Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2000-Part 1

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Date: Sun, 26 Dec
From: Katherine Craig

I have been thinking about this (following your recommendations more closely) and asked my children today (dd’s ages 7 and 8) what they would think if we set aside math and spelling instruction for the month of January and I read aloud 2 hours a day (interspersed, not all at once) with periodic narrations instead. They said OH NO!

Now I don’t want to waste my breath and time and thoughtful selection of hopefully living books only to have it unappreciated or unlistened to. I told them they could do some work with their hands while I read but that didn’t seem to make much difference. We already read about an hour a day, probably 1/2 them reading aloud and 1/2 me reading aloud. I have let them crochet or draw while I read. Playing with dolls is out because their dolls always have conversations. (Really playing with dolls is no fun unless they are constantly carrying on imaginary conversations, I remember that well from my own girlhood). They like to do projects out of the A Beka art books but these require a bit of concentration. They can read the directions and do them themselves but if it were me I couldn’t make projects like that and listen to someone reading. What does someone else think (about doing those kinds of projects during read-a-louds)? And they don’t want to do any more narration than they already do. I only have them narrate for history (we are doing Beautiful Feet primary American history) and art (we are doing picture study and they have to tell about 1 picture every week or two). I encourage voluntary narration of other things but don’t require it. Suggestions anyone? How much more narration should we go for if I increase read alouds another hour? Also I have read to them at bedtime since they were babies but if I read so much more during the day I don’t want to have to do it again at bedtime.

We have been doing copywork and dictation using LLATL. Should I even drop that for the month that we are trying out TTT recommendations?

TIA for suggestions and/or tips.
I think doing narration a couple times a day is plenty, unless the child loves to do it and wants more. Maybe your girls are worried that they will have to do more narration if you read more.

Doing full fledged projects where you must read directions and concentrate would be hard to do while listening to Mom read. Just plain drawing and coloring with colored pencils or crayons and playing with clay or sewing and other handiwork are more adaptable to read aloud times. I used to buy sacks full of matting board scraps from the local art store, and those with tape and scissors and markers would keep children busy for quite a while. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting into the habit of doing things. Reading aloud is important, and 2 hours a day of read alouds doesn’t seem overly much. Perhaps you could read aloud one and a half hours during the day and your husband could read half an hour at night. Of course, these times are just suggestions. Adjust these as your family schedule requires. I personally could never read aloud at night. I was just too tired to do it.

I would keep up the copywork.
From: “Hensel Family”
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999

I taught my daughter to read at age five using ABeka. It was paced appropriately for her, and she now at age 12 has a love for reading that exceeds our “book budget” and the library’s catalog list. On the other hand, I used “Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” with my then five-year-old son. He has far less patience and would never have endured the long, slow process used by ABeka. He, too, is an avid reader today at age 10.

So, the end result is the same. However, I have noticed one difference in their reading skills. My daughter seems to want to make every word fit a phonics rule. My son, on the other hand, looks at the word syntactically and rarely makes pronunciation mistakes. Perhaps this has nothing to do with the methods we used…?

Vicki H.
I mentioned on a previous loop that Herodotus (born 484, died 425 BC) would be a good classic for your family to use in your studies of ancient history.
Herodotus wrote (in the Greek language) “The History (of the Persian Wars),” which is a work consisting of 9 books for a total of approximately 600 pages.
It is the first surviving Greek history. The Persian Wars were the wars that the Persian Empire fought in trying to conquer Greece. They had conquered most all the known world, but could never subdue Greece. Herodotus states two reasons for writing his “History”: 1) “…to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own [Greek] and of the Asiatic [Persian, Egyptian, etc. — barbarian] peoples;” and 2)”… to show how the two races came into conflict.” We have used his “History” on numerous occasions in our studies of ancient history, and it is an excellent source for helping you put some of the Old Testament books into context. But I must tell you right off that there are some passages that aren’t good for children or teenagers to read. Herodotus briefly describes some of the strange and gross customs of different peoples of the world, and on occasion refers to some of the doings of the gods and goddesses, so I recommend that you pre-read his book before having your child read it, or perhaps you could read it aloud and skip the offensive parts. Harvey said he has heard of “expurgated” versions of the classics, which are texts of classics with the offensive parts purged out. Does anyone know where these versions can be found?

When you read Herodotus, I suggest having the textbook “Streams of Civilization” and the timeline “The Wall Chart of World History: From Earliest Times to the Present” (drawn by Edward Hull) right there beside you as you read. Read first the section in Streams of Civilization that corresponds to what you are reading in Herodotus and follow along in the timeline as you read. It would also be helpful to have some kind of historical atlas available for reference. Streams of Civilization will give you the context of the time period, since ancient history can be rather confusing with all the long names of rulers and the geographic areas not having exact boundaries.

The first book in Herodotus concerns the history of the Lydian empire (modern day Asia Minor) and Media (located along the Caspian Sea) and Greece, the fall of the Chaldean Empire and the rise of the Persian Empire with Cyrus ruling. The time period covered in Book 1 is approximately the middle of the 700’s BC till the death of Cyrus in 529 BC. You will want to read chapter 3-5 in Streams of Civilization to get the context, read Book 1 of Herodotus and locate the names of all the rulers you read about on the timeline. In addition, if you make your own timeline and write out an outline of what you read, all that you learn will be solidified in your mind. If your children are all below age 10 they can simply sit beside you as you write out the outline and they can help you make the timeline, using The Wall Chart of World History as a guide. As children see mother and daddy anxious to learn and modeling good study habits, they will learn by example. You might want to wait till a child is at least 10 before reading Herodotus, as it’s full of blood and guts, although it is fairly easy to read and understand. Children ages 10-12 could write out a simple outline, with mother dictating or prompting them what to write if needed. By age 13 the child will have a basic idea of how to do simple outlining and time lining. Show the children that it is important to study secular ancient history (avoiding the profane, which is sometimes hard to do), using primary sources, such as Herodotus, as much as possible (although whether Herodotus is truly a primary source is debatable, as you will see below), so that when you read the Old Testament to them they can picture in their minds what was happening in all the rest of the world. The books of the prophets such as Isaiah, Daniel, and Jeremiah will have more meaning if you understand the context they are placed in. Esther comes to life — she was not just the wife of some old king, but the wife of, in the world’s way of thinking, a great king of the known world. The study of ancient secular history has helped me to understand The Greatest History Book — its accuracy, its prophecies. It has also shown me something else. Civilization today isn’t much different than it was back in ancient times. We just have different names for the idols. If we hope to keep our children from falling into the hands of Molech we must shelter them, yea, we must at times go beyond sheltering. May the One True God of the Bible who ruled supreme in the days of Cyrus and rules supreme in the days of Clinton keep His people in the hollow of His hand and protect us in these wicked times.

Book 2 of Herodotus concerns Egyptian geography and history up to 529 BC.
Book 3 is about the establishment of the Persian Empire and how the son of Cyrus conquered Egypt and how Darius I became ruler of the Persian Empire.
Darius takes Babylon and begins his war against Greece.
Book 4 is about how the Persians fight against Scythia and against Libya; the geography of the region and the customs of the people are described.
Book 5 is about the advance of the Persian power towards a conflict with Athens Book 6 concerns the Persians advance through Greece and defeat at Marathon in 490 BC; the Persians do not return to Greece until 10 years later Book 7 Here Darius dies and Xerxes (his son) marches against Greece in 480 BC.
Book 8 Salamis
Book 9 Plataea, Mycale, and the failure of Persia in 479 BC. The book ends with stories illustrating Persian misconduct, cruelty and toughness.

I posted the following message concerning Herodotus on several history and classical news groups. Below are the responses I received:

My question:
> Is Herodotus considered a primary source concerning ancient history?
> Is his history factual or just mythological or both?


Is H a primary source? Not really, in the sense of having `been there and done it`. After all, he was 4 at the time of the second Persian Invasion! However, he is a pretty good secondary source, by which I mean that a) he has done masses of research and b) he will frequently preface a less than probable passage by saying something like `the people of that area told me that…..`, meaning exactly that, and implying that it makes a good story, but he doesn`t believe it himself ! At the end of the day he is pretty close to being the only source for a goodly period of Greek history, and so tends by default to be regarded as a primary source; but one needs to be cautious when relying on him exclusively. Thucydides` great step forward as a historiographer was to try to be completely accurate and to avoid any of H`s ripping yarns; though how far T succeeds in doing that (especially in the matter of the speeches) is debatable. On the other hand, how far does any historian ? Hope this is helpful cheers frank
Yes and no. While the work is historical, parts of it as Herodotus, himself said, may not be true.

> Is his history factual or just mythological or both?

Yes and no! Parts of his work have been found to agree with other sources.
Parts of it are just stories or mythology. It would be more helpful with something specific in mind to say if you are dealing with facts or myth. He did write a lot of things, so it is very hard to pin it down with a yes or no answer.
His knowledge of history was based on gossip and hearsay and a reliance on some other writers slightly contemporary with himself.
He’s the only source for some bits, including my favorite, the Periplus of Africa.  According to the story, a group of men set sail south from Egypt, coasting along Africa.  They stopped in winter to sow wheat and wait to harvest it and so their trip took three years.  They remarked that for a time during their journey the sun was in the northern part of the sky.  Eventually they wound back up in Egypt.

Herodotus rejects the story as a fabrication, because “everyone knows”
that the sun is always in the southern half of the sky.  Of course, what makes H. reject the story is what proves it to be true.  When they got past the equator, the sun did appear in the northern half of the sky.
Interesting tale, and so far as I know, not recorded elsewhere.  And the only bit I can think of out of antiquity where someone is recorded as being on an expedition as we know it.
Yes – a nice example of H`s potential for unreliability from the best of motives !

I was looking again at H`s own preface to his history – which being translated reads something like `This is the history of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, written so that the achievements of mankind [ta genomena ex anthropon – have a lovely Gk font, but can`t get it to operate in news/emails] should not be forgotten, nor should the great and remarkable deeds carried out by Greeks and Barbarians alike slide into oblivion – in particular the cause of their making war against each other.` The next word is actually `Persian…..`, as H moves straight into the causes of the Persian Wars. It`s a long time since I looked at it, and I confess I`d forgotten how similar H`s and Thucydides` avowed programmes are !
It is popular to describe Herodotus as either ‘The Father of History’ or the ‘Father of Lies’. Personally I prefer to think of him as the ‘Father of Travel Novels,’ perhaps the Bill Bryson of his age.
>His knowledge of history was based on gossip and hearsay and a reliance on some other writers slightly contemporary with himself.<

True (do I sense hostility here?) but essentially the answer to the first question is yes.  He is a primary source for ancient history because he wrote at the time.

Herodotus was never averse to telling a good story, and he was religious.  What is sometimes overlooked is that he usually prefaces stories he doesn’t believe with some sort of comment.  For instance, he tells a story about how the Indians (reputably) collect gold dust from the hills of giant ants.  However at the end, he also mentions their gold mines. 🙂       Chris
That story was particularly hilarious with the ants the size of dogs who kick up gold from under the ground and people who eat their ‘loved ones’ (at the height of Buddhist India). Also, a few paragraphs near to that, in Book 3, I think, he tells of flying serpents in Arabia. Strange kind of liar that Herodotus, nearly as bad as Josephus.
I’d like to make a point about the flying serpents. He made a special journey to see them, and when he got there, piles of bones all right, but no flying serpents. This is one of the stories he does not believe, and here he is a primary authority: an eye-witness. This is one of the best examples of Herodotus’ critical approach to evidence, yet it gets quoted as the opposite. When people talk about Herodotus’ implausible tales, it is remarkable how often they fall into this trap.
Certainly.  I read Herodotus cover-to-cover about a year ago, and there’s no way *not* to describe it as primary, especially considering that it was written 2500 years ago.  He does say he relies a lot on interviews, so he passes on what he heard from others, but his sources, AFAIK, left no written record.  So if you don’t rely on him, what’s left?

> > Is his history factual or just mythological or both?

For the most part, factual.  He was a great observer.  On the other hand, he wasn’t nearly as “coldly dispassionate” as Thucydides, who came a generation later, but he was much less inclined to insert the gods as was Homer, who thrived a couple hundred years earlier.

Herodotus’ style was somewhere in-between the two other historians, but I’d say he was closer to Thucydides.
1.  Rules for Herodotus are the same as for you and me. Our accounts of things we have done or witnessed are “primary” sources.  Our accounts of things done or witnessed by other people are “secondary.”  Therefore any narrative we write about things that happened before we were born must be “secondary.”

2.  No historian has an independent reputation as factual or mythical.  These are judgments about his works.  Consult an encyclopaedia for examples of both fact and myth in Herodotus.
Donald Phillipson,
Perhaps the best discussion you will find on this is in R G Collingwood “The Idea of History”  Oxford University Press Galaxy Book 1956. Collingwood distinguishes sharply between those portions of Herodotus which are good history and those which are not and gives sound reasons for the differences.  In this Collingwood is vastly superior to those commentators who fail to make the distinctions — and fail to note that Herodotus was himself well aware of those distinctions.
From: “Tim”
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999

I can really understand where Joanne is coming from with the college thing. I would like to make 2 points to her.

1) Jobs are from the LORD. My husband did not get his degree and you are right once a family comes along the degree is not practical. On the other hand, he has a tremendous job which we know is a gift from God. He was very discontented in his job a few years ago but began to be thankful instead and his whole life has changed. He provides for 10 people, not an easy task in our society, but God provides for him and we are thankful. A degree is not the key to a good job The Lord is.

2) Also I feel more and more jobs will be available for those without degrees in the future. Why because the pickin’s are getting slim in the work force. If you look at the bottom of the rung, say McDonald’s, you will see they can’t run their business anymore because they can’t find anyone able or willing to work.
It is truly a comedy of errors to order a hamburger anymore. I think there will be a trickle up effect as companies scramble for good workers. I don’t expect anyone to have trouble getting a good job in the future because the product coming out of our public schools is just almost worthless ( work wise not being wise). A college degree is not worth much more.

3) OK I said 2 points but I have one more. Joanne has a legitimate point about legalism. We just sold our 300 year old 8 acre farm and we are tickled pink. We still live in the country but we are out of the bondage of a lifestyle we could not live. I loved having chickens but no one ever mentions the other side of chickens: RATS. I don’t know anyone with chickens who doesn’t also have rats. Homeschooling moms cannot do it all . We cannot live in 2 centuries , we have to make decisions about priorities. We have to get before the LORD and find out the “ONE thing needful.” We were in a homeschooling church where the people ended up eating each other up. There was no honesty because we all had to pretend we were someone we were not. At one prayer group a girl broke down and cried as she admitted they drank Coke with their meals. The worse part is the rest of us looked on condescendingly, “We would never drink soda in our Godly homes.” Well God took that work and crushed it and we praise him for it. I know from talking to other girls who have homeschooled for years that there is a sense now that we want to live our lives without the legalism and hypocrisy. I have heard some real horror stories from Homeschooling church communities that set themselves up as the standard. These things ought not to be.

I am still a homeschooling, Christian mom but not as judgmental as the old days.

Cindy in NJ
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999
From: Mc Daniel

Dear Laurie,

I have so enjoyed getting to know you through the Trivium Email Loop Archives. Thanks for sharing with a voice of wisdom and grace. I have been especially encouraged by your insights on those late blooming boys, and helped by your excellent practical suggestions. Would you please comment on the impulsivity that seems to be a part of the package with these little guys? My greatest challenges with my late bloomer have been in discerning immaturity vs. things rooted in sin. I’m thinking of trouble following directions, getting lost in the middle of a longer task, and impulsivity. Also, could anyone on the loop comment on the Oliver Optic Series? Finally, the last few loops appearing on the index are empty when I open them. Can you explain?

Many thanks,
Karen, wife of Mike; mother to four lively boys Dhaka, Bangladesh
I think the secret to this is in the diagnosis. The earlier you can spot the problem and work on a remedy the better. We have one child who was/is like this, and we didn’t really catch on to it till rather late. And then it certainly doesn’t help that Harvey and I approach the problem differently. I tend to take a more hard-line approach about it: I can’t believe it! The compost bucket has been sitting on the kitchen sink since yesterday and you haven’t emptied it yet! Harvey would simply remind him to do it.

We need to find out where their weaknesses lie and then train to those weaknesses. They don’t stop and think, so we need to somehow devise a signal to communicate to them to help them stop and think before acting (which necessitates Mother keeping one step ahead of the impulsive one). They put off doing what you ask them to do and then in a short while forget that you even asked them, so we need to make sure they know that they will do what you ask immediately, no questions. They have trouble following directions, so we avoid giving them multi-step directions till they are more mature. All this takes patience, perseverance, and energy. Lots of energy. And if a mother has more than one child like this it can get wearying. But I guess this is how the Lord teaches us patience and perseverance. Do we think He is going to give us patience and perseverance on a golden platter? It is in the process of being forced to exhibit patience and perseverance that we learn to be truly patient and to truly persevere.

The alternative is to wrap them up in duct tape and put ’em in a closet for a few days.

Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999

I am using 100 easy lessons with my second child who is a 7 yog. I used a program called “Fast Track” with my first son and it went fine with him. It uses a tape, cards, games and a short worksheet. He did fine with it but when I tried it with my daughter she did not progress with it very well. We went on to try “Alpha Phonics” and that did not go well either. We couldn’t get past the first 3 lessons. We would review them and she would forget most of the words. I decided to hold off on phonics altogether for a while. She was 6 1/2 at this time and I waited until she turned 7 and started with the “100 Easy Lessons.” That was a recommendation from my sister-in-law who had used it with her daughter and said she was the best reader of her 3 children. She is doing well with this and we are over half-way through at this time. It is reasonably priced and easy to use. I like that aspect. The one thing I wonder as we try different things and find some work and some don’t with different children is, is it the program always or just maybe the child is not ready? I have to be careful not to feel pressured that my daughter is over 7 and just beginning to read while all her friends at church are reading. My son could read at that age but didn’t like to read and not until he was 9 did he take off in his reading. I am reminded that the Moore’s say it is not abnormal for a child to not begin reading until they are 8, 9, 10 or even 12. So I continue to be patient with her and we just keep moving along. She wants to read so we keep doing the lessons and she is coming along. As a parent I have to remember to not compare and accept each child for who they are and where they are!
There is one drawback to reading a really good book. When you are done there is a kind of let-down when you consider that you will probably never find another book as good as this one. That’s how I felt when we finished Dombey and Son. But another good one always turns up anyway.

We are currently reading Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Hans calls it one of those “Oh, he’s so cute” type of books and won’t listen to me read, but the girls and I are enjoying it.

Harvey is reading to us Recollections of a Detective Police-Officer by William Russell (1856). This book is said to be a collection of the first detective stories ever written.

Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000
From: Rafael and Judy Arroyo

I have so many allergies this time of year that I just about lose my voice. So instead of reading aloud for 2 hours I use audio books while we eat our snacks, set the table, load the dishwasher, put away the dishes, draw, play legos, dust. I really don’t believe that the children must “concentrate” on the reading, I am constantly surprised at what they [dd 6 and ds 8] actually retain while doing something else. [I had my serious doubts, but they were quickly put at ease] I don’t force narration. I draw out a conversation about the book, a character or incident in what we are reading or hearing

. Sometimes I will talk about something that never happened in the story or describe some wrong, just so that the children will correct me. “No mom it wasn’t that way”. They will proceed to “narrate” what actually happened with astonishing accuracy! This works for me a lot better than actually asking them to “narrate” upon request. What I have trouble with is copybook. My children seem to be allergic to pencils and paper. Suggestions please!

Judy Arroyo
Have you tried buying the children special pencils or markers and special books filled with blank pages for doing their copywork? When my children were small and even up till the teen years they loved it when we shopped at office supply stores. I would buy them little pads of specially colored paper and fancy writing utensils for them to use in copywork. I also hired them to make all the greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, etc.) I wanted to send out. A typical card at Hallmark cost about $2-$3, but I would pay them $1 or so for each card, which they were always happy to get. The cards they made would have some type of artwork on the cover and a poem of Bible verse or something like that inside. If we really wanted to impress the relatives I’d have them copy the Greek alphabet somewhere on the card. That’s guaranteed to keep unapproving relatives off your back for awhile.

Today at the copy centers there are lots of interesting things you can do with paper. The child can make a greeting card and then have it duplicated on a color copier. Make several copies to sell (you might not make any profit on the project but it would motivate the child in his copywork). Have him copy Bible verses onto a narrow strip of nice paper, decorate, and then laminate. Here you have a book marker to give away as gifts or to sell. Several pages of copywork along with a cover can be bound together using a plastic comb binder.
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000
From: Katherine Craig

In volume IV of TTT you lay out a typical schedule. What is one to do for the nap portion of the day? I would gladly take a nap but my kids are past that stage. Should this be just free time?
When I wanted to take a nap but my children were too young to be left alone roaming the house, I would put them in their beds and give them a few toys or books or art materials to play with along with the instructions that they must stay there until I gave them permission to get up. I know many mothers schedule a quiet time into each afternoon whether the mother wants to take a nap or not. The children must either take a nap during that time or play quietly in their rooms. Of course, children must be taught to play quietly and not bother one another during this time so the mother can sleep or do whatever else she needs to do during this quiet time. Nothing worse than dragging through the afternoon, needing a nap and trying to do school with the children. A nap always rejuvenates me and renews my enthusiasm. To this day I often take a nap in the afternoon.

Date: Sun, 09 Jan 2000
From: “Thomas C. Calvert”

“I am sure there is a great deal of conceit mixed up with all I say; and then when I compare my life with my own standard of duty, I wonder I ever dare to open my mouth and undertake to help others.” from Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss I have looked over some of my previous writings on child training on this discussion loop, I felt that some of them may have sounded preachy. If you all could come and visit my house you would know that I eat a lot of humble pie. Anyway, if my tone offended anyone, please forgive me. I like to be open and direct, maybe with time I will acquire more grace to season my speech. I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the discussion about the pros and cons of going to college. If anyone has anything to say that might be helpful to others please go ahead and write it. As for me, I am scrutinizing my children daily, looking for abilities and interests and looking around for ways to develop them into future careers. In each case I am planning on college for them where it seems needful, hopefully through a correspondence course.

There seems to be some disagreement about whether it is right for women to go to college. I won’t say either way, but just wanted to add another little comment. My sister is expecting her first baby. She has a job and is planning on going back to it after her baby is born. My mother, who is divorced, keeps telling her that she needs to make sure that she keeps those career prospects going at all times because the day might come when she will be a single mom. My sister says that she is worried about providing for her child if her husband were to be killed. Life insurance or loving relative could alleviate that. If divorce is what she is preparing to deal with, she could probably spend her energies better trying to preserve her marriage, which is hard when you’re spending a lot of energy on a career. I know when her baby is born she will probably feel torn about having to leave her baby with someone else. It breaks my heart to think of mothers tearing their babies away from their breasts and leaving them with a stranger because of a lot of things that “might” happen.

It just seems crazy to see so many who are worried about whether God will provide for their daughters that they steer them away from marriage and motherhood and right into the career world. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know a homeschooling mom whose husband ran out on her, and she still stayed at home teaching her children. She made ends meet by selling calligraphy and raising worms with her kids.

I’m know she scrimped and saved to get by, but God consistently provided for her, and she got to have those precious years with her growing children. I am trying to teach my daughter to be hard working and resourceful, and trying to teach her skills that will enable her to bring in some money by working out of our home or her husband’s. I’m not saying that college is always wrong, or that women should never hold down jobs. But there is a real temptation that should make us wary of sending our young, inexperienced girls out into the career world. Children need mothers, real, stay-at-home, flesh and blood mothers, and women need the strength and protection of a man. If at all possible we should prepare them for the ideal situation, children and a loving, providing husband, and put the career on the back burner. We should take care not to throw away all that is most dear, just because our faith is weak and we don’t really believe God can take care of us and our daughters.

Well, there I go sounding preachy again, and you all are probably in the choir. If I stepped on your toes please forgive me. And please free to step on mine if I am out of line.

From: Sheryl L Atkinson
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000

The women going to college debate keeps bringing up a saying that my father told me years ago and I don’t even know who is was who said it, but here goes…….
“Educate a son and you educate one person; Educate a woman and you educate a whole family.” For me it pretty much sums it up. Whether a woman is planning a career or not, we educated women bring that education to our homes.

In Jesus,
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000

Laurie, I LOVED these ideas! Thanks so much! I do rubberstamping for a hobby (a big time hobby!), and I do have the kids make all their own thank yous or what ever they want to send, and we do send out our own prayer cards in response to the Christmas cards we get this time of year. But I could pay the kids to make cards for me to send as birthday greetings, or what ever. Daniel for his writing, as you suggested, writes at least two letters a day to his friends. The only problem is that he has not gotten many responses to the letters he has sent! And he is sending them to 4 or 5 different friends!

God Bless Your Day

Carolina Catalog of Science and Math (1-800-334-5551) Free to science and math teachers. This is a huge catalog (1356 pages) that carries all the equipment you will need to teach science. I purchased several of their live algae and protozoa specimens and was very happy with the service and product.

The 2000 ACL/JCL National Latin Exam
Exam will be administered during the 2nd week of March, 2000 Taken by more than 110,000 students in 1999 Exams for Introduction to Latin, Latin I, II, III-IV Prose, III-VI Poetry contain 40 multiple-choice questions covering grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, and history.
The Latin V-VI exam contains two Latin passages as a basis for 40 questions on grammar, comprehension, historical background, classical literature, and literary devices. Gold and Silver medals, ribbons, and certificates are awarded for outstanding performance. Scholarship opportunities are available to Gold-medal-winning high school seniors who plan to take at least one year of college Latin or Greek. Cost: $3 per student Application deadline: January 10. 2000 (sorry for not telling you about this sooner) Application forms available from: American Classical League, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056 (513-529-7741) Laurie
Good books to read:
If you’re looking for an exciting book to read on these long winter nights, try Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson. This is the story of the Galveston, Texas hurricane in 1900. Not only is the story full of intense drama, but you’ll learn a lot about the history of the United States Weather Bureau and about how hurricanes form. The ending is a bit gross, though, as it describes all the dead bodies found after the hurricane. Laurie
From: “Barbara Haney”
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000

Morning routine here:
Up by 7:00 am; breakfast for the dogs and kids done by 7:30…dogs walked (by the kids), chickens tended, any other chores… and at -40 you’d better be dressed, cause it is too darn cold to mess around with not being dressed.
By 8:00 they little ones are dressed, and at their work. Bible/Penmanship, Math, language arts, phonics/spelling, other written work. Lunch. Violin, and NON-written work: Oral reciting (overview of “factoids”) of Latin, Greek, and (starting) Hebrew, Dictation work, then reading. Sometimes I let them play and do reading in the evening…depends on the time of year. In Alaska, we tend to capitalize on the precious little amount of daylight we get in the winter to ski-jor or ice skate, so I do not hesitate to place reading in the evening after the wiggle worm boy has had his time to burn steam.
Factoids vary….and should be age appropriate, although I suppose that is somewhat subjective… Sometimes, Factoids make up a bigger part of the day that written work, some times written work; and to be “whimsical” we sometimes do oral reciting in the morning, and then written work, especially if there is a lot of new material or material that requires a bit more than Polly Parrot type responses. For example, mine spent a month reciting/and writing the math tables (addition) from one through 12. After they had them down pretty well… we moved that into written work.. and put other material in that slot.
Type of material that has been in the slot previously has included the phonics units (a while back!), The days of the week, months along with season and holidays, Continents and oceans along with major geographically items, Seven Wonders of The world, Famous Authors, Famous Artists, Famous Composers, Famous inventors, the Presidents, the Human bones, the States and Capitals, Body systems, and some element of Greek and Latin are always in part of the charts (along with their new Hebrew chart). Word analysis is almost always part of their reciting, where they have to take apart a word from its Greek or Latin Roots and determine its meaning (or I give them a Latin or Greek word,and they determine the meaning). They also have fairly formal Greek and Latin studies, but I make sure I use a bit of the time to build the bridge between their Greek and Latin (the Bluedorn’s have an EXCELLENT book to help you with this).
I have found that Oral reciting a very effective means of introducing new material, and their proficiency in the written areas tends to be higher once an item has been in part of their oral reciting. Art and sometimes some games that we have (Aristoplay is a good outlet for quality educational
games) take the place of Oral reciting, but I tend to keep it rather regular.
We have one day a week I where we get our “outings” done: visits to the library, resource room, lessons, swimming pool, skating rink… whatever.
They might get a “reprieve” from written work, but not from Oral reciting.
A routine is very hard for me, because I tend to be a fairly spontaneous person that hates routines. Enforcing it makes me feel a bit like a tyrant at times… However, I have found that my kids have a more consistent academic performance with a routine and that the behavior problems are at a minimum. If anyone gives me guff, I grab the phone, call the principle on his cell phone… and I let the principle take care of it. One or two trips to the “principles office” is about all it takes….A few tears, and they are back to work.
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000
From: Jill Barber

Dear Laurie,
Thanks for the reply. Yes, we have received the package and have already started on Bob son of Battle as a read aloud book in the evenings. (The kids are really getting a laugh out of my wana-be Irish/Scottish accent!) In Him, Jill
When I’m reading a book with an accent I tend to speak that way even when not reading aloud — to the kids, to Harvey, answering the phone. The kids refuse to go through the McDonald’s drive thru with me when I’m in that kind of mood.
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000
From: Mc Daniel

Dear Laurie,
Thanks again for your helpful advice about late bloomers. It is hard to stay a step ahead, and anticipate situations where that child will need closer guidance. I believe a great Scripture in dealing with these kids is 1 Thess 5:14–15. Though Paul was not speaking on the subject of parenting, his words certainly apply. “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another will evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.” When to admonish, encourage or help requires such insight, but patience is a “given.”

One other approach that we’ve found helpful is inspiration. Just as we parents can get discouraged with the training process, so can our late bloomers. With my son, I talk to him about being faithful in little, so that he’ll be ready for the big jobs when God calls on him. Then the simple admonition to “show me how faithful you can be” becomes a way to go on the offensive against dawdling. Our son is inspired by the idea of being a champion for Christ and responds well when we help him lift his vision a bit. Sometimes when we read Bible stories, I ask him to imagine what might have happened if the main character had gotten distracted from the task the Lord had given him. This, too, seems to make an impression. I wanted to echo what others have written…it is wonderful to find suggestions on implementing the trivium without pressuring children in the early years.

Grace and peace,

By the way, the duct tape is working beautifully. 🙂 And here in Bangladesh, I have no worries about pesky social services people!
Aristophanes (445-388BC)

Aristophanes was a Greek who wrote more than 40 comedy plays, 11 of which have survived in their entirety. His plays are on many topics which were dear to the hearts of his Greek audience: politics, religion, famous writers of the day, women, etc.

I read The Frogs, and then proceeded to read portions of most of his other plays. There are numerous translations of these plays, some stay close to the original Greek and some purposely leave out portions. The versions I read said they kept to the original.

I would describe the plays of Aristophanes as being a cross between an R-rated stand-up comedy routine and a soap opera. The author seemed to enjoy writing about perverse topics (of the very worst), and, according to articles I’ve read, his audience seemed to enjoy being entertained in this manner. His plays often received the highest prizes. I guess it isn’t much different today. We give Academy Awards for some of the most profane movies.

I tried to find something of value in these plays, thinking that I was, perhaps, too critical. After all, they are recommended by so many people, including Christians. His plays do not meet the standards our family has set for literature. I’m sorry I had to read them.
The Psalter and Canticles, Pointed for Chanting to The Gregorian Psalm Tones with a plain song setting for the order of Matins and vespers, accompanying harmonies, and tables of proper psalms for the use of evangelical Lutheran congregations edited by Harry G. Archer and Rev. Luther D. Reed New York The Christian Literature Company 1897

An old book for those interested in chanting the psalms. Laurie
I’m wondering if some of you are finding yourselves a bit:

1. down in the dumps
2. spent
3. weary
4. impatient
5. overwhelmed
6. all of the above

This is the time of year when some of us start to suffer from a little bit of cabin fever. We’ve been homeschooling just a few months, but it feels like two years already. And we have another four or five months to go! Can I share with you some of the things that have helped me?

Reading a good book never fails to take away the winter blues around our house. There’s something about reading an hilariously funny book — the kind that makes you roll on the floor — that cleanses the soul from the cares and weariness of the day. The Penrod books (Booth Tarkington) and Life With Father (Clarence Day) will do the trick. Or an exciting sea adventure read at night by Daddy is just as good. The Wreck of the Grosvenor is our favorite here.

A full night’s sleep — eight hours — may help the spirits. Lack of sleep colors all you do during the day. Resist the impulse to stay up late after the children have gone to bed. If you can’t get the eight hours at night, then sneak in a little nap during the day. Unplug the phone, turn off the lights, lock the doors, and instruct the children to stay in bed or their room (sleeping or playing quietly with toys or books) till you give them permission to get up.

Your answering machine may be employed as a guardian of your time.

I suggest that you spend some time alone with the Lord in the morning before the children get up. Thirty minutes seems to be a good amount of time. I know some will think that it just isn’t possible to find time for more than a few minutes of prayer and Bible study, but, since I’ve been there and done that, I know it is possible if you consider it a priority. You won’t find the time if you don’t consider it a priority. If we can find the time to work on email, we should be able to find the time to spend in fellowship with the Lord.

Teach the children to help you run the household by giving them chores at an early age. The five year old is capable of folding and putting away the laundry. The ten year old can prepare a simple meal from start to finish. You, as the mother, should not pick things up off the floor and put them away. The children can do all that for you. Expect it of them. And that ties in with……

If you don’t have first time obedience from children of all ages, your homeschool journey will be beset with all number of difficulties. During our trip out east last fall we had an interesting experience in the home of some friends in North Carolina. This family lived a very simple life, in a very modest home, homeschooling their five small children. The parents are quite soft spoken and gentle in manner, always speaking to the children in a calm, quiet way. It became quickly obvious to us that the children “attended” to the voices of their parents. The parents had first time obedience from even the youngest, and this obedience was obtained with a quiet voice and manner. In all my life I’ve never seen anything like it. On one occasion, the one-year-old started to climb up on the kerosene heater. I saw the father give an almost imperceptible shake of the head and heard him say in a whisper, “Issac, huh, uh.” Immediately the child moved into reverse and backed away from the heater. The child attended to and obeyed the very whisper of his father. It moves me to tears to recall that scene and the affection the children and parents had for each other. Oh, that I had trained my children so when they were young. I think we almost train our children to ignore us when we speak, by our resorting to speaking in a loud voice, or even yelling when we want something of them, and saying things twice or more when making requests. If we could only start at the very beginning to train our children to attend to our voice — to listen for it no matter what they are doing and to immediately obey. But if that were accomplished, then it would mean that the child views the parent in the same way a servant views his master, or as a subject views his king. He has great respect and honour for the parent and wants only to please him. Of course, the king is a benevolent and kind master, always treating his subjects with tenderness and fairness. Yes, we are kings and queens, our homes are our castles, and the little ones the servants in training. Does a queen need to resort to yelling to get something done? Not likely in a well ordered kingdom. How much better our world would be if we rendered first time obedience to our Lord.
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000

I don’t have 3 under 4 (soon to have 2 under 4) but I do have a 10yo 🙂 He is a good reader so most reading for information he can do on his own. He does most of his work on his own. He reads his math lesson, describes to me what he learned, and then does the practice problems. The next day he works the problems for the lesson, asking for help when he needs it which is less than once a week.

He and I choose his copywork (usually scripture or a poem) ahead of time so he knows what he will copy every day of the week. He also has a writing workbook he uses on his own, showing me the finished work.

For history I assign reading which he does on his own. I try to ask him about it later. Science is either reading or an occasional (VERY occasional) experiment. We are about to start Latin and I am trying to figure out a chunk of time to spend with him on that. It may need to be in the evening when Dad is home. I read aloud to him (with the 8 and 6yo) daily but the little one is napping. Even my 4 and 5yo’s have rested for at least an hour each day. Even when I need to rest I can usually manage to read for 30 minutes at least before falling asleep in the middle of a page! Then I try to catch up on the rest of the reading in the evening.

I would recommend finding ways your child can work independently where ever possible. I really don’t present many lessons and the kids seem to be learning just fine. The one caution I can think of is to make sure the child is a very proficient reader before having them read for information. My 8yo probably has another year to go before reading for information, but he can read to follow directions.
From: “Barbara Haney”
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000

Yes, Laurie. If you want me to save you some more… I can tell you that most of the Greek Tragedies were..  uh…made for a Pagan Audience. If you want a great Adventure, try Xenophon. It inspired a young Macedonian later named Alexander, and is at least true. Some of the Greek tragedies are really political commentary, but if you don’t understand the allegory of who is being made the object of ridicule and amusement, then you’ll not enjoy them either. While Shakespeare might have been inspired by Aristophanes, Euripides, and others,.. they don’t do much for me. I think some of us have a hard enough time with the scriptural allegory in “Lion Witch and the Wardrobe” and the US Political allegory in “The Wizard of Oz.”

FWIW, here is a good way to make lemonade and salvage something redeeming…the plays might give you an insight into what was going on in Christ’s back yard, quite literally! If you ever get a chance to go to Jesus’s childhood home, you’ll see not far away was Sepphoris. The city was built while Christ was a child. The Theater there was built during his time, and many techtons from Nazareth and surrounding communities were employed in its construction. It is possible that Christ encountered some of the folks who did these plays as a child, and perhaps some of the literature. It was possible he knew folks engaged in the construction of the theater and other areas around the city. If you look at the “Woe to you, teachers of the Law, and Pharisee” speeches that spans through the Gospel of Matthew in or about the 21st chapter, count the number of times hypocrites is used.

You’ll be impressed. Remember what a hypocrite was back then.. an actor. So.. now you may have a better appreciation of the kind of charge Jesus was delivering on the Temple steps and why the Sanhedrin was so deeply offended. IMHO, HE wasn’t just saying that the law givers were protenders, he was suggesting that they were obscene, and was delivering a deeper insult. Ray Vander Laan has a very nice video series called “Faith Lessons in the Holy Land.” In Lesson 13, he provides on video a nice little over view of the “Language of Culture” and shows how you can see Nazareth from Sepphoris, across Har Meggido. It is thought provoking and provides a good visual picture of the region for those interested. The video is put out by Focus on the Family, and can be ordered from them. I wouldn’t go read a Aristophanes can skip that and still glean a new insight into the Gospels from Ray Vander Laan’s talk. I don’t agree with every utterance of Vander Laan, but he does offer a great insight.
Warmest regards in Christ
Barbara (up here in Warm Alaska)
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
From: “Crystal L. Bailar”

We have been homeschooling 5 years and only recently tried to begin a classical style of schooling our children. I know that it is never too late to start, but I am not sure how to implement a program that seems to require laying a solid foundation from Kindergarten on, especially with a thirteen year old. We have three children ages 9, 11(both girls), and 13(a boy) . So we have basically already passed the “grammar” stage.

How can we implement the next two levels? Do we have to back up? Can we just jump into Latin with BOTH our 11, and 13 year old?

Our style of homeschooling lends itself to the classical anyway because we have always stressed reading literature and “original sources” rather than text books. In fact the only “text books” we use are for math (and our old college texts), everything else comes from the Library (and used book stores). I am glad to see such a wealth of information now available for parents wanting to teach the Trivium. I wonder why it took us so long to find out about this. Our biggest weakness has been memorization, and writing (for our son), as well as classical and foreign languages. We have not taught any formal logic but we enjoy logic games as a family.

I would appreciate any advice on how we can begin “teaching the Trivium” this far along in our homeschooling experience.
Crystal Bailar in Kensington, Maryland
You can jump right in with Latin grammar with the two older children. I suggest waiting till age 10 to start Latin grammar with the youngest. See past loops for more discussion on this topic.

You could start with some pre-logic with the 11-year-old (Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural) and some logic with the 13-year-old (Critical Thinking Book One). Both those books are easy to use, although the parent needs to study Critical Thinking along with the student.

Memorization is important, and you will want to incorporate that into your daily schedule, along with oral narration.

A principle to work with in determining what to require of your child: You should always challenge the child to do more, to do better, to go further, tempering that with understanding the child’s abilities and level. Some children reach a plateau for a while, then a couple things click and then they’re off again.

Concerning writing, keeping in mind our principle: The 9-year-old can be doing copywork and simple letter writing; the 11-year-old would be doing copywork, dictation, letter writing, and learning simple outlining; and the 13-year-old could be doing dictation, written narration, outlining, letter writing, and perhaps some creative writing (it depends on the child). Here is a suggested

Monday — everyone writes a letter to Aunt Dorothy (if you don’t have an Aunt Dorothy then maybe you’ll want to write one to Grandma and Grandpa). The letters of the grammar level students (ages 9 and 11) will probably be simple and limited to relating facts and events, although I know there are some grammar level students who will go beyond this. You will expect more from your logic level student (age 13). He will be more creative. I always required my children to bring me the rough draft of their letters and we would go over them for errors and content, and then the child would recopy the letter in his neatest handwriting.

Tuesday — copywork for the youngest and dictation for the two oldest.

Wednesday — copywork for the two youngest and written narration for the oldest

Thursday — copywork for the youngest and a lesson and practice in outlining for the two oldest.

Friday — copywork for the youngest and either copywork or dictation for the 11-year-old, and perhaps the 13-year-old could do some creative writing.

“Classical Rhetoric For The Modern Student” is an excellent book for teaching rhetoric. It has been considered the standard rhetoric text for about 35 years and has gone through four editions. The edition TWTM recommends is the newest one. My two youngest girls are reading it and outlining the text as they read, although written summaries of each chapter of the text would work just as well. I would suggest using the book in your homeschool with any student ages 16 and up, and plan on taking a full year to read through the text. The book is expensive but definitely worth buying. I had to get it through a local book store here in Iowa.

At the beginning there is a brief explanation of classical rhetoric — what exactly is this thing called “rhetoric” and what is involved in its study. As with any new subject, the terminology will be unfamiliar. Even the term “rhetoric” itself has come to have many different meanings. Let me give you a rather simplistic meaning. The subject of “Grammar” involves analyzing words and sentences (noun, verb, direct object, etc.); the subject of “Logic” involves putting words together into sentences that make sense and have meaning; the subject of “Rhetoric” involves making those sentences sound beautiful. Long ago, from the time that man started talking about rhetoric (about the 5th century BC) through medieval times, rhetoric just involved the art of oratory (speech making). Later rhetoric was applied to writing (before the invention of the printing press people didn’t write much). Today rhetoric involves speech, composition, and debate. So, when you study rhetoric you will study how to write (essays, book reviews, short stories, etc.), how to write and perform a speech, and how to debate (although most people won’t get into debate).

The study of rhetoric is divided into 5 parts:
1. Inventio — this is where you figure out the topics and arguments you are going to use in your speech or composition.
2. Dispositio — next you must figure out how to arrange these topics and arguments.
3. Elocutio — now you must figure out how to deliver your speech or write your composition in the most beautiful and powerful way (how to be eloquent).
4. Memoria — concerned memorizing speeches (this is not covered in “Classical Rhetoric For The Modern Student”) 5. Pronuntiatio — concerned management of voice and gestures in giving a speech (also not covered in the book).

In “Classical Rhetoric For The Modern Student” 230 pages are devoted to inventio, 80 pages to dispositio, and 146 pages to elocutio.

The last chapter is called “The Progymnasmata,” which was the sequence of prose compositions that Greek students were exercised in.

At the back there is a selective bibliography for those who want to study rhetoric more thoroughly. It lists primary texts (books written by Greeks and Romans on the subject of rhetoric), books on the history of rhetoric and the theories of rhetoric, collections of articles on rhetoric, and books on style.

Here are some things you will be doing in your homeschool that will help prepare your student for the study of rhetoric:
1. Read, copy, memorize, and recite famous speeches and essays.
2. Read, read, read good literature.
3. Teach your student how to outline and summarize.
4. Practice oral narration.
5. Study logic.
6. Study and practice oral interpretation.

From: “Michael & Julia”
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2000

Dear Laurie:
By the way, we’ve had so many conversations about my fears about waiting until age ten to start Anna in school and I just want to say that I’m now convinced also with our personal experience that this is indeed a child-friendly way to teach. How delightful to let them be children as long as they developmentally need to be, and to see the thirst for knowledge begin to be quenched at just the right time without a premature “burnout.”

Anna is on her 45th lesson in Saxon 65 now and prior to starting this book, only had a scant time during “first” grade to work on addition tables. I can report that she not only has her subtraction and addition facts down pat, but using the timed tests provided with the Saxon material, she also has mastered her multiplication tables and is well on her way to having the entire division tables memorized also. As you know, we had a rough year with the move and our Yielded To the King preparations (just a little joke 🙂 – and we’re going to be starting some of our other subjects in the next week. I have purchased the Noah Webster Speller and have not purchased the Bob Jones Handbook for English yet. I have seen some material from a dear friend of mine which she is using successfully with her son called Dailygrams. What do you think about this material?

Yours truly,
We used Dailygrams along with Easy Grammar for one year. I was very happy with both of them. Laurie

Xenophon (approx 430-350)

Xenophon was the third great Greek historian.  His work may be divided into three main categories: historical, Socratic (Xenophon records his conversations with his teacher Socrates), and Minor Works (essays on various topics of ancient Greece):

Historical —
1. The “Anabasis” is Xenophon’s most successful work. Anabasis is a narrative of the war of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes II, King of Persia (in 401 BC), and of the retreat of the Ten Thousand Greek mercenaries in the service of Cyrus. Xenophon (a soldier of fortune) himself served on the expedition, and he is prominent from Book 3 onwards. He was elected their general after the death of Cyrus. This work is considered to be historically accurate and would be considered a primary source.

I have read all of “Anabasis” and can recommend it to you as an important document to read during your study of Greek history. Xenophon’s style is clear and easy to understand. Late grammar stage students should be able to follow it.

2. “Hellenica” (Hellenic History) is Xenophon’s attempt at carrying on the work of Thucydides — it is a history of Greece from 411-362 BC. It is the story of Sparta’s triumph over Athens, of her day of power, and of her overthrow by Thebes.
Part I. Brings the story of the Peloponnesian War to a conclusion (411-404).
Part II. From the close of the Peloponnesian War to the Peace of Antalcidas.
Part III. From the Peace of Antalcidas to the battle of Mantinea.

You will want your students to read Hellenica during their study of Greek history. Like Anabasis, it is easy to read.

3. The “Cyropaedia or the Education of Cyrus the Great” is a biography of Cyrus the Great of Persia (6th century). The first part of this book covers the youth of Cyrus, in which the author writes about the value of education; the second relates his conquests; the third shows him as the monarch of Asia. Part of this work is actual history, part is legend, and part is romance, and it is thought by some “to be a precursor of the later novel.” We would probably call it historical fiction. Definitely worth reading.

4. The “Agesilaus” is a biography of King Agesilaus of Sparta (c.444/3-360). It is one of the first true biographies in Greek literature. I have not seen this book.

Socratic —

1. As a young Athenian noble Xenophon became a disciple of Socrates and preserved his recollections of his teacher in four books called “Memorabilia”
(Recollections of Socrates). It is a collection of discussions between Socrates and young Athenian men and is in defense of the philosopher.

2. “The Apology of Socrates”

3. “Economics: a Treatise on the Science of the Household in the form of a Dialogue” is a series of dialogues divided into two parts. In the first, Socrates discusses with Critobolus the principles of private economy, in which he defines economics as primarily the art of administering one’s house well. In the second part, Xenophon writes of a conversation with a friend and dwells particularly upon the education of women, with whom household economics should be the primary fact of education.

4. “Hiero, or The Tyrant: A Discourse of Despotic Rule”

5. “Symposium, or the Banquet” is a description of a banquet at Athens and the conduct and discussion there. This is a lewd work.

Reading Xenophon’s Socratic works seem rather a waste of time to me, but I’m willing to be educated and corrected on this. Many of the things Socrates discourses on seem to come from the Bible (which of course they don’t), but it is all mingled with pagan ideas. Someone who is not well grounded in his faith might be lead astray by these writings. I wouldn’t let a young child read these works without an adult leading him.

Minor Works —

1. His “Treatise on Horsemanship” is a treatise on choosing, keeping, and sitting the horse.
2. The “Polity of the Lacedaemonians” is a description of the Spartan educational system.
3. The “Agesilaus” is about Xenophon’s admired patron the King of Sparta.
4. The “Polity of the Athenians” — a political tract.
5. “Revenues, or Ways and Means” contains some of Xenophon’s ideas on finance and political economy.
6. “Cavalry Officer’s Manual” contains suggestions by an experienced officer for the improvement of the cavalry arm of the Athenian service.
7. “On Hunting”
I haven’t read any of these minor works.

Xenophon’s style is much more lively and interesting than Thucydides. He interjects interesting personal descriptions that keep the reader’s interest to the end. But, on the other hand, Xenophon is not as historically accurate as Thucydides.
Taken from “Xenophon” by Sir Alexander Grant:

Concerning Socrates…

“…Xenophon omits to mention one peculiarity of Socrates which we learn from Plato — namely, his strange fits of protracted reverie, almost amounting to trance. But he is full of allusions to the Daemon, or divine mentor, under whose guidance Socrates laid claim to act. The whole life of Socrates was represented by himself as being ordered under the direction of internal signs from the gods, which told him what to do and what not to do. He thoroughly believed in the reality of these intimations … But Socrates by habit learnt more and more to recognize and obey. And thus his whole life took the form of a mission, which consisted in improving others, both in intellect and character, by his conversations…
…he voluntarily adopted a life of austere simplicity and poverty, entirely devoted to what he considered his spiritual calling. India of the present day throws light on many of the features of ancient Greek society, and in India such lives of renunciation and of contented poverty are not unfrequent. Often in the Indian bazaars may you see Socrates, or something like him, in the person of some stout Brahman, good-humouredly lounging about in loose robes and with bare legs, ready to discuss for hours, with all comers, any topic that may turn up…
…Socrates, it appears, make a point of not departing from conformity with the usual religious ceremonies of his country. He also encouraged others in the use of divination, while he himself relied on the intimations of his daemon or familiar spirit…

We just finished reading a great book! It’s called We Die Alone by David Howarth. It’s one of those “escape from the Nazis” type adventure stories set in the far northern part of Norway. It’s supposed to be a true story, and the author has personally checked out all the details, but some of the events are so unusual as to seem almost unbelievable. Harvey finished rereading one of the Penrod books, which we always enjoy, and is now reading to us the Mark Twain short stories. These stories are similar to the O Henry short stories, although Twain’s humor is of a different sort.

Has anyone seen the new book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay–“For the Family’s Sake”?

Sophocles is one of the trio of great Greek tragic dramatists (Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides).

Statements made concerning Sophocles:
“Successful and esteemed throughout his long career…”
“…for seven plays not only to survive but also to remain relevant to audiences in radically different ages is an extraordinary feat.”
“…powerful tragedies.”
“…Sophocles’s plays are timeless. And their author has become immortal.”
“…one of the greatest poets of all time…”

When one reads such statements regarding a literary figure, one might think that if this author was and is so great, then maybe I should read him, have my children read him, or, at the very least, be familiar with the basic plots of the plays. After all, an author whose works have survived over two millennia must be worth reading, and if I don’t read him I’ll be guilty of being “culturally illiterate.”

Sophocles was born in Athens in 496 BC and died in 405. He wrote, in the Greek language, what are called tragedies, as opposed to comedies (which is what Aristophanes wrote). Only seven of his original 123 works are available today. (The rest are out of print :<) )

The plots of all these tragedies of Sophocles and the others are not original with these men. Rather, they are the retelling of myths which had been around for many centuries. Something like today’s soap opera.

Here are summaries of his seven plays:

Ajax — Ajax was a great hero of the Trojan War, second only to Achilles. When Achilles was slain, his armor was offered as a prize for the best of the other Greeks; but it was awarded to Odysseus instead of Ajax. Ajax set out by night to murder Odysseus and the leaders of the army, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Athena (a goddess), however, drove him mad, so that he attacked the cattle, torturing and killing them and making a fool of himself. Ajax kills himself.

Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) — Jocasta and Laius, the rulers of Thebes, learned from an oracle that their son would kill his father and marry his mother. When Jocasta bore a son, he was exposed. He was saved from death, however, and in ignorance killed Laius. When Thebes was afflicted by a monster, the Sphinx, who killed all who could not answer her riddle, he solved the riddle, and the pest killed herself. In reward Oedipus became king, and married his mother, Jocasta. They give birth to  four children. Eventually he learned the truth. Jocasta hangs herself, and Oedipus puts out his own eyes.

Sigmund Freud appropriated the plot of Oedipus in his perverse theories of sexuality.

Antigone — Antigone is one of the four children (Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles, Polynices) of Oedipus, king of Thebes, and Jocasta (mother of Oedipus). At the beginning of this play Oedipus is dead. His two sons quarreled over the kingship and end up killing each other. Creon, Jocasta’s brother, becomes king. Creon has ordered that Eteocles is to be buried with due rites, while Polynices is to be left unburied, as a traitor. Antigone says that Creon has no right to do this and attempts to bury her brother. Creon has Antigone entombed in a lonely vault and then later changes his mind and opens the vault, but Antigone has hanged herself. Creon’s son, who was to have married Antigone, commits suicide. Creon’s wife hangs herself.

The Women of Trachis — A woman, Deianeira, learns that her husband, the great hero Heracles, loves another woman. She sends him a robe anointed with what she thinks is a love potion. It is poisonous, and causes his death. She kills herself.

Electra — Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia to the goddess Artemis when she becalmed the Greek army at Aulis, so that it could not sail for Troy.
In his long absence, his wife Clytemnestra took a lover, Aegisthus, and the pair killed Agamemnon on his return. Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, grew up in exile and at last came home and killed Aegisthus and his mother with the help of his sister, Electra.

Philoctetes — Philoctetes is an archer who led seven ships to Troy. He owned the bow of Heracles, whose arrows were inescapable. But on the way to Troy he was bitten by a serpent during a sacrifice, and the wound festered. The Greeks therefore left him on the island of Lemnos. But when the Trojan prophet Helenus was captured by Odysseus and said that Philoctetes was needed if Troy was to be taken, Diomedes went to Lemnos and brought Philoctetes. The hero was healed by Machaon the physician and killed Paris, whose abduction of Helen was the cause of the war, with his bow.

Oedipus at Colonus — This is the story of the death of Oedipus.

I’m not going to encourage my children to read the plays of Sophocles. They don’t seem to meet our family’s standards for acceptable literature.

A few observations on how ancient Greece is like 20th century civilization:
1. Men took part in local cults, worshiping heroes; fame meant immortality.
2. “Sports was the most important of…disciplines, and victory at the Olympic games was an envied goal.” (Sophocles, Siegfried Melchinger).
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000
From: T Baustian

You have mentioned teaching your children to use a good college library. I am ready to take my son through the steps required to do a research report. I saved a 5th grade Abeka language book used by his older sisters. It has the best directions I know of. He narrowed his scope of topics to one of the prominent people involved in WW II. I confess to being a little intimidated myself by just going to a college library. Would you please give some practical tips here? Thank you.
Your local public library is your first step in learning library research. You might want to get into the habit of visiting it on a weekly basis and become familiar with where the different kinds of books are: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, magazines, newspapers, reference books, special collections, recorded books. Learn how to ask the librarian questions, how to do a search on the computer or use the card catalog (card catalogs are becoming obsolete), how to use the different reference books. The easiest way to start out is to think of some subject that the child is especially interested in, such as airplanes, guns, horses, dolls, etc. and research that subject. Your goal here doesn’t have to be writing something about the subject that you are researching, but simply to investigate for the pure love of learning. Perhaps the child wants to build a birdhouse and you need to find the building plans, or he is interested in growing some herbs. Teaching your child to do research at a library is one way you can help him to develop an inquiring mind and a love of learning.

After you are comfortable with using your local public library you might want to try your local college library. This might occur when the child is 12 or 13 (logic level). Our family uses the Augustana College Library in Rock Island, Illinois. College and university libraries are organized by the Library of Congress system. Local public libraries are organized by the Dewey Decimal system. These are two very different systems for organizing books, but neither are difficult to learn, though it will take many visits to learn how to use the Library of Congress system.  Don’t go in on your first visit intent on doing research to write a paper. Your first several visits will be to acquaint yourself with the system, and this is most easily learned by simply looking up subjects which interest you or the child. It might be advisable to find a book which will teach you how to use the library, and work through that book over a few months. Can anyone recommend a book that will help with this?

When the child turns 15 or 16 (rhetoric level) you will next try out a big university library. Our family uses the University of Iowa Library in Iowa City, Iowa. The first few times we took our children here they followed me or Harvey around as we did our own research on different subjects. Gradually they would think of things they wanted to look up and would branch out on their own. Hans has always been interested in maps and geography and would spend quite a bit of time in the map room. The girls love best the old magazines where they can look up vintage crochet and knitting patterns. Nate seemed to spend most his time in the different science libraries. At least once a year, each child would do a history or science project or contest, and I, depending on the age of the child, would help direct their research for these projects.

In thinking back to the years when I took all five of the children with me to the library, there is one thing that stays in my mind—how irritated I got with the little ones while the older ones and I tried to look things up. It grieves me now to think on it. I tried everything back then to keep them occupied. Some years I took a laundry basket with me to set the baby in (I don’t think strollers were allowed in libraries at that time), and, oh, what a challenge to keep them quiet, especially at the university, with all the students staring at us. I guess the Lord used the process to teach me patience. It only took me 24 years.

I think the key to making all this successful is the attitude of the parent to doing research. If one looks at the library as a place to get in and out of as quickly as possible in order to get on to the mall, then the child will develop a similar attitude. Library research takes patience and time.

I know I haven’t answered you question on specifically HOW to do library research. That would take a book to cover. Can anyone recommend to us an easy to understand book on how to do library research? Laurie
From: “Barbara Haney”
Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2000

> I  would like your opinion on homeschooling only one child–all that > God blessed us with! I understand your point of view totally with having 2 or more children, but in some respects I believe that having only 1 child changes things just a bit. Socialization, for instance is only between our child and my husband and I.

Dear Elaine
While obvious, you should probably first consult your husband on these issues. I will assume that you have and have not reached a solution in my response below. I don’t care what anyone says, homeschooling DOES affect a marriage. It will either deepen it, or create a rift. I’ve seen more of the former than the latter. In the latter, I’ve seen the rift develop for one of two reasons: The man expected the woman to remain a domestic goddess and teach or secondly, the woman really didn’t want to teach and found the job of teaching her children to interfere with other areas of her life she desired (career, clubs, etc). You have to hash these out with your husband and determine what subjects he is willing to teach (yes, fathers SHOULD teach some too), you are willing to teach, and how flexibly you are both willing to be on issues like housekeeping and repair. There is nothing wrong with homeschooling one. I could talk at length on it, because in many ways, we all start as one. I personally was not an only child, but my sisters were all grown and gone by the time I was 4, so I suppose I actually was raised that way. There is nothing about Socialization that I missed. In fact, what socialization I did do… uh.. I might have been better off without ! But I did find Orchestra and various craft classes, other activities were wonderful sources of “socialization” while growing up as a youth. You might want to consider these if socialization is of true concern. It has been my experience that folks in the field of education who object to homeschool based on socialization are socialists, who, like the Spartans of the ancient world, believe that loyalty to the state is above loyalty to the family. I find with mothers, it is either they have been listening to these NEA socialist intellectual wonders, OR they don’t feel competent to do the job and are using socialization to cover their own fears. Some of the greatest men of our country, like Thomas Edison were homeschooled. If you search the Internet with a decent search engine, you should find several web pages that cover famous homeschooled scientists, inventors, and politicians. It will give you the ammunition to counter the socialist wonders, and perhaps, help you build some confidence in your own potential. After all, “socializing” should be with people you and your husband choose and approve, not those the children and adults the state selects for your children to socialize with in a classroom. Read Fredrick Bastiat’s “The Law,” and read the whole thing. Or, see if you can get a copy of the Dr. Kent Hoviland tapes. ESPECIALLY tape 4 on textbooks of his seminar series.

Interesting, even the message from Hollywood these days has become favorable to homeschooling. There is a movie that came out on video last year called “Blast from the Past.” It is a movie that really influenced many of my “fence sitting” friends on this issue in a most unlikely way. The plot that puts them in a homeschool situation is rather amusing and absurd, although at that point in history it was quite real to many families. While it has a lot of “themes,” it is really about a young man who was homeschooled alone with two parents, and how he handles the world. It is quite good…and I think it might give you some food for thought. If nothing else, I think it will put many of your concerns regarding socialization in a context that shows that “socialization” is not necessarily a strength of the current public and private educational institutions, and that a lack of socialization might be beneficial for their adult life. There will be many others, I suspect, who will respond on this issue.
Please, take all the comments with the Christian love with which they are given. It is easy for folks to get angry over the issue, and I think I used to be one of these. Anymore, I just smile and remember. The decision to homeschool requires one to cut through a lot of fogginess of values and represents a conflict over social values and family values, although you don’t often realize it at the time. Once you decide to homeschool and do it for a while, many of these issues will become clear, and you will see the “old canards” for what they are, and you will know you made the right choice.

In Christ
Barbara Haney Martinez
Fairbanks, Alaska
We highly recommend the Dr. Kent Hoviland video tapes. He speaks on creation vs. evolution issues and on many other subjects. Laurie
We’re back from our trips to Texas and California and all points in between. Beautiful scenery in Arizona and Utah, interesting people to visit with, new motor for the van, will never eat at McDonalds again, brought rain wherever we went — including the Mohave Desert, introduced to outlet malls, found a great interest in classical education in all parts of the country, used up four phone cards calling the kids back home, and, oh, so glad to get back to our little piece of ground in New Boston. Laurie
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000

Dear Bluedorn Family,
I have a question about McGuffey readers. I’m aware of the following versions and wonder if you have any recommendations:
1. The 1836 “original edition”, published by Mott Media in hardback.
Includes Primer, Pictorial Primer, First Reader, Second Reader, Third Reader, Fourth Reader, and Progressive Speller. Optional Parent/Teacher Guide by Ruth Beechick.
2. The 1879 “authorized, revised” version that has printed in it, “Christian School Edition.” Sold by Alpha Omega, Summit Christian Academy, and the L.A.M.B. Company. Mr Lunsford (the “L” in L.A.M.B. Company) told me this version is published by a family–Thouburn–who are the only ones who have the legal rights to publish this “authorized” revised version. Includes
7 softbound books: a primer and six readers.
3. A more recent update of the original 1836/1837 readers, edited by Charles & Betty Burger. Sold by Whole Heart Ministries and McCaffrey Communications. Set consists of five softbound books which include a Study Guide.
4. I found a used set of the hardbound books at a Half Price bookstore for $30. It’s a revised version with the following printed on the copyright
Copyright 1879, by Van Antwerp, Bragg & Company Copyright, 1896, By American Book Company Copyright, 1907 and 1921, by Henry H. Vail The books also contain the following statement: “McGuffey Editions and Colophon are Trademarks of VAN NOSTRAND REINHOLD COMPANY INC.” The set includes a primer and six readers.
Do you have any recommendations on which might be best? Your insights would be greatly appreciated. I just don’t know enough about the differences in content to determine which might be more preferable.
In Christ,
Jay & Maureen Personius
Colossians 1:9-18
There are many versions of the old, original McGuffey Readers. The ones currently in print that I am aware of are the Thoburn version (this is the one we bought in the 70’s and love very much), the Mott Media version (we bought this version years ago and I ended up selling it as I didn’t like it near as much as the Thoburn version), the Burger version, which looked to me a lot like the Mott Media version, and the Raymond Moore version (which I don’t like as they have edited it). I’m not familiar with the 4th one you mentioned. Actually it’s all a matter of opinion. The reason I like the Thoburn version is probably because it’s one of the first homeschooling materials we ever purchased and I have very happy and warm memories of reading it over and over to my children. Our copies are quite worn and tattered now, but I would never think of getting rid of them or replacing them. I am sure that all and any version of the readers would be fine for you to use. I would suggest getting one of these reprints, though, instead of going to an old book store and getting one of the really old ones, one of the originals. These would be hard to handle and would fall apart in your hands.
We’re back from traveling again, but not yet able to put away the suitcases. We will be speaking at the CT and CO conventions next month.

The garden is mostly in, we’re canning rhubarb and freezing strawberries, and weaning the 2 calves, Phoebe and Beefy. So now we have to deal with the extra 3 gallons of milk per day. Even with Johannah making all our own cheeses we are left with too much, which means we are dumping 1-2 gallons each day. I’ve taken to pouring it on some of my vegetable plants. According to L. I. Wilder, we should get some great pumpkins.

We have traveled all over this great land of our, visiting all 48 states, and seeing some of the most fantastic sights, but last week, while only 20 minutes from home we saw the most remarkable sight of all. On our way to the homeschool convention in Chicago we saw 5 tornadoes forming, all in a row. What an experience! We momentarily considered sticking around to see what developed, but sheer terror changed our minds. We didn’t actually scream, but the noise level in the van was elevated dramatically. Of course, the men of the family will tell you today that they weren’t scared a bit, but we girls know better.

If you would like to receive our new catalog, please contact us by email or phone (309-537-3641). We are also happy to take your phone calls if you have questions.
I am looking for real and fictional examples of reasons which people give for why their children need to be socialized in the public schools. Here are a few to prime the pump (perhaps you can improve upon these examples as well):

** Every child needs to learn how to deal with the anxiety of waiting every hour for the bell to ring.

** Where else can your child master those skills required for standing in line at a public drinking fountain? [Someone seriously argued this with us.]

** Children will grow into dysfunctional adults if they do not learn how to establish pecking orders from an early age.

** The proper manufacture, aim, and fire of spitballs is taught and mastered no place else.

** Children miss out on important experiences, such as:

The school bus experience. Waiting for the bus. Rushing for the bus. Missing the bus. Riding on hard seats for hours each week on the bus. The school bus experience is a classroom in itself — with children sharing most interesting stories and anecdotes with each other in a free and non-judgmental environment
— especially toward the back of the bus where the more shy and introverted types choose to ride.

The gym class experience. No properly socialized person ever missed out on the five minute dash to get into the locker room, change into sweaty clothes which you have forgotten for three months to take home and wash — discovering your shorts are on backwards, finally stumbling out for the “line up” only to discover that the class has already done roll call and gone outdoors — then at the end of the class the embarrassing communal showers, the mad rush to the next class where you’re all hot, sweaty, steamy and most uncomfortable while you take your Trigonometry mid-term.

The standardized test experience — where you spend several days filling in little dots with number two pencils until the page becomes blurred as your eyes turn myopic, and your schedule is completely altered so that your normal biological time for attending the restroom is interrupted and the whole exercise is reduced to a mere test of bladder control.

** How else can you generate dreams about missing the bus, going to school improperly dressed, not being able to find your locker, or suddenly realizing that you had forgotten to attend a class for an entire semester. Such dreams are a necessary and indispensable part of the normal human social-psyche. (What are your school nightmares?)

** Children should learn to function in the real world of public school, not in the artificial environment of their own homes. [A salesman once very indignantly confronted me with this argument.]

How can Homeschooled children learn to act in the real world without sharing these communal social experiences?

Harvey Bluedorn
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000

Dear Bluedorn’s,
I have six children form ages seven to sixteen. I have homeschooled them all using the Weaver Curriculum. Over the last two years I have been learning and studying about Classical education and have been trying to implement it and eventually phase our the Weaver. My problem is that I’m very unsure of myself in accomplishing this. My children seem to be very behind in some of the areas (like Grammar and Math) I’ve been using Writing Strands with my 12 and 13 year old, and at an early level(book 2 I believe). We’re using the Veritas Press History Cards along with The Kingfisher World History Book. I’m using the Latin video and Primer by Martha Wilson. The younger three do the chants and the 12 and 13 year old are doing it all. I’ve been trying to use the building Thinking Skills with the oldest three; in between we are doing The Red Herring Mysteries, which are great fun. I’m trying to do a lot of reading with them, but by the time they get their math, spelling, handwriting and other stuff completed it seems like there isn’t much time. I’m thinking of asking my husband to take over their morning Bible study to help me out. Anyway, lately I’m feeling overwhelmed that I’m not doing this education thing right. My oldest is doing A Beka video this year and I’m spending half my time taking care of his things. We are a traveling family. My husband recently committed to a five year job that will have us here for six months and in Australia for the other six. I feel like I need to be more organized, which is my weakness and wonder esp. with my sixteen year old how I can make sure he’s where he needs to be. Is there a test I can give him? I guess I’m panicking even though I know the Lord’s in control, I have a sense of not being able to give my children what they need. I want them to learn to think, but right now my mind is all over the place with what to do and how to do it.Sometimes it seems like the people I read about on the e-mails here and on cch have it all together! I feel like yanking my oldest off the A Beka at times because it seems like he’s doing the same type of schooling I did which didn’t help me to think at all. Do you have any suggestions? What do you think about the Robinson Curr.?
Your letter is similar to many of the letters, phone calls and convention conversations which we have had over the past six months or so. Parents are perceiving some “ideal” picture of what classical education in the home should be like, and when they can’t meet that ideal, then they become discouraged, they often give up, and worse yet, they send their older children to a full time private classical school or a two or three day a week classical homeschool co-op/private school. Here are a few observations and suggestions:

With a “classical” method of education we seek:

1. To enable our children to think for themselves (not be ruled by peer pressure or tied to educational systems, such as the government schools);

2. To enable our children to logically think through arguments and to speak and to write with clarity and force;

3. To enable our children to read and to understand the great and worthy literature of past years (the definition of “worthy” is another topic for discussion).

4. To enable our children to master a new subject on their own.

These are goals which come readily to my mind. There are others. We also want our children to be free from the baggage which we parents brought with us into our marriages — such things as the addiction to “pictures” (TV, videos, computer games), the dependence upon continual entertainment (sports, music, and the “shop till you drop” mentality), and the continual desire to surround ourselves with our peers.

How we accomplish these goals can be done in any number of ways with any number of materials. We are not tied to any one method or curriculum.

I hear the word “overwhelmed” quite often.

I would suggest that you reconsider the video course. We did A Beka video for only two courses — chemistry and physics, only one year each. Continually watching those videos was a burden for us, and we appraised that they were not worth the expense for us. There are other curricula that will accomplish your goals.

I remember the year our oldest was sixteen — or maybe he was fifteen. That was a very hard year for me. He was in Algebra 2, Chemistry, Logic, Latin, plus other subjects. Since he was our oldest, it was the first time I had studied most of those subjects (Latin and Logic), and it was a long time since my own high school days when I had studied some of them (the math and chemistry). I had to give up a hobby which I had been enjoying for a number of years — studying genealogy. That year and the next were academically hard, but then it eased up — academically, that is. This may be the reason that many mothers give up on homeschooling when their child reaches the high school years. The subjects are unfamiliar to them, and it takes real perseverance to get through that period of one or two years. That’s where your commitment to homeschooling is tested. We are committed to homeschooling, as I think you are also.

Some of what you read on classical education loops may be more wishful thinking and idealizing than cold hard reality and the norm. Women often tell us what they would like to do, not what they actually do. We have visited and talked with literally hundreds of families all over the US, and rarely are things quite like what you read about. Many are in the same boat as you, even the families with only one or two kids. We all have our own weaknesses. Harvey has decided that we are going to curb the traveling this year so that we can practice better what we preach.

May I share with you what I’ve learned in our travels?
Keep children away from TV, computer stuff, and rock and contemporary type music — it deadens the mind, which is exactly what you don’t want to do if pursuing a classical education.
Limit children’s contact with peers, especially groups of peers — keep it to single individuals.
Require first time obedience from all the children.
Resolve conflicts as they arise — even if it takes all day.
Treat your husband with love and respect.
Avoid leaving the house too often during the week (I add this after our visit to California where it seems homeschooling families there must not like the houses they live in since they are gone from them so much)
And last, but certainly not least, do lots of reading aloud.

We are often asked this question, “What books should I buy to make my curriculum more classical?” Some define classical education by the materials used. We define classical education by the model and method used, and we find materials to fit the model and method (or we make them fit).

We believe classical education to be more than simply adding Latin grammar to the schedule and reading through the Iliad. It is a developing of the mind. If you are a Christian pursuing the classical approach, then classical education is also a molding of the morals. If your child’s schedule consists of two hours a day with “pictures,” unlimited exposure to contemporary music, unnecessary contact with peers, and unresolved conflict in the home (notice I said “unresolved” — we all have conflicts), then simply learning Latin or Greek roots won’t do you much good. Classical education is a way of life. Laurie B.

EDUCATION, The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners.
Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.
— Noah Webster
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000
From: Michael McDaniel

Dear Laurie and Loop Readers,
I’ve appreciated the helpful responses when I’ve posted before, and feel in need again. I’m looking for suggestions on how a mom can best divide, share or even multiply her time among several little ones. My four sons are between 2 and 8 years with another on the way. I have two learning to read and write who need my time and attention for that. I find that I spend less time in puzzles and play dough with the younger two than I did when the older ones were little. I should add that my eldest has some special needs which require one-on-one exercises twice a day. Even when I am reading or we are all doing a project together, it seems to cater to either the interests of the younger or older ones and leave out the others. I keep telling myself it will be easier when the older boys are reading; that they can have more productive independent time. Looking forward to others’ thoughts, Karen
Probably most conscientious young mothers worry about this at one time or another.

I don’t feel that a Mother needs to be always actively participating with the child in his play in order to satisfy his need for Mother’s attention.
Mother’s simple presence is usually enough. You’ll notice that when the children are small they really don’t care to be playing in their bedrooms. They would rather be in the living room or kitchen where Mother is. Our children just need to be near us. They need to hear our voice and feel our presence.

My friend Sherry, who has 11 children, suggested that what is really happening is not that Mother’s love is being divided more and more as she has more children, but rather, as more siblings are added to the family, love is multiplied because there are more people to love each child.

The family is composed of Father, Mother, and children. It’s not just Mother’s love that goes around, but Father’s love and the siblings love for each other.
A child in a family of eleven children has twelve people loving him: Mother, Father, and ten brothers and sisters–not just one Mother.

A translation of President Clinton’s remarks on Homeschooling by Harvey Bluedorn

President Clinton recently said,

“I think that states should explicitly acknowledge the option of home schooling, because it’s going to be done anyway. It is done in every state of the country and therefore the best thing to do is to get the home schoolers organized.”

Since our President has a way of saying precisely what he means, but in a way which leaves the average American with no understanding, we offer the following translations to insure better communication.

By “explicitly acknowledge” President Clinton means “pass legislation which explicitly acknowledges the need to license and regulate.”

By “because it’s going to be done anyway” President Clinton means, “because we don’t have the power to prevent it at this time.”

By “get the home schoolers organized” President Clinton means “bring homeschoolers under bureaucratic control.”

“I think that states should pass legislation which explicitly acknowledges the need to license and regulate the option of home schooling, because we don’t have the power to prevent it at this time. It is done in every state of the country and therefore the best thing to do is to bring homeschoolers under bureaucratic control.”

President Clinton also said, “We should say, ‘Look, there’s a good way to do this and a not-so-good way to do this.’ But if you’re going to do this, your children have to prove that they’re learning on a regular basis, and if they don’t prove that they’re learning then they have to go into a school — either into a parochial or private school or a public school.”

By “a good way,” President Clinton means “a government-approved way,” and by “a not-so-good way” he means “a non-government-approved way.”

By “prove that they’re learning on a regular basis” he means “be regularly tested to make sure that they continually conform to our standards of political correctness.”

He can’t be talking about academic standards. Embarrassingly enough, homeschoolers are very close to the ceiling on academic standards, ranging from
82 to 92 percentile. Even our worst students are no worse than the illiterates who regularly graduate from government schools — believing that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a right explicitly guaranteed to every American in the federal constitution.

Unfortunately, we homeschoolers don’t regularly accept this philosophical maxim. So what are they going to do with us? President Clinton says, “If they don’t prove that they’re learning then they have to go into a school.” By this, President Clinton means, “if they aren’t politically correct, then we must take over.” By “either into parochial or private school or a public school” he means “in any state-certified program which teaches by state standards with state-licensed teachers.”

This can only mean that he wants to bring all homeschoolers down to national levels.

“We should say, ‘Look, there’s a government-approved way to do this and a non-government-approved way to do this.’ But if you’re going to do this, your children have to be regularly tested to make sure that they continually conform to our standards of political correctness, and if they aren’t politically correct, then we must take over — in any state-certified program which teaches by state standards with state-licensed teachers.”

President Clinton said that he would not have homeschooled Chelsea even if that option had been available to him, because he preferred that Chelsea be exposed to a wide range of students and experiences in school.

What makes him think that students are not exposed to a wide range of people and experiences when they are taught at home?

Chelsea was exposed mostly to children her own age. Homeschooled students learn to get along with people of all ages.

Chelsea had an artificial institutional experience. Homeschooled students have real-life experiences.

Chelsea was probably exposed to and experienced many things which children ought not to be exposed to and experience — both from other children, from teachers, from the curriculum, and from the institutional environment.
Homeschooled students are exposed to and experience many things which children ought to be exposed to and experience, such as the bonding with parents and siblings, the training under godly examples, the continuous one-on-one interaction which builds true character, the emphasis upon true godly discipline and true academic discipline.

So the real emphasis in the President’s remarks about Chelsea is that everything should be done “IN SCHOOL.” He thinks it is best for children to have a twelve year (or longer) government approved institutional experience to better socialize them to be conformed to this world.

In my opinion, President Clinton’s remarks are a test balloon to see if homeschooling should be made  a political issue in the next campaign. My suspicion is that homeschooling and gun control can be made winning issues for the Democrats.

Harvey Bluedorn
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000
From: Debra Hiffernan

> I recently found out about Creation Astronomy: A Study Guide to the
> Constellations, by Felice Gerwitz and Jill Whitlock (Media Angels, 16450 S.
> Tamiami Trail, Suite 3, Ft. Myers, FL 33908) and four books published
> by the Institute for Creation Research (Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021
> 800-628-7640)—The Astronomy Book, Voyage to the Stars, Voyage to the
Planets, > and Astronomy and the Bible. We will be purchasing these books this
> summer and  continuing our study of astronomy next fall. Can anyone suggest other astronomy  textbooks? Laurie

These are the exact same titles I recently purchased for our astronomy study that we’ll begin in a few weeks. We haven’t used any of the books yet as we’re just getting material/books together right now. I did find two other titles that might be of interest to you. One is, _Lift Up Your Eyes on High, Understanding the Stars_ by James Nickel, republished by Christian Liberty Press, high school level. The other is, _The Witness of the Stars_ by E. W. Bullinger, Kregel Publications (Barnes & Noble has it), high school/adult level. If possible, I’d be interested in knowing what primary source readings you assigned your daughters for studying Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, especially for Newton.

The book The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events (I have the New Third Revised Edition) by Bernard Grun, based upon Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan is a most valuable book for finding primary sources. It is a 724 page book that tells who did what when from 4500 B.C. to the present.
Year by year it lists all the important events in seven categories:

1. History, Politics
2. Literature, Theater
3. Religion, Philosophy. Learning
4. Visual Arts
5. Music
6. Science, Technology, Growth
7. Daily Life

If you go to the date 1642 the book records that Isaac Newton, Eng. mathematician and natural philosopher was born (d. 1727). If you then skim through all the entries from that date till his death in 1727 under the category Science, Technology, Growth you will find listed all the books, articles, etc written by Newton, along with all his accomplishments. Newton’s major work is called “Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.” It consists of 3 books. I had my girls read and write a summary of Newton’s Preface to this work, which you can find in the Oxford Classics series.
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000

Dear Bluedorns,
I read with interest your response to Mblovescb regarding the goals of Classical Education. I am also in the process of changing to the Classical approach. A short history: I have 3 children (12, 10 and 8), have always homeschooled. Started out basically “doing school” at home, textbooks, workbooks etc. Got burnt out and did a year of unit studies (Konos). Got burnt out again and went back to textbooks. In the past few years we have been relaxing, using Sonlight for History and implementing a lot of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, which has been working well and the kids are enjoying school much more.
Now to my problem. My oldest, a girl, is having a hard time working independently. More specifically, she has a difficult time reading directions or explanations, and understanding what is required of her. She will read through her Saxon math lesson, and tell me she doesn’t get it. If I sit down and read it to her and walk her through the examples, she gets it perfectly and can do the problem set without any difficulty. This happens with other subjects also, such as Wordsmith, so I know it is not just a problem with math. I’m not sure if this is some sort of learning disability (I don’t think so) or a failure on my part, with all the curriculum switching, to teach her to think for herself. Any suggestions? Is there something I could try to determine what the problem is? How do I go about teaching her, at this stage in her development, to think for herself? Please help! I feel a case of the “homeschool guilts” coming on! 🙂 Thank you for your time and for this ministry. It is a blessing. Carol in IL
Probably the government school professionals would call it a disability or some such learning problem and give it a complicated sounding label, but I call it perfectly normal. Both my boys were like that till they were thirteen or fourteen. They wanted me sitting with them when they did math and grammar and Latin. I think my being near helped them to focus their attention. I remember that if Nate had to do his math alone, he would later come to me with a “?” next to half of the problems, meaning he couldn’t figure out how to do them, but if I sat next to him he had no problem at all figuring out even the most difficult. There is nothing wrong with sitting near the child and helping. It gives him confidence and motivates him to work diligently. And that’s exactly what we are trying to do with our children: teaching them to work diligently and be confident in all their work. With some children it takes longer to learn this, so we must be patient. Helena, our youngest, finished up Saxon’s Advanced Math textbook this spring, so I will never have to work another math problem with my children. It makes me cry to think on it. Oh, to have someone asking me to sit by him to do math again. I would gladly give him my entire day. Laurie
From: “Christine Dattilo”
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000

We take your socialization question very seriously, maybe too seriously. As you are blessed with many children I wonder if you or Laurie have any thoughts on the only child/socialization issue. As a mother of an only child the arguments I get the most regarding socialization are: He needs to learn to play with other children. He needs to learn that others are not as quick as he is, and learn to be patient with others who do not catch on as quickly. He needs to learn to tolerate others who are from very different backgrounds than he. He needs to learn about and interact with kids who have social/physical disabilities (our public schools are mainstreamed and it is common to have 2 or more special needs children in every classroom). He needs to learn to raise his hand and wait to be called on, listen to others answer patiently, understand when its not always his turn. Now, I could give some more tongue in check answers, but parents of only children do have unique circumstances that unfortunately put the focus on socialization. We take the above concerns seriously and are prayerfully trying to add the correct balances. God has given us only one son at this point in our lives (anyone want to share their children with us?). We feel a little strange in the Christian homeschooling world. I’d be interested in good solid answers to the socialization questions that we get from family and friends.
Chris (in MA)
Mother of Matt (8)
DATE: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
From: “Clara M. Miranda”

Hello out there, hope all of you are well. I have a question…a friend of mine is home educating her only child. I recently saw her and found her very frustrated and feeling obligated to participate in a support group that she’s not comfortable with because her daughter (6 years old) has little interaction with other children. Are there any other mom’s out there that have some words of encouragement?? I’m afraid that it’s been difficult for me to encourage her since I have 4 children very close in age. She doesn’t use a computer but I would be happy to print out and send her whatever words of wisdom any of you might have.
Thank You
Clara in Miami
This is a response to the two letters on only-child socialization by Christine and Clara.

It sounds like some social-psychologist with too much time on his hands and sensing a need to justify his existence, or his research budget, has been out there in the culture promoting silly ideas which make his philosophy look important.

What does it take to learn how to properly relate to and interact with other people? It takes other people. So if you’ve got some other people around, you’ve probably got everything you need to accomplish what you want. One child plus two parents makes three people. Do you need any more?

There will be plenty of opportunities to relate to and interact with other people. Indeed, there will be too many opportunities. You will need to limit those opportunities, though you may desire to plan a few.

What your only child is really missing is brothers and sisters. So do you have a brother or sister who believes like you, who homeschools, who lives close by, and who has an orderly family, so that you can spend a day together every now and then and your only child can sort of adopt his/her cousins as semi- brothers and sisters. If you don’t have a blood brother and sister whom you can do this with, then how about a brother and sister in the Lord.

Remember, in the sovereign providence of the Lord, He has chosen to make your child an only child. He has a unique purpose in this. The Lord wants you to learn something different with this child.

As far as learning to play with other children, to be patient with others, to tolerate others who are different, to interact with those who have disabilities, to wait patiently for an opportunity to speak, to patiently listen to others answer — what’s the big deal? Just think of all of the people in the world who have to learn to get along with an only-child! With a firstborn! With a last-born! With a middle child! Not to mention the misfitted families which dominate our culture today — multiple divorces and multiple marriages, etc. Being an only child is not nearly as unique now-a-days as being one child of twelve. So how does the one-of-twelve child adjust? Well, as a matter of fact, each of us is rather unique in some way or another, so how does anyone ever survive? This is the kind of worry-wart thinking promoted by social-psychologists. None to worry. God is in control. Just follow His lead and you’ll keep on the right path. He knows what your child needs more than you do. Remember, your child was His before your child was yours! You only have him/her as a temporary stewardship.  Harvey
From: Mblovescb
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000

Dear Laurie,
Thanks so much for getting back to me; esp. since I know you must be busy. I had a couple further questions, and to be honest with you I am feeling very discouraged right now. With my oldest son that’s using the A Beka video- he still has a full month left to go and I’m torn between just chucking it so that I can work on his weak areas and yet not wanting to have him quit because I’ve always told him to finish what he starts. He’s a great kid, but his weakness is that he is lazy and sitting in front of a t.v. alone seems to encourage that.(on top of taking up time I feel I could use to tutor him in his weak areas.) Second, even though I am excited about the ministry we will be having in Australia when I think about that and trying to teach everybody I’m afraid I won’t be able to have enough time to prepare and teach and pack and be organized. I don’t want to put any of my children in a school, but I don’t want to give them less than they need in an education. My “what ifs’ sometimes keeps me awake at night. This has drawn me closer to the Lord and I know He doesn’t give more than He will give us grace to do, but I can’t seem to shake the panic! How do you have time to learn all of the things needed for upper level classes like Algebra, Geometry, Science etc. ? I sometimes wonder if all of the information I’ve been learning about different things to use has made me more confused. There is so much great info on the classical Internet sites that I have visited and yet it sometimes causes me to wonder how to go about it all! As far as basic curriculum goes, esp. grammar is there something you recommend to use with all of the children? Can you give any advice on how to make sure I’m covering the right things and yet not go overboard with having too many things? I just ordered your booklets, so maybe they’ll answer some of my questions. With the reading and older children; do you have them write book reports on them or do I need to read the books and discuss them? Sorry for rambling; it’s the state of my mind lately! My husband has said he would help check my younger children’s work, and he’s very supportive of me, but today he asked “How are you going to teach Ben (my oldest) and still keep up with the younger five?” How am I? Thank you again for listening to me think out loud!
I hate to tell you how much curriculum we had to get rid of when we first started homeschooling, and those were the days when there were no used book sales or Internet used book sites. If it’s not working, sell it. It takes strength of character to finish what you begin, but it also takes strength to decide to stop something which is wasting your time.

>>He’s a great kid, but his weakness is that he is lazy

He sounds just like one of my children. We have to have a list made out of all the things he needs to do in the day and then help him get started. His starter motor is defective.

>> and sitting in front of a t.v. alone seems to encourage that.(on top
>> of
taking up time I feel I could use to tutor him in his weak >>areas.)  Second, even though I am excited about the ministry we will be having in Australia when I think about that and trying to >>teach everybody I’m afraid  I won’t be able to have enough time to prepare and teach and pack and be organized. I don’t want to put >>any of my children in a school, but I  don’t want to  give them less than they need in an education.

Perhaps you have already done this, but I suggest that you and your husband sit down and write out a list of the principles upon which your family operates, so that when a decision must be made, you may refer to your list of principles.

Let’s suppose that one of your principles is:
The children will have the best curriculum, no matter what the cost.

If this is indeed one of your principles, then you might find this in a state school, a private school, or a homeschool. When confronted with the situation in which you presently are, you might lean towards putting your child into a good private classical school.

Now let’s suppose one of your principles is:
It is not good for my children to bond with their peers. Since the state has no jurisdiction over my children, and since God gave me responsibility over the education of my children, therefore I will homeschool my children no matter what.

If this is one of your principles, then your decision to homeschool would be firm, and you would work out the details as to curriculum. When confronted with the situation in which you presently are, you would simply prepare what you can, pack as you are able, teach what you are able, and leave the results to God.

>>My “what ifs’ sometimes keeps me awake at night. This has drawn me
>>closer to
the Lord and I know He doesn’t give more than He >>will give us grace to do, but I can’t seem to shake the panic!  How do you have time to learn all of the things needed
>>for upper level classes like Algebra, Geometry, Science etc. ?

You don’t have to learn everything yourself. Obtain a good self-teaching math book, such as Saxon, a self-teaching science curriculum, such as the Jay Wile materials, and a self-teaching Latin, such as Artes Latinae. I noticed in your last letter that you were using some materials which are great for private schools, but not necessarily self-teaching. Do history and literature with all of the children together. Logic will need to be done one on one. We suggest the fathers take this over if possible, along with Bible.

>>I sometimes wonder if all of the information I’ve been learning about
different things to use has made me more confused. There is >>so much great info on the classical internt sites that I have visited and yet it sometimes causes me to wonder how to go about it all!  >>As far as basic curriculum goes, esp. grammar is there something you recommend to use with all of the children?

We suggest that you start English grammar at age ten. You could use Easy Grammar. Use it with all the children. At some point you can drop English grammar and just study English grammar through Latin grammar.

>>Can you give any advice on how to make sure I’m covering the right
>>things and
yet not go overboard with having too many things?

There is no way that you can possibly know what the right things are. Your child could study a dozen subjects which he may never use, and he may end up continuously using something which you never made him study. You need to give him the skills of learning (which is what a classical education is all about), practicing on these many subjects, and though the subjects themselves may prove less profitable, the skill of learning — developed through these subjects — will always prove profitable.

>> I just ordered your booklets, so maybe they’ll answer some of my
questions.With the reading and older children; do you have them >>write book reports on them or do I need to read the books and discuss them?

I assume you mean the books, such as the classics, which the child is reading on his own. At age sixteen, I would have him outline, or write a summary, or written narration of SOME of the books which he reads. You don’t necessarily need to read the books before he does. Just make sure he picks out or you assign him worthy books.

>>My husband has said he would help check my younger children’s work,
>>and he’s
very supportive of me, but today he asked
>>”How are you going to teach Ben (my oldest) and still keep up with the
younger five?”  How am I?

The principles which you write out will help you to determine this. Laurie
Dr. Jay L. Wile’s response to The Well Trained Mind’s review of his science curriculum (see the TWTM website for their review of the Apologia curriculum):

In general, the reviews of Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry given on the “Well-Trained Mind” website are very positive.  However, it is clear that the reviewer disagrees with the module on evolution in the biology course.
This seems to be the only thing about the courses that bothers the reviewer.  I find the reviewer’s comments on this module interesting for several reasons.

1)  The reviewer says that “Wile’s argument against evolution is simplistic…”

I would like the reviewer to point to ANY other high school level biology text that makes the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution, discusses amino acid sequencing and its implications for macroevolution, and discusses the more recent adjustments to Darwinism (neo-Darwinism and punctuated equilibrium).  These are very high-level subjects that are usually discussed only in college textbooks.  The treatment is anything but simplistic.

2)  The reviewer says, “he doesn’t deal with some of the most difficult data for creationists…”

This is not a book on creationism.  It is a book on biology.  I deal with the MAJOR data related to evolution.  There are other data sets, but the ones with which I deal are the most relevant to macroevolution.  Since the reviewer doesn’t even mention the data to which he or she refers, I cannot even imagine what he or she means here.

3)  The reviewer accuses me of ad hominem attacks against evolutionists without specifically mentioning any.  The reviewer also implies that I use those attacks instead of “refuting their evidence.”

First of all, I must (once again) remind the reader that this is not a book on creationism.  It is a book on biology.  I deal with the MAJOR data related to evolution.  I discuss each data set in detail and completely.  I did not set out to “refute” the “evidence” of evolutionists.  I set out to examine each data set and determine its implications on macroevolution.

Secondly, she accuses ME of ad hominem attacks against “unnamed evolutionists” and then proceeds to use an ad hominem attack on NAMED creationists, Dr. Duane Gish and Dr. Henry Morris.  She implies that their scientific credentials are in question and bemoans “their flawed and selective use of evidence, their failure to document claims properly, and their rhetorical excesses.”  First of all, such blatant name-calling has no place in real scientific discussion.  If anyone uses ad hominem attacks, it is the reviewer, not me. Secondly, I will stack my scientific credentials up against those of ANYONE to which the reviewer can refer (especially the reviewer!), and I can categorically state that Gish and Morris are excellent scientists who document ALL of their claims (better than the reviewer does, certainly).  Their use of data is certainly not flawed, and it is no more selective than the evolutionists’ data.  This is where the reviewer clearly shows his or her bias.  It is not my argument that the reviewer dislikes.  He or she dislikes my brand of creationism.

4)  The reviewer states that my quote from Dr. Raup is outdated.  She says, “In the last 20 years, scientists have claimed to discover dozens of “missing link”
fossils. Why doesn’t Wile deal with any of these claims?”

There is an easy answer to her question.  I do not discuss the more recent “missing links” because they get discredited too quickly!  Most of these supposed “missing links” do not last a year before being demonstrated to be poorly-interpreted or a hoax!  See, for example, Sinosauropteryx and Archaeoraptor liaoningensis.

I use Dr. Raup’s quote because it is an excellent description of the fossil record as it stands today.  It is important to note that Dr. Raup’s quote was used in DEFENSE of punctuated equilibrium as a strong macroevolutionary theory.  Today, that theory has more support than ever, mostly because Dr.
Raup’s description of the fossil record is so true to this day.

5)  The reviewer wonders why I do not recommend DARWINS BLACK BOX by Behe.

There are two reasons for this.  First, although DBB is an excellent book, it makes a rather narrow argument.  I am interested in the student having a more complete view of the creation/evolution debate.  Since Behe does not discuss the fossil record, geological column, or modifications of Darwinism in any great detail, it is not the best general reference in the creation/evolution debate.  Secondly, the book is TOUGH to get through.  I doubt that many high school students would have the patience for it.

In conclusion, despite the seemingly terrible way in which I treat evolution, the reviewer recommends my books MORE than the others he or she has reviewed.
Why does the reviewer think that these otherwise excellent books contain such a poor treatment of evolution?  I think the reason for that is quite simple.  The reviewer is allowing her bias against my view of creation rule over his or her “well trained mind.”

Jay L. Wile
From: Karl R Pfizenmaier
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000

Dear Cathy Fukunaga,
I used Power Glides Spanish with my oldest daughter for 9th and 10th grades. I can tell you that she feels that she did not really learn enough and feels insufficient in Spanish as do a few of her friends that also used it. She felt it moved along much too quickly and she did not retain enough. I am presently using Artes Latinae for my second daughter. She is just finishing up with level one and has learned so much. This is an excellent Latin course ! I have found her writing down Latin words and looking them up at home if she cannot figure them out when she see’s them. She has a real love for Latin and I definitely plan to use this course for my son.
Penny Pfizenmaier, Illinois
From: J3929MILLER
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000

To Christine and Clara:
re: only-child socialization – I am reminded of something Laurie Bluedorn wrote that has repeated itself in my head many times. She said that although not her original purpose in homeschooling, the main benefit looking backwards was having children who were family centered. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Laurie.) Instead of having children who are centered on their peers and looking to them to find their own values, the parents are the ones who set the values and are imitated and looked up to. I think that is invaluable, whether you have one child, or six, as we do. As we look around at our friends, the ones having trouble with their teens are the ones who allowed so much involvement with their peer group, after home-schooling hours, that the children have transferred their affections to their friends. Rather than having the wisdom imparted to them from their older and wiser parents, they follow after the foolishness of youth. If I accomplish nothing academically through homeschooling (which would be pretty difficult to do) I will be happy if my children grow up to be wise in the Lord and in His ways. I think I would treat my child the same if he were only one, as I do my brood. There is nothing more valuable for them at any age, than to be with you. Together, you can find suitable friends and profitable social situations.
Karen Miller
San Mateo, CA
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,
My husband I are the homeschooling parents of one son who will be seven years old on June 24. We had no “formal” curriculum until last fall, when we began to use Jane Claire Lambert’s “Five in a Row.” (Our son LOVES FIAR and we feel it’s been a wonderful experience.) We are also using Steve Demme’s Math-U-See “foundations: level; Marie LeDoux’s Play ‘N Talk for phonics; and Italic Handwriting Series by Getty and Dubay. I have done much reading about the Classical approach using the Trivium. To my knowledge, there are no other families in this area (northwestern Minnesota) who use this approach. I have felt more and more drawn toward this style of teaching, but I have nobody to answer the myriad of questions I have regarding its implementation. Several days ago I came across your question and answer in the November/December 1998 issue of our state homeschool newsletter, “The Paper Mache,” and I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me.
I have recently read “the Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. I have mixed feelings after going over its information a number of times. In your interview with Mache, you state that “before age ten, children need more training than teaching: and that most children are not ready to “take on the academic load of the formal Trivium until age ten.” This differs from these ladies’ advice to some extent. Their first through fourth grade grammar stage sequence seems SO INTENSE that I hesitate to even try it. For example, one sample daily schedule for first grade has academic subjects beginning at 9:00 a.m. and lasting until 5:00 p.m. (Granted, there are breaks, but still…) Another factor in the first grade structured reading list that causes me even greater concern is the advice given on p. 96, “focus on ancient myths and legends.” I’ve reviewed some of the suggested first grade reading material and a few are fine. But others I simply could not in good conscience expose my son to at such a tender age. I want him to be familiar with differing worldviews and religions, including mythology.
But there is something in me that recoils at the thought of feeding concentrated doses over a long period of time into one who is just beginning to recognize the difference between truth and fallacy. These are two of the issues I’m struggling with regarding whether to choose the Classical education route. I’m torn. I can see the academic benefits of it, but my concerns stated above give me pause. It is my husband’s and my desire to raise our son, Isaiah, in a manner pleasing and honoring to God. It is also our desire to educate him in a manner that produces academic excellence.
Shelly Robb-Aubey
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
From: Shelly Peterson

We have been using Nature Studies this past year. The kids have enjoyed nature studies a lot. They are also learning a lot. We use a book called “Nature Studies” by Anna Comstock. This has lots of information about nature. I require my kids to draw in sketch books what we observe as I read to them about the subject. They also use watercolors, colored pencils, and pastels from time to time. They also label the parts of what we are studying. Such as bugs, trees, animal parts, etc… “The Diary of an Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden is a beautiful example of a Nature Notebook. We have found that planning a certain day of the week for this is helpful. I have also planned to study things in advance from time to time. This allowed us to study things not found in our area of the United States. We collect bugs, grasses, leaves, and such to use during the winter also. We have greatly enjoyed this wonderful way of learning about God’s creation.
Dear Mrs. Bluedorn,
I am hoping to teach myself Italian. Do you have any suggestions as to which program would be the “best” to use? I would like to avoid the inductive/deductive methods, if possible. Also, which drawing program did you use with your children? I really admire your daughter’s work. Years ago, I bought the book, *Drawing With Children*. I am now, finally, getting around to trying it out! Thank you for your time.
Susan Casinelli
I don’t remember that we used any specific drawing books. My children primarily learned to draw by copying. They copied famous drawings and paintings (using all kinds of media), pictures out of the McGuffey readers, drawings in many of the books you can get from Dover, or just anything we had around the house.
Recently Johannah has been copying photographs.

I think it is important to provide children with the TOOLS, the TIME and the PLACE for their art work. Buy good quality art supplies (colored pencils, matting board scraps, paper, scissors, brushes, etc). Art stores, craft stores, and office supply stores carry art  and craft supplies. Hobby Lobby is our current favorite. And don’t forget, stitchery is art, too. We are working on new Civil War ball gowns now, although Hans recently announced that he would never again wear “that hot, scratchy wool uniform.” Make sure you have a space in your home where the children can easily pull out these art materials and work on projects. Nothing is more discouraging to a young artist than to have to constantly be putting everything away right in the middle of a project. Have a large table where “working on” projects can be left out till the next day’s work. Children should be taught to keep an orderly home, but this Better Homes and Gardens look will not encourage artistic pursuits. How I love to go into a home where right in the middle of a lovely living room is a big table with some “in process” project preeminent. And finally, children need the time to develop their creativity through art. It’s hard for me to suggest how much time exactly, but I would say that 1-2 hours a day could be easily spent on arts and crafts by many children. I’m not saying that all children should spend that amount of time since some are just not suited for it, but for those that are, you would want to allow them to explore to their hearts content. Laurie
From: Mblovescb
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000

Dear Laurie,
A quick question on history with my six again. If my oldest has 3 more years and I just finished up Ancient history up to the early Greeks- how do I go about teaching all of the kids together? Ben has had Some American History, some Ancient History (mostly on Egypt, Sumeria etc.) I don’t want to try to cram everything into the next 3 yrs. just because of him, but I want to hit what he needs. What materials do you use for history? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

In Him, Mary Beth Bando
You bring up an interesting subject. Your oldest has three more years. Now, I know what you mean here, but, just for the moment, I’m going to go off on to a bit of a sidetrack.

When Nate, our oldest, was 18 (in 1993), and the month of May came along, I started to think about what most people would call high-school graduation. Some other homeschool kids in our area were having graduation ceremonies that year, and so I naturally started to assume that we should do likewise. I asked Nate if he would like me to plan some kind of celebration for him that month (I love planning things). His answer surprised me — yea, irritated me. He didn’t want a graduation party. Well, would you like to have a graduation picture taken, I asked? No, he replied. How about us giving you a graduation present. No thanks, he said. Why not, I asked? He said he didn’t see that turning 18 was any big turning point in his life. Life would continue on at 18, 19, 20, and so on as it had at 15, 16, or 17. He would continue learning and studying as before. His thinking wasn’t confined to the box that my thinking was confined to. He helped me to break out of that box.

One of the goals, maybe even the main goal, of classical education is to teach children how to teach themselves. We want to make them able to learn a new subject on their own. We don’t want them to be enslaved to the educational establishment, but to be free. Our goal is to give them the tools for learning. Therefore we don’t have to worry about covering all the subject material that the state schools and private schools feel necessary to cover. We just need to teach them how to learn and then practice learning on different subjects. They have their whole lives to cover the subject material. Learning doesn’t stop at age 18. Or 22. We need to get rid of these artificial boundaries programmed into our minds by state education and break free to the real world.

Like you said, you don’t want to cram everything into the next three years. There is no need to. He has his whole life to study history. Just be sure you give him the tools so that he can pursue this study on his own. And one of those tools you want to give him is the attitude  that learning doesn’t end at 18 or 22, which I’m sure you have done.

In our family we don’t talk or think in terms of “graduation from high school.” Yes, certain studies do come to an end, such as math and Latin, but other subjects take their place. Subjects where we can practice our tools of learning.

Concerning the studying of history, I have some ideas of how I would do things if I was starting all over, and I hope, Lord willing, to write about that later. Now that my children are grown I might have it somewhat figured out. I guess I’ll have to practice it on my grandchildren.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept.  John 17:12

As I prepared our family’s presentation for the Thursday afternoon of the convention, I was reading Jesus’ Prayer in John 17. In considering verse twelve, the Lord prompted me to look up the word “kept” which appears in the verse twice. The ensuing study was enlightening.

Briefly, the first word “kept” in the verse means to guard as one might guard gold. The focus is on that which might come in from the outside to corrupt or steal. The second word translated “kept” is actually a different word with a different meaning. It also means “to guard” but more along the lines of how one might guard a prisoner. The focus is on the thing guarded, that it might not escape. Immediately I recalled the words from the song “Come, Thou Fount”. . .Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. … bind my wandering heart to thee.

Jesus used these two words _kept_ to describe how He cared for His disciples. The Lord had previously impressed upon me the fact that my children are my disciples. I can use Jesus as my example and _keep_ my children. So many times I have heard parents say, _I don_t know if my kids want to be homeschooled_ or _My kids don_t agree with our view on that issue so we don_t push it_ or _We_re putting our kids back in the public school, they don_t want to miss out on high school._ This doesn_t sound like _keeping_ our children. It sounds more like those who may have escaped.

Now I don_t believe Jesus_ method was to strong arm them into obedience, and I would not want to suggest that, but I think we can say hard things and expect obedience if we have their hearts.

Remember in John 6 when Jesus said _Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood you have no life in you._ This, they said, was a hard saying; and many left Him at that time. Jesus asked the twelve, _Do you also wish to go away?_ Peter responded, _Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. _ Because He had their hearts, He could ask much of them and they would follow.

Do you have your children_s hearts? Are you keeping them from escaping? If not, the scriptures tell us that the turning of our hearts toward them will likewise cause their hearts to turn to us. Ask the Lord to help you turn first to them. Ask the Lord for grace to help you see what will communicate to them that you are for them. Then ask for grace to follow through. His desire is that you _keep them_ and that none be lost.

May the Lord bless your family with a unity that will demonstrate to the world that you are His disciples.

Roger Erber
Well, it’s been a stressful week here in New Boston. Indy developed one of her spells again a week ago Thursday, so we got some prednisone pills from the vet hoping that would take care of her hip pain again. When she didn’t seem any better on Tuesday we took her into the vet, and he said she had heart failure along with the hip dysplasia. He though she might be helped by some fluid retention pills,  but that she probably would die soon. So we put her on the pills along with a different kind of pain medicine, hoping for the best. She suffered the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, getting no better. She could hardly breath and just lay on the back porch not moving, except when we came near her eyes smiled and her tail thumped the floor. Finally, on Thursday night she was worse. She hadn’t gone to the bathroom for a long time nor had she eaten, so we called the vet, and he came and put her to sleep. She lies now buried under the apple tree.

A tribute to Indy.

Indy was a good old dog. She was everybody’s friend. She loved to be with us, and that’s what a true friend is. Yes, she would beg to be petted, but that was because she depended upon us. When she was sick, she wanted to be with us, because we were her friends. We will miss Indy, because she was our friend. May Indy teach us the lesson that it is important to be a friend. Harvey
Acts and Facts
Institute for Creation Research
Box 2667
El Cajon, CA 92021
This is a small magazine/newsletter put out by the Institute for Creation Research in order to “disseminate articles and information of current interest dealing with creation, evolution, and related topics. Sent free upon request.” We were first introduced to ICR in 1974 when we attended a creation/evolution debate with Duane T. Gish in Portland, OR.

Can anyone add to this list of science magazines?

Concerning science videos I would suggest joining:

Midwest Creation Fellowship Library By Mail Box 479 Gurnee, IL 60031

I think it costs about $20 per year to join, which gives you the privilege of borrowing any of their many science books and videos.

Question for discussion

What books are important to have on your own personal library shelf? I’m not referring to curriculum, but to reference books, books you will use no matter which curriculum you use.

I’ll start out the discussion by listing some of the books we could not do without.

1. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
2. Another larger dictionary to look up those unusual words 3. A smaller dictionary for quick reference — we use “A Dictionary for Boys and Girls” (published by G. and C. Merriam Company, unknown date). I like this dictionary because it was the one Harvey used when he was in grade school, and I like to read all his doodles.
3. Bob Jones English Handbook for Christian Schools 4. The Wall Chart of World History, from earliest times to the present with maps of the world’s great empires and a complete geological diagram of the earth drawn by Professor Edward Hull 5. A Greek/English interlinear 6. A Greek lexicon 7. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, the world-famous reference that tells who did what when from 4500 BC to the present day–now updated for the 1990’s by Bernard Grun, based upon Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan 8. Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife (don’t have a date on this, the book has been so worn out by our kids) 9. Masterplots, 15-Volume combined edition, Fifteen Hundred and Ten Plot-Stories and Essay-Reviews from the World’s Fine Literature, edited by Frank N. Magill, story editor Dayton Kohler, Salem Press, Inc., New York, 1964.
Other editions would be just fine also.
10. A concordance to the Bible
11.Reader’s Digest Family Word Finder: A New Thesaurus of Synonyms and Antonyms in Dictionary Form, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1986. Or any thesaurus would be fine.
12. Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray. There are many editions of this book.
13. Black’s Law Dictionary containing definitions of the terms and phrases of American and English jurisprudence, ancient and modern and including the principal terms of international, constitutional, ecclesiastical and commercial law, and medical jurisprudence, with a collection of legal maxims, numerous select titles from the Roman, modern civil, Scotch, French, Spanish, and Mexican law, and other foreign systems, and a table of abbreviations, by Henry Campbell Black, first published in 1891. Several editions available.
14. A subscription to Ideas on Liberty, the monthly publication of the Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533 (914-591-7230)–email Established in 1946 by Leonard E. Read, FEE is a non-political, educational champion of private property, the free market, and limited government. Subscriptions are $30 per year.
15. A Subscription to Foundations of Liberty, James R. Patrick, Editor, East Moline Christian School, 900 46th Avenue, East Moline, IL 61244 (309-796-1485).
These booklets, covering numerous topics concerning American History and freedom issues, are sent out six times a year. I suggest getting all their back issues. Write or call for their catalog.
16. A subscription to Quit You Like Men: A Call to True Christian Manliness, Robert Green, editor and publisher, 152 Maple Lane, Dept Q, Harriman, TN 37748 (423-346-7824). Published bi-monthly for $24 per year. This magazine “is for men who want to lead simple, godly lives, close to home, close to their wives and children, close to God: men who want to be good managers of their families and the things God has given into their keeping: men who, to paraphrase Paul, aspire to lead quiet lives, minding their own affairs, working with their own hands, so that they may walk honestly and honorably among those outside the faith, and have lack of nothing. We love country living and working at home, and many of the articles herein will reflect our interest in that lifestyle.
But, this magazine is by no means only for those who have chosen a rural life or home business. Men must be men wherever they live–city, suburb, or country–and we want this work to be a helpful resource to all those who want to pare off the excess in their lives and give their attention to those things that really matter”
17. A good Bible dictionary. We have Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: An authoritative one-volume reference work on the Bible, with full-color illustrations, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., general editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
There are numerous good Bible dictionaries.

more later…Laurie
Book recommendation:

Too Wise to be Mistaken, Too Good to be Unkind: Christian Parents Contend With Autism by Cathy Steere published by Grace and Truth Books, 3406 Summit Boulevard, Sand Springs, OK 74063 (918-245-1500) in 1999.

From the back cover:
“The serious challenges and even griefs which often accompany the presence of an autistic child in a family are well-documented both in medical annals and are all the more imbedded in the memories of those whose homes have suffered this trial. Few stories can be found which offer much encouragement for those in the dilemma.

This book is an exception. Cathy Steere shares, with an honesty that cannot be missed, the story of how she and her husband David trained their autistic son Drew in ways that point unmistakably to the sufficiency of God’s Word to guide us in all of life. It is a moving testimony of how God honors those who honor Him and trust His promise more than the emptiness of men’s philosophies. The story will be an encouragement to all parents seeking to train their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000
From: Wade Hulcy

Shouldn’t History Be taught Chronologically??

We have received this question a number of times over the years and will receive it more frequently in the future because of all of the talk that history should be taught sequentially starting with the fertile crescent with first graders and working forward. This is coming from some of the proponents of classical education and others within the homeschooling family. The argument sounds so compelling, but my question is, do you really want to teach your first-third graders about people a world away that lived thousands of years ago? Do you want to delve into a year-long study of pagan cultures like the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans? We choose to teach the character of God to our children in elementary school. We feel like unit studies makes so much sense for home school. Fortunately, homeschoolers don’t have the problem of the art teacher refusing to cooperate with the history teacher!

When you choose to teach the unit studies method, you must choose something to tie your unit together. We chose character traits of God for our themes, our umbrella for the units. This character theme emphasis naturally disrupts the study of sequential history. Your question is valid, . . . “Does this skipping around in the study of history create a problem for kids using KONOS because . . .it [doesn’t] provide a great sense of the flow of history?” I have two questions for you: 1) Did you study history sequentially in school? (Most of us did). 2) Do you have a real good sense of the flow of history yourself? (Most of us would say, “No.”) Here is why KONOS kids have a great grasp of the flow of history: 1) The curriculum teaches history in a hands-on, multi sensory fashion so kids dramatize historical events, re-enacting battles of the Revolutionary War as an example. When children dress like Henry Knox and struggle to get the cannons over the mountains and into Boston, they will never forget the events of the Revolutionary War.

Even though you and I studied history sequentially as school kids, we have forgotten the Revolutionary War haven’t we? We don’t even know where General Howe surrendered to George Washington to end the war do we? The point here is that KONOS kids actually learn and remember what they study because they have “MASTERY” of the material. 2) We use the KONOS Kids Timelines to make history hands-on and concrete, putting people and events into the proper sequence of history. Did you know that Leonardo de Vinci, Christopher Columbus, and Martin Luther all lived in Europe at the same time? 3) We do have KONOS kids study history sequentially when they get to high school. We do read all of the classical literature and study pagan cultures, but we do it with teenagers who have been well grounded in who they are and who God is before they delve into who the pagans were. There is this little label called Scope and Sequence where early elementary children study the birds and the bees, plants and planets, state and local history. Sonja Wood, our friend in South Africa teaches South African history by having her little ones begin by studying their family tree, studying mom and dad, the locale they are in, then grandma and grandpa and where they came from. She continues to go back in history skillfully weaving in family history which kids can relate to with local, state, national and international history. This goes along with childhood developmental psychology. We know that it also honors the way God made children and how readiness and cognitive abilities develop over a period of years.

In truth, we agree with our friends who are proponents of the sequential history model. We just believe it should be delayed 9 years or so! (Oh by the way, General Howe didn’t surrender to George Washington, it was Cornwallis who did the surrendering, and certainly you remember that he surrendered at Yorktown, VA!) Gotcha!

In summary, studying history chronologically is not the answer; you and I know that from our own education. Learning, understanding, and remembering history is what counts. KONOS kids make an “A” in remembering because of the use of hands-on learning, reading good historical novels, watching good videos, and traveling to historical sites whenever possible. When we started this experiment in the KONOS method of teaching with two little first graders some 18+ years ago, we really did not know if it would work or not. Now that there are thousands of kids who have gone on to successful college and career situations, the proof really is in the incredible successes they have had. Moreover, they have maintained the character that we felt was so essential to develop in them from the very start of their education. The world says, “No Fear!” The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Wade Hulcy President, KONOS, Inc.


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