband and I homeschool 4 children, ages 5, 8, 9 and 14. I am interested in delving more fully into classical education. Some of what we have done has fit into the trivium. We have lacked in Latin and grammar which is typical of most hs beginning classical education.

What do you recommend for changing to the classical method for the older child (a 9th grade boy)? He is an avid reader, enjoys Logic, needs grammar and Latin, and hates to write (pencil phobia). We cannot afford Artes Latinae but do have Latin grammar by Mars Hill. I have just purchased The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and so far have found it very interesting but would like to hear other critiques on the book.

My most important question is starting with the older child. I plan on solidifying the basics where they are lacking, but obviously we missed much of the memorization in geography, Historical dates and persons, scientific terms, etc. How do we handle the memorization as well as the more in depth study at the same time. At this age memorizing lists of info will be seen as quite a chore rather than the fun it was at an earlier age.

Thank you for your time and any help will be much appreciated.
Alison Kingen
Check out our web page archives for a discussion of memorization. I personally think that memorizing passages of literature is more valuable than memorizing random history and scientific facts. There is only so much time in a day. If it is important to you that your child be able to list from memory the 100 or so elements in periodic table order or list all the rivers on the globe or recite the contents of the “L” encyclopedia then you should spend your day working on those projects. There is all number of things a person could memorize. You and your husband need to decide what is important. The memory work in our family consists of poetry, literature (including the Bible) and passages in Greek (from the Bible). Yes, it is more difficult to memorize when you are older. The neuron-synapse routes of the brain are changed only by very painful means. We suggest cattle prods. Just kidding.

A 14 year old could begin the study of logic and Latin or Greek. TWTM has some excellent ideas on how to combine the study of history, composition and literature for an older child. Use the ideas in their book that work with your family and leave behind those ideas which do not work. The authors recommend quite a bit of writing, which may not work with your son. Laurie
From: “Ferguson Family”
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999

Dear Friends,
I have a piece of didactic poetry to share, as our family enjoyed it very much. It was written by “Anonymous,” who seems to have been around as far back as the year 1480.

Manners at Table When Away From Home

Little children, here ye may lere
Much courtesy that is written here.
Look thy hands be washen clean,
Thay no filth in thy nails be seen.
Take thou no meat til grace be said
And till thou see all things arrayed.
Look, my son, that thou not sit
Till the ruler of the house thee bid . . .
Eat not thy meat too hastily.
Abide and eat easily.
Carve not thy bread too thin,
Not break it not in twain.
The morsels that thou beginnest to touch, Cast them not in thy pouch.
Put not thy fingers in thy dish,
Neither in flesh, neither in fish.
Put not thy meat into the salt
(Into thy cellar that thy salt halt),
But lay it fair on thy trencher
Before thee, that is honour.
Pick not thine ears nor thy nostrils,
If thou do, men will say thou comest of churls.
And while thy meat in thy mouth is
Drink not thou – forget not this.
Eat thy meat by small morsels,
Fill not thy mouth as doeth rascals.
Pick not thy teeth with thy knife;
In no company begin thou strife.
And when thou hast thy pottage done,
Out of thy dish put thou thy spoon.
Nor spit thou not over the table,
Nor thereupon, for it is not able.
Lay not thine elbow nor thy fist
Upon thy table whilst thou eatest.
Belch not, as a bean were in thy throat, As a churl that comes out of a cot.
And if thy meat be of great price,
Be ware of it, or thou art not wise.
Bite not thy meat, but carve it clean.
Be well ware no drop be seen.
When thou eatest gape not too wide,
That thy mouth be seen on every side.
And son, be ware of one thing,
Blow neither in thy meat nor in thy drink.
And cast not thy bones unto the floor,
But lay them fair on thy trencher.
Keep clean thy cloth before all,
And sit thou still, whate’er befall,
Til grace be said unto the end,
And till thou hast washen with thy friend.
And spit not in thy basin,
My sweet son, that thou washest in.
And arise up soft and still,
And jangle neither with Jack nor Jill,
But take thy leave of thy host lowly,
And thank him with thine heart highly.
Than men will say thereafter
That “A gentleman was here.”

We found this in the Oxford book of Children’s Verse.
Lori Ferguson
London, Ontario, Canada
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999
From: Chuck & Kim Blair

I really need help. I know that nothing is wrong with KJV Bible but I am really wondering if anyone has knowledge about the Geneva Bible. Why or why not you use it. I would like to have it just because it is farther back in time, so in my extremely humble opinion, less corruption in the side notes.

Where could I find out who these people are that commented in the Geneva Bible?Any wisdom on buying this would be greatly appreciated. It looks like it has some different versions too.

Thanks, Kim
I’ve read extensively out of the Geneva 1560 and the Geneva 1599. The translation is a lot like King James, some places better, a few places not. The style of English in the King James is more attractive. King James hated the Geneva notes so much that he promoted a new translation, and the rest is history. The translation was written in Geneva at about the same time the Bible was being translated into Spanish, French and Italian in Geneva as well. John Calvin’s influence is in the notes. John Knox was present and no doubt influenced them as well.

I believe there is a modern spelling and typeset of the 1560 edition New Testament. Everything other edition I’ve seen is a photographic reprint of the original 16th century typeset, where j looks like i, s looks f, u looks like v, and vv represents w. You get used to it after a while. Harvey


“The Factual Guide to the Constitution for the United States of America” edited and compiled by R. J. Smith, copyright 1995, The Eureka Group, 7672 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio state, Non Domestic 45356.

336 pages, 3 1/2″x 6 1/2″

“The primary purpose of this book is to provide the user with a study and information reference tool for the Constitution for the United States of America. Every attempt has been made to obtain all material facts from source documents. Its secondary purpose is to introduce additional references and texts that contribute to a greater understanding of the Constitution.”

Table of Contents
Quotations, Outline of the Constitution, Outline of the Articles of Amendment, The Constitution, The Articles of Amendment, Delegates to the 1787 Convention, Ratification Tables, Failed Amendments, Declaration of Independence, Presidential Data, Star-Spangled Banner, Pledge of Allegiance, Anatomy of the Flag, Maps, Glossary (88 pages)

Examples of quotations found in this book:
“You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; right derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” John Adams

“…it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Samuel Adams

“The general rule is that a unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it, and unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed.” 16 Am Jur 2d 256 at 724

“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury v. Madison 5 U. S. 137, 173, 176, (1803)

This is a good reference tool you’d want in your library.
The Early Christians After the Death of the Apostles, selected and edited from all the sources of the first centuries by Eberhard Arnold, Plough Publishing House, Rifton, NY, first published in German in 1926, translated to English in 1970.

This book is a collection of quotes from the early Christians on various subjects, such as: state, society, and martyrs; Christian self-portraits; confession of faith and scriptures; Lord’s sayings, the teaching of the twelve apostles, and letters; meetings and worship, and proclamation and prophecy.
Basic American Government by Clarence B. Carson, copyright 1993, American Textbook Committee, Rt. 1, Box 13, Wadley, AL 36276

“Basic American Government gives an account of the general government as established by the Constitution, of the state governments which preceded or came after it and their constitutions. More, it details the Ancient and modern foundations, scriptural and secular, on which these constitutions and governments rested. The Founders of the United States built on a great foundation, and the story of that is told in these pages. The story is told, too, how the Constitution of 1787 became venerated and accepted as a Higher Law in the 19th century. The account ends with a sobering description of the massive departures from the Constitution in the 20th century, on the way to constructing a Leviathan, which government is now out of control.”

Excellent high school level government text.
Lazarus Ministries Press, VIP, Box 463, Owensville, Ohio 45160 (513-641-2221) Ask for a catalog.

This publishing company specializes in reprinting books and bibles that have been lost to the modern generation. The publisher sees the value in maintaining correct versions of American history and providing exact replica versions of Bibles over 400 years old. Some of the items they carry are:

The Federalist Papers on the New Constitution, 1817–this selection is taken from the corrected papers of Hamilton, Jay, and Madison and gives many interesting points on the background of our Constitution for the United States of America.

Obedience of the Christian Man–1528, Next to translating the NT into English this is William Tyndale’s most significant work published during this time period.

Manuscripts of the Greek Testament–first printed in 1828, explores the mechanical and literary process involved in their writing and preservation with tables of alphabets and facsimile plates of manuscripts.

Rare Bibles, an introduction for collectors

Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution–1864

The Lord’s Prayer in above a hundred languages–1713

The English Hexapla, 1841–6 English translations of the NT, dated from 1380 to the authorized KJ 1611. Also includes the Greek.

1560 Geneva Bible–high quality replica edition

Memoirs of William Tyndale

plus much more
The Famous Monarchs of England Card Game, ages 7+, Published by Trioview Ltd., Heritage Toy and Game Company, made in Belgium. Write to: Heritage Games, Box 17, Eastwood, Nottingham, NG16 2XU, UK.

A colorful, fun way to learn, in order, the monarchs of England.
Excerpt taken from Life, Administration and Times of John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States, by John Robert Irelan, 1887, page 17, as reported in the Principle Approach Education newsletter (800-352-FACE):

John Quincy Adams was homeschooled by his mother in American Classical education, learning to read from the Bible and studying poetry and literature, French, and history up to the age of ten. Here follows a letter written by John Quincy at the age of eleven in which we can clearly see the heart and mind of a “Principle Approach” student:

“Honored Mamma,
My papa enjoins it upon me to keep a journal, or a diary of the events that happen to me, and of objects that I see, and of characters that I converse with from day to day; and altho’ I am convinced of the utility, importance, and necessity of this exercise, yet I have not the patience and perseverance enough to do it so constantly as I ought. My papa, who takes a great deal of pains to put me in the right way, has also advised me to keep copies of all my letters, and has given me a convenient blank book for this end; and altho’ I shall have the mortification a few years hence to read a great deal of my childish nonsense, yet I shall have the pleasure and advantage of remarking the several steps by which I shall have advanced in taste, judgment, and knowledge. A journal book and a letter book of a lad of eleven years old can not be expected to contain much of science, literature, arts, wisdom or wit, yet it may serve to perpetuate many observations that I may make, and may hereafter help me to recollect both persons and things that would otherwise escape my memory.”
National History Day Competition
for children in grades 6-12, homeschooled children are eligible University of MD
0119 Cecil Hall
College Park, MD 20742

National History Day 2000 topic: Turning Points in History–People, Ideas, Events

“During the 1999-2000 school year, National History Day invites students to research topics related to the theme, “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” The theme is broad enough in scope to encourage investigation of topics ranging from local to world history. To understand the historical importance of their topics, students must ask questions of time and place, cause and effect, change over time, and impact and significance. They must ask not only when events happened but also why they happened and what impact they had. What factors contributed to their development? Regardless of the topic selected, students must not only present a description of it, but also draw conclusions about how their topic affected individuals, communities, nations, or the world….

Students investigating this year’s theme may choose to explore events with international repercussions, such as wars, or they may focus on events which affected fewer people, such as natural disasters, the establishment of new institutions, or the move of a family from one place to another. They may examine new ideas–political, religious, social, economic, philosophical–and how those ideas helped to transform some aspect of human life. Or they may choose instead to look at individuals whose ideas or actions have made a difference to those around them or to the world at large…

The theme is a broad one, so topics should be carefully selected and developed in ways that best use students’ talents and abilities. Whether a topic is a well-known event in world history or focuses on a little-known individual from a small community, students should be careful to place their topics into historical perspective, examine the significance of their topics in history, and show development over time. Studies should include an investigation into available primary and secondary sources, analysis of the evidence, and a clear explanation of the relationship of the topic to the theme. Then, students may develop papers, performances, documentaries, and exhibits for entry into National History Day competitions.”

We participated in National History Day for 3 years and felt it was a very profitable use of our time.
Seduction of Home Schoolers
by Jackie Orsi, of the California Homeschool Network

I do not like public school homeschooling programs. I believe they exist only because the growth of independent homeschooling could not be stopped and therefore had to be controlled. They exist to keep families from becoming free. That is their primary purpose; all else they do, including the education of the children enrolled in them, is of slight and secondary consequence.

And indeed, they do a very good job of keeping families dependent. About four years ago my school district began an independent study program. I watched in silent dismay as most of my homeschooling friends fell to the seductions of “free” materials and textbooks on loan and an end to the annual scares of filing an R-4 in this county. I recall especially what happened to one mother who had been homeschooling her two boys beautifully and independently for years. Then she enrolled in the school program and immediately grew weak and self-doubting. She’d call me prior to her biweekly meeting with the teacher, sounding panicky. “I wrote this on the recording form—Is it all right? Do you think it’s enough? Do you think it’s good?”

I’m pleased to say that many of the families who enrolled in the public ISP left the program after the first year or two, including the mom I just described. Those families which had previously experienced freedom soon realized that they were giving up much more than they were receiving in return. (They realized also that they were often fictionalizing their reports in order to conform with the school’s expectations. “It’s too much like a lie,” one mother told me.) They came back to freedom, and fortunately for them, freedom was still there waiting for them.

I’m also sad to say that families who are new homeschoolers when they join the public ISP generally continue in the program year after year. They have never tasted the freedom homeschooling can give them, and they probably never will. They are captives, held by bonds so gentle as to be scarcely noticed. Their captors are nice people who say they want to help them and support them and give them things.

Each year across California, more and more families are seduced into public ISPs and charter programs, abandoning the private sector in the process. Independent homeschoolers are becoming a smaller and smaller portion of the homeschooling community. One of these days I expect the entrenched interests of public education to finally make their move and try to swallow homeschooling up entirely, and I fear that the ranks of independent families will be so thinned out that we will be powerless to stop them.

When that day comes, ALL homeschoolers will lose. Any leverage homeschoolers now have within the system will vanish. At that time, those who are contracted to the public system will be in a poor position to make the case that homeschoolers don’t need government supervision, since they will have amply demonstrated their dependence on it.

In hearing rooms at the Capitol, scores of public ISP teachers will testify about the crucial services they perform for the families enrolled in their programs. They’ll tell of all the nervous mothers who come to them and ask, “Is it all right? Is it enough? Is it good?” They’ll tell of all the ways their kindly, benign intervention daily saves kids from educational abuse and neglect at the hands of their ill-prepared, incapable parents. They’ll call for all manner of control and intervention and legions of certified teaching jobs to be funded and filled in order to keep us in line.

The danger is all too real to me.
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999

<< but obviously we missed much of the memorization in geography, Historical dates and persons, scientific terms, etc. How do we handle the memorization as well as the more in depth study at the same time. >>

Laurie answered the question but I wanted to comment on the assumption behind the question. Classical education does not mean the same thing to everyone who uses the term. This question assumes that classical education requires memorizing multitudes of facts during the elementary years but from my limited reading I don’t think that is the ONLY way to provide a classical education.

One of the difficulties in discussing classical education is that there are many different definitions. Some define it as focusing on Latin and arithmetic only in the early years where others define it as memorizing the ‘grammar’ or facts of all subjects. It’s frustrating when I just want a specific plan to follow, but since I don’t really think God designed one exact, precise curriculum for all children to follow (;-D) it pushes me to seek Him continually to discover how to educate MY children. There is freedom there and less worry about what I may have missed.

Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999

If you are able to give any feedback in this area I would really appreciate it. I have four children ages 10, 7, 4 and 7 months. I have always read to them but only to the older two together and usually to the four year old on his own. The four year old is wonderful but he is also strong-willed and testing the waters whenever and wherever he can.

Having a baby on top of this has made schooling very challenging right now. Since he is no longer napping, it is even more challenging. I have been trying to read with him in the room too but it is very hard for him to not make noises when he is playing as I am reading. He loves trucks but to play trucks he has to make truck sounds. Whatever it is he does while we read he’s noisy. I’ve tried puzzles and that worked the best but he does not have the attention span of the other two and it is hard to keep reading when he is constantly switching activities. The other two are doing narration and it is hard for them because of his activeness and noise. I can read for about an hour when he is with us but it is a very challenging hour. I try later in the day to read more with just the older two but it doesn’t always work. Anyway, have you encountered any difficulties like this or have you had other people ask you similar questions? It’s not easy with the spacing between them because each of them is in such different places developmentally. I would appreciate any feedback you have. I do a lot of praying and some days are better than others.

God bless your family and ministry. I appreciate it!
Marty Kearney
Imagine this scenario:

Mother calls up the stairs, “I’ll be reading in 5 minutes.” Instantly 5 little munchkins come tumbling down, ever anxious for the next installment of Island of the Blue Dolphins. Nine-year-old Nathaniel quietly sits down at the art table Mother has positioned next to the art shelf in the living room, intent on working with the new markers Uncle David bought him. Seven-year-old Johannah picks up her cross-stitch project she is trying to finish for the 4-H exhibit at this year’s county fair. Five-year-old Hans plays quietly in the corner with his Legos. Three-year-old Ava happily sits near Mother on the couch sucking her thumb and holding Mother’s hair.  And, last, but not least, little Helena crawls around examining the furniture and falls asleep on the floor an hour into the reading. All the children work and play quietly, never causing Mother a moment’s worry or distraction. She never has a need to tell anyone to be quiet or stop fighting. All is peace and calmness. Mother reads for two hours, stopping occasionally to call for narrations, and then stops to prepare dinner.

Is this reality?

I think not. Just this morning as I was reading “Two Little Confederates” by Thomas Nelson Page to my three daughters, ages 16, 18, and 22, I had to stop 2 times to ask the girls to please stop talking. They were discussing among themselves which web page they should go to in order to buy a certain vintage sewing pattern. Then the boys came in from working on the barn roof to check on what had come in the mail. Then my mother called to tell me that Aunt Rowena just got married. By the time I got off the phone I had lost my audience.

I determined long ago that if I waited for the perfect time to read aloud I would be waiting forever. But I really do think that by the time the youngest is 24 they will have finally learned to BE QUIET while I read. Of course, by then they will all be married off and living in their own homes, and I’ll be left alone reading aloud to the empty chairs. Oh, sorrowful day. But, I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow.

My daughter Helena just asked me if I told you to keep a fly swatter next to your chair as you read. I guess I must have done that when they were young, but I really don’t remember. Children do remember the strangest things.

Reality is, when the children are small, you will have interruptions. The smaller the children and the larger the number of children, the more the interruptions. But what is motherhood all about but a training of these children, and it is a training process that never stops. Do you know, I have only a few more years left to me of this training process, 4 or 5 at the most, while most of you have dozens left. How blessed you are.

Here are some suggestions which may help. A 3 or 4 year old is old enough to be required to stay in one area, say, on a blanket or small rug, busy with Legos or some such toy, for half an hour. Then switch places and toys and require him to play quietly for another 15 minutes. By then Mother will need a break from reading and everyone can move on to the next thing on your schedule. Perhaps you could keep back some special toys just for read aloud times. If the child starts to get noisy in his play, stop reading and gently remind him to “modulate you voice,” as Laura Ingles Wilder’s mother used to say. At times you will need to use the switch. Although we would like to attain the end point of no interruptions when we read, it is the training process that is most important. The children remember HOW we mothers did things, not necessarily the end result. The children remember that Mother was always gentle and kind in her training, not that everyone was quiet while she read. Laurie
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999


I am on a classical loop, and on that loop I asked for advise on using Webster’s speller. I was referred by one person to write directly to you for this information. Do you have something, besides what is written in the back of the speller, that explains how you use it? I have borrowed it from a friend because I have heard is spoken of so highly, but can’t figure out exactly how to use it. I think the biggest problem I am having is understanding where to find rules for my son to write in spelling notebook.

We began with lesson 12 this week. I read the words and he spelled them (because I was fairly sure he was beyond these beginning words). I wanted to be able to tell him a rule for words like cap, dot, job, etc. to have him write in his notebook, but I am clueless. I am a TERRIBLE speller, and feel as though UNDERSTANDING the reasons why the words are spelled certain ways would have helped me greatly in my spelling.

Any help that you can give would be GREATLY appreciated. My son is starting to write more, so spelling is something I would like to begin taking a closer look at now.

Thank you,
In His Grace,
Lori Galemore
If you go into an old book store you’ll find several old spelling books, but Noah Webster’s speller was probably one of the first, if not the first, one written for Americans, and it was certainly the most popular. It was actually used to teach reading and spelling (see previous loops). What made Webster’s so popular was his sentences. They are beautiful masterpieces. Webster had a way with language that you’ll never find in any textbook written in this century. These sentences are good examples of writing that you will love your children to imitate by copywork, dictation, diagramming, and narration.

Nobody really knows exactly how parents and school teachers used this speller in their daily teaching of reading and spelling. We can only guess and improvise. It is my contention that Webster’s speller can be used to teach English grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and handwriting. I never used it with my children to teach reading, but I would love to hear from mothers who did.

I think the best candidate to use the speller is the person who likes old books, is not afraid to improvise and invent, has a basic understanding of spelling and English grammar, has 20-30 minutes (depending on the ages of your children) each day to devote to these subjects, and is interested in saving money. If you are just beginning homeschooling, have forgotten all you learned about grammar and spelling while in school (which happens to some of us) and feeling a bit overwhelmed, it might be advisable to use a different curriculum for English grammar and spelling for a year or two to get your feet wet and then take on Webster’s. You see, Webster’s doesn’t TEACH spelling or grammar or reading. It just provides the lists of words, sentences, and paragraphs for you to use when YOU teach the child spelling and grammar. In addition there are some spelling rules along with some rules for punctuation and capitalization included in the book.

I used Webster’s speller along with my Bob Jones English Handbook (or any thorough English handbook will do). By the way, McGuffey’s speller is fine also to use, although his sentences aren’t quite as nice as Webster’s. The English handbook will help refresh your mind about the grammar rules and show you how to diagram sentences. Our Handy English Encoder/Decoder (see our catalog) lists all the spelling (and phonics) rules there are. You might want to use that to find the rule that matches the words you are studying.

This, along with the article we include in Webster’s speller, should help you in your use of Webster’s. Laurie
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
From: Dennis Gundersen

For Ted Holt:
Harvey wrote a fine reply and I have only a tad more to say. The KJV advocates who even would dare so revere the KJV as to put it on even the same level as the original texts argue a great absurdity. One would wish they would read the “Translator’s Preface” to the KJV, in which those who did that fine work – and it is a fine Bible- nonetheless, had the humility to tell future generations not to idolize their work nor to take lightly and disregard the work of other translators who would come after them.

There are, without question, errors in the translation which the KJV does.
I mean by this, instances in which the KJV that we have in hand today does not even closely approximate the Greek texts from which it is supposedly derived – most notably, a major addition in 1 John 5 as an attempt to enhance proof texts for the Trinity (I do believe in the Trinity! But they did not need to add a supportive text where it did not exist in the Greek).

I would not diminish confidence in the KJV at all; the translators did a wonderful piece of work, no doubt about it. But to raise it to the level of ‘better than the originals’ is nonsense, no matter who says it, and the person who says it should be viewed as one blinded by prejudices in favor of the KJV rather than seen as a scholar on the matter at hand.

I am concerned about one sentence in what Harvey wrote and wondered if you would clarify for us, my good friend?

>>There is ample evidence that the text of the Greek New Testament had already been greatly corrupted well before then. <<

Harvey, would you explain why you said “Greatly corrupted”? That seems to me to greatly overstate the case. The Greek NT texts have never at any time, in my view, been ‘greatly corrupted’, if by that we mean “serious changes which alter the message or cast doubt on the reliability of what we have as the Bible”. What we have in the NT is as well-founded a document as can be found anywhere in the world, & differences between texts are mostly so utterly minor as to make most debate trivial at best. But I know you do your homework, so I thought I’d ask you to clarify what you meant by “greatly corrupted”, so that the faith of none are shaken in how reliable our documents are.

Dennis Gundersen
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa OK
Grace & Truth Books


You perhaps take me in a different sense than what I meant.

When you speak of corruption, I think you are referring to the “relative” absence of variant readings among all of the ancient handwritten copies. Yes, apparently if you compare the amount of variant readings in manuscripts of the New Testament with variant readings in almost any other ancient literature, then you will find that the New Testament has relatively very few variant readings — very little corruption.

“Differences among the Greek manuscripts such as omission or inclusion of a word or a clause, and two paragraphs in the Gospels, should not overshadow the overwhelming degree of agreement which exists among the ancient records.” (The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982, pp.iv,v.)

But that is a naturalistic way of looking at the problem, and I reject the philosophy of naturalism.

Have you ever had a corrupted document in your computer? It means some of the code is goofed up — for whatever the reason — and the computer program can’t
deal with it properly. It doesn’t take much — actually, only one little bit of information missing, changed, or in the wrong place — to corrupt the whole document.

Now, if you were to copy a novel, you could actually change a lot of the text without messing up the story of the novel. A novel could withstand a lot of random corruption. But a computer program can stand very little corruption — its significance is multiplied because of the interrelatedness of all of the information. The same is true of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are more than a novel. They are a covenant document, a law and a record, the only written words which we can rely upon as absolute truth handed down to us from God. As absolute truth, they are thoroughly consistent with themselves. Therefore ANY variation in the manuscript has great potential for upsetting the relationship between all of the pieces of information — exactly like a computer program — because they may call into question the veracity of the other pieces of information.

So when I say that _the text of the Greek New Testament had already been greatly corrupted well before_ the time that the _so-called _oldest_ manuscripts_ were written, I mean that there existed hand-written copies which contained many alterations in the text, and these alterations have the potential for “closing down the program.” From a naturalistic point of view, they may look like just a few alterations. But from the point of view of logic, they are systematically destructive alterations. (Toward the end of this letter I_ll get back to how systematic they are.)

“Of the approximately five thousand Greek manuscripts of all or parts of the New Testament that are known today, no two agree exactly in all particulars.” (Metzger, Bruce. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. New York: United Bible Societies, 1975, p.xxiv.)

This quote tells us that every ancient manuscript we possess today has some corruption — some alteration — in it.

“[O]ver 85% of the text found in ALL manuscripts is identical….” (Robinson, Maurice A. and Pierpont, William G. The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine / Majority Textform. Atlanta: Original Word Publishers, 1991, p.xlii.)

This quote tells us that if we give a voice to every ancient Greek manuscript of the New Testament which we possess, then 15% of the time there will be at least one dissenting voice to what the New Testament says.

“Some variations exist in the spelling of Greek words, in word order, and in similar details. These ordinarily do not show up in translation and do not affect the sense of the text in any way.” (KJV/ NKJV Parallel Reference Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991, p.xxiii.)

This quote tells us that some of the 15% is minor and incidental in nature.

In the next quote, understand 1) that the term “Textus Receptus” refers to the traditional Greek text of the New Testament as it was printed in the sixteenth century, from which the King James Version was translated, 2) that the term “Majority Text” refers to a modern attempt to correct the Textus Receptus from the now more available manuscript evidence, and 3) that the term “Modern Critical text” refers to the radical revision of the Greek text of the New Testament by modernist scholars who rely heavily upon a few favorite “old” manuscripts.

“There are approximately 300,000 textual variants among New Testament manuscripts. The Majority Text differs from the Textus Receptus in almost 2,000 places. So the agreement is better than 99 percent. But the Majority Text differs from the modern critical text in only about 6,500 places. In other words the two texts agree almost 98 percent of the time. Not only that, but the vast majority of these differences are so minor that they neither show up in translation nor affect exegesis. Consequently the majority text and modern critical texts are very much alike, in both quality and quantity.” (Wallace, Daniel B. “The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?” Bibliotheca Sacra. April-June 1991, p.38).

This quote is meant to bolster our confidence, from a naturalistic point of view, in the Greek text of the New Testament. However, to quote Mark Twain, “There are liars, there are damn liars, and then there are statistics.” I don’t mean to be calling Mr. Wallace a liar. He’s just repeating his version of a story which others have told, and I’m sure he intends no deliberate falsehood. But I disagree with his assessment of the statistics. Though Mr. Wallace reduces the significant textual differences to somewhere between 2 and 3% (which may be accurate), his assessment that the texts are “very much alike, in both quality and quantity” is not reality.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you were one of the potential heirs of your late uncle’s estate. He wrote a last will and testament of 1,000 words. There are three handwritten copies available, but these three do not agree. Yet there is only a 2% difference in wording. Well, that makes little difference, doesn’t it? 2% is only twenty words. So you are certainly willing to go along with whatever the other potential heirs choose among the readings of the three manuscripts, right? Well, they happen to choose those readings among the three manuscripts which eliminate your name 18 times, but adds your name elsewhere twice. Now, you still get a little of the inheritance, so you have nothing to complain about, right? Or maybe you now think that this little 2% may be more significant than it first seemed! You see, it all depends on what that 2% has to do with. Is it purely random, or is it systematic?

You see, those who want to belittle the question about which Greek manuscripts we should rely upon want to say that it is only a matter of statistics and (by implication) probability. A random 2% difference is virtually nothing! But that has NEVER been the question. Sure there are many incidental “differences” in the manuscripts which appear to be altogether random “errors.” That’s going to happen simply from the fact that human beings make mistakes when they hand-copy things. But there are also “differences” which are not random. They are systematic! Literally, the names have been systematically altered in the last will and testament! These are the issue at question, not the incidental random differences! That’s why I likened this kind of statistical argument to something worse than lies. Nobody is overly concerned about RANDOM differences. They are concerned about SYSTEMATIC differences.

“Practically all the substantive variants in the texts of the New Testament are from the second century.” (Aland, Kurt and Barbara. The Text of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1987, p.290.)

This quote tells us that _practically all of the substantive variants_ — that means all of the differences which make a difference — they all happened in the second century — LONG BEFORE the EARLIEST dated manuscripts which we possess. Now think about this for a minute. If all of these corruptions happened BEFORE these EARLIEST manuscripts, then these EARLIEST manuscripts may be the best record we have of the EARLIER CORRUPTIONS! There is certainly nothing about their EARLINESS which makes them the PUREST and MOST ACCURATE record of the ORIGINAL readings. Their AGE has NOTHING to do with their PURITY or IMPURITY. Yes, technically, they may be closer to the originals. But they are EVEN CLOSER to the CORRUPTIONS! Deliberately corrupted manuscripts have the same tendency as any other manuscripts to soften with accidental errors and cross-over influence from other less-corrupted manuscripts. Hence, the OLDER they are, the MORE CORRUPT they are likely to be! — that is, if they happen to be in that line of copying which goes back to the corruptions.

Let’s do the logic. Two boys, Alex and Buzz, visit Grandpa and Grandma’s. When it‘s time to leave, Grandma takes a snapshot of Buzz on the front porch. Then the two boys set off down the road for home, wearing their brand new clean white tennis shoes which Grandpa had bought for them. A short way down the road, Alex comes too close to some road construction, and he steps into some hot tar, getting his new clean white tennis shoes all corrupted. Seeing what happened to Alex, Buzz keeps his distance from the hot tar, and his white tennis shoes remain relatively clean and uncorrupted. Alex walks a ways, but it’s obvious that all the tar isn’t going to wear off his white tennis shoes before he gets home. So, a short ways down the road, he takes off his now well stained tennis shoes and throws them in the ditch, and walks barefoot the rest of the way home. After they both get home, Dad notices Buzz’s new-looking clean white tennis shoes. Buzz tells Dad that Grandpa gave the boys new pairs of white tennis shoes. So Dad asks Alex where his white tennis shoes are. Alex tells Dad that he lost them. Dad goes back down the road, and he finds Alex’s tennis shoes in the ditch just a short way from Grandpa’s house. Now when Dad sees Alex’s tennis shoes are all corrupted with tar, should he reason thusly: Alex’s tennis shoes are CLOSER to Grandpa’s house than are Buzz’s tennis shoes. Therefore Alex’s tennis shoes must be CLOSER to their original condition. Alex and Buzz must have left Grandpa’s house with tar covered tennis shoes, but Buzz somehow removed the tar from his white tennis shoes while on his way home. Therefore Buzz should be made to go stand in the corner for not telling Dad the truth.

By now you’ve guessed that Alex represents those who are responsible for the Alexandrian texts, Buzz represents those who are responsible for the Byzantine texts, Grandpa represents the Apostles, Alex’s tennis shoes lying in the ditch represent the OLDER manuscripts laid away where nobody will likely find them for a long time, the road construction tar represents the main cause of corruption in the texts, and Dad represents the critical scholar who makes Buzz go stand in the corner for not telling the truth, while thanking Grandpa for giving Alex a pair of dirty shoes which he somehow accidentally lost. We ask Dad to notice that the cause of corruption occurred between Grandpa’s house and where he found Alex’s tennis shoes, then go back and take a better look at Grandma’s snapshot of Buzz (early Scripture quotations). Now go figure!

So why do the modernist textual scholars want to rely upon a handful of allegedly EARLIER manuscripts? There is ample evidence that the text of the Greek New Testament had already been greatly corrupted well before these EARLIER manuscripts. And distinctive readings of the LATER manuscripts are found quoted in religious material dating much EARLIER than these much favored EARLIER manuscripts. These two facts alone should serve as a powerful argument to quash their pet theory that _the earlier the manuscript, the better it is. Yet, the evidence just doesn’t seem to phase them. I think it boils down to a matter of pride. They don’t want to admit that their new-fangled theory is silly, that the earlier manuscript copies do not possess any special virtue, and that Christians have had a very good Greek text all along, and don’t need to change it on the basis of the witness of a couple of old manuscripts which don’t even agree with each other. (It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that, for a century, most of the work you’ve been doing in this field of study has been worthless.) If you read their writings, you will find that they simply have a preconceived bias against the majority of LATER manuscripts. (Why are they LATER? Because Alex, at an early date, threw his dirty tennis shoes in the ditch, but Buzz made it all the way home without taking his white tennis shoes off!)

Now regarding the fact that the texts were “greatly corrupted” by an early date, we call forth an old witness.

“They have tampered with the divine Scriptures without fear; they have set aside the rule of primitive faith; they have not known Christ. … Therefore they laid hands fearlessly on the divine Scriptures, saying that they had corrected them. And whosoever desires can find out that in saying this I do not falsely accuse them. For anyone who will collect their several copies together and compare them, one with another, will discover marked discrepancies. For instance, Ascelpaides’ copies do not agree with those of Theodotus and you can get possession of them, because their disciples have vied in copying their several corrections (as they call them), that is disfigurements. And, again, those of Hermophilus are not in accordance with the first-named. Aye, and those of Apolloniades do not even agree among themselves. For you may compare the copies they made at an earlier date with those they again altered later, and find great divergence. Nor is it likely that they themselves are ignorant of the audacity of this offense. For either they do not believe that the divine Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Ghost, and, therefore, are unbelievers; or they consider themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what is that but devil possession? For they cannot deny that the audacious act is their own, since the copies have been written in their own hand; and since they received no such Scriptures from their instructors, they are unable to show any copies whence they have transcribed them. But some of them disdained even to falsify them, and absolutely denied the law and the prophets. Thus under the cover of a lawless and impious teaching they have sunk to the lowest depths of perdition.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, V. 28., written about 230 A.D., quoted in Sturz, Harry A. The Byzantine Text Type & New Testament Textual Criticism. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984, pp.118-119, which quotes from Lawlor, Hugh Jackson and Oulton, J.E.L. (translators). Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine. London: SPCA, n.d., pp. 173-174).

So the textual issue has been around for a very long time — really, since the beginning!

Of course, the most radical example would probably be the second century heretic Marcion’s New Testament. It consisted of ten Pauline epistles and the Gospel of Luke (omitting Matthew, Mark, John, Acts, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Revelation). What was left of the New Testament was appropriately edited to agree with Marcion’s doctrine, including the removal of all references to God as Creator and to the birth of Jesus. I would say that amounted to “greatly corrupted.”

Here’s another old witness.

“… Thus, not being Christians, they [the heretics] have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, “Who are you? When and whence did you come? As you are none of mine, what have you to do with that which is mine? Indeed, Marcion, by what right do you hew my wood? By whose permission, Valentinus, are you diverting the streams of my fountain? By what power, Apelles, are you removing my landmarks? This is my property. Why are you, the rest, sowing and feeding here at your own pleasure? This (I say) is my property. I have long possessed it; I possessed it before you. I hold sure titledeeds from the original owners themselves, to whom the estate belonged. I am the heir of the apostles. Just as they carefully prepared their will and testament, and committed it to a trust, and adjured (the trustees to be faithful to their charge), even so do I hold it. …”

“Where diversity of doctrine is found, there, then, must the corruption both of the Scriptures and the expositions thereof be regarded as existing. … As in their case, corruption in doctrine could not possibly have succeeded without a corruption also of its instruments, so to ourselves also integrity of doctrine could not have accrued, without integrity in those means by which doctrine is managed. Now, what is there in our Scriptures which is contrary to us? What of our own have we introduced, that we should have to take it away again, or else add to it, or alter it, in order to restore to its natural soundness anything which is contrary to it, and contained in the Scriptures? What we are ourselves, that also the Scriptures are (and have been) from the beginning. Of them [the Scriptures] we have our being, before there was any other way, before they were interpolated by you [the heretics]. Now, inasmuch as all interpolation must be believed to be a later process, for the express reason
that it proceeds from rivalry which is never in any case previous to nor homeborn with that which it emulates, it is as incredible to every man of sense that we should seem to have introduced any corrupt text into the Scriptures, existing, as we have been, from the very first, and being the first, as it is that they have not in fact introduced it who are both later in date and opposed (to the Scriptures). One man perverts the Scriptures with his hand, another their meaning by his exposition. For although Valentinus seems to use the entire volume, he has none the less laid violent hands on the truth only with a more cunning mind and skill than Marcion. Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision of the Scriptures as suited his own subject matter. Valentinus, however, abstained from such excision, because he did not invent Scriptures to square with his own subject matter, but adapted his matter to the Scriptures; and yet he took away more, and added more, by removing the proper meaning of every particular word, and adding fantastic arrangements of things which have no real existence.” [Tertullian,
The Prescription Against Heretics.1, Chapters XXXVII, XXXVIII, written about 200 A.D., translated by the Rev. Peter Holmes, D.D.]

The issue of textual integrity may seem minor, but its implications are major. The “Textus Receptus Only” people, and their next of kin, the “King James Only” people, are very wrong in their assertions of complete inerrancy for these texts. Yet they are very right in their concerns about the integrity of the Scriptures. We cannot allow the integrity of the Scriptures to rest upon theories of naturalism and relativity. They must rest upon evidence and logic, which is precisely what modernist textual critics lack, in my opinion. They even press their conjectures about what the original reading must be to the extent of making up a reading and placing it in their printed editions, even though no evidence for the reading appears in any known Greek manuscript. They literally add to the Word of God without any evidence on the supposition that they somehow know better. These critics only have to do this once for me to know that they cannot be trusted with discerning what is the original reading — especially when they themselves dismiss other readings which they accuse of being the additions of others who have attempted to reconstruct the original
reading. By their own criteria, they must be dismissed. They condemn themselves by their own words.

Harvey Bluedorn
Excerpts from Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens:

[Paul Dombey was the son of a very wealthy businessman. His mother had died shortly after his birth. He had a sister Florence who was 6 years older. Mr. Dombey had great plans for his son Paul. At this point in the story, Paul and Florence were living with Mrs. Pipchin, a woman who trained rich people’s children.]


Mrs. Pipchin had kept watch and ward over little Paul and his sister for nearly twelve months. They had been home twice, but only for a few days; and had been constant in their weekly visits to Mr. Dombey at the hotel. By little and little Paul had grown stronger, and had become able to dispense with his carriage; though he still looked thin and delicate; and still remained the same old, quiet, dreamy child that he had been when first consigned to Mrs. Pipchin’s care. One Saturday afternoon, at dusk, great consternation was occasioned in the castle by the unlookedfor announcement of Mr. Dombey as a visitor to Mrs. Pipchin.
`Mrs. Pipchin,’ said Mr. Dombey, `How do you do?’
`I can’t expect, Sir, to be very well,’ said Mrs. Pipchin, taking a chair and fetching her breath; `but such health as I have, I am grateful for.’
Mr. Dombey inclined his head with the satisfied air of a patron, who felt that this was the sort of thing for which he paid so much a quarter. After a moment’s silence he went on to say: `Mrs. Pipchin, I have taken the liberty of calling, to consult you in reference to my son. I have had it in my mind to do so for some time past; but have deferred it from time to time, in order that his health might be thoroughly reestablished. You have no misgivings on that subject, Mrs. Pipchin?’
`I purpose,’ said Mr. Dombey, `his remaining at Brighton.’
Mrs. Pipchin rubbed her hands, and bent her grey eyes on the fire.
`But,’ pursued Mr. Dombey, stretching out his forefinger, `but possibly that he should now make a change, and lead a different kind of life here. In short, Mrs. Pipchin, that is the object of my visit. My son is getting on, Mrs. Pipchin. Really he is getting on.’
There was something melancholy in the triumphant air with which Mr. Dombey said this. It showed how long Paul’s childish life had been to him, and how his hopes were set upon a later stage of his existence. Pity may appear a strange word to connect with any one so haughty and so cold, and yet he seemed a worthy subject for it at that moment.
`Six years old!’ said Mr. Dombey, settling his neckcloth perhaps to hide an irrepressible smile that rather seemed to strike upon the surface of his face and glance away, as finding no restingplace, than to play there for an instant. `Dear me, six will be changed to sixteen, before we have time to look about us.’
`It depends on circumstances,’ returned Mr. Dombey; `at all events, Mrs. Pipchin, my son is six years old, and there is no doubt, I fear, that in his studies he is behind many children of his age or his youth,’ said Mr. Dombey, quickly answering what he mistrusted was a shrewd twinkle of the frosty eye, `his youth is a more appropriate expression. Now, Mrs. Pipchin, instead of being behind his peers, my son ought to be before them; far before them. There is an eminence ready for him to mount upon. There is nothing of chance or doubt in the course before my son. His way in life was clear and prepared, and marked out before he existed. The education of such a young gentleman must not be delayed. It must not be left imperfect. It must be very steadily and seriously undertaken, Mrs. Pipchin.’
`There is a great deal of nonsense and worse talked about young people not being pressed too hard at first, and being tempted on, and all the rest of it, Sir,’ said Mrs. Pipchin, impatiently rubbing her hooked nose. `It never was thought of in my time, and it has no business to be thought of now. My opinion is “keep’em at it.”‘
`My good madam,’ returned Mr. Dombey, `you have not acquired your reputation undeservedly; and I beg you to believe, Mrs. Pipchin, that I am more than satisfied with your excellent system of management, and shall have the greatest pleasure in commending it whenever my poor commendation’ Mr. Dombey’s loftiness when he affected to disparage his own importance, passed all bounds`can be of any service. I have been thinking of Doctor Blimber’s, Mrs. Pipchin.’
`My neighbour, Sir?’ said Mrs. Pipchin. `I believe the Doctor’s is an excellent establishment. I’ve heard that it’s very strictly conducted, and there is nothing but learning going on from morning to night.’
`And it’s very expensive,’ added Mr. Dombey.
`And it’s very expensive, Sir,’ returned Mrs. Pipchin, catching at the fact, as if in omitting that, she had omitted one of its leading merits.
`I have had some communication with the Doctor, Mrs. Pipchin,’ said Mr. Dombey, hitching his chair anxiously a little nearer to the fire, `and he does not consider Paul at all too young for his purpose. He mentioned several instances of boys in Greek at about the same age. If I have any little uneasiness in my own mind, Mrs. Pipchin, on the subject of this change, it is not on that head. My son not having known a mother has gradually concentrated much too much of his childish affection on his sister.
It was plain that he had given the subject anxious consideration, for he had formed a plan, which he announced to the ogress, of sending Paul to the Doctor’s as a weekly boarder for the first half year, during which time Florence would remain at the castle, that she might receive her brother there, on Saturdays. This would wean him by degrees, Mr. Dombey said ….
Mr. Dombey finished the interview…. he withdrew to his hotel and dinner: resolved that Paul, now that he was getting so old and well, should begin a vigorous course of education forthwith, to qualify him for the position in which he was to shine; and that Doctor Blimber should take him in hand immediately.
Whenever a young gentleman was taken in hand by Doctor Blimber, he might consider himself sure of a pretty tight squeeze. The doctor only undertook the charge of ten young gentlemen, but he had, always ready, a supply of learning for a hundred, on the lowest estimate; and it was at once the business and delight of his life to gorge the unhappy ten with it.
In fact, Doctor Blimber’s establishment was a great hothouse, in which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at work. All the boys blew before their time. Mental greenpeas were produced at Christmas, and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical gooseberries (very sour ones too) were common at untimely seasons, and from mere sprouts of bushes, under Doctor Blimber’s cultivation. Every description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs of boys, under the frostiest circumstances. Nature was of no consequence at all. No matter what a young gentleman was intended to bear, Doctor Blimber made him bear to pattern, somehow or other.
This was all very pleasant and ingenious, but the system of forcing was attended with its usual disadvantages. There was not the right taste about the premature productions, and they didn’t keep well. Moreover, one young gentleman, with a swollen nose and an excessively large head (the oldest of the ten who had `gone through’ everything), suddenly left off blowing one day, and remained in the establishment a mere stalk. And people did say that the Doctor had rather overdone it with young Toots, and that when he began to have whiskers he left off having brains.
There young Toots was, at any rate; possessed of the gruffest of voices and the shrillest of minds; sticking ornamental pins into his shirt, and keeping a ring in his waistcoat pocket to put on his little finger by stealth, when the pupils went out walking; constantly falling in love by sight with nurserymaids, who had no idea of his existence; and looking at the gaslighted world over the little iron bars in the lefthand corner window of the front three pairs of stairs, after bedtime, like a greatly overgrown cherub who had sat up aloft much too long.
The Doctor was a portly gentleman in a suit of black, with strings at his knees, and stockings below them. He had a bald head, highly polished; a deep voice; and a chin so very double, that it was a wonder how he ever managed to shave into the creases. He had likewise a pair of little eyes that were always half shut up, and a mouth that was always half expanded into a grin, as if he had, that moment, posed a boy, and were waiting to convict him from his own lips.
Miss Blimber, too, although a slim and graceful maid, did no soft violence to the gravity of the house. There was no light nonsense about Miss Blimber. She kept her hair short and crisp, and wore spectacles. She was dry and sandy with working in the graves of deceased languages. None of your live languages for Miss Blimber. They must be dead, stone dead, and then Miss Blimber dug them up like a Ghoul.
Mrs. Blimber, her mama, was not learned herself, but she pretended to be, and that did quite as well. She said at evening parties, that if she could have known Cicero, she thought she could have died contented. It was the steady joy of her life to see the Doctor’s young gentlemen go out walking, unlike all other young gentlemen, in the largest possible shirtcollars, and the stiffest possible cravats. It was so classical, she said.
As to Mr. Feeder, B.A., Doctor Blimber’s assistant, he was a kind of human barrelorgan, with a little list of tunes at which he was continually working, over and over again, without any variation. He might have been fitted up with a change of barrels, perhaps, in early life, if his destiny had been favourable; but it had not been; and he had only one, with which, in a monotonous round, it was his occupation to bewilder the young ideas of Doctor Blimber’s young gentlemen. The young gentlemen were prematurely full of carking anxieties. They knew no rest from the pursuit of stonyhearted verbs, savage nounsubstantives, inflexible syntactic passages, and ghosts of exercises that appeared to them in their dreams. Under the forcing system, a young gentleman usually took leave of his spirits in three weeks. He had all the cares of the world on his head in three months. He conceived bitter sentiments against his parents or guardians in four; he was an old misanthrope, in five; envied Curtius that blessed refuge in the earth, in six; and at the end of the first twelvemonth had arrived at the conclusion, from which he never afterwards departed, that all the fancies of the poets, and lessons of the sages, were a mere collection of words and grammar, and had no other meaning in the world.
But he went on blow, blow, blowing, in the Doctor’s hothouse, all the time; and the Doctor’s glory and reputation were great, when he took his wintry growth home to his relations and friends.
`Now, Paul,’ said Mr. Dombey, exultingly. `This is the way indeed to be Dombey and Son, and have money. You are almost a man already.’
`Almost,’ returned the child.
Even his childish agitation could not master the sly and quaint yet touching look, with which he accompanied the reply.  It brought a vague expression of dissatisfaction into Mr. Dombey’s face; but the door being opened, it was quickly gone.
`Doctor Blimber is at home, I believe?’ said Mr. Dombey.
The man said yes; and as they passed in, looked at Paul as if he were a little mouse, and the house were a trap.
The Doctor was sitting in his portentous study, with a globe at each knee, books all round him, Homer over the door, and Minerva on the mantelshelf. `And how do you do, Sir?’ he said to Mr. Dombey; `and how is my little friend?’
The little friend being something too small to be seen at all from where the Doctor sat, over the books on his table, the Doctor made several futile attempts to get a view of him round the legs; which Mr. Dombey perceiving, relieved the Doctor from his embarrassment by taking Paul up in his arms, and sitting him on another little table, over against the Doctor, in the middle of the room.
`Ha!’ said the Doctor, leaning back in his chair with his hand in his breast. `Now I see my little friend. How do you do, my little friend?’
`Very well, I thank you, Sir,’ returned Paul, `Ha!’ said Doctor Blimber. `Shall we make a man of him?’
`Do you hear, Paul?’ added Mr. Dombey; Paul being silent.
`Shall we make a man of him?’ repeated the Doctor.
`I had rather be a child,’ replied Paul.
`Indeed!’ said the Doctor. `Why?’
The child sat on the table looking at him, with a curious expression of suppressed emotion in his face, and beating one hand proudly on his knee as if he had the rising tears beneath it, and crushed them. But his other hand strayed a little way the while, a little farther farther from him yet until it lighted on the neck of Florence. `This is why,’ it seemed to say, and then the steady look was broken up and gone; the working lip was loosened; and the tears came streaming forth.
`Mrs. Pipchin,’ said his father, in a querulous manner, `I am really very sorry to see this.’
`Never mind,’ said the Doctor, blandly nodding his head, to keep Mrs. Pipchin back. `Never mind; we shall substitute new cares and new impressions, Mr. Dombey, very shortly. You would still wish my little friend to acquire’
`Everything, if you please, Doctor,’ returned Mr. Dombey, firmly.
`Yes,’ said the Doctor, who, with his halfshut eyes, and his usual smile, seemed to survey Paul with the sort of interest that might attach to some choice little animal he was going to stuff. `Yes, exactly. Ha! We shall impart a great variety of information to our little friend, and bring him quickly forward, I dare say. I dare say. Quite a virgin soil, I believe you said, Mr. Dombey?’
`Except some ordinary preparation at home, and from this lady,’ replied Mr. Dombey, introducing Mrs. Pipchin….`except so far, Paul has, as yet, applied himself to no studies at all.’
Doctor Blimber inclined his head, in gentle tolerance of such insignificant poaching as Mrs. Pipchin’s, and said he was glad to hear it. It was much more satisfactory, he observed, rubbing his hands, to begin at the foundation. And again he leered at Paul, as if he would have liked to tackle him with the Greek alphabet on the spot.
`Permit me,’ said the Doctor, `one moment. Allow me to present Mrs. Blimber and my daughter, who will be associated with the domestic life of our young Pilgrim to Parnassus.
Mrs. Blimber, in an excess of politeness,….turned to admire his classical and intellectual lineaments, and turning again to Mr. Dombey, said, with a sigh, that she envied his dear son.
`Like a bee, Sir,’ said Mrs. Blimber, with uplifted eyes, `about to plunge into a garden of the choicest flowers, and sip the sweets for the first time. Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terence, Plautus, Cicero. What a world of honey have we here.
`But really,’ pursued Mrs. Blimber, `I think if I could have known Cicero, and been his friend, and talked with him in his retirement at Tusculum (beautiful Tusculum!), I could have died contented.’
Cornelia looked at Mr. Dombey through her spectacles, as if she would have liked to crack a few quotations with him from the authority in question.
`If Mr. Dombey will walk up stairs,’ said Mrs. Blimber, `I shall be more than proud to show him the dominions of the drowsy god.’
`And you’ll try and learn a great deal here, and be a clever man,’ said Mr. Dombey; `won’t you?’
`I’ll try,’ returned the child wearily.
`And you’ll soon be grown up now!’ said Mr. Dombey.
`Oh! very soon!’ replied the child. Once more the old, old look passed rapidly across his features like a strange light.
AFTER the lapse of some minutes, which appeared an immense time to little Paul Dombey on the table, Doctor Blimber came back. The Doctor’s walk was stately, and calculated to impress the juvenile mind with solemn feelings. It was a sort of march; but when the Doctor put out his right foot, he gravely turned upon his axis, with a semicircular sweep towards the left; and when he put out his left foot, he turned in the same manner towards the right. So that he seemed, at every stride he took, to look about him as though he were saying, `Can anybody have the goodness to indicate any subject, in any direction, on which I am uninformed? I rather think not.’
Mrs. Blimber and Miss Blimber came back in the Doctor’s company; and the Doctor, lifting his new pupil off the table, delivered him over to Miss Blimber.
`Cornelia,’ said the Doctor, `Dombey will be your charge at first. Bring him on, Cornelia, bring him on.’
Miss Blimber received her young ward from the Doctor’s hands; and Paul, feeling that the spectacles were surveying him, cast down his eyes.
`How old are you, Dombey?’ said Miss Blimber.
`Six,’ answered Paul, wondering, as he stole a glance at the young lady, why her hair didn’t grow long like Florence’s, and why she was like a boy.
`How much do you know of your Latin Grammmar, Dombey?’ said Miss Blimber.
`None of it,’ answered Paul. Feeling that the answer was a shock to Miss Blimber’s sensibility, he looked up at the three faces that were looking down at him, and said:
`I hav’n’t been well. I have been a weak child.
`Ha!’ said the Doctor, shaking his head: `this is bad, but study will do much.’
Cornelia took him first to the schoolroom, which was situated at the back of the hall, and was approached through two baize doors, which deadened and muffled the young gentlemen’s voices. Here, there were eight young gentlemen in various stages of mental prostration, all very hard at work, and very grave indeed. Toots, as an old hand, had a desk to himself in one corner: and a magnificent man, of immense age, he looked, in Paul’s young eyes, behind it.
Mr. Feeder, B.A., who sat at another little desk, had his Virgil stop on, and was slowly grinding that tune to four young gentlemen. Of the remaining four, two who grasped their foreheads convulsively, were engaged in solving mathematical problems; one with his face like a dirty window, from much crying, was endeavouring to flounder through a hopeless number of lines before dinner; and one sat looking at his task in stony stupefaction and despair which it seemed had been his condition ever since breakfast time.
The appearance of a new boy did not create the sensation that might have been expected. Mr. Feeder, B.A. (who was in the habit of shaving his head for coolness, and had nothing but little bristles on it), gave him a bony hand, and told him he was glad to see him which Paul would have been very glad to have told him, if he could have done so with the least sincerity. Then Paul, instructed by Cornelia, shook hands with the four young gentlemen at Mr. Feeder’s desk; then with the two young gentlemen at work on the problems, who were very feverish; then with the gentleman at work against time, who was very inky; and lastly with the young gentleman in a state of stupefaction, who was flabby and quite cold.
Paul having been already introduced to Toots, that pupil merely chuckled and breathed hard, as his custom was, and pursued the occupation in which he was engaged. It was not a severe one; for on account of his having `gone through’ so much (in more senses than one), and also of his having, as before hinted, left off blowing in his prime, Toots now had licence to pursue his own course of study: which was chiefly to write long letters to himself from persons of distinction, addressed `P. Toots, Esquire, Brighton, Sussex,’ and to preserve them in his desk with great care.

The young gentlemen bowed and withdrew. Mr. Feeder did likewise. During the halfhour, the young gentlemen, broken into pairs, loitered arminarm up and down a small piece of ground behind the house, or endeavoured to kindle a spark of animation in the breast of Briggs. But nothing happened so vulgar as play. Punctually at the appointed time, the gong was sounded, and the studies, under the joint auspices of Doctor Blimber and Mr. Feeder, were resumed.
As the Olympic game of lounging up and down had been cut shorter than usual that day, on Johnson’s account, they all went out for a walk before tea. Even Briggs (though he hadn’t begun yet) partook of this dissipation; in the enjoyment of which he looked over the cliff two or three times darkly. Doctor Blimber accompanied them; and Paul had the honour of being taken in tow by the Doctor himself: a distinguished state of things, in which he looked very little and feeble.
Tea was served in a style no less polite than the dinner; and after tea, the young gentlemen rising and bowing as before, withdrew to fetch up the unfinished tasks of that day, or to get up the already looming tasks of tomorrow.
At eight o’clock or so, the gong sounded again for prayers in the diningroom, where the butler afterwards presided over a sidetable, on which bread and cheese and beer were spread for such young gentlemen as desired to partake of those refreshments. The ceremonies concluded by the Doctor’s saying, `Gentlemen, we will resume our studies at seven tomorrow;’ and then, for the first time, Paul saw Cornelia Blimber’s eye’ and saw that it was upon him. When the Doctor had said these words, `Gentlemen, we will resume our studies at even tomorrow,’ the pupils bowed again, and went to bed.
In the confidence of their own room up stairs, Briggs said his head ached ready to split, and that he should wish himself dead if it wasn’t for his mother, and a blackbird he had at home. Tozer didn’t say much, but he sighed a good deal, and told Paul to look out, for his turn would come tomorrow. After uttering those prophetic words, he undressed himself moodily, and got into bed. Briggs was in his bed too, and Paul in his bed too, before the weakeyed young man appeared to take away the candle, when he wished them good night and pleasant dreams. But his benevolent wishes were in vain, as far as Briggs and Tozer were concerned; for Paul, who lay awake for a long while, and often woke afterwards, found that Briggs was ridden by his lesson as a nightmare: and that Tozer, whose mind was affected in his sleep by similar causes, in a minor degree, talked unknown tongues, or scraps of Greek and Latin it was all one to Paul which, in the silence of night, had an inexpressibly wicked and guilty effect.
‘Now, Dombey,’ said Miss Blimber, `I am going out for a constitutional.’
Paul wondered what that was, and why she didn’t send the footman out to get it in such unfavourable weather. But he made no observation on the subject: his attention being devoted to a little pile of new books on which Miss Blimber appeared to have been recently engaged.
`These are yours, Dombey,’ said Miss Blimber.
`All of ’em, Ma’am?’ said Paul.
`Yes,’ returned Miss Blimber; `and Mr. Feeder will look you out some more very soon, if you are as studious as I expect you will be, Dombey.’
`Thank you, Ma’am,’ said Paul.
`I am going out for a constitutional,’ resumed Miss Blimber; `and while I am gone, that is to say in the interval between this and breakfast, Dombey, I wish you to read over what I have marked in these books, and to tell me if you quite understand what you have got to learn. Don’t lose time, Dombey, for you have none to spare, but take them down stairs and begin directly.’
`Yes, Ma’am,’ answered Paul.
There were so many of them, that although Paul put one hand under the bottom book and his other hand and his chin on the top book, and hugged them all closely, the middle book slipped out before he reached the door, and then they all tumbled down on the floor. Miss Blimber said, `Oh, Dombey, Dombey, this is really very careless!’ and piled them up afresh for him; and this time, by dint of balancing them with great nicety, Paul got out of the room, and down a few stairs before two of them escaped again. But he held the rest so tight, that he only left one more on the first floor, and one in the passage; and when he had got the main body down into the schoolroom, he set off up stairs again to collect the stragglers. Having at last amassed the whole library, and climbed into his place, he fell to work, encouraged by a remark from Tozer to the effect that he `was in for it now;’ which was the only interruption he received till breakfast time. At that meal, for which he had no appetite, everything was quite as solemn and genteel as at the other; and when it was finished, he followed Miss Blimber up stairs.
`Now, Dombey,’ said Miss Blimber. `How have you got on with those books?’
They comprised a little English, and a deal of Latin names of things, declensions of articles and substantives, exercises thereon, and preliminary rules, a trifle of orthography, a glance at ancient history, a wink or two at modern ditto, a few tables, two or three weights and measures, and a little general information. When poor Paul had spelt out number two, he found he had no idea of number one; fragments whereof afterwards obtruded themselves into number three, which slided into number four, which grafted itself on to number two. So that whether twenty Romuluses made a Remus, or hic haec hoc was troy weight, or a verb always agreed with an ancient Briton, or three times four was Taurus a bull, were open questions with him.
`Oh, Dombey, Dombey!’ said Miss Blimber, `this is very shocking.’ …You must take the books down, I suppose, Dombey, one by one, and perfect yourself in the day’s installment of subject A, before you turn at all to subject B. And now take away the top book, if you please, Dombey, and return when you are master of the theme.’
Miss Blimber expressed her opinions on the subject of Paul’s uninstructed state with a gloomy delight, as if she had expected this result, and were glad to find that they must be in constant communication. Paul withdrew with the top task, as he was told, and laboured away at it, down below; sometimes remembering every word of it, and sometimes forgetting it all, and everything else besides: until at last he ventured up stairs again to repeat the lesson, when it was nearly all driven out of his head before he began, by Miss Blimber’s shutting up the book, and saying, `Go on, Dombey!’ a proceeding so suggestive of the knowledge inside of her, that Paul looked upon the young lady with consternation, as a kind of learned Guy Faux, or artificial Bogle, stuffed full of scholastic straw.
He acquitted himself very well, nevertheless; and Miss Blimber, commending him as giving promise of getting on fast, immediately provided him with subject B; from which he passed to C, and even D before dinner. It was hard work, resuming his studies, soon after dinner; and he felt giddy and confused and drowsy and dull. But all the other young gentlemen had similar sensations, and were obliged to resume their studies too, if there were any comfort in that.
Regularly, after that, Florence was prepared to sit down with Paul on Saturday night, and patiently assist him through so much as they could anticipate together, of his next week’s work. The cheering thought that he was labouring on where Florence had just toiled before him, would, of itself, have been a stimulant to Paul in the perpetual resumption of his studies; but coupled with the actual lightening of his load, consequent on this assistance, it saved him, possibly, from sinking underneath the burden which the fair Cornelia Blimber piled upon his back.
It was not that Miss Blimber meant to be too hard upon him, or that Doctor Blimber meant to bear too heavily on the young gentlemen in general. Cornelia merely held the faith in which she had been bred; and the Doctor, in some partial confusion of his ideas, regarded the young gentlemen as if they were all Doctors, and were born grown up. Comforted by the applause of the young gentlemen’s nearest relations, and urged on by their blind vanity and ill considered haste, it would have been strange if Doctor Blimber had discovered his mistake, or trimmed his swelling sails to any other tack.
Thus in the case of Paul. When Doctor Blimber said he made great progress, and was naturally clever, Mr. Dombey was more bent than ever on his being forced and crammed. In the case of Briggs, when Doctor Blimber reported that he did not make great progress yet, and was not naturally clever, Briggs senior was inexorable in the same purpose. In short, however high and false the temperature at which the Doctor kept his hothouse, the owners of the plants were always ready to lend a helping hand at the bellows, and to stir the fire.
Such spirits as he had in the outset, Paul soon lost of course. But he retained all that was strange, and old, and thoughtful to the in his character: and under circumstances so favourable to the development of those tendencies, became even more strange, and old, and thoughtful, than before.
Toots had long left off asking any questions of his own mind. Some mist there may have been, issuing from that leaden casket, his cranium, which, if it could have taken shape and form, would have become a genie; but it could not; and it only so far followed the example of the smoke in the Arabian story, as to roll out in a thick cloud, and there hang and hover. But it left a little figure visible upon a lonely shore, and Toots was always staring at it.
WHEN the Midsummer vacation approached, no indecent manifestations of joy were exhibited by the leaden eyed young gentlemen assembled at Doctor Blimber’s. Any such violent expression as `breaking up,’ would have been quite inapplicable to that polite establishment. The young gentlemen oozed away, semiannually, to their own homes; but they never broke up. They would have scorned the action.
Tozer, who was constantly galled and tormented by a starched white cambric neckerchief, which he wore at the express desire of Mrs. Tozer, his parent, who, designing him for the Church, was of opinion that he couldn’t be in that forward state of preparation too soon Tozer said, indeed, that choosing between two evils, he thought he would rather stay where he was, than go home. However inconsistent this declaration might appear with that passage in Tozer’s Essay on the subject, wherein he had observed `that the thoughts of home and all its recollections, awakened in his mind the most pleasing emotions of anticipation and delight,’ and had also likened himself to a Roman General, flushed with a recent victory over the Iceni, or laden with Carthaginian spoil, advancing within a few hours’ march of the Capitol, presupposed, for the purposes of the simile, to be the dwelling place of Mrs. Tozer, still it was very sincerely made. For it seemed that Tozer had a dreadful uncle, who not only volunteered examinations of him, in the holidays, on abstruse points, but twisted innocent events and things, and wrenched them to the same fell purpose. So that if this uncle took him to the Play, or, on a similar pretence of kindness, carried him to see a Giant, or a Dwarf, or a Conjuror, or anything, Tozer knew he had read up some classical allusion to the subject beforehand, and was thrown into a state of mortal apprehension: not foreseeing where he might break out, or what authority he might not quote against him.
As to Briggs, his father made no show of artifice about it. He never would leave him alone. So numerous and severe were the mental trials of that unfortunate youth in vacation time, that the friends of the family (then resident near Bayswater, London) seldom approached the ornamental piece of water in Kensington Gardens, without a vague expectation of seeing Master Briggs’s hat floating on the surface, and an unfinished exercise lying on the bank. Briggs, therefore, was not at all sanguine on the subject of holidays; and these two sharers of little Paul’s bedroom were so fair a sample of the young gentlemen in general, that the most elastic among them contemplated the arrival of those festive periods with genteel resignation.
[At the end of the term little Paul has a physical and mental collapse]:
From: Doug c Hill
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999

>I was wondering if anyone has used Institute in Excellence in Writing and what their opinion was. >Also what age should one begin using it?

Our family just started using IEW this year, and I love it for a number of reasons. It seems to fit the classical method perfectly in that it teaches kids techniques of good writing without requiring them to come up with content of their own. They outline information from expository paragraphs or stories and then retell the same content in their own words using set criteria for sentence structure. There is a check list that can be modified to each child’s level, so that several children can work on basically the same assignment, but with different requirements, based on their own level of proficiency. My 8 and 10yob’s have loved it. I do think it is a little pricey to get the whole set including videos, so I only ordered the syllabus and have been able to work from it. I’m sure I’m not doing everything as the author intended, but the overall approach is very flexible, and I’m pleased with our results so far. Mainly, I’m thrilled that the boys like to write, are learning to think about style, and revise their work rather than setting the first draft in stone. It is a little hard at first to get acquainted with the approach, and it requires some work to select your own paragraphs and stories to work from, but I think it well worth the time. If you have a home school group or a church library where you could share the videos, I’m sure it would be a help to see how the author intended it to be presented.

Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999


I would love to hear from Kathy O’Donnell, and/or any others willing to share, what some of your favorite poems for memorization have been and what sources you got them from. My daughter is 7 and she has done very well with Scripture memory work in Awana, but we have yet to really work on memorizing poetry. I know she would especially enjoy funny or dramatic poems.

Any help would be much appreciated.
Thanks! –Lynn in rainy Oregon
Here are some of the things we have memorized:

The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
excerpts from Bleak House by Charles Dickens
excerpts from The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
R. L. Stevenson poetry
A Sitting on a Gate by Lewis Carroll
The Gettysburg Address
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
We Got Trouble (from the Music Man)



Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999

May I ask several questions that I hope you can answer at your convenience.

1) Is there any validity, in your opinion, to the 3 “learning styles” theory?
If so, how does that fit into the Trivium approach in teaching my kids? I have been to seminars devoted entirely to this learning styles subject.
The speakers make it sound like if you don’t recognize your child’s learning style and teach from that perspective, then your child will learn wrong or won’t learn at all. I understand the 3 styles to be Visual, auditory and kinesthetic. You mention nothing in your materials that I have seen about this theory, so I am wondering if this is a bunch of hooey or a legitimate matter I should focus on in teaching my kids by the trivium model. Is the question, find out their learning style and teach from that, or mold the child to the method, such as the trivium?

2) I have read ‘The Well-Trained Mind’, by Jessie Wise. She suggests alot of structured academics in the elementary grades. What is your response to this.
Can I effectively give my kids a strong foundation in the grammar stage if I do the 10 things you suggest before age 10, as opposed to what she recommends?

3) Again, I know your position on structured math before age 10, but what is your response to what she suggests?

4) What would you recommend more-‘Phonics Pathways or ‘Alphaphonics’?

5) What about Alphaphonics CD-ROM?

6) The authors’ suggested reading list was slightly intimidating to me. Dante, Chaucer and Beowulf in the second grade? I didn’t read these until high school.

7) The authors repeat the theme throughout the grammar stage portion of their book that children will be hampered for years if they can’t read and write well. Our daughter (9 Yrs.), reads well on about an eighth grade level, but hates to write anything. What should I do? She will read anything I require, yet writing/spelling is a real chore.

Thanks as always for your insight and advice, Carol Bianco


1) Is there any validity, in your opinion, to the 3 “learning styles” theory?
If so, how does that fit into the Trivium approach in teaching my kids?

The only learning styles I’m familiar with are auditory learners, visual learners, and hands-on (kinesthetic) learners. I’ll write down a few of my thoughts. All people use all three avenues when they learn, but perhaps one avenue is more dominant. I must see something in order to understand it. I am more visually oriented. When my husband and I read a book together we sit next to each other on the couch and he reads aloud while I read silently along. If he tells me something I need to do, it is best if he writes it down on paper AND tells me (after 26 years of marriage we finally have this figured out). When I was in school and listened to a lecture, I understood better if the lecturer used an overhead projector with lots of diagrams and charts and such, and if we also had handouts to go along with the lecture. So I would say that I am predominantly a visual learner.

People who are strong auditory learners have the advantage over those of us who are predominantly visual or kinesthetic learners. To hear something, and thus learn, is easier and quicker then to have to see or work with something and learn. I am wondering if a person is born with one of these styles predominant and then his surroundings will determine if he acquires strength in the other two styles. My parents rarely read aloud to me as a child, and I watched lots of TV and movies. Is that why I never developed strength as an auditory learner? Reading aloud to a child will help him become a strong auditory learner. My children have grown up listening to others read aloud. They are strong auditory learners and visual learners. And, interesting enough, my auditory learning skills have declined even more since I was young. Is it because I am always the one doing the reading aloud? After many hundreds of hours of reading aloud my skills of learning visually have increased while my auditory skills are seldom exercised.

It would probably be a good idea to find out your child’s predominant learning style. It would help you in your teaching. If you find out your child is predominantly a hands on learner, then you would want to use that as your first avenue to teach him something, but you wouldn’t want to stop there. You would want to strengthen his auditory and visual skills. If a child is a good auditory learner but a weak visual learner, you would want to have the child read out loud to you. If he is weak auditory learner, but strong visually, you would want to do a lot of reading aloud to him. I have to be honest, though, and say that I never spent much time trying to figure out my children’s learning styles. I never paid any attention to this concept till a few years ago.

When you are teaching anything, such as reading or arithmetic, you would want to utilize all three styles. We all learn best if we see it, hear it, and work it with our hands. Harvey recommends that when you are learning the Greek alphabet you read the letters, say them out loud and write them. If you want to understand what a particular book is about you should read the book, outline it, and then verbally tell someone what the book is about.

If you can’t figure out your child’s leaning style, don’t get all worried about it. Just use all three avenues when teaching him.

2) I have read ‘The Well-Trained Mind’, by Jessie Wise. She suggests a lot of structured academics in the elementary grades. What is your response to this.
Can I effectively give my kids a strong foundation in the grammar stage if I do the 10 things you suggest before age 10, as opposed to what she recommends?

TWTM distributes the three stages of the trivium differently than we would. We suggest they should be distributed this way:

ages birth through 9—pre-grammar
ages 10 through 12—grammar
ages 13 through 15—logic
ages 16 through 18—rhetoric

TWTM suggests they be distributed this way:

ages 5 through 9 (gr K-4)—grammar
10 through 13 (gr 5-8)—logic
14 through 17 (gr 9-12)—rhetoric

In past loops I have explained why we make these divisions, so I won’t go into that again. These divisions are not some hard and fast rule you must stick to.

Here is what I see TWTM recommending for children in the grammar stage–through age 9 (which would correspond to our pre-grammar stage):

1. Teach the child to read using a good intensive phonics method 2. Teach the child how to write his letters 3. Math–using a textbook/workbook 4. Spelling–using textbook/workbooks, transferring what he has learned to his spelling notebook 5. English grammar–using textbook/workbooks, transferring what he has learned to his grammar notebook 6. Structured reading, narration, memorization–a separate subject from teaching the child how to read; the child keeps a notebook of books he has read, along with his narrations and memory work 7. Writing–this seems to be in addition to the writing done in spelling, grammar and structured writing; penmanship, copywork, dictation, Writing Strands, compositions, letters; child keeps a notebook 8. History/geography–studied chronologically, using a world history text as a foundation; child keeps a notebook with narrations, memory work, illustrations, map and globe study, and further study using the library; use of primary sources encouraged 9. Science–using a basic text as a foundation and branching out with library books; child keeps a notebook with narrations, experiments, and definitions 10. Latin–using a textbook 11. Religion? 12. Art and Music–art technique, art appreciation, music appreciation, music lessons

Here are our recommendations for children through age 9:

1. Teach your child to read using a good intensive phonics method. We would disagree when TWTM says that you MUST teach your child to read at an early age.
The age that a child learns to read has no bearing on his intelligence or how well he will do academically later on. The child who learns to read at age nine will do just as well with the classical approach as the child who learns to read at age four.
2. Teach the child how to write his letters.
3. We would not teach math FORMALLY until age ten. In past loops we discussed ways to teach math INformally.
4. Spelling — we would not FORMALLY start the spelling/grammar notebook until age ten. When you would start the teaching of formal spelling would depend upon what phonics program you chose to use.
5. English grammar — we would not teach Grammar FORMALLY until age ten, at which time we would start the spelling/grammar notebook.
6. Structured reading, narration, memorization–the child should spend some time each day reading aloud, memorizing, and narrating. If you like the idea, keep a list of the books which you read in a notebook; for his copywork exercises have him copy his memory work and keep that in a notebook. The idea of the parent writing down the narrations seems like too much to me. If you have only a few kids and you like the idea of all that writing and have 26 hours in a day, maybe you could do that. Personally, I’d rather spend the time reading to the kids and just have them do oral narrations. I wouldn’t start having the child do written narrations till age thirteen. We recommend the parents read aloud to the children at least two hours per day.
7. Writing — I think copywork is plenty to require of a child before age ten.
We also wrote simple letters to relatives when the children were small, me helping as needed. Keep this copywork in a notebook if you like. Someone on this loop mentioned that her child was copying the Bible, one verse at a time, which I think is an excellent idea.
8. History/geography — Studying history chronologically is a good idea — as much as is reasonable for you. But don’t be afraid to pursue an interest directed course of study for history. Combine art with the study of history. Do history projects. Consult primary sources (there will be a minimal amount of this in the grammar stage, more in the logic and rhetoric stages). Use these primary sources as your source of copywork and memorization. Keep everything in a notebook. Use the library. Use maps and globes. Do lots of reading aloud to the children. Depending on the child’s level of skill, encourage him to read books on the subject which you are currently studying.
9. Science — read to the child from a wide range of science topics. Depending on the child’s level of skill, encourage him to read books on the subject which you are currently studying. Combine art with science. Do simple experiments with the children if possible. Visit science fairs. Use some of the science books as sources for copywork or memorization. Keep everything in a notebook if you like.
10. Latin and Greek — we wouldn’t start Latin grammar till age ten. If you like, you could use English From the Roots Up before age ten. We recommend memorizing the Greek alphabet at an early age in order to prepare the child for Greek grammar at age thirteen or fourteen. Use some of the passages in the Bible in Greek or Latin as sources for copywork or memorization.
11. Devotions and family worship — most important. We have written on this elsewhere. An hour per day.
12. Art and music — we have written on this elsewhere. Spend time developing creativity with art and music (not necessarily art and music lessons).

In addition, we would have the child spend lots of time in play, work and service.

Your question was: Can I effectively give my kids a strong foundation in the grammar stage if I do the 10 things you suggest before age 10, as opposed to what she recommends?

The way I see it, for ages birth through nine, TWTM requires much more writing and silent reading from the child, FORMAL math, FORMAL English and Latin grammar, and recommended early phonics instruction.

Our suggested course of study would differ from TWTM in that we would spend more time in parent read alouds, arts and crafts, family worship, play, work, and service. TWTM, I’m sure, would recommend doing these things; we would emphasize them.

We would also suggest that a lot of time would be wasted with the course of study recommended by the TWTM. We believe it is a waste of the child’s and parent’s time to teach formal math and grammar to children below age ten. As we have written about that in detail in other loops, I won’t go into it here. The schedule they suggest would not leave room for the things we think ought to be given more time.

We are building the foundation of a house. It must be strong and built of the correct materials. TWTM builds a foundation out of “rigorous, comprehensive”
academics. We would build the foundation differently, and bring in the rigorous academics later.

Ultimately, you will need to decide for yourself what is the best use of your time.

3) Again, I know your position on structured math before age 10, but what is your response to what she suggests?

We have written on this in other loops and in Volume 6 of TTT.

4) What would you recommend more-‘Phonics Pathways or ‘Alphaphonics’?

I have never actually used either of these. I would prefer that someone else on this list would respond.

5) What about Alphaphonics CD-ROM?

I have no experience with this either.

6) The authors’ suggested reading list was slightly intimidating to me. Dante, Chaucer and Beowulf in the second grade? I didn’t read these until high school.

The authors of TWTM aren’t suggesting you read the originals of Dante, Chaucer, and Beowulf in the second grade. They are suggesting you read retellings of these pieces of literature — abridged versions written for children. It is in the logic and rhetoric stages that they recommend you read the original versions.

The question I would ask is: do I want to read Dante, Chaucer, and Beowulf at all and require my children to read them? That is a question we have been considering these past few years.

The principles I have in the back of my mind as we choose and study literature

1. I want to do what is pleasing to God. “Be not conformed to this world…”
and “Keep yourself unspotted from the world…”
2. There is only so much time in the day.
3. Just because something is “old” doesn’t mean it is good.

Canterbury Tales is full of gross, profane babble. I don’t believe it is fit for the eyes of a child, even in its abridged form. I’m sure there probably are sections that would be of some value, but I’ve got better use for my time than pulling on the chore boots and wading through the muck for a few pieces of corn.

Last year I had the children read Beowulf, in its unabridged form, and then they had to write a paper on it. Hans’ paper was entitled “Beer-wulf: A Story of How God Used a Monster to Rid the Land of the Beer Halls.”

Do you have a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in your house? I suggest putting it on a very high shelf.

There is no neutrality. If a piece of literature cannot be used to build Christian culture in my children, then it will be used to build something culturally anti-Christian in my children. Wasting time is anti-Christian.

I can hear someone say, “Well, the Bible if full of stuff that describes the wicked sins of men.” Yes, true, but the Bible also tells you what to think about all that wickedness. There are sections of the Bible that we don’t read to young children. The Hebrews wouldn’t allow a young child to read the Song of Solomon.

Have you ever read any of the works by John Bunyan? These are wonderful pieces of literature you will want your children to read over and over. And how about Robinson Crusoe? The Waverly Novels?  Or the histories such as Josephus, Herodotus, or Xenophon’s Anabasis?

There is good literature and there is bad literature. Just because something is old and is required reading to get into college doesn’t mean it’s good.

I would suggest that your family list the principles which you rely upon for choosing literature to read, and then stick to those principles. Don’t be swayed by peer pressure — classical homeschooling peer pressure. If someone on some loop shares with the readers the long list of classics their children are reading, don’t start to doubt and fret, but look back at your list of principles and stick to them. Should we, as homeschooling families, adopt the values and standards of the world in order to fit in and prove to the world that we aren’t in some way inferior. Are we looking for their approval? Is getting our kid accepted at Harvard our ultimate goal? Why do we desire our child to read at age five? Is it so that our own parents and adult peers will be impressed and give us their approval?

7) The authors repeat the theme throughout the grammar stage portion of their book that children will be hampered for years if they can’t read and write well. Our daughter (9 Yrs.), reads well on about an eighth grade level, but hates to write anything. What should I do? She will read anything I require, yet writing/spelling is a real chore.

Who would disagree with that statement? Reading and writing are the foundation of learning. The question is, how does one best attain to the goal of reading and writing well. Each child is unique. You will have to determine for yourself how best to approach the task in your own family for each child. We disagree with the “one formula fits all” approach which attempts to press every child into the same mold, driving toward one necessary purpose, but following a schedule which has no necessary warrant.

We just finished reading Two Little Patriots and Among the Camps by Thomas Nelson Page (1888). These are short stories centered around the South during the Civil War. Cute stories, some of which will make you cry.

We are also reading Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. I really believe that man was a genius, and this is his finest book. Johannah disagrees and likes David Copperfield best, while Ava thinks his best is Bleak House.

Harvey just finished reading to us Food of the Gods by H. G. Wells. It was all right. Now he is reading a book I would highly recommend called Stories from the Old Squire’s Farm by C. A. Stephens (1844-1931), compiled and edited by Charles Waugh and Eric-Jon Waugh. You’ll probably have trouble finding it, but it’s worth the effort. It’s a series of little stories set on a 19th century farm in Maine.

Date: Fri, 03 Dec 1999

>>The question I would ask is: do I want to read Dante, Chaucer, and >>Beowulf at all and require my children to read them?…  There is no neutrality. If a piece of literature cannot be used to build Christian culture in my children, then it will be used to build something culturally anti-Christian in my children. Wasting time is anti-Christian…<<<


I just want to thank you for the above answer on suggested reading. You are so right! I have been struggling with what is proper reading material in the sight of God vs. what the world thinks is necessary. I know I shouldn’t worry over what the world thinks but sometimes I feel that I am not giving my children a “proper” education if they aren’t culturally literate. I’m sure you have heard of the book by E.D. Hirsch Jr. called “Cultural Literacy.” After reading it I thought my son should know everything in it and so proceeded to make sure that he did. After awhile I came to a point where I didn’t want him to read everything but still wanted him to know what it was about so he would “fit in” when he went on to college. So I found a set of books called “The Bathroom Books” (the idea is that you finish whatever you have chosen to read in only one page). Each page gives you a synopsis of a book: characters, plot, and overview, including how it ends. What is your opinion on something like this? Is it OK to know “about” a book or is even that going too far? My daughter is at the age that my son was when he started reading these books and I would value your opinion on this before I decide what to do with her.

Thank you, Cindy Davis
When in Rome, do as the Romans. But do you want to go to Rome? Or do you want to go to Zion?

If I had a child whom I was preparing for college, I would find out what that college looked for in accepting students, then I would teach to the test.

The deeper question I think you are asking is, should I have my child read — or at least be familiar with the gist of — books like the Iliad, in order for my child to fit in with, be considered educated properly by, and be accepted by his peers and society in general?

Two years ago my three daughters read the Iliad. It was one of the assignments in the curriculum we were using. Nathan read it several years ago. All four of them mentioned to me at the time that they didn’t think they should be reading it because it was full of immorality, but I disregarded their objections, not having read it myself and thinking they just wanted to get out of reading it. Last week I read some of the Iliad. They were right. I repent of having them read it. It certainly doesn’t go along with our three principles on how to evaluate literature:

1. I want to do what is pleasing to God. “Be not conformed to this world…” and “Keep yourself unspotted from the world…”
2. There is only so much time in the day.
3. Just because something is “old” doesn’t mean it is good.

If you are preparing a child for college, then you will need to play by the rules the college sets. If they look favorably on an applicant who is familiar with all the “accepted” classical works, then you should have your child read those works, or at least be familiar with the ideas in those works. The book you mentioned might be useful to you in this case. I have a set of books call Masterplots, which must be similar to the set you describe. I have consulted it on numerous occasions to check to see if a particular book was worth reading. But I never use it in place of reading the whole book. If a book is worth reading, then we read it. If it isn’t worth reading, then we don’t read it.

Instead, if you are simply educating your child without regard to credits and colleges, then you will want to have him read those classical works which go along with your family’s principles, and forget the rest.

There are lots of classical works that are good reading. I’m trying to compile a list of those classical works which fit our family’s principles. I mentioned some in previous loops, and I will share with you those works as we evaluate them. In the strictest sense, the word “classics” refers to the noted works and authors of ancient Greek and Roman literature. I’m using the word “classics” in a broader sense, to mean noted works and authors of all time periods. To be clear, we should probably use terms such as “Greek classics,” or “Roman classics,” or “Sixteenth century classics,” or “Modern classics,” etc.

Threads of Love

Threads of Love is a non-profit sewing ministry meeting the needs of tiny premature infants. The ministry is about healing and binding together the hearts of parents at a time of uncertainty about their baby’s health or when they lose an infant. Our mission is to show parents the love of Christ at a time when their personal pain is hard to endure and let them know that God is faithful. Through acts of obedience and donations, His work can and will continue. We pray that his ministry will have an impact far beyond our expectation. We feel that this is a ministry the Lord would have others join in to blanket the country with Threads of Love. God has given us all a talent that we are to use to serve Him. We have been taught to see where God is at work and join him.

There are three things that remain: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 3: 13

If you are interested in starting a Threads of Love chapter in your area check out their web page for details. Our daughter Ava is making the tiny hospital gowns and hats for the premature babies in the NICU of hospitals. She will also be making the bereavement gowns and blankets.

Taken from the Threads of Love webpage:
The following notes are from mothers who received one of our Threads of Love packets. This is what this ministry is all about, binding hearths together at a time of pain or uncertainty. “And the King will answer and say to thee, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers, of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Ms. Davis,
On Christ Day my fourth son, Christopher, was born at twenty-nine weeks.
Unfortunately, he only lived nine hours. When they told me he had died, I immediately began to worry about how to dress my little two lb. ten oz angel.
The social worker appeared and told us about your smocking group, and they then brought Christopher to me in that blue smocked gown. My mother smocked. She passed away four years ago. Needless to say, it brought me great comfort burying Christopher in the gown. I wanted to thank you and the ladies who work with you to make these gowns. It truly is a precious gift at a most difficult time. Thank You!

Dear Sissy and Anna,
Thank you both from the bottom of my heart for the precious dress, bonnet, and receiving blanket you made Mallory! I will treasure them always – remembering when she was so tiny and precious! It was a pleasure meeting you both, and I thank you for allowing me the story! You ladies are so very special and your ministry does so much for so many! You have touched so many hearts with every thread you sow, every gown you create! I know that there’s another star in Heaven with every LITTLE angel you help clothe there or on earth. May God continue to Bless You and Your Families always!! In our efforts to bind broken hearts together, we are also planting seeds about our Heavenly Father. We will never know how much of an impact this ministry will have on some families.
Showing people the love of Christ at a time when they are in such deep pain can have a great influence on their lives. Perhaps souls will be won to Jesus.

Thank you for bringing the gowns by Woman’s Hospital today, The parents in NICU appreciate the thought and effort that go into the gowns The staffs enjoys
being able to give them to the parents. Thank you also for the burial gowns. I have given them to Lucie Agosta, Director of Labor & Delivery and to Betsy Swett, Director of NICU. You will never know how much these gowns mean to the parents. Often the nurse and the parents dress the babies in the gowns here in the hospital. It is a very special moment and a treasured memory that the parents have forever. It is a powerful moment of love.

Dear Carolyn,
I wanted to thank you and your church group so very much for the precious little preemie gowns your church group has so lovingly made for our special care babies. I talked with some of the nurses in the nursery and they are so appreciative of the gowns. I had not previously been aware of their need, but yes. The hospital does not have these tiny sizes and often the babies are in need of little gowns. As I shared with you when we met, we are also always in need of gowns and burial dresses for our miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal babies who die, and are most appreciative of anything that your group is willing to provide for them as well. I am enclosing our smallest preemie diaper that I could find for your little boy (model) doll and hope it fits him okay! Thank you again for all of your loving efforts for our babies. I wish I could convey to you just how much each little gown means to the parents of these special babies. Let me know if there’s anything I (we) can do for your group, come talk, or share stories about our work with these babies, etc. Sincerely, Northside Hospital

Dear Threads of Love,
I am the grateful recipient of your wonderful cause. I was admitted to the Woman’s Hospital on Feb.29th for premature labor. I was carrying twin boys. I lost twin A on Feb.23rd. After I delivered him, a lot of heroic efforts were taken to keep me pregnant with the second baby. I was told that each day that I stayed pregnant with twin B would be a miraculous event. I had a 10-day miracle, but lost the second baby on March 5th. I was 5½ months pregnant. When I lost the first baby, my labor and delivery nurse, Mary Upton, brought me several tiny outfits to choose from to dress our baby. She also presented to me a special blanket with a tag that read “Threads of Love.” She explained to me how your group hand makes little clothes for premature babies and donates them to the Woman’s Hospital. When I lost the second baby, a member quickly made a matching outfit so he could be dressed like his brother. I do not know what I would have done for my baby’s burial clothes if your organization did not exist. Your work is so important because women like me do not go to the hospital prepared to lose a baby born too early. Additionally, stores do not carry clothes tiny enough for this sad occasion. I would like to see the work of Threads of Love carried on to benefit other parents of babies who are taken too soon. Please accept this small donation for that purpose. Sincerely, Michelle & Michael

Dear Friends,
I’ve just returned from a meeting of the Advisory board for the Chaplain’s Office at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. We’re a group of clergy who help support the wonderful ministry of chaplains at that hospital and advise them on various issues. In the midst of today’s routine business, the lead chaplain, Ann, told us a story. Recently, a tiny baby arrived at Cook. She was born at 22 weeks, too small and undeveloped to make it. The mother was rushed to John Peter Smith with medical problems of her own. In the meantime, the child died and was placed in the morgue at Cook. It was another twenty-four hours before the mother was stable enough to come to see her dead child. She was to bring her four-year-old daughter and other family members. As Chaplain Ann put it, it was her job to help make an unbearable situation somewhat bearable, to help bring warmth into the cold reality of death, and to humanize the moment for the little girl who would have been her sister. What Ann did was simple. She put a tiny cap on the baby’s head and booties on her feet. She clothed her in a beautiful burial gown so that she wasn’t simply a corpse wrapped in a hospital blanket or sheet. All the clothing, said Ann, came from the women of St. Philip Presbyterian Church. A group of our women lovingly craft these items of clothing and deliver them regularly to Cook to help bring Christ’s light into dark moments. The ministry is known-appropriately-as “Threads of Love.” We seldom know the significance of acts of mercy and simple kindness that we might label as insignificant. Earlier today, I was talking with one of our members who gives generously of himself in many ways to make life better for others in our community. He was wondering out loud about the impact, the effectiveness, of one of his ministries. I told him there really is no way to measure what difference it makes in someone’s life when we give them our time, a listening ear, an arm around the shoulder, or a helping hand as they try to climb out of a tough situation. Our job is to stay faithful to the ministry.
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999

Harvey and Laurie,

Thank you so much for your reply. You echo what my heart is telling me. I am aware that many homeschoolers are looking at alternatives to college now, but when one is not surrounded by many who are likeminded, one needs the Trivium Support Loop! We live in Gainesville, FL, home of The University of Florida-so you can imagine the pressure I feel at times. To top it off, my husband is campus minister to college students in the Presbyterian Church in America. They are very dear to us, though we can see first-hand much of what you describe. Many of our female students are here because their “Christian” parents want them to get a degree to “fall back on”, just in case…you know the story. We also can see how impossible it is to “date” successfully without parental oversight. In summary, I’m learning that the college years are really a parenthesis in one’s life made up of artificial circumstances that have not much to do with life on the “outside”. Thanks for confirming that!

Right now, along with the academics, our girls are honing their cooking and housekeeping skills, and are quite creative. We are happy to keep them home with us until they get married. We will certainly not send them “off” to college, I can guarantee that!

Thanks again for the encouragement! It sounds like y’all had a wonderful anniversary, thanks in part to some very thoughtful children who sound alot like ours-congratulations! I know you feel so blessed.

Sincerely, M.
The Spirit of ‘Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as told by Participants edited by Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris Da Capo Press, Inc.
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
cost: about $30

This is a large volume of 1352 pages composed almost entirely of primary source material concerning the American Revolution. There are numerous illustrations and maps to accompany the texts. First published in 1958.
The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events — The world-famous reference that tells who did what when from 4500 B.C. to the present, now updated for the 1990’s.
By Bernard Grun, based upon Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan Simon and Schuster/Touchstone Simon and Schuster Building Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020 First published in 1946
Cost: about $20

This is a book you will want to have just like you will want a dictionary. It lists what happened for every year in politics, literature, theater, religion, philosophy, learning, visual arts, music, science, technology, growth, and daily life. It is especially useful if you want to use primary sources in your study of history or science. You will find listed the titles of works written by all well known (and lesser known) scientists, historians, and fiction and non-fiction writers. I used it this year in our study of astronomy. When we did a brief overview of the history of astronomy I was able to find the titles of some of the writings of Kepler, Newton, and Galileo.
The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification 2 Volume Set
Bernard Bailyn selected the contents and wrote the headings and notes The Library of America Literary Classics of the United States
14 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
Cost: about $70

More primary sources.
Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805 edited by Ellis Sandoz Liberty Fund, Inc.
7440 North Shadeland Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46250

“Professor Sandoz has provided a superb collection of sermons bearing on the politics of the era of the American Revolution and the early Republic. He has chosen these sermons carefully and avoided, for the most part, sermons available in modern editions in other collections. He has also provided short, crisp introductions to each sermon and important biographical information about their authors. Finally, he has written a very useful bibliographical note to assist interested readers…”  Robert Middlekauff, The Huntington Library
American Political Writing during the Founding Era: 1760-1805–2 Volumes Charles S. Hyneman and Donald S. Lutz Liberty Fund, Inc.
7440 North Shadeland Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46250

Primary sources.
Robinson Books Henty Collection
99 Books (the complete works) and 53 Short Stories by G. A. Henty with 216 additional Henty era Short Stories on 6 CD-ROMs:
Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine
2251 Dick George Road
Cave Junction, Oregon 97523
Cost: $99

“Now, after many months of work, the Robinson Books Henty Collection on CD-ROM is completed and ready to share with other families. We have been collecting and scanning these books for two years with the goal of including every single book G. A. Henty ever wrote before we released the collection. This goal has been achieved — and, along the way, we included 53 of Henty’s short stories and 216 short stories by his contemporary writers. Some of Henty’s books are quite rare, with only a few copies known to survive. His rarest work (only three copies are known to exist) coincidentally bears the appropriate title “All But Lost.” This, too, is included on the CDs along with other books for which collectors pay thousands of dollars for single copies in ordinary condition….All of the more than 42,000 pages of books on these six CD-ROMs, including illustrations and colored covers, are recorded as easy-to-read 600 dpi image files. When printed with the included software, they look exactly like the originals. The image sizes can be adjusted during printing. An excellent on-screen reader is also provided for those who wish to read the books on the computer screen. The CD-ROMs are usable with Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT and higher….” A. Robinson
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999
From: “Thomas C. Calvert”

I received these questions on child training a little while back, and thought that maybe this would be helpful to others. I am thankful to the friends we have had who have given us their good advice on child training in the past. Anytime I see an older couple who are raising intelligent, obedient children I always try to glean whatever I can from them. If there is anyone out there with anything to ontribute I would be thankful. These gems of wisdom are priceless. My daughter is very squeamish, and is timid and easily frightened. Any ideas on how to help her with this?

I do have a question about doing dishes, if you don’t mind. At what age do you think a child should wash dishes? I know my 2 older kids are old enough to do it (ages 9 and 7), but they cannot use anything more than warm water. Is this a time to not worry about whether or not hot water is used?
As far as an age to begin washing dishes, I think it really depends on the child. I think between 6 or 7 is a good age for most kids. Some might be able to do it earlier, and maybe some later. Parents usually know their children best and will know when it is time. Sometimes a child might try put on the “it’s too hard for me” act with the little pout and whiney voice. When this happens a good way to find out is to put it to a test. Put 3 dishes into the sink covered with some kind of food that he will have to wipe away. Add 6 pieces of silverware that have sticky food on them, and maybe a couple of glasses with some honey in the bottom. Bake or buy his favorite dessert, and tell him that if he can wash the dishes without leaving a trace of food in 15-20 minutes (make sure you allow plenty of time, but not enough to lull him into complacency) he can have an extra-large serving of dessert right then and there. Otherwise he will just have to wait until after dinner for a regular sized serving. If he passes the test he will have two servings that day altogether, and then you can make it his regular job, knowing that he is perfectly capable. Don’t show any disapproval or disappointment if he doesn’t make it, just tell him that maybe in a few months he’ll be big enough and then he can try it again. Then find a little easier job for him to become proficient in. When I began to train my daughter to wash the dishes, she too had a hard time with the temperature of the water. This is how I helped her to adjust to the hot water. I filled the sink partway with very warm water, and asked her to hold her hands in it for as long as she could.  If she was able to do this, I would run some more hot water into the sink and then asked her to do it again. We repeated these steps until it became too hot for her to hold her hands under the water for more that a few seconds. Then I would have her hold her hands under the water while I would count to 5. Then we would dry her hands and wait for a minute or two. Then she would hold her hands under the water while I counted to 10. Then we would dry her hands and wait for a minute or two. We continued this process until she was able to hold her hands under for a count of twenty. Then I told her that if she can wash one dish in the time it takes to count to twenty, then she can wash the dishes in hot water. This was time consuming for about a week at which point the water was hot enough that I was satisfied. It became a grown up accomplishment for her to be able to tolerate the hot water. She felt very grown up and would say to me “Hey Mom, can you keep your hands is this water?” She thought she could beat me in hot water tolerance, and I hate to admit this, but she’s getting close. Especially since I rarely wash dishes anymore.
The kids usually do the drying and putting away of the dishes, but the washing takes so much of my time. I could be doing more important things. I would love to hear your opinion on this and anything else you have to offer.
At the moment my 10 year old daughter washes pretty much all the dishes in the house, including pots and pans. Occasionally I will wash some for her as a special treat, but other than that the only time I spend anymore is inspecting her work and finding ways to improve her skills. I try to always check the cupboards and drawers to make sure that she has put everything in the right place, and make her correct her own mistakes. Actually, I don’t there is any more productive use of my time that the time I spend training my kids in basic household chores. You might find that your time is better used with you supervising your oldest while he does the dishes, and the younger ones while they dry and put away the dishes. This will take more time in the beginning, but it is a good investment.
My children are 9 (boy), 7 (boy), 4 1/2 (girl) and 2 (girl). They ALL have daily chores, but I think they need to move up a notch in what they do. They are becoming bored and it shows in their work. Maybe I should rotate jobs to keep it interesting? I do think they need more challenging work.
Personally, my idea of rotating jobs is to switch about every 6 months to a year. I like to teach a child one or two jobs at a time, and get the training done thoroughly. My daughter has been washing the dishes, and putting them away since she was 7. (We’re a little behind since my illness last year) Now she does those still, but also clears away and wipes off the counters, and the stovetop. She does this every meal, and when she knows where everything belongs, and puts them there consistently, and always gets every dish relatively spotless, and when she does this in good time and consistently, then I will move her on to something harder. My son has been clearing the table and wiping the table and chairs since he was 5. He is getting very good at it, and consistently passes inspection on time, so I am considering some other jobs for him, possibly the breakfast dishes, and the dining room floor. Have you ever had a job that was tedious or boring? I know I have. Most adult jobs have aspects to them that are just plain monotonous and boring. Secretaries, accountants, lawyers, doctors, musicians . . . all have little nit picky things that they have to do over and over again. Training your children to be diligent in boring, repetitious work will make them more productive now and when they are grown. There are plenty of adults out there today who won’t work because they don’t happen to like it. Personally I think boredom can be an effective motivator. If they want a more interesting or more difficult job, they have to prove that they can do their present one capably and efficiently. This is the way it works in adult life. Proverbs 12:24 reads “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.” NKJV. This doesn’t mean that you make the work as unpleasant as possible, but you don’t let them off the hook when it isn’t what they feel like doing. Work should always be done in a relaxed, friendly environment. Greg and Sono Harris have a policy in their house where the meal cleanup is done by the whole family and is considered a time of family fellowship. If the work your children are currently doing is really too easy for them, they should be able to do it in a split-second, with them running out the door to play before you have a chance to catch your breath.  When this happens, then you know it is time to move them on to something harder. If you know that the work they are doing is well within their capabilities, and they are being sloppy or dragging their feet, then it is time to look at what the Proverbs have to say. “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 25:15 P.S. It is possible to overload a child with too much work, which causes discouragement. Make sure that housework isn’t taking up all of your child’s time. They also need free time to play.



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