Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2000-Part 2

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Here is our response to a letter from a subscriber asking about the amount of contact homeschooling families have with grandparents and other close

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were surrounded by our own aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, parents, and grandparents? And what if all these relatives loved us and held the same values as we did. Grandparents could add so much to a family’s life. They could help us with child care and homeschooling and teach the children all kinds of things that we don’t have time for. Unfortunately that is not reality in this world any more. But, Lord willing, it will be different for our own children. Our children will always want each other’s company, and we parents will be around to help even after the children get married. I think that what happens is that public schooling breaks the bonds between parent and child. Parent and child are separated at an early age for a good deal of each day, and soon they get used to the separation and begin to accept it as normal and good. The child bonds to his peers, and parents become secondary in his mind. The parents gets used to not having the child around and begin to love the freedom they have when not having the child around. Parent and child go in different directions. Public schooling can destroy the family. But what you are doing in your family when you homeschool is strengthening the parent/child bond. I would suggest eliminating things in your life that weaken that bond. Laurie
From: “Berni Hedding”
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000

I have a response to Vyckie’s opinion about the Elsie Dinsmore books. I agree with her opinion that the characters in the books tend to be too good to be true. No one can be consistently perfect either as an individual, a child or a parent. However, I found the books very refreshing in that it paints a picture of what we should be striving for. I get quite tired, sometimes of reading fiction that glorifies the shortcomings of men. In my life in the late 1900’s, I have been dreadfully lacking in good role models. Most of the adult women in my life resent being the keeper of their homes, gripe about their husbands and children and brush off the need to have daily devotional time with God. They are loaded with excuses. I found it refreshing to see a picture of how delightful it can be to be a “happy mother of children” (Psalm 113:9) It is one thing to read the Word of God and mentally assent to its truth. It is another to have a word picture that shows me what being the “happy mother of children” actually looks like. I know that I will never attain perfection, but I need role models and the older women to teach me how to be a Godly woman. Unfortunately, I do not have any older and wiser women in my life to fill that role, so Elsie’s books have filled that need in a small way. Just because we can never attain perfection is no reason to not learn what it is, how it is played out in daily life and to aim for it. Our kids also need to see those things, realizing that the grace of God is sufficient for our shortcomings. Even though Jesus is the only perfect human that ever lived and he teaches many powerful principles about marriage, family, devotion to God, I find it inspiring to see a picture of another woman who is striving to be a Godly follower of Jesus.
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000
From: “Jon and Mary Swerens”

I would like to reply to Jeff Wilcox:
>My question is: given these issues, is it still possible to make the
>Trivium approach work successfully? I’ve been given to believe that the
>teacher is largely left to fend for themselves due to a general lack of
>curricular material. I would value your insight and opinions on this

Here is what we do at our house. I (the mother) study, study study and read, read, read! I had an inadequate education, even through college, so I am working hard to make up for it. I am studying books on the sciences and my husband is helping me to make sense out of chemistry. I am studying Latin right now and reading many children’s classic books I had never heard of when I was a child. Plus I am reading adult classics and Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis, among others.

I squeeze in as much studying as I can throughout the day and I stay up after everyone is in bed.

This has helped me to stay ahead of the kids, plus it has boosted my confidence in teaching them. It is tiring, but I need to do it if I want to have something to give to my children. I can’t believe how much I do not know!

I found some good reading lists for parents teaching classically in Douglas Wilson’s booklet about homeschooling in the classical style.

Finally, keep asking the Lord for wisdom.
In Him Who is Truth,
Mary Swerens
Excerpt from the introduction to the Second London Confession, 1677 edition.

And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of Religion in our day, which we cannot but touch upon, and earnestly urge a redress of; and that is the neglect of the worship of God in Families, by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance, and instability of many; with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their Parents and Masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk[,] when they were young; but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them[,] so to catechise, and instruct them, that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of Prayer, and other duties of Religion in their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, have inured them first to a neglect, and then contempt of all Piety and Religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any; but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins; but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning, yea[,] led them into the paths of destruction?
And will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties, in ages past, rise up in judgment against, and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now?
From: John Robbins
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000

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Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000
From: Richard Dingman

Dear Bluedorns:
Have you read the poem “Tiriconium” by William Cowper? I was amazed to discover a 900 line poem on the heart issues of religious homeschooling — and a critique of public schools — by the author of the hymn “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”. This critique is interesting in that it predates the modern socialist agenda; it was written around 1780. I have trouble finding anyone who has the patience to read it, though it is not particularly difficult. Do you know of any earlier material on this subject? Sincerely, Richard Dingman
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000
From: “Jon and Mary Swerens”

A response to Wade Hulcy, President of KONOS Inc.:

Wade Hulcy’s argument against teaching history in a chronological fashion has a central flaw: It does not take into account how the Bible itself teaches history.

First, though, here is a secondary argument of Mr. Hulcy’s that doesn’t hold

> 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.

My public-school history education wasn’t lousy because it was chronological. It was lousy because it had no way philosophically to tie things together. It was just scattershot facts and dates with no understanding. The chronological element had nothing to do with its lack of success. Instead, the chronology may have been the only foundation my history classes had.

Teaching Biblically should take into account the ways God teaches his people. Very often, the Bible is written in chronological order. Very often, the Bible focuses our attention on pagan cultures. And always, the Bible is written in words.

In contrast, here is what Mr. Hulcy asks:
> 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?

Well, actually, yeah. Didn’t Jesus Himself live a world away and thousands of years ago? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself remain immersed in a pagan culture and thoughtfully interact with it? Why would we want to instill in our children what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery,” the idea that people living a long time ago have nothing to teach us moderns?

If we believe in a God that is sovereign over the affairs of men, then the bald historic facts of history can teach us about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Teaching about the great pagan cultures of the past teaches a wonderful truth: God judges the wicked. Studying pagan culture within a Christian worldview won’t cause our children to worship Zeus. Instead, we will fear our God, who brought a great civilization like Babylon to nothing but dust.

Besides, understanding pagan cultures place Biblical events into a richer context. Abraham was called out of a pagan culture. The Israelites were carted off by different pagan rulers. And the only female pharaoh, Queen Hutshepsut, had a hand in raising Moses.

And notice that the Bible does not usually lump its history lessons under “character umbrellas.” When King David committed adultery, the book of 2 Samuel doesn’t merely TELL us how bad the sin was, it SHOWS us how bad it is through the events of history, such as Nathan the prophet and the rebellion of David’s own son.

We should not think that the Bible is made up only of words because photography and feltboards hadn’t been invented yet. The Bible is made up of words because God Himself puts a primary emphasis on them (cf Genesis 1, John 1, Romans 10:14-15).

This is why the “multi-sensory” element of unit studies is a weakness, not a strength. Verbal learning is reduced to make room for “hands-on” activities.
Staging a mock medieval tournament is great fun, as my children will tell you. But without strong historical lessons first and primarily, it’s not much more educational than kickball. The activities should be secondary and optional.

Hands-on learning can be a great tool, especially with things such as science experiments. But words are central. And we shouldn’t fear studying pagan cultures chronologically, because, after all, this is My Father’s world.

Jon Swerens
Homeschooling father of four
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Well, we just got back from the Blooming Prairie (Iowa City, Iowa) Food Co-op Year 2000 Vendor Show. It’s kind of like a huge homeschool convention, except the topic is organic foods. We only had time to tour the food vendor halls since we had to go to the library later in the afternoon. There were two halls, and they were packed with hundreds of booths. We had a ball……at first, anyway. All through the first hall we sampled and ordered the new foods, talking with the vendors and other customers. We tasted our way through the numerous cookie displays, chips and salsa, fruit popsicles, soy cheeses, cashew butter sandwiches, carrot juice, and chocolate candy (organic, of course). Started to slow down after the spinach stuffed ravioli, but thankfully Ava had a bottle of water ready for me. Felt bad at the seaweed rice cake booth after I sampled there. Then on to the second hall where we ran into jalapino sardines (ordered a case for Harvey), soy chocolate milk, tomato spiced tofu, more cookies (organic sugar), and then a big plate of some kind of Chinese food. But I think it was the green tea that finally did me in. It was at the smoked oyster booth where we ran into some old friends. They started asking all those questions you get when your homeschooled kids are now grown up. You know: what are the kids “doing” now (they’re still living at home sponging off their parents), is anyone dating (no, we don’t believe in dating, in fact we keep them locked in the closet), is anyone going to college (no, they all have low IQs and no college will accept them). It was at this point that I started to break out in that cold sweat you get before you faint or get sick. I excused myself from our friends and started out the door, loosing all interest in food and vendor halls.

But the day was not all lost. We went to the university library and had a nice time looking for the books we needed. Johannah located some cheese making books and some of the lesser known stories of Alfred Ollivant and George MacDonald. Found a copy of Cowper’s Tirocinium; or, a Review of Schools. More on that later, perhaps.

From: “Walt Schroeder”
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000

I just received your set of booklets a couple of days ago. I’ve been reading the article on math because that’s the area of my chdn’s schooling that seems to be least successful. My 12yod never was mathematically inclined, but my 2nd child, an 8yod has always been mathematically-minded. I expected the older to not be crazy about math-and to have to go to great lengths to find a program that ‘fit.’ However, the one that is a ‘natural’ at math is starting to dislike math. Left on her own (before kindergarten and 1st grade) she was adding in her head, once I started her on a program all self-initiated math ceased. After 2nd grade was ‘over’ this year, although not right away she began to do multiplication orally/mentally on her own, even though she was disliking math and struggling somewhat with simpler problems. Now, it may seem obvious what I should do, ‘stop programs.’ But, leaving her on her own won’t necessarily cover all that she ought to cover (for testing)-it won’t be systematic, consistent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Should I just ‘bite the bullet’ and put away programs? And what should I do with my 12yod-she still struggles with the four simple operations? She is advanced in every other area, just in case you’re wondering if there is something ‘biologically’ wrong. Also, about all the quotes concerning how math was not a subject in the grammar school… I might not know history well enough where math is concerned but math as a science was still being developed, wasn’t it? So it wasn’t even at the point of being ‘teachable,’ was it? Also, if chdn can understand an abstract symbol system like alphabets and reading, why can’t they understand an abstract symbol system of numerals and arithmetic?
Trying desperately to understand, Thank you for your time, Gail Schroeder
We get more questions about math than any other, and if you are on any of the other loops you will find that the subject of math comes up quite often. When we do our seminars, at one point we ask, “How many of you did not like math in school?” Every time, no matter which state we are in, about half of the people raise their hands. Why is it so many people dislike math?

If you read the article on the history of teaching math you noticed that until the 20th century, math was not taught in a formal way to children before age ten. Before the 20th century, children under age ten learned math (actually arithmetic) informally, and began to study math formally, in schools or at home, around age ten. A man named Pestalozzi changed all that at the turn of the century by introducing some new ideas about education.

Some highly developed concepts of mathematics have been developed in the last few centuries — such as the calculus. But none of that is the subject matter of elementary mathematics.

When you teach a child that the letter “a” stands for the sound aay, you are right to say that it is an abstract concept. But when you teach a child that the digit 2 stands for the number two, you must also go one step further and teach him that the digit 2 and the number two stand for two things. It seems to me that math is somewhat more abstract than the teaching of reading. There is one more step to learn in the study of math.

The symbols of the alphabet are phonetic, linked to the auditory-speech mechanism which the child has been experiencing and practicing with since his goo-goo-gah-gah days. The numerical and operation symbols of arithmetic are further abstracted one or more steps from this. The more complex combinations of abstractions are physically more difficult for the young brain to handle. The child’s brain will store the information where it can best use it AT THE TIME — in a linear file. Unfortunately, at an early age, because of the lack of physical development of the brain to handle such abstractions, that information is stored in a place which is less accessible to the brain after it has become more highly developed. At a later age, the brain will develop multidimensional arrays, and this information is more accessible when so stored.

>But, leaving her on her own won’t necessarily cover all that she ought >to cover (for testing)<

I would avoid testing young children at all costs. There are only a few states where testing young children cannot be avoided, and if you live in one of those states you might have to be satisfied with lower test scores in math during the younger years. Actually, everywhere we have traveled and discussed this topic we have heard plenty of evidence that children DO do well on math tests even though they are following the so-called “delayed formal academics” approach.

I would suggest dropping the study of formal math with your younger child and study math informally with her (see our booklet for ways to study math informally). When she turns ten she can start a systematic and consistent study of math. You will have plenty of time to work through grades 6 – 12 in math (including calculus, if needed) before she is 18 years old.

With your older child, I would go back and start studying math at the point where she is beginning to get confused. There is nothing wrong in going back a grade or two in math. We’re not out to produce college math professors, are we? The goal is to produce children who understand and enjoy it. What I usually find when mothers talk to us about how their children dislike math is that the mother also disliked math in school. I’m wondering if parents are somehow communicating this fear and dislike to their children. Maybe we did hate math when we were in school, but homeschooling parents don’t have to be afraid anymore. This is our second chance to learn it again and learn it better. Repeat after me, “I love math; it is my favorite subject.”

Some people mistakenly believe that we were the ones who originated the idea of delaying the study of formal math till age ten. Not at all. This idea has been around for a very long time. In addition, it was Raymond and Dorothy Moore who reintroduced this idea to American education in the 1970’s. Some people read what the Moores and we write concerning delaying the formal instruction of math till age 10 and conclude that we are opposed to teaching any math to any child before the age of 10. Not so. When the child asks questions, answer them. If he asks for a math workbook, buy one for him. But this is different from systematically working through a math curriculum with a child every year from age 5 through age 9, doing every page, teaching every concept according to a preset schedule/”scope and sequence”/”typical course of study” developed by World Book or A Beka. There is a more through discussion of this topic in our Trivium Booklet Series.

Harvey and Laurie
From: “joseph ring”
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000

I have some questions related to Lang. Arts which perhaps you or others on the loop can help answer. All my children are reading well and we are managing to read aloud together, however seem to be a little weak in writing. I have not been as faithful with narration, but am working on it more. I have 4 children ages 6 – 11. The 11 yo is doing well with narration, but my 9 yo twin boys struggle with it immensely. I think they are listening, but can’t put thoughts into words. What is the best way to develop this skill? In reading about narration, dictation, copy work, etc, I feel a little confused. I have tried dictation with my 11 yo daughter and she absolutely hates it. There is a lot of frustration not knowing where the punctuation marks go. I feel it is unfair to expect the child to know where commas go when they’ve never been formally taught the rules. We compromised by my giving her hints as she was so disheartened by her errors. I also used Daily Grams and Easy Grammar with her and have seen improvement in the elements of writing. She enjoys writing, especially poetry. Should I back up and have her do copy work instead of dictation? The Daily Grams seem like overkill and I don’t want to load her down with “busy work”. Especially with starting Latin this year, are DG necessary? If dictation is a natural way to learn, then why is it so difficult for us to master? Since she enjoys writing I want her to be able to do it well. As regards my 9 yo boys, do I have them do copy work or dictation this year? I have held off dictation because of the difficulty doing this with my daughter. Should I perhaps just concentrate on narration? Are there any LA books I should get to work through with them? Am I trying to start English grammar too early or too late? One thing that is the center of our prayer life right now is to have a willing (unselfish) attitude about everything we do. How do I go about training the children to do unpleasant jobs with a pleasant attitude? Writing for the boys (and sometimes my daughters) is an unpleasant task! My dear husband and I are praying about this and other character issues, as well as, our curriculum and training methods. He is very supportive. I feel in my heart that your teaching (ie the Classical approach) is the correct way for us to teach our children, but feel I am not diligent enough in the area of expressing ourselves clearly. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. I know I’ve gone on, but it makes me nervous that the boys have trouble even writing a simple email to their cousins. A good attitude in their work is very important to me since I know we cannot always avoid unpleasant tasks in our homeschool. It disheartens me when they are complaining and I have not been diligent to make them write. Thanks Sharon
If your boys are struggling with oral narration I suggest taking smaller bites for them to narrate. Half of a sentence, one sentence, then two sentences. Sometimes the problem isn’t that they have a hard time narrating, but it is more a problem of laziness and unwillingness to obey. Oral narration is hard, hard in the sense that it requires that we make our brain work. It takes a very big effort to force the mind to listen attentively knowing you will be asked to narrate later. I’ll tell you a secret. I hate to narrate. I just hate it when Harvey calls on me during our Bible study to narrate a passage he has just read. My first impulse is to tell him that I would rather not. I’m an adult and shouldn’t be forced to make my brain work. I’ve put in my share of study. Please don’t make me work!! But to be a good example to the children, I try and narrate.

Some people find oral narration to be easy and even fun and can go on for several minutes narrating, while for others it is more of a chore. But either way, I feel that it is a mind exercise that all children should be required to do. Just like brushing your teeth and making the bed. It should be done cheerfully and willingly just like all chores and other requests made from Mother or Father.

I suggest that we let the children know ahead of time when we will be requiring oral narration. If they are always “on call” during read alouds, wondering when Mother will call for narrations, it might take all the fun out of reading.

One of the reasons some children hate dictation is because they are perfectionists and don’t like to write something down unless they know it to be just right. And with dictation you don’t always know for sure if what you are writing is correct. Make sure you as the parent aren’t putting pressure on the child to have everything perfect. I have seen this mistake made in many families, especially with the oldest child. We often have unrealistic expectations for our first child, but, thankfully, do tend to mellow out with subsequent children. I wanted Nate to have perfect handwriting, read at a high school level, write with creative wit, carry on advanced conversations with the neighbors, and draw like Michelangelo. And all at the ripe age of five. I think that’s why the Lord gave us five children in seven years. It mellowed me out fast. Notice, I am not saying we should have low standards, but that we should keep realistic standards. In our travels I have seen too many perfectionistic Mothers putting unrealistic burdens on their children. Perfectionism can break the spirit of a child.

When I would dictate to my children, I sat right next to them on the couch watching everything they wrote. If there was supposed to be a comma in the sentence and they didn’t know it, then I would tell them where it went and we would write down that particular rule in their English Language Notebook. Have them write in pencil so mistakes can be erased easily. Spelling can be taught during dictation, also. Use dictation as a teaching session, not as a testing session to see what they already know. Later when the child is older and more skilled at dictation, you won’t need to be so involved in the process.

I think a general plan for the study of the English language for young children could be:

1. Teach reading using intensive phonics sometime between the ages of 4 and 10. I just read an article by Ruth Beechick in the  Jan/Feb 1997 issue of Homeschooling Today called “Don’t Panic Yet: Wise Counsel About Emerging Readers,” and she says “that there is much research to show that a good average age for boys to start reading is 7 1/2. Many children now are starting later than that and doing very well academically… Some children have conquered reading at 10 or 12 or even later, and almost immediately their reading level is right up with their mental level. At those ages they do not slowly go through second grade books, then third grade books and so on, as younger children do…”

2. At the same time as you teach reading, start the child on copywork. Practice copywork on a daily basis till the child is ready for dictation.

3. Oral narration should be begun as early as possible, perhaps by age 4 or 5.

4. About age 10 (sometimes earlier, sometimes later — you as the teacher will be able to determine this) start with dictation, letters to relatives or pen pals (this is the beginning of creative writing, although letters can start out as copywork where Mother writes out the letter for the child to copy), journal writing (which is sort of like a letter to yourself), and simple outlining skills.

5. English grammar and spelling can be started at age 10.

6. About age 13 can begin written narration, summaries, book reviews, more outlining, simple poetry if the child is so inclined, simple speeches.

I would suggest doing dictation with your daughter once or twice a week for a short period each time and sit right beside her, freely and cheerfully helping as needed. You are teaching her, not simply testing her. I would allow her to spend as much time as she wants writing poetry.

Here’s an email from Cyndy Shearer (of Greenleaf Press) concerning studying history in Chronological order:

I get real nervous when people seem to want to take “approaches” to teaching a subject and twist themselves into knots just so they can do exactly what the people who use that “approach” say they ought to do. (whether it is Greenleaf or Charlotte Mason or Classical Education or whatever…) And maybe that’s not what the writer of the email was really doing, but I think the most important thing to remember is this: teaching with chronological approach is a tool. A non-chronological approach is another kind of tool. Choose what makes the most sense to you. Tweak it as you go. Make it fit the ages you have in your home. Make it fit the stamina and sanity and enthusiasm you have for teaching it. As homeschoolers I think we are very aware that government education and conventional classroom education has been done so badly for so long, that we are determined that we will do it right. That’s good, except we tend to expect to be able to do too much. I don’t expect to teach my elementary aged kids everything they could possibly know about Egypt. I do want to introduce them to the culture in a way that will

1. establish for them some basic “landmarks” — people, places, events, lifestyle, that they can eventually build on later.

2. build in them a joy in learning and to hopefully do both in a way that will help me discover a little of the joy in teaching and learning along with them.

That said….

1. Strict chronological order. You don’t have to practice a strict chronological order to have an essentially chronological scheme. Genesis is obviously the beginning of things, so we start there. Because I want to lay a Biblical foundation to our study of History I continue on through the OT before we start our study of other cultures. From there, basically, Egypt was a world power then it fell. Greece came after that (rose and fell) Rome came after Greece (rose and fell). Obviously there are overlaps and obviously the whole rest of the world didn’t wait patiently in the wings until the appropriate cue….(China come on down!) Some folks like to integrate their study, cover those pyramids before you read about Abraham. I don’t. I get tied up with all the interruptions… the different threads get in a wad, and slow down the story I’m trying to tell/read at this time. So I would rather tell Israel’s story, then go back and tell Greece’s story, etc. Use of a time line, or the Wall Chart of World History are good tools to help place us in the grand scheme. One of my main goals first time through is just to set the landmarks in my kid’s head, so that he will know where to file later information.

2. Two children. This becomes a real individual family issue here. I group my kids where ever I can, so that I have as few different histories going on at a time as possible. Next year I’ll have two in Middle Ages and two in Egypt. To get the two together in Egypt, I didn’t start Egypt with the oldest last year but waited until the younger child would be old enough to study with us. One summer I had a younger member of a pair read Famous Men of Rome over the summer so that he could start Middle Ages with the older sibling in the fall. The only reason I can do 2 different histories is that the older pair are reading independently, and can do a lot of the stuff that I will have to do for the younger pair on their own. It doesn’t have to be chopped up or tossed out the window for the 2nd or 3rd kids….unless that’s the way a family wants to present it. It is possible for a five year old to get quite a lot out of a reading of the OT. Whoever is reading has to tailor the reading to the child’s attention span, make sure to make good use of story telling techniques, keep the kids actively involved in the story somehow. Be careful not to underestimate a five year old’s ability or to over estimate the difficulty of the material. Timothy knew these stories/scriptures from his childhood literally, infancy). The Passover story is told every year to all the children, even the “child who is too young to ask.” A five year old won’t get everything this first time through, but neither will a 35 year old…so I wouldn’t worry at all. By the time you get ready to go on to Egypt, your youngest should be right there with you.

The above comments are Cyndy’s response… Hope that helps!
-Rob Shearer
Publisher, Greenleaf Press
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000
From: Martin Cothran

I noticed on your last newsletter that the Bolchazy-Carducci comparison of Artes Latinae and Latina Christiana was mentioned. I thought I might point out a couple of things about that comparison that your readers ought to know.

First, the comparison is an apples-oranges comparison. Latina Christiana was designed primarily for elementary students (those as young as 3rd grade), whereas Artes Latinae is marketed as a high school program. The comparison doesn’t mention this and compares them as if they were for the same age group. Latina Christiana does not cover the same amount of material (one of the implied shortcomings in the comparison) simply because younger students are not ready for it. And it does not have the thousands of samples of prose and poetry because it would overwhelm the younger student.

We do not market Latina as a high school text, although a student could easily go through the lessons more quickly and progress into another program. Latina Christiana was written to be as simple and easy to use as possible, introducing children to only that material that is necessary at each level, with the intention that they not become confused with multiple pronunciations and other  complexities that the students and the parent (who in most cases does not know
Latin) are usually not prepared for.

The casualty rate for students studying Latin is extremely high, partly because many people attempt too much. I don’t know what the success rate with Latin programs is, but I can’t imagine it is very high. One of the things we are very proud of is not only the countless parental accolades Latina has received, but the fact that so many students actually finish the program.

For high school we recommend the Henle Latin series. Henle is a 1940s-50s textbook that was designed originally for Catholic schools, but is easily adapted (by dropping a few exercises) for protestant use. We recommend this book because we think it approaches the subject in the best possible sequence. It limits the vocabulary in the first book in order for the student to master the grammar with as little confusion as possible. It breaks each lesson down into manageable exercise units that build incrementally on what came before, never giving you anything you are not already prepared for. It strives for mastery at every level.
Robert Henle was a priest who taught Latin for over 40 years.

The better comparison would have been between Artes Latinae and Henle. Henle, however, is a traditional textbook, and does not have all the modern bells and whistles, such as CDs, etc. If parents want colorful, computer generated graphics and exposure to multiple pronunciations, Artes Latinae is the program to use. But if they want a high school program that does it the old-fashioned way–takes the student through each step, concept-by-concept, in a simple, understandable, manageable and straightforward fashion, then Henle is ideal.

The other thing the comparison doesn’t mention is the price. The Level I package for Artes Latinae is $292.00. Latina Christiana I costs $35.00. The complete First Year Henle package is less than that.

All that being said, however, we were flattered that Bolchazy-Carducci chose Latina Christiana as the one program to which they compared theirs. We’ll take that as a compliment.
Response to Martin Cothran Regarding A Comparison of Artes Latinae & Latina Christiana by Marie Bolchazy August 18, 2000

Several months ago, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, the publishers of Artes Latinae, released a comparison of Artes Latinae and Latina Christiana.  Martin Cothran critiqued that comparison and this is a response to his critique.

Listed are Cothran’s assertions followed by commentary:

1.       Cothran’s assertion: Latina Christiana was designed primarily for elementary students whereas Artes Latinae is marketed as a high school program.
This statement is misleading.  Artes Latinae is often used with high school students but it is appropriate for ages 9 through adult.  In fact, a sizeable percentage of the students using Artes Latinae are between the ages of 9-11 and are successfully working through the course.  Students who are mature enough to use Latina Christiana are also mature enough to use Artes Latinae.

2.      Cothran’s assertion: Latina Christiana was written to be as simple and easy to use as possible.
This statement implies that Artes Latinae is not simple and easy to use.  On the contrary, having a success orientation was a goal from the very beginning when Encyclopaedia Britannica first planned to publish Artes Latinae.  During the development phase, field testing, a part of the development overlooked by so many publishers, was conducted extensively.  Professor Waldo Sweet, the major author, personally taught all four versions at the junior high and college level, with constant monitoring in the language lab.  Error rate and proficiency scores were used to rewrite the course.  The second and third versions were also tested in thirteen junior high school classes.  In two of those classes, field test error rates and proficiency scores were fed back to the author.  In the other classes, the feedback consisted chiefly of reports of attitudes of students and teachers.  The original published version is essentially the fourth revision, tested by thirteen pilot teachers in eleven institutions throughout the country from junior high to college level.

3.       Cothran’s assertion: Latina Christiana was written with the intention that students not become confused with multiple pronunciations.
This statement implies that students using Artes Latinae will become confused because the course offers three pronunciations.  This implication is untrue. What is true is that Artes Latinae offers three pronunciations: Restored Classical, American Scholastic and Continental Ecclesiastical.  However any particular student would use just one pronunciation.  From the start, the student or teacher decides which pronunciation will be the default one.

4.      Cothran’s assertion: A better comparison would be between Artes Latinae and Henle’s course. (Cothran recommends Henle’s course for high-school level.)
It would be next to impossible to use Henle’s course in a self-study manner.  Following is a quote from a Loyola university professor who used Henle’s course as a student: “I was raised on Henle’s course at a minor seminary from 1952-1956. At Loyola University where I have been teaching classics since 1976, we use other textbooks in beginning and intermediate Latin.  Henle’s course needs a teacher.  It is neither self-teaching nor self-pacing.  Furthermore, it lacks oral pronunciation.”

In contrast, students can use Artes Latinae independently.  Using Artes Latinae is like having a teacher by one’s side.  What Cothran stated about Henle’s course is especially true about Artes Latinae: “It breaks each lesson down into manageable exercise units that build incrementally on what came before, never giving you anything you are not already prepared for.  It strives for mastery at every level.”

5.       Cothran’s assertion: The comparison doesn’t mention the price.  The Level I package for Artes Latinae is $292. Latina Christiana costs $35.
Artes Latinae can be ordered in phases: Phase 1 costs $97 in the textbook version, and very soon the CD-ROM version will be available in phases as well.  Phase 1 by itself covers far more Latin than the whole of Latina Christiana. Considering the amount of material the buyer receives, the purchase of Artes Latinae by level or by phases is a wonderful value.

6.      Cothran’s assertion: Not only has Latina Christiana received many accolades, but so many students actually finish the program.
The publishers of Artes Latinae receive accolades about the course all the time. Typically, Bolchazy-Carducci receives testimonials such as the following:

My son…(10th grader), has just taken the final test of Level 1 and scored in the low nineties. I’m very happy with the results as he has directed his own studies. Artes Latinae is an exceptional program.
Catherine Gardner, Henderson KY, Spring 1994

We love your Artes Latinae course, My son is 12 and is beginning Level I Unit 7…The structure of the program is such that he always feels rewarded. I like it because I know he is really learning the material. He never complains about doing Latin. I wish all language courses were arranged like this one.
Cathy Becker, Cambridge City IN, Spring 1994

I am a home-schooled eighth-grader studying Latin as one of my basic subjects, and I am writing to thank you for your excellent Latin materials and for your help in developing a Latin curriculum for me. During my first two years of Latin, I studied Artes Latinae Levels I and II, Lectiones Primae, and Lectiones Secundae [the graded readers included in the series]. For my third year, upon your recommendation, I studied Bennett’s New Latin Grammar and read Caesar’s Invasion of Britain and Livy’s Rome and Her Kings. These materials have helped me to learn Latin without other instruction, and I received a gold medal in the Latin III Prose test that I took as part of the American Classical League-National Junior Classical League National Latin Exam. I plan to study a fourth year of Latin.
Jeffrey Moss, Morgantown WV, Summer 1995

I have two sons who started using [Artes Latinae] four years ago. They were 11 & 13 at the time…We have thoroughly enjoyed Artes Latinae and it has definitely become a part of the family as my younger son is always using Latin to capture a moment or describe a family situation. Thanks for a great course.
Sharon Blalack, Rio Dell CA, Summer 1995

In the words of one well-respected home-schooling expert,

Artes Latinae wins hands-down.
Mary Pride, The Big Book of Home Learning

As for students progressing in the program, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers has to schedule  customer service time to print certificates of completion.

7.       Cothran’s assertion: The comparison is an apples-oranges comparison.
Perhaps it would be better to call the comparison an acorn-oak tree comparison.  Latina Christiana offers rudimentary coverage of Latin whereas Artes Latinae offers comprehensive coverage.  However, if all students wanted were rudimentary coverage of Latin, they could get that from Artes Latinae as well. The difference is that they would have the choice of continuing on with the comprehensive coverage that Artes Latinae offers.

Artes Latinae is the only comprehensive, self-teaching Latin series available in any format.  The traditional format contains 16 books and 27 cassettes.  These are also available in a CD-ROM version.

8.      Cothran’s assertion:  We are flattered that Bolchazy-Carducci chose Latina Christiana as the one program to which they compared theirs.
Actually, one of our customers did most of the comparison.  We just made it available to our other customers.

Summary Remarks
Latinists also have praise for Artes Latinae.  Following is the summary section of one of the latest reviews of the CD-ROM version.

Artes Latinae has a proven track record of helping students from middle school through graduate school learn Latin on their own.  It is especially well-suited for situations where there is not a Latin teacher available, such as a home-school situation or a school district that cannot afford to hire a Latin teacher.  It integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing at the sentence level, and offers a wide range of materials, aural and visual.  In addition, the publisher offers a customer service hotline for any questions about the program, and maintains an extensive list of Latinists who are willing to assist learners with questions not covered by the program.  Artes Latinae therefore will be especially successful with students who like to learn in a linear fashion, proceeding step-by-step to a knowledge of Latin grammar through an inductive process with clear explanations and plenty of practice.  With the addition of the Reader, Lectiones Primae, it may lead students to become proficient readers of Latin.
John Gruber-Miller, CALICO Review, May, 1999

While the above is one of the most recent reviews, authorities throughout the years have also given Artes Latinae high marks.

The single most important contribution to the area of Latin pedagogy of the 20th century.
Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio, School District of Philadelphia

The program is a life saver
Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Artes Latinae is success-oriented.
Classical Outlook

Bolchazy-Carducci has so much faith in Artes Latinae that it invites any potential customer to purchase it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Marie Bolchazy
From: “Meg Wheeler”
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000

I have two boys, ages 8 and 6 1/2. Last year we used Saxon 1, the year before we used Math-U-See, and the year before that we used A Beka math.
Some time ago I read your statement regarding not doing formal math with children before they were 10 years old. Based on my personal experience (although I went through college calculus, math was always — and still is — a major struggle) and based on my experience with the math curricula I listed above, my gut told me you were right. But for some reason, I’m still unsure.

I’m all prepared to jump into Saxon 2 with my two boys this September, but I am also dreading it. Especially with my 8-year-old. He just doesn’t get it — the addition and subtraction stuff, that is. The shapes, patterns, measurement, etc., he picks up right away. But no matter how many manipulatives we use, he really struggles with making the jump from concrete (manipulatives) to abstract (worksheets). Besides that, he is very easily distracted during worksheet time and can take up to 5 or even 10 minutes just to write his name on the top of the sheet. Meanwhile, his 6 1/2-year-old brother is practically done the worksheet. Sigh.

My husband and I are convicted that our boys must learn that although there is great joy in learning, it is not always fun. We want them to know that worthwhile things are worth working hard for. We don’t want school to always be ‘fun’ at the expense of their learning the value of hard work. However, I recognize what you are saying about the developmental aspects of this math issue. Math is the only subject we are struggling with. So I sense that you are on the right track.

I went out to the local educational store and picked up a bunch of math idea books that would help me to teach them place value, patterns, measurement, time, money, fractions, charts and graphs and problem solving. And then I thought that I would just teach them the math facts by rote memorization. Is that what you recommend? Or is even that too much?

I know that you are probably very tired of answering questions about this issue. I am hungering for an all-encompassing article from you stating specifically what you do teach them before 10 and how, specifically dealing with math. Does anything like that exist? I have read your treatment of this issue historically in your TTT magazine, volume VI. And I visited your web site for more specific info, but was unsuccessful.

Ah, if only this were one of those issues where the Bible says, “Thou shalt not teach arithmetic before age 10.”
Meg Wheeler


In our Trivium Booklet Series we deal more specifically with the issue of how to teach math informally in the years before age 10. Lord willing, we hope to expand on that even more when we are able to put the booklets together as a regular book. But that won’t be for awhile yet.

I want to touch on a few issues you have raised.

>My husband and I are convicted that our boys must learn that although
>there is great joy in learning, it is not always fun. We want them to
>know that worthwhile things are worth working hard for. We don’t want
>school to always be ‘fun’ at the expense of their learning the value of
>hard work.<

Remember when your oldest was learning to walk? At six months you might have held onto his hands and stood him up on the floor to test the strength of his legs. Maybe you even helped him “walk” a few steps. You put him through the motions, but he wasn’t really walking. But you didn’t get all worried because he couldn’t take off walking all by himself. You knew he wasn’t developmentally ready to walk yet. You simply waited until he was ready. I’ve heard that some children walk as early as nine months, but most will walk at about a year, while a few will be fully sixteen months before they take their first step. The age that a child learns to walk really has no bearing on his intelligence–a child who walks at 16 months can be just as smart as a child who walks at 9 months. It’s a physical developmental issue. It’s the same with learning to read. A few will learn to read at age four and a few at age ten, while most will learn sometime between the ages of six and eight. The child who learns to read at age nine may be “smarter” than the child who learns to read at age four. It’s a developmental issue. Unfortunately, some of us don’t handle it as calmly when our child learns to read at age nine as when our child learns to walk at 16 months. Sometimes we worry unnecessarily. We may even try to force the child to read before he is able. Rather than gently introducing the letters and their sounds little by little as the child is ready, we are intent on our goal of the child “learning to read in first grade.”

Learning math is a developmental issue also. Some children seem to understand the mathematical concepts at an early age, some at a very late age, while it seems that, for most children, the light bulb goes on around age 10. We have discussed this issue quite a bit at other times, so I won’t go into it here. I want only to address the issue which you raised about teaching children to work hard. If we press children to perform before they are developmentally able, then we will discourage them and cause them to fail, which in turn sets them up for further discouragement. No amount of hard work on the part of a 4 month old child will result in the ability to walk. No amount of hard work on the part of a wee five year old who is not developmentally able to blend (putting the sounds of letters together to read a word) will result in reading. Similarly, sitting at the kitchen table with the same 1st grade math workbook page before him for 45 minutes will not help a developmentally unready six year old learn to subtract. Perhaps you can get him to memorize the procedures of subtraction and “walk” him through the page, but the light bulb is still not on. Why not wait till age 10 and all those procedures of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division become clear to the child and he understands it in a flash.

Yes, we want our children to learn the value of hard work. But there is a difference between hard work and exasperation.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Exasperation is placing a greater burden upon someone than they are developmentally able to bear. This is the closest we will come to “Thou shalt not teach arithmetic before age 10.”

I think age 11 is early enough to have the math facts memorized, but if it is important to you to have them memorized earlier, then you should do that.

Harvey and Laurie
OK, I’ll ‘fess up. I was “took” by the Scottish boy this summer. We were peacefully enjoying a pleasant summer’s afternoon one day this week when a young college-age boy drove up to our house. We live way out in the country and seldom have spontaneous visitors, so we all dropped what we were doing to see what was up. He said he was visiting the homeschooling families in our county and wanted our opinion on a “homeschooling manual” his employer had written. He showed us a list of other homeschooling families he had talked with, and could he come in and talk with us? Well, sure, we said. We’re always happy to give our opinion on anything having to do with homeschooling, and besides that, he had the most endearing Scottish accent you ever did hear. We brought him into our living room and sat around him, all seven of us, listening to him talk. Thinking back, I really do believe he hypnotized us. We couldn’t take our eyes off him as he explained about this “manual,” which turned out to be a set of reference books, which he was selling. I don’t even know when it was I began to realize that he was selling something. All I know is that there was no way I could say “no” to the lad. I just melt when I hear a Scottish accent. So, I turned to Harvey, thinking he would be strong and just say no. “Whatever you think, Laurie, is fine with me.” No help there. And then Nate said he would lend me the money if I didn’t have it. Well, that pretty much did it. We were gonners at that point, and the boy knew it. But, he never pressured us to buy. Never. In fact, he told us we shouldn’t buy the books. But I was bound and determined to buy them. No matter that I didn’t even really know what kind of books they were or that we couldn’t afford them. Mark my words, that boy will be a millionaire before he is thirty. So, he’ll be delivering the books in a couple of weeks. We’ll hear that Scottish brogue one more time.

From: “bebo”
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000

Dear Vyckie,
The Writing Road to Reading (WRTR) is the best and most thorough phonetic program I know of, and I think it would be very good for remedial work. I used it with our two youngest children, and I never cease to be thankful I discovered it. I began teaching it to our son when he was 7, and he was reading the scriptures flawlessly out loud in front of our church by the time he was nine. Now our 9yod is doing the same. Not only that, but their spelling is excellent. WRTR is a truly classical approach to teaching phonetics. There are no songs, jingles, or workbooks with pictures which an older child might perceive as babyish. It is basically the teacher, the printed phonogram cards (with no pictures, just type), and the student notebook, which the student develops himself during the course of the program. For reading practice in the beginning, I used easy readers from the library and the McGuffey Readers. With our two oldest children, I used Sing, Spell, Read, & Write because I didn’t know about WRTR at that time, and although our first two children learned to read well, I definitely wish I had discovered WRTR first. Of course, this is just my opinion. I have an aversion to bells & whistles, workbooks, and the attitude that learning has to be made FUN or children can’t learn. By the way, Christine Miller, who owns classical lists WRTR as her top pick for teaching reading.

>This list is for teachers who use the WRTR text in their classrooms or >homeschool, and for those inquiring about the WRTR methodology. >All teachers, and potential teachers, of the WRTR are invited. >However it should be noted that the list owner, Susan Davis, is a >home educator and utilizes “Reading Works” by Jay Patterson as a >companion manual for teaching the WRTR; this list will undoubtedly >reflect Susan’s bias.

One caution: I would not advise using the WRTR without a companion help.”Reading Works”, mentioned above, is one of those. I used the Riggs Institute companion, which is designed for classroom use, but that was the only companion I knew of at the time I bought it. I believe I have read that Jay Patterson who wrote “Reading Works” has done some work with remedial students using WRTR, so perhaps that companion would be helpful to your friend. Anyway, if she subscribed to the above list at egroups, she would be able to view the archives and also to ask questions and get help.

It grieves my heart to think of all the modern-day children who are not being taught how to read. I am convinced that if the WRTR was used in the schools of our nation, we simply would not have reading failures. How’s that for an extreme statement? 🙂 As you can see, I am an avid fan of WRTR, although I realize it is not for everyone and it does take some study on the part of the parent. However, considering the foundational importance of the skill of reading, the effort was definitely worth it for me. Oh dear, this is getting long. Please forgive me.
Robbinsville, NC
From: “Leslie Kent”
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000

Have you tried Phonics Pathways by Delores G. Hiskes? It was originally written for remedial work for poor adult readers and for adult non-readers learning for the first time. It has been modified for children, but she does make suggestions for adult use. This would be better than trying to modify a program for little ones that is “insulting” to an adult or teen. Hope this helps, Leslie Kent Keller, TX
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000
From: Michael Rampy

(Totally unrelated: I’m not even through my first cup of coffee this morning, and my 4-year-old has just now come to me to ask, “Dad, can I have your computer when your dead?” Ain’t children just great!) Please allow me to to bellow a hearty “Amen!” to your #153 discussion concerning the wisdom of delaying formal math instruction. My personal experience is Exhibit A. I can remember the scene as if it were last week: I was a relatively bright, perfectionist first-born as a six-year-old. In Mrs. Burdick’s 1st grade class, we were copying and completing a “tens-and-ones” exercise from the chalkboard. Folks, this event was so traumatic for me, the exact problem that I was working on is seared in my memory: “24 is equal to ___ tens and ___ ones.”
Granted, I was probably goofing-off, because I shouldn’t have had any problem understanding this concept. For whatever reason, though, I could not understand how to complete this problem. And the more exasperated Mrs. Burdick became with my inability to grasp what was, in her mind, a simple concept, the more self-conscious I became of my stupidity. I was completely mortified. I remember crying as I was picked up from school by my mother that afternoon. I was now convinced that I was “slow” at math. This single event haunted me through not only 1st grade, but the remainder of grade school, all of junior high school, high school, and even early college. Here I was, excelling in every other subject -including the sciences- in my schooling, yet a C and D student in my math classes. God is good, however, and my desire to enter the profession of meteorology required a rigorous college curriculum in advanced mathematics (calculus, differential equations, vector analysis, etc.) and forced me to face my “monster” head-on. It required taking college algebra twice, many long hours of study, and a season of prayer, but I did graduate with a minor in mathematics in 1985. Had she seen that, Mrs. Burdick would have probably keeled over in cardiac arrest… My intention here is not to boast, but to offer verification of your ideas regarding delayed math study and to offer encouragement to parent/teachers of “slow” math learners like me.
Hang in there, folks!!!

Shawn Rampy
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000

I have asked you about KONOS before, and you gave a favorable response for using KONOS throughout the grammar and dialectic stages in a classical manner.
I would like to ask your opinion on the significance of chronological history study throughout the early stages. I would also like your opinion of KONOS’
History of the World for high school. Are you familiar with these volumes?
Laura Roberts
I have never examined the KONOS high school curriculum. Can anyone help us with this question?

Concerning studying history chronologically:

There are two ways to study history: 1) chronologically and 2) interest-directed. These two can be combined, but we’ll discuss them separately first.

To study history chronologically is to start in ancient times and work your way through to modern times. Some recommend taking two years to go through all of history. Others will stretch it over three or four years. Probably very few families are able to pursue a strict chronological study of history. (By “strict” I mean working straight through to modern times with no deviation).
Most would like to, will plan to, and will start out in that direction, but the distractions which confront the normal homeschooling family in the course of a typical homeschooling year often interrupt the best laid plans.

My goal for the study of history is to give my children the tools for learning a new subject on their own. The subject of history is perfect ground for learning these tools. I want them to be able to study history on their own, even when they are grown and have children of their own. If, for whatever reason, I am not able to take them through all of history, from ancient times to modern, during the short time in which I have them, then, because I have given them the tools for learning on their own, they can fill in any blanks.

But they will only pursue studying history on their own throughout their lifetime if  they learn to love the study of history. And this is where following a strict chronological study of history might interfere. Let’s say that, according to your chronological plan, you will spend your first semester studying the ancient Greeks, then the second semester studying Rome. But your children are wired for a different plan. Your lads spend all of their spare time making swords, armor, and castles, or your lassies are busy sewing Civil War costumes. Ancient history can be a bit boring to young children who are interested in medieval times or civil war times. You may be able to redirect your children’s interests to ancient history, but should that fail (or you clearly see it failing before you try), then you may choose to strike while the iron is hot, and redirect your own studies to meet their interests. Everyone learns bests when they pursue their interests. We homeschoolers have the flexibility to do this. We can get back to ancient history later. Will you force the child to study ancient history for a year when his heart is really with the knights in shining armor?

I think a good teacher will combine discipline and structure and schedule with sensitivity to the needs and desires of the student. There are limits to this, of course. No, we’re not going to study WW II for twelve years straight, like Hans would like, but we will keep in mind his love for this subject as we plan our study of history.

You may plan for a chronological study of history, but should your child exhibit a strong interest in a particular time period., don’t be afraid to switch to interest-directed — for at least as long as the teachable moment lasts.

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2000
From: louise m logan

Can anyone give me some direction to curriculum that teaches how to write a research paper? I am going to visit some friends in India who need this type of curriculum for a junior high student [ 7th to 8th grade level] and since my children are quite young, I have never looked into this type of material. What has worked for you folks? Thanks for your anticipated assistance, Louise Logan
My favorite book on how to write research papers is The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content, sixth edition, by Audrey J. Roth. This 300 page paperback takes the student step by step through the process of writing a research paper, from choosing the topic, narrowing the topic, searching for information, recording information, organizing ideas, writing the paper, documenting the paper, preparing the works cited, to final presentation. At the beginning of the book is a timetable and checklist for preparing the research paper and a research paper process log. This book breaks down a seemingly overwhelming project into bite-sized pieces. I ordered this book from our local bookstore. The publisher is Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California.
From: “Rich Baer”
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000

I have one question if you have time to respond. You suggest boys especially may wait until age 10 to do formal schoolwork. This means they need a lot of something to keep them busy from age 2 on! We would like to have 40 acres for our boys to stay occupied but still live in an urban setting. What to do with all their boy energy and inquisitiveness without going broke?!
Best Regards,
Sara Baer
Long ago there was plenty of work around the home to keep little and big boys busy and happy. Today with all the conveniences available to us, all of the work is done for us, and it is very challenging to keep little boys busy, especially if you live in town. Have you read our article on 10 things to do with children under age 10? Work and service are on that list. Your job as parent will be to brainstorm and come up with ideas that will work for your family. These ideas will not only serve to keep the little ones “busy,” but will help train them and teach them skills they will use when older. Here are a few of the things we did in our family:

If you have a son who is artistically inclined, then be sure to provide him with the tools, space and time necessary to pursue these interests. We have written on this topic in other loop.

A garden is very useful in keeping children busy. Weeding, watering, planting, harvesting, preparing vegetable and fruits for canning and freezing. Picking off the squash bugs.

We have always had Golden Retrievers and for several years trained them in dog obedience through 4-H. This takes patience and diligence.

Get a scroll saw and teach the boys to safely use it to make toys and other wooden objects.

Harvey managed a lumber yard for several years while the children were young, and he would bring home left-over building materials for the boys to play with. Give them decent tools to work with, too.

The neighbors may have jobs (volunteer) for the boys to do such as yard work, cleaning, or running errands.

We visited the nursing home every week for many years. Sometimes we would play our instruments for them, but usually we would just visit.

Model rocketry is something boys can investigate. Of course, you would have to go to a park to shoot off the rockets. We usually did it in empty bean fields.

Are you allowed to have small animals on your property? Rabbits could be your very first farm animals. They require twice daily chores, plus they can be exhibited at the county fair. My kids made quite a bit of money showing rabbits in 4-H.

If I was starting over with my children I would encourage and help them make collections of insects, rocks, leaves, flowers, snakes (maybe), or anything else they are interested in. Unfortunately, I was too hung up on having a clean house to encourage much collecting when they were little.

I would buy a telescope and a microscope (good ones) when they were young and encourage them to explore the world with them. A good pair of binoculars would come in handy, too.

Have you ever gone camping? We never did, but I hear that lots of families have fun camping and fishing.

These are just some of the things which come to mind right now. Perhaps others on this list can add to the discussion.

Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000

Dear Bluedorns,
Thank you so much for your recommendation of Artes Latinae! What a blessing it has proven to be for our family. I am a hearing impaired homeschooling mom and was so delighted to find that while my 10 year old son listens to the tape, I can follow along with the Visual Checks! 🙂 Also, since it is hard for me to get all of the pronunciations correct, my son is having a great time teaching them to me (I rely heavily on lip reading) which further enhances his learning. I don’t always get them right, but we are having a lot of fun in the process. 🙂 He now says Latin is his favorite part of homeschooling! God really worked through you to lead us to this
curriculum and I have been giving Him much thanks, not only for the resource but also for you. Blessings to you, Debbie Entsminger
From: “Clara M. Miranda”
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000

Hi everybody, I just wanted to give a brief testimony of how blessed we all are to be able to deal with our children individually and led by the Spirit of the Lord. I recently have noticed that my oldest (7 yog) is very unmotivated when we sit to do (very pressure free!!!!) phonics. By the grace of God she LOVES being read to, narrates well and will actually request to sit at the table and draw while listening to a narration of A Pilgrims Progress (I’m not sure I can even read it myself!!)..Yet she appears so unmotivated to learn to read. At first I thought that perhaps it frustrates her to try to read a simple word when she has grown accustomed to being read to (this may still be a small factor). Lo and behold the Lord caused me to perceive the root issue. She is hungry for some time alone with mom!!! She is the oldest of four and often the easiest to “brush off” (pathetic parenting 🙁 ). The Lord caused me to realize when I happened to go over some phonics flash cards with her alone in my room, she was so involved and had a great time and even pleaded that I go get the Cuisinaire Rods so we could play with them ALONE. So simple!!!!!! See usually we do sit down work with her 5 yo brother who insists he is old enough, when they are together working she then becomes terribly unmotivated. Soooooo I will work with her alone. The greatest thing is to have the Lord open ones eyes and then to have the liberty to modify for our household. I have only homeschooled 1 yr but I become more and more humbled at what a great gift from God it is. By the way Harvey and Laurie I still get so excited to see how all the Lord has given you in the years you have been home educators (which you freely share with others) is being so incredibly embraced by the home educators all around!!!!!! I love to see your publications mentioned on every email loop and message board out in cyberland. This is really a blessed season of reaping for your household..Blessed be the name of the Lord. What an opportunity for the world to see a lifestyle in Christ producing such tangible fruits. How exciting to ponder how all of our children are being equipped in Him to be ambassadors of Christ, of His love and salvation message…Hallelujah!!!
Clara in Miami
From: “Clara M. Miranda”
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000

I can’t think of a book off hand but I have just started reading Adam and His Kin by Ruth Beechick. It is a narrative of Gen. 1-11. Although the conversations between the people in the book are fictionalized, Beechick did a great deal of research into the sciences particularly Astronomy. Even if you didn’t want to use it as a read aloud I think her bibliography would be quite useful.
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000
From: Eugene B Sedy

<<The teaching of phonics doesn’t have to be expensive. Alphaphonics is an inexpensive intensive phonics curriculum..>>

I concur. I just would like to add that I’ve been very pleased with the CD-rom version of Alphaphonics, Phonics Tutor. It does cost a bit more than the book, but still moderately priced in comparison to other quality software programs. I enjoy the time Phonics Tutor saves me. I started using the program with Catherine when she was age 6. She has nearly completed all the lessons, taking about 2 years. She reads and spells very well, and enjoys reading very much. At first I sat with her as she did each lesson. As she became accustomed to the lesson format and as her understanding grew, she became more and more independent with using the program. After about the twentieth lesson, she was using the program independently. This was a great time saver for me! In addition, the program simply repeats words spelled in error, and is much more patient than I! At that time, the company did not have workbooks or readers available. We used the Bob Books for reading practice, and I dictated her words in sentences to her. My son Michael, 6, has now begun using the program. At first he was very unsure of himself, and he thought reading would be difficult. He wasn’t too enthused about the whole process. The program progresses at an easy pace, so he enjoyed instant success, and now he is happy to be reading. He likes using the computer, (I think he feels big!) and so at lesson ten he is able to use the program independently. I have ordered the workbook and reader for him, but they are on backorder. I debated about getting those because dictation works just fine, but Mike enjoys workbooks, so I thought I’d try them out. I really don’t feel that I’m parking the kids in front of the computer to do all their phonics learning. It is a time saver as it covers the mechanics in a very methodical way without requiring my time to teach those things. They can use the program while I’m working with someone else. I try to stay available in the room so I can help if needed. I feel that it gives me more time to spend one-on-one with them doing the more “meatier” things of dictation and reading practice. I consider Phonics Tutor to be a valuable tool for our homeschool, one which allows me to make wise use of my time. I should add that the program has absolutely no glitz–just plain black and white large-sized text. It is not a game. By the way, the folks who produce the CD have really great customer support. We had trouble installing the program, and when I called I talked to the program writer himself. He set us straight, and later even called back to make sure we had everything up and running!
Janet Sedy
From: “SmithFam”
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000

Dear Harvey and Laurey,

I have several questions. Although we were Christians before we married, my husband and I have made many parenting and educational mistakes while raising our children. Please overlook these obvious errors as you read my questions.

1. While raising our four children we have enrolled them in Christian schools, government schools and attempted to weave home schooling in and out through the years. Our three oldest are finished with high school. Our youngest is 16. Right before the semester started (two weeks ago) she told us the Lord had been speaking to her about staying home for the last two years of high school. After praying about it my husband and I agreed to her request. I am ecstatic, but have had very little time to prepare. I began to wonder if there is a different way of teaching than what we used before, so I began searching the internet for Christian homeschooling sites. I am fascinated with the concept of classical education. Previously we used a Christian scope and sequence curriculum. Although challenging and time consuming, this seems to be the “easy way out” for a parent like myself who has no idea how to teach from a classical perspective. I want the BEST for my daughter, not what is easiest for me. How do I start with a 16 year old high school junior who has spent most of her school years in public schools and who hasn’t had the foundation of detailed grammer and logic?

2. How do I teach her what I don’t know? I consider myself to be extremely logical, fairly intelligent and a quick and enthusiastic learner, but I’m sure I need a full course on logic myself let alone extensive training in rhetoric (as I’m sure you’ve already figured out just by reading this note), before I attempt to teach Emily. I want to give her knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in an excellent fashion, without overwhelming and discouraging her (or myself).

3. Does the classical approach include upper level mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics? Emily is an above average student compared to her gov edu peers, but I’m sure she is lower than average compared to life-long homeschoolers.

4. How is history taught?

5. What else should I be asking? I’m sure my ignorance on this subject precludes my asking the deeper questions.

I KNOW this is a VERY long note, therefore I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for bearing with its length and also for providing an address where questions can be posed.
Homeschooling is for parents!! The kids are just coming along for the ride. : ) You will learn right along with your daughter all those subjects you didn’t learn when you were in school. Just be sure you use self teaching materials.

Perhaps it will help you to see what our 16, almost 17, year old daughter will be doing this year:

French 2 All the Way (our daughter Johannah is tutoring her again this year)

Artes Latinae Level I (she will finish this by the end of the year and then start Homeschool Greek)

Exploring Creation with Chemistry by Jay Wile

Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (she will finish outlining the book this year)

Critical Thinking in United States History Volume 1 (she will be working through this with her sister Ava)

Memorize and recite one selection from prose or poetry per month

Selected Bible memory work (Harvey assigns these)

Harvey assigns different things for the children to work on for our family worship time. Right now we are working through the London Confession, and we are all assigned different sections to summarize and write questions.

She and Harvey are working on writing a small booklet describing the different Latin pronunciations.

She, along with the other children, will be helping me read through some of the Greek and Latin classics. Example: next week the assignment is to read various speeches of Demosthenes plus a piece written on Demosthenes by Plutarch, then they will either write summaries of what they read or write questions (grammar, logic, and rhetoric level questions) on the texts. In addition, I’ve asked Helena to give us all a short “lecture” on the history surrounding Demosthenes.
She doesn’t like this assignment, but I think it is important to combine literature with history and geography in order to truly understand the context of the piece of literature.

Those are the academic things she is involved with. Besides these, she spends quite a bit of time sewing and doing other needlework. Right now all three of the girls are making for all of us new Civil War outfits in preparation for the Princeton, Illinois reenactment on October 7th. The girls wear different dresses during the day than they wear during the Saturday evening ball. Their day dresses are corduroy with matching bonnets–Johannah’s is maroon, Ava is in navy blue, and Helena’s is dark green. Helena is making a cream colored ball gown with chiffon overlay, Ava made a blue cotton ball gown with lace overskirt for herself, and Johannah is wearing her ball gown from last year. I will be wearing a new heavy black cotton pleated skirt (6 yards of material), which Ava made for me this week, to go along with my unbleached muslin Garibaldi shirt with black trim. If it is cold that day I’ll wear either my Kinsale Cloak or my crocheted wool shawl. Nate is getting a new black wool frock coat, vest, and pants. Hans informed us last year that he would never, no never, go to another reenactment dressed in that hot, itchy gray wool uniform, so the girls are making him black wool (not too heavy) pants and matching vest and an unbleached muslin shirt. And Harvey will again wear his civilian outfit and pass out copies of the Soldier’s Pocket Bible. We certainly do enjoy participating in the reenactments near our home and hope that some of you will be there to join us.

She spends time each day practicing her piano and working on her art. Next month is Homeschool Art Month at the Muscatine, Iowa library, so she and the other girls have been preparing a few things to exhibit. We will have a display of several small crocheted pocket purses and one of Victorian doll clothes, among other things.

Helena also helps us keep house by cooking, etc.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000

name: Gordon
country: U.K.
message: I visited your site through your link with John Buchan. After being initially curious, this turned to shock when I saw your recommendation to apply “the switch” for disrespect. I want to iterate that in Europe this is ILLEGAL, you will therefore be encouraging your website visitors to BREAK THE LAW! How Christian is that, I wonder what century you live in?
Why smart teenagers can still be very silly By MARA ROSE WILLIAMS in Kansas City, Missouri 26sep00

ON THE outside, teenagers appear to be nearly grown up. But inside the skull a vital part of their brain is closer to a child’s than an adult’s.

New findings in neuroscience and paediatric psychiatry link brain immaturity to teens making foolish judgments and reckless decisions. . . . [O]ne of the last parts of the brain to mature is the prefrontal cortex ­ the part responsible for self-control, judgment, emotional regulation, organisation and planning. “The teenage brain is a work in progress,” said neuroscientist Sandra Witelson, of McMaster University in Ontario.

The old belief was that by the time a child reached the age of puberty and pimples, his brain’s hardware was completely connected.

But by using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers showed that the brain had a lot of developing to do well beyond the start of adolescence. The brain reaches about 95 per cent of its maturation by the age of five years. But the corpus callosum, a cable of nerves connecting the right and left halves of the brain, continues growing beyond 20-something. The corpus callosum is linked to intelligence and self-awareness. The prefrontal cortex matures most between the ages of 12 and 20. Add to this brew of disconnected neurons a dose of active hormones spiked with the power of peer pressure and a need for autonomy. That is a recipe for sometimes risky teenage behavior.

The brain research suggests that teenagers must be trained to handle the freedoms they demand.

Researchers say that, after puberty, a pruning process takes place in the prefrontal cortex. About the age of 10, the prefrontal cortex goes through a growth spurt when neurons grow new connections. But these die off if they are not used.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000
From: Russell H Swieter

Does anyone have a chronological order in which the G. A. Henty books should be read? We are studying high school level history through literature and Streams of Civilization and if someone has this information it was be a tremendous help. Thanks in advance!
Check out this book:
Demosthenes (born 384 and died 322 B.C.) is considered to be the greatest of the Greek orators. Although Demosthenes would not be considered an historian in the strictest sense, the speeches he wrote give us a picture of public and private life in the Athens of his time.

Let me put Demosthenes in context: At the time Demosthenes entered political life Thucydides, Herodotus, and Xenophon, the three great Greek historians, were dead. The Persian Wars (where the Persian Empire tried unsuccessfully to conquer Greece) and the Peloponnesian War (the Greek civil war) were over. The Persian Empire, which had been ruling the rest of the world for many years, was beginning to weaken, although it was still a power to be reckoned with. Philip of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great, ruler of the Macedonian Empire) was just beginning to rise in power (Macedonia was considered by the Greeks to be a barbarian country). We are at the end of the great age of Greece.

“…The glorious days of his [Demosthenes] country’s brilliant political pre-eminence as a leader and torch-bearer to the world in its progress towards enlightenment and freedom, were well-nigh over. In arms she had been crushed by the brute force of Sparta. But this was not her deepest humiliation; she had indeed risen again to great power, under the leadership of generals and statesmen in whom something of the old-time Athenian spirit still persisted; but the duration of that power had been brief. The deepest humiliation of a state is not in the loss of military prestige or of material resources, but in the degeneracy of its citizens, in the overthrow and scorn of high ideals; and so it was in Athens at the time of Demosthenes’s political activity. The Athenians had become a pampered, ease-loving people. They still cherished a cheap admiration for the great achievements of their fathers. Stirring appeals to the glories of Marathon and Salamis would arouse them to — pass patriotic resolutions. Any suggestion of self-sacrifice, of service on the fleet or in the field, was dangerous. A law made it a capital offense to propose to use, even in meeting any great emergency, the fund set aside to supply the folk with amusements. They preferred to hire mercenaries to undergo their hardships and to fight their battles; but they were not willing to pay their hirelings. The commander had to find pay for his soldiers in the booty taken from their enemies; or failing that, by plundering their friends….There were not wanting men of integrity and true patriotism, and of great ability, as Isocrates and Phocion, who accepted as inevitable the decline of the power of Athens, and advocated a policy of passive non-interference in foreign affairs, unless it were to take part in a united effort against Persia. But the mass of the people, instead of offering their own means and their bodies to the service of their country, deemed it rather the part of the State to supply their needs and their amusements….Literature and art, too,  ever must be, since they always respond to the dominant ideals of a time and a people… (Demosthenes, by Robert Sharp, taken from the Library of the World’s Best Literature, 1902).

As a young man Demosthenes became a professional writer of speeches for clients in private suits of every kind, sometimes speaking himself. This seems to be the way he made his living even later in life when he was involved in politics (or, more correctly, statesmanship). At the time Demosthenes first entered upon his career as public orator and statesman at age 30, Philip and Athens were on good terms and Demosthenes did not realize any danger in Philip. His first public speeches did not even mention Philip, but were more concerned with the balance of power among the Greek states. It was only by degrees that he came to realize the danger of Philip. The growing power of Philip caused Demosthenes to encourage a policy of a united defence of the city-states against a military autocracy. The series of great speeches relating to Philip—the First, Second, and Third Philippics; the three Olynthiacs, “On the Peace,” “On the Embassy,” “On the Chersonese”; —show Demosthenes becoming more and more concerned with the dangers that Philip presents.

“To animate a people renowned for justice, humanity, and valour, yet in many instances degenerate and corrupted; to warn them of the dangers of luxury, treachery, and bribery; of the ambition and perfidy of a powerful foreign enemy; to recall the glory of their ancestors to their thoughts; and to inspire them with resolution, vigour, and unanimity; to correct abuses, to restore discipline, to revive and enforce the generous sentiments of patriotism and public spirit:–These were the great purposes for which the…Orations [of Demosthenes] were originally pronounced…” (The Orations of Demosthenes, Thomas Leland, 1814).

Philip dies and his son Alexander rules, and you can read the rest of the story in your history book.

As I read through this time period of Greek history I am struck by how similar it is to our own times. Demosthenes is an ancient Rush Limbaugh and Philip is…..who would you say?

Demosthenes wrote many speeches which have been handed down to us today, probably over 60. We posses of him law-court speeches composed for parties in private cases, and for parties in political cases, and political speeches. The most important seem to be:

Olynthiac I
Olynthiac II
Olynthiac III
Philippic I
On the Peace
Philippic II
On the Chersonese
Philippic III
On the Crown
On the False Legation

When you are studying Greek history with your children, include one or two of the speeches of Demosthenes. You can simply read portions of these speeches to your grammar level students, and you can require your logic level students to read portions for themselves along with memorizing passages. The speeches can also be used for copywork for grammar level students and oral interpretation for students of all levels. Rhetoric level students can read whole speeches and write summaries, outline the text or write short one page essays on some aspect of the text (such as “How does ancient Greece at the time of Demosthenes resemble modern day America?”). You might also want to read the short bibliographic essay Plutarch wrote concerning Demosthenes. These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate Demosthenes in your study of ancient Greece.

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000

Our family has just begun the Homeschool Greek program you have put together. We all really enjoy it especially since your sense of humor tweaks ours. We often find ourselves chuckling. Since we are all deep into the study of Latin the beginning chapters of Homeschool Greek were a bit easy but we are now enjoying the challenge of the Omicron 1. We really appreciate the vocabulary tapes you included. They are a great aid to the memory (especially mom’s!) If you get a chance tell Nathaniel that we enjoyed his sense of humor in Teaching Logic at Home, too. Katie is afraid you’ll think all we ever do is giggle and that is not too far from the truth. Thanks for lightening up our studies.
Debbie, Katie, and Dylan Thompson

From: “Thomas C. Calvert”
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000

Dear Laurie,
When I read about your daughters accomplishments sewing ball gowns and Civil War era clothing I knew that I wanted to do that with my daughter. My 11 year old daughter LOVES to sew. So far she has sewn one simple dress, lots of pillows and doll quilts (she taught herself how to applique, she thought she had invented it) several rag dolls, and is constantly sewing little things for her dolls and also capes and other things to play dress up with her little brothers. She has always struggled with math and spelling, but she sure does love to sew. I have some basic sewing skills, but sewing a Civil War era ball gown seems a little bit out of my league. I was wondering if there are any resources you could recommend for teaching more advanced sewing techniques, and pattern making. I’m sure it will be a little while before we would be up to tackling it, but I would like to familiarize myself with it ahead of time. Also, did you research the types of clothing worn during that era and make up the patterns yourself, or did you find some old patterns somewhere? Also, I just wanted to say how much I love this discussion loop. I have come across so much helpful information on it that it is certainly worth taking the time to read it. I tried the book “Words” by M. K. Henry that was recommended for spelling several weeks ago, and I love it!
Gods Blessings
Our girls started out sewing in the same way you have described what your daughter is doing. They started out by sewing and crocheting things for their dolls and by making simple costumes for play. We became more serious with our sewing and other needlework when we joined 4-H and had to make projects to show at the fair. There is something about having a project due on a certain date to be displayed at the fair or library that motivates one to work hard to learn a skill and complete a project. For many years we participated in our local homeschool project fair, and that’s where we learned about costuming. And of course participating in the Civil War reenactments encouraged that study also.

Counted cross-stitch is a craft useful in teaching young children the basics of sewing. You can buy cross-stitch fabric with very large squares so that even children as young as six can learn. Buy the child her own pair of scissors, a box for organizing the different colors of floss (thread), an easy pattern book, some of the large square cross-stitch cloth (the cloth comes in different colors), and another box or bin to store her materials in.

Probably the best way to learn to sew is to find someone who can help you along, but if that isn’t possible then you will need to learn by doing. Start with learning to follow simple patterns and gradually work your way up to more difficult patterns.

Here is a catalog you will want to get: Amazon Drygoods and Pickling Works 800-798-7979. They carry authentic patterns from the past. Some of these patterns are easy to follow and some are very difficult. If you want to investigate Civil War reenacting I suggest getting my daughter’s new booklet “Become a Civil War Reenactor” (see out catalog for details).
Isocrates (436 BC-338) was born in Athens shortly before the Peloponnesian War. His family was wealthy but Isocrates lost his inherited wealth during the war, so he began to earn money by writing speeches for others to use in the courts (similar to Demosthenes). A few of these speeches survive. This was actually the usual start to a career as an orator. Unfortunately, Isocrates did not have the voice or self-confidence necessary for a public speaker, so he mainly wrote speeches to be published. He is also known for his school where he trained pupils in the art of rhetoric (essay writing and oratory, emphasizing writing). He attracted students from all over the Greek speaking world, many of whom went on to become important leaders of their day.

Isocrates led a politically active life to his death and sought to promote his political ideas of panhellenism (unifying all of Greece under one rule and attacking Asia) through his written and published speeches. Twenty-one of these speeches exist today and they all concern the politics of ancient Greece. Isocrates differed from Demosthenes in that Isocrates looked for some leader who would unify and lead Greece, and believed that Phillip of Macedon would best fit that role. In the view of Demosthenes, Philip was a barbarian; to Isocrates, Philip was the first of Hellenes and the natural champion of their cause.

We also have nine of Isocrates’ letters which address a wide variety of topics: education, rhetoric, beauty.

Isocrates lived at the same time as Socrates (according to Plato, Socrates prophesied a brilliant future for Isocrates) and Plato (their theories on rhetoric were somewhat different).

Some of his writings include:

Against the Sophists–he explains his opposition to the rhetoric taught by the rival to his school, Plato’s Academy, and to the oversimplified rhetorical techniques advanced by contemporary sophists.
Antidosis–he explains his beliefs in the ethical obligation of rhetors and the factors imperative for effective rhetoric.
Panegyricus–advocates the unification of Greek city-states against the impending Persian army On Peace–he advocates a policy of equality and alliance between Athens and the subject cities of the empire On the Areopagus–he mourns the moral degeneracy of the republic To Phillip–an appeal to the king of Macedon to assume that initiative in the war on Persia which Isocrates had ceased to expect from any Greek city

When you are studying Greek history with your children, include one or two of the speeches of Isocrates. You can simply read portions of these speeches to your grammar level students, and you can require your logic level students to read portions for themselves along with memorizing passages. The speeches can also be used for oral narration and copywork for grammar level students and oral interpretation for students of all levels. Rhetoric level students can read whole speeches and write summaries, outline the text or write short one page essays on some aspect of the text (such as “How does Isocrates differ from Demosthenes?”). These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate Isocrates in your study of ancient Greece.

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000

This is in respective reply to Gordon from the U.K. It doesn’t matter what century we live in. The Bible is our guide for our lives. It doesn’t change from century to century, even if our cultures do. Christians are to obey the Bible. The Bible tells us also to obey the authority over us. But clearly, if there is a government law that directly opposes God’s Word, then we must obey God and not man. The Bible, especially in Proverbs, clearly spells out how to train up our children. Sometimes this includes the “rod of discipline,” applied in love for the good of the child, never in anger. The lack of the rod results in disobedient and unruly children. Using the rod in anger results in rebellious children. Using the rod as God intended as a part of a child’s consistent training results in secure, loving, and obedient children. When a child intentionally does something he knows he should not do, it may be time for the rod. But first you calmly go over with him what he did wrong, show the applicable verses about that type of behavior, and explain that God instructs parents to discipline children for that type of behavior. After the spanking and after he is done crying, you let him know how much you love him, and with him on your lap, pray with or for him. Most people think of spanking as angrily whacking the child. God’s way is nothing like that. Now, when government laws do not oppose God’s laws, we are to obey our earthly authorities, and indeed, we should be model citizens.
In Christ, June
Pericles (490 – 429 BC) was an Athenian statesman who in 443 till his death assumed the leading position in the State. When you are studying Greek history and the role of Pericles there are several primary sources you will want to consult.

1. Thucydides records in his history of the Peloponnesian War four of the speeches of Pericles:

First Speech (In Favor of the Peloponnesian War)– Pericles advises the Athenians to go to war against Sparta

Summary of a Speech — delivered before the Assembly at the beginning of the first campaign of the Peloponnesian War

Funeral Speech (On Those Who Died in the War)– given at the funeral of those soldiers who were the first to die in the Peloponnesian War — a valuable statement about Athenian democracy in the fifth century — considered to be one of the finest classical speeches

Third Speech (In Defense of Himself)– delivered after the second invasion by the Spartans before an assembly in Athens called for the purpose, after violent criticism had been made of his influence in bringing on the Peloponnesian War

“The delivery of public orations was not an occasional, or strictly ceremonial, practice in Athens or in any phase of classical civilization. It was the chief means by which a leader could communicate with the people. In the democracy of Athens, where decisions were made after public debate in the Assembly, oratory was an essential skill of a political leader. Also, the law courts were so constituted that oratory played a large role there, and there were many public occasions at which an orator of ability was required. Rhetoric was a main subject of higher education, and there were famous schools and teachers devoted to it…

Practice and skill in the art of oratory were necessary to present ideas before a large meeting and to persuade the voters to choose your course of action over that of other men. The leading figures of Athenian public life had many opportunities to acquire that practice and to develop that skill. In fact, Thucydides [Thucydides recorded numerous speeches in his history] and many other Athenian writers give the impression that no man of prominence in the city lacked the ability to compose and deliver a spirited, and persuasive speech…

Most likely he [Thucydides] had first-hand knowledge of many important speeches and reliable reports of others. But it is not likely that he knew the authentic text of all the speeches that he reports. The problem is raised by Thucydides himself early in the History. [Quote from Thucydides’s History follows] “As for the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the [Peloponnesian] war broke out, others while it was in progress. I heard some of them myself, while I learned about others from various sources. In all cases it was difficult to remember them word for word, so my practice in writing has been to give the speakers the words that I thought would have been demanded of them by the circumstances, while keeping as closely as possible to the arguments they actually used.”…

No original political speeches from Athens of the time of Pericles survive except for very few fragmentary phrases…The versions of Thucydides are nevertheless a precious record of the living Pericles.” Thucydides: The Speeches of Pericles, translated with an Introduction, Notes, and Comments by H. G. Edinger, 1979.

2. Plutarch wrote two essays (in Plutarch’s Lives) on Pericles giving many interesting details on his life.

3. Aristotle in his “Politics” and “Constitution of Athens” gives the dates of Pericles’ enactments as derived from an official document and gives his opinion of Pericles.

4. Plato also gives his opinion of Pericles.

Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000
From: “Mark A. Dadian”

I downloaded your article on What to Do With Children Under 10 years. I have read some of it with my husband and we have discussed it as well. He sees the hurdle in front of us as – ourselves. Neither one of us has been trained to think logically and so how do we as parents train our children when we ourselves do not know. We talked about the “TV” issue and he admitted that there are some times when he is so mentally exhausted that all he wants to do is “Veg Out” in front of the TV. He is selective with what he watches but enjoys the documentaries which can go for hours. He admits that he is drawn toward “being entertained” and has been for most of his life. Do you have any advice for the parents on how to change? Thank you.
You and your husband are in the same boat as the rest of us. We were all raised on TV, movies, and other such entertainment; little reading, or if we did read we read fluff; no instruction in logic or anything even resembling it; and we were generally not taught to discipline ourselves to pursue learning. In school we studied for the test and then forgot it.

“He who is unaware, is unaware that he is unaware.” Mel Jenkins

Most of the people in this same boat are happy to be in the boat and are unaware that they can’t think, and furthermore, they don’t care. But, for some reason, the Lord has made you and your husband aware. That is the first step. And because you are now aware, you will start to pursue an education — a real education.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to shake the appetite for television. I’m wondering if it is even possible. I don’t think there is anything wrong with watching an occasional educational video or old movie, but it is hard not to go beyond the occasional when you’ve been trained otherwise. You will have to work out a rule by which to measure and discipline yourself.

We suggest that you spend at least two hours a day reading aloud to your children. The mother could read an hour during the day, and Father could read an hour at night. And besides the reading aloud, Mother and Father should try to spend time each day reading something to themselves, either individually or together. Try to read books which will stretch your mind. If possible, outline or take notes as you read to yourself or with your husband.

As for logic, there are plenty of self-teaching logic materials now available to homeschooling families. You will learn logic as you teach it to your children.
From: “Clara M. Miranda”
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000

Hello there all. If this question has already been addressed let me know and I’ll be glad to search it out on the previous loops. Is it true that most writings done during the time of Paul was done in Ancient Greek?? Is it true that for a person who would take on New Test. study would better benefit from Ancient Greek rather than Koina??? I’m game for homeschool Greek, I mentioned it to a friend who will be studying New Test but was convinced by others that she would be limited in understanding Paul’s times if she studied Koina. What is your opinion. ” Inquiring minds want to know “:)
Thank you!!!!
Clara in Miami
>. . . Is it true that most writings done during the time of Paul was done in Ancient Greek?

Koine [Pronounced: Koy-NAY) Greek means common Greek. Paul wrote in the common Greek of his day. It was the universal language. The Roman empire was not administered in Latin, but in Koine Greek. The Empire spoke Koine Greek. Commercial transactions were made in Koine Greek.

>Is it true that for a person who would take on New Test. study would
>better benefit from Ancient Greek rather than Koina?

Not at all. Ancient Greek is a little different in vocabulary and inflection. The two are enough alike that you if you understood one you could figure out most of the other. Some of the vocabulary might confuse you — sort of like King James “leasing” meant “falsehood” but we would think of rental agreements. There are books written which explain the differences.

>I mentioned it to a friend who will be studying New Test but was
>convinced by others that she would be limited in understanding Paul’s
>times if she studied Koina.

I cannot conceive of what she could have been talking about, unless she got it backwards. If you study Koine Greek, you’ll be able to read Paul. Ancient “Classical” Greek is a little more difficult, but Koine is a good preparation for classical, something like how our learning modern English is a good preparation for learning to read Elizabethan English like the KJV.
From: “Dennis”
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000

A few weeks ago the sewing was mentioned as an activity the Bluedorn girls enjoyed. I have 4 daughters, the oldest is almost 11. She really desires to learn to sew and unfortunately I am no seamstress. In fact my family has a running joke about mine and my Mom’s attempts to sew valances. I am enrolling my eldest in the 4-H sewing program this January and I’d like to purchase a good machine or serger for Christmas. I have an old, simple Brother machine that doesn’t run smoothly and it would be unfair to start my girls on it. But I don’t really know what a serger does or what I need on a machine. I have found reasonably priced ones at Wal-Mart. Will they meet the needs of beginners? Can any seamstresses out there advise me? I want to help my girls get a good start and perhaps try to learn again myself.
Tracy H
We bought a very nice used sewing machine at the local fabric/sewing center. I think a serger is something you use to finish seams, but I’m not sure. All I know is that my girls say they don’t need one. Perhaps someone on this list can give us more information. Laurie
Sewing Circle:

From: “Walt & Margaret Cranor”
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000

About the sewing… Invest in a good zig-zag machine and that will keep you busy for years. I bought a serger a year ago, and I love it, but it is basically for finishing seams. I do a lot of very involved horse show clothes sewing and have easily saved the cost of it by making my own, rather than buying ready made. But, my daughter is very tall and thin, and it would be very costly to have her things tailored. I bought a new Janome sewing machine this year, as I was getting by with a 1930’s Singer that didn’t zig zag. What a difference!
Margaret (CO)
From: “Clinton Blake”
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000

To answer your question about sergers: the most used aspect is the seam finishing, but they do a seam in less than half the time of the conventional sewing machine w/ no pinning necessary. They really can do a myriad of things, but they will never take the place of a conventional machine in all areas. I use both, but am not a master of either!! I have reasonably high quality machines–near the top of the lines. One is an embroidery machine. There is no reason to sink the kind of money into a machine w/ a lot of features that you will NEVER need, but if you may use them, look for a reasonably priced one. Many of the local trading papers carry used machines; sewing machine dealers carry trade-ins. For anyone looking for a sewing machine: ask yourself how hard it will be required to work ( get a better machine if you plan on using it a lot); ask yourself if there are home ec projects–you could save a bundle off store bought stuff; go around to many sewing stores and ASK, ASK, and ASK some more. Don’t be shy!!
Meff Blake
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000

I am a novice sewer, having just taken up this joyful hobby myself last year. I had an old machine given to me by a relative and after its 4th trip to the shop, I bought a new one. I found my Brother machine at WalMart and it cost right around $150. It had 27 stitches and even an automatic buttonholer(why I picked this particular model). It is a joy to use and I have been so happy with it. I have easily recouped my investment in the curtains and home decor sewing I have done this past year. I do not sew clothes as I have found that sewing for adults and teens, I can usually find the finished garment on sale for less than I would pay for fabric! However, I quilt and sew for the home and recently completed a ‘prairie’ dress for my 9yo who is studying the American West this year. I love my machine and figure it will last me 10 years or more(it is warrantied for 10 years on the motor). I also have a Brother Serger that I just recently received as a gift. It is a 4 thread serger and I cannot imagine living without it now. I can sew sweatsuits(the one article of clothing that I do sew regularly) in half the time with nice finished seams…I also like to make the kids boxer shorts for sleeping in and the serger is a life saver…I have even pieced large quilts with my serger….However, you can survive just fine without one and I would not purchase one until you become a ‘dedicated’ sewer for life. A serger saves time in the fact that you have a finished seam without pressing and folding and all that, but you can survive just fine without one…but don’t borrow a friends for you will go home desiring one forever<g> Renee in N. Calif
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000
From: Scott & Denise Bryce

A sewing machine usually uses one needle and can make a variety of stitches including the basic necessities of straight and zigzag. A sewing machine can stitch together 2 pieces of material, or make decorative stitching on a prominent spot. A serger usually has 2 needles and 3, 4 or 5 threads. It stitches a seam, cuts the edge, and binds the edge all at the same time. Take a look at the wrong side of any commercially made garment you’re wearing. The seams that look like they have thread wrapping the cut edges were made by a serger. A beginner learning to sew needs a sewing machine, not a serger. A serger is a luxury. Nowadays sergers are being used in amazing ways, many more than just finishing a seam quickly. Sergers are wonderful machines if you can afford one. My mother loves to sew and, even as an expert, has enjoyed sewing and serger classes in recent few years. If anyone is in Oregon or Washington and would love to learn extra-fancy techniques (like machine-stitching your own greeting card or making and beading a fancy purse), e-mail me regarding Machine Embroiderers of Oregon and Washington (MEOW). Your local fabric and sewing machine stores offer various different classes. They’re happy to have you attend, since that increases sales at their store. 🙂 I’d suggest you shop for a new, simple machine and let the salespeople talk your ears off about the features of each. All you really need is straight and zigzag stitches, reverse and reliability. Once you know what’s available in your price range, buy a good used one from a *reputable* dealer–one who will guarantee their used machines. My expert mother bought for me a used machine that has never worked quite right, even after visiting the repair shop. The timing is still off. It’s really discouraging to sew on a machine that may have a ‘seizure’ at any time. So I don’t sew much.
mom of 5 in Utah
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000
From: Katherine Craig

I have done a lot of sewing over the years so I will attempt to take on your questions. I don’t sew much since we’ve had children because it (sewing) makes me crabby and then I’m not much good in the mother or wife department. To begin sewing I would not recommend a serger. A good basic sewing machine is best to begin with. Sergers can be difficult to thread and the finished up seams are permanent. As a beginner or, alas, even as an experienced sewer you and your daughters will find the need to unpick a seam or two and start over pretty often which you can do easily with sewing machine seams but which is almost impossible with serged seams. The Brother you have is a good brand. There are shops that specialize in reconditioning sewing machines. It will probably cost about $25 to $50 to have them go over your machine and get it working smoothly. If they give you an estimate of over $100 (which I think is unlikely) you would probably do just as well to get a new one. Sears Kenmore is a good basic inexpensive brand. Their new sewing machines are no more now than they were when I bought mine over 20 years ago. There really aren’t any new improvements in sewing machines just more fancy stitches that you probably don’t need anyway, though the new thingys that do buttonholes automatically would be nice to have. One thing which I have really enjoyed in sewing is a rotary cutter. Cutting out patterns with a scissors was always tedious and rough around the edges. The rotary cutters make it much easier. You need a mat to go under them though. I think I’d recommend just using scissors for the first project or two and then if you decide you like sewing you might want to go for the rotary cutter and mat. Also the pins with the big heads are easier to see than the ones with the little metallic heads and a magnetic pin cushion is really nice. Just pull your pins out as you go and toss them onto the magnetic pin cushion. (I’ve gotten so used to my magnetic pin cushion though that when I was at a sewing session with a ladies club I was trying to toss my pins at a traditional stuffed pin cushion-this doesn’t work!) Happy sewing!
Kathy in MT
From: “Julie Uptain”
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000

The internet can be useful to compare prices and functions. My personal preference is a Bernina. That is only a PERSONAL preference. I grew up sewing on a Bernina; that is probably the reason. Their computerized machines sew like a dream and are easy to use. Classes should be included with your purchase. These computerized machines start at about $1,000. (I know. Ouch.) My advice would be to buy as much machine as possible and forget the serger until you are certain you will be sewing enough to warrant it. The mechanical machines are significantly less expensive, but much more frustrating, particularly to the beginning sewer. I hope this helps. Sewing is a passion of mine. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions.
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000

A serger is a machine that will sew your seam, overcast the edges, and trim the excess seam allowance all in one step. It is certainly nothing that’s needed for beginning seamstresses. In fact, I’ve sewn for years and then my husband bought me a 2nd hand serger. Frankly, I had to take a class at the vocational school to even know how to use it. It’s great for certain functions, but to learn to sew I would recommend a good brand simple machine without too many bells & whistles. If your children really take to it, you can always upgrade later. One really nice feature for clothing is an automatic button hole maker. Also there are books/kits put out to teach children to sew. One I found in the Timberdoodle catalog is called Sewing Machine Fun. It’s got “sew papers” that you can photo copy and have the child practice controlling the machine by sewing (with unthreaded needle) over progressively more challenging patterns of lines. So they learn to sew straight, curves, etc. The projects are really cute and useful too. These authors also have a couple patchwork books out along the same lines, simple quiltmaking. Hope this helps! I have all boys and they want to learn too! In fact, my older Bernina machine blew a circuit board, I got another used machine online for the same price that my local dealer wanted (but he wanted the old one in trade), so we kept the old one and the first project will be to rebuild the electronics…and then the sewing can begin!
Becki in CA
From: “Thomas C. Calvert”
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000

I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a very good seamstress, but I am acquainted with several who have been generous in helping me to learn. Several of my friends have sergers and they use them to sew finished seams like the ones you see in your store bought clothing. There is a blade which trims the fabric and there are four needles (and four spools of thread) which work at the same time. If you have seams that need to be stay-stitched in order to prevent the fabric from fraying a serger can save you some time and the seams look a little neater. Also if you are planning to sew a lot of T-shirts and other clothing made from knit material a serger is nice to have. But if you have a serger you also have to have a sewing machine because there are just some things that a serger cannot do. A simple sewing machine is the easiest to learn on, but look around for one that is made well, preferably with metal working parts. Viking has a good reputation, and Husquevarna are good if you can afford them. I have an older serger that I bought really cheap at a garage sale, but it is difficult to get the tension adjusted just right, and so I spend most of my time wrestling with the machine (therefore I don’t use it much). I have heard that the newer sergers are easier to adjust and use. Also sergers do have cutting blades which makes them more dangerous. Personally I would go and visit a couple of good sewing machine dealers, ask a lot of questions and try their machines. I would look for a well-made sewing machine that is simple to use. I have a Singer that works fine, but I’m not sure how the different brands and models stack up as far as quality goes. Maybe someone else can recommend something? I hope this is helpful to you.
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000
From: Richard Dingman

I have read Harvey’s pamphlet on Family Worship — it has been most convincing, and demanding of several re-readings. I had expected a few tips and was not disappointed, but was amazed by the depth of thought-cutting in its application of our Lord’s word. I have no time for a proper letter now, but since that pamphlet has been the chief provocation to study of the Bible in its original tongues, and to study it whole-heartedly, I’ll report its effect now. A belated Happy Reformation Day and Sincere Best Wishes to you all, Richard Dingman
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000
From: Katherine Craig
Subject: Locke’s Latin method

I have lately enjoyed reading John Locke’s “Some Thoughts Concerning Education” (published in 1692) in which he describes his ideas on home educating young men (“gentlemen” as he calls them, which apparently was a young man from an English family of property but not title since he distinguishes them from “nobility” and “princes.” The great majority of the book was on training in virtue and character formation but the academic portions are very interesting too. Here is a method of learning Latin which he recommends (though he discusses other methods as well). “And indeed whatever stir there is made about getting of Latin as the great and difficult business, his mother may teach it him herself, if she will but spend two or three hours in a day with him, and make him read the Evangelists in Latin to her: for she need but buy a Latin Testament, and having got some body to mark the last syllable but one where it is long in words above two syllables (which is enough to regulate her pronunciation and accenting the words) read daily in the Gospels, and then let her avoid understanding them in Latin if she can. And when she understands the Evangelists in Latin, let her, in the same manner, read Aesop’s Fables, and so proceed on to Eutropius, Justin and other such books. I do not mention this, as an imagination of what I fancy may do, but as of a thing I have known done, and the Latin tongue with ease got this way.” I found most of his other ideas sensible and do-able and it is easy to see why he had such an immense influence on 18th century parents. He makes a good case for home education as opposed to institutional education as well.
Kathy in Mt
You’ll never believe what happened at our house last week. I can hardly believe it myself, and sometimes wonder if it was all a fantastic dream. It was Saturday morning, and Harvey and I had been invited to lunch at the Kline’s house — just the two of us, and not the children. They wanted to discuss with us the monthly Bible study our families have together, where we are studying the Philadelphia Confession. We left home at about 10:30, had a pleasant lunch and discussion with Larry and Marge, then started for home at about 1 PM. I did think it rather strange that the Kline kids, Jennie, Mandi, and Mike, were not at home, but I didn’t give it another thought.

We live on a very long and narrow gravel lane, and as we approached our house, I noticed that the landscape didn’t seem right. “Drive faster,” I urged Harvey. We soon saw that our property was surrounded by large vans. There was even one parked in the back yard. How strange! How bizarre! It must be the police, or possibly the ATF, finally, after all these years, about to arrest us for homeschooling, and they brought the vans to load us all up and take us away, and they were only waiting for Harvey and I to arrive home. “Drive faster, Harvey.”

Now, Harvey was thinking something entirely different. He thought it was hunters who needed to park their cars somewhere. “No way,” I insist. It had to be something serious and very, very dangerous. We drive into the driveway, and I’m out of the car before he stops. And who should run out of the house at we pull up, bur Ava — dressed in her best dress. How strange! How bizarre! Why does she want to wear her best dress for the police. “Come in quickly,” she says. “Are there people in the house,” I ask? “Did you clean the bathroom?” Why I would be worried about the bathroom at a time like this, I’ll never know. I guess it must be one of those automatic thoughts. “You’ll see,” she smiles. Open the back door. Pass through the back porch. What are those little bitty shoes doing here? There must be kids here. How strange! Why would government agents be bringing their kids with them? Into the kitchen.

Surprise! Surprise!

People filled the entire house. Dozens of people. And there is a TV camera, too. “What’s going on here,” I ask, rather loudly and animatedly. These people look familiar. Who’s that behind the camera. Why, it’s Mark Procarione. What’s he doing here? Where am I?

What was happening to me is called cognitive dissonance. What you think should be happening, is not what is actually happening, and the mind responds to this dilemma by going into a temporary shock. And of course everyone is laughing. They have totally and royally surprised me by this one-month-before-our-anniversary party. There are lovely cakes and candies, purple and green decorations, presents, and most of all, all these people, 75 in all by the day’s end. And here come the Klines driving in right after us.

So, let the party begin. Visiting with old friends we haven’t seen in a long time; Johannah, Ava, and Helena singing our favorite songs; Hans and Nate and Mike and Larry Kline playing their guitars with everyone singing; the Kline girls singing for us. They even made Harvey and me sing the Crawdad Song, although I protested that it was my party and I didn’t have to sing if I didn’t want to.

I feel thoroughly awed that our dear friends the Klines and our children would honor us in such a way on our anniversary. I think I would have cried more if it weren’t for the shock. It was a truly marvelous day — one I will remember all of my life.

I just have to tell you about the book I am currently reading to the kids. I’m not finished with it yet, but it will certainly go on my top 10 fiction list. It’s called “The Colonials: Being a narrative of events chiefly connected with the siege and evacuation of the town of Boston in New England” by Allen French, first published in 1901. You’ll have a hard time locating this book, though. We obtained it through interlibrary loan from the Musser Library here in Muscatine, Iowa, and they got it from the basement of the University of Iowa Library. It has a Dewey Decimal  number on it instead of a Library of Congress number, so it was hidden away in their basement.

If kids today could read books like this one instead of dry textbooks, then the study of history would become the nation’s favorite pastime. “The Colonials” is very detailed and accurate as to the history of the early days of the War for Independence plus it has all the elements needed for an exciting story: evil uncle, Indians, fair maiden, villain soldier, handsome and rugged hero, hidden treasure, swordplay and duels, and much, much more. But the best part is the way it is written. Other books may have the same plot and characters, but it is the way the sentences and paragraphs are put together that make this a most excellent story. Allen French didn’t need to read a text on rhetoric. He could write his own.

Also, it looks like we’ll be spending the winter with Horatio Hornblower. Harvey just finished the third book in that long series, and since we are now so very thoroughly addicted, we will just have to see him through to the end.
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Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: Katherine Craig
Subject: On sitting by children

Picking up the sitting alongside discussion, my kids (8 and 9) like to have me sit beside them when they do table work like math or writing. In Karen Andreola’s book she reprints an article from a homeschool teacher of the past. The mom in the article sat by her kids and crocheted while they did math after the initial explanations, feeling that gave them the assurance she was there but she wasn’t always jumping in to explain as we sometimes have a tendency to do. I started doing “math crochet” after reading that and it works nicely for all of us. Not that we shouldn’t explain, but we don’t need to overexplain. Kathy in mt
[Having discussed Kingship and Despotism, Aristocracy and Oligarchy, Polybius discusses Democracy and Mob Rule.]

Polybius, Histories, Book VI, 9

. . . But as soon as a new generation has arisen, and the democracy has descended to their children’s children, long association weakens their value for equality and freedom, and some seek to become more powerful than the ordinary citizens; and the most liable to this temptation are the rich. So when they begin to be fond of office and find themselves unable to obtain it by their own unassisted efforts and their own merits, they ruin their estates, while enticing and corrupting the common people in every possible way. By this means, when in their senseless mania for reputation they have made the populace ready and greedy to receive bribes, the virtue of democracy is destroyed, and it is transformed into a government of violence and the strong hand. For the mob, habituated to feed at the expense of others and to have its hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors, as soon as it has got a leader sufficiently ambitious and daring, being excluded by poverty from the sweets of civil honors, produces a reign of mere violence. Then come tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishments, and redivisions of land until, after losing all trace of civilization, it has once more found a master and a despot.

This is the regular cycle of constitutional revolutions, and the natural order in which constitutions change, are transformed, and return again to their original stage. If a man have a clear grasp of these principles, he may perhaps make a mistake as to the dates at which this or that will happen to a particular constitution; but he will rarely be entirely mistaken as to the stage of growth or decay at which it has arrived, or as to the point at which it will undergo some revolutionary change.
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000

Dear Laurie and Harvey,
Your website is going to be an answer to prayer for my eight year old, Zachary. He is the second of five children, soon to be six, and so tired of Saxon Math, and lots of other busy work and other sorts of torture his Mom, yours truly, has been putting him through the last couple of years. He believes that I don’t quite know how to teach him. He’s right!! He is a scientific kid, full of questions of which the latest was, “Does fire have weight?” Then he follows up his own question usually like, “It consumes oxygen, and oxygen has weight, so……” The next thing that happens as usual is that Mom or Dad never know these answers, but he goes on to do his own research, and then teaches us later!! Because of what I have perceived to be high aptitude, I have tried to force much ‘education’ on him, but it is so difficult for all involved. He can’t concentrate. This was a real enigma to me, because he can be so deep at times, but he can barely do 6 math problems in an hour! His mind is in so many other places. If I sit with him and talk him through each one, he’s right there. He skipped the concrete stage at ages 5 and 6, and was actually insulted when I made him use manipulatives like cuisenaire rods or M&M’s or pretzels, etc. to “see” the math. He seems to have been abstract from birth. He saw it just fine without my help!! Please sign me up for the Trivium email loop. Zachary and I could use some help. I see a reformation coming for all of the children actually, as there’s a six year old at the school table too! Noah is totally opposite Zach’s scientific approach to life and just wants to play football or climb up on the roof! I’m ashamed to admit that I have been carrying around a copy of Ten Things To Do Before Ten since it came out in Practical Homeschooling. It is dog-eared and has been read many, many times. Thank you for being there on the web, and having the entire article – 29 pages really excited me!! Too bad I didn’t seek you out sooner, but Praise the Lord for your efforts. They are not in vain. I was also so glad to see your beautiful family portraits. It is very comforting to receive advice from those whose children are on the other side, as my oldest is eleven. May the Lord bless you and keep you as you walk in His ways and honor His word. Peace to you as you remember our Saviour’s birth, Sincerely, Anna Fogg
From: “Johan Schoonraad”
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000

>From South Africa:
Thoughts on what I’ve learned and experienced in only 3 months. I came across your website in September and can’t believe that it is only a few weeks that I’ve been using your suggested course of study and ideas. I shared with another homeschooler (a total stranger) today what I’ve learned from your experiences – I realized how much it means to me and decided just to let you know. I shared with her the “freedom” I experience in “teaching” our children. The rigid school day, 30 minute increments, break at a certain time, push in your chairs, don’t talk, sit still (it sounds like something out of a horror movie – I don’t think it was that bad, but writing it down, well…) made place for READING TIME!!!!. (it is our favorite time of the day). I use to read to our kids in the evening when they wanted to hear a story and when I didn’t want to hear or do anything. Implementing it freed me from a lot of ‘chains’. We still do all the other things, but in the way you suggest it and it WORKS (now just to find the proper books that will work). Thank you for your definition on “Classical Education.” It is good to know where people stand.
Regards, Sonja
>>>now just to find the proper books that will work<<<

Don’t be too worried about finding the perfect curriculum. Christian classical education isn’t dependent or driven by curriculum. Probably what you have at hand or is easily accessible will do just fine for you. I talk to many women who try to find the perfect Latin (or history, or logic, or grammar) program, switching from one to another, and at the same time they tell me they try to limit their child’s time with computer games and TV and videos to 2 hours per day — and then they wonder why their children aren’t excited about learning. The curriculum is not as important as the development of the mind.  Christian classical education is more than Latin and logic. It’s a way of life. It’s about developing proper appetites. It’s developing the imagination and creativity, it’s having time to play and explore in the old fashioned way, it’s encouraging a love for learning, it’s building a firm foundation in the child’s mind with memorization and narration. And it’s about learning to obey and serve our heavenly Father, and also our earthly father. Laurie
A review of the book The Colonials: Being a narrative of events chiefly connected with the Siege and Evacuation of the town of Boston in New England, written by Allen French, published in 1902.

The year: 1772. The setting: by the shores of Lake Huron in Michigan. The characters: a young woodsman named Francis Ellery with his companion Benjy; a young English lieutenant; a young Indian captive, Alice Tudor; and an Indian named Anneb.

Frank wants to go to his home in Boston to get his inheritance from his dishonest uncle and see his younger brother, but he meets Alice, and she pleads with him to take her away from her captor Anneb and back home to her family in England. Frank bargains with Anneb for Alice. Anneb is a kind Indian and agrees to let Alice go as long as the English lieutenant will take her back along with Frank. The lieutenant is all too happy to have the girl to take care of — too happy. He has villainous plans, but Frank and Benjy guess his plans and there is a fight in the lieutenant’s cabin. The lieutenant is wounded in the forehead, and Benjy is wounded. At this moment the Indian Anneb shows himself in the door. He has guessed that those he had given Alice in the care of would fight over her, so he takes Alice and disappears with her into the night. Frank escapes with the wounded Benjy before he can be caught by the lieutenant’s soldiers, but it is too late for Benjy, for the wound he received was a mortal wound. Before he dies, Benjy tells Frank that if he goes after the girl there will be nothing but trouble. But Frank remembers how Alice had pleaded with him and cannot bear the thought of her living her life with the Indians. He follows her and her captor into the wilderness. When he finally catches up with Anneb, his family, and Alice, he finds them nearly starving. Anneb (the only one fit to hunt for food) had broken his leg and the rest could not find food to eat in the cold winter. Frank stays with the Indians and Alice through the winter to hunt for them. Then an evil Indian (who was formerly known to Aneeb) wants Alice for a wife, and comes to their cabin. Of course Frank and Anneb will not give Alice up to him. The Indian returns a few days later with several other Indians, and the fight is on. All of the Indians are killed and Frank and Alice barely escape before their cabin is burned. Then begins the long track to the nearest friendly fort. Frank has no more bullets for his gun, and both Alice and he are nearly s  the last piece of food, and Frank eats it so he will have the strength to pull Alice on the sled to the fort. He has the strength to pull her there, then collapses. Several days pass and Frank is still alive, although he looks as if he is dead. The men at the fort have contacted Alice’s brother and decide to tell Alice that Frank is dead so that they can reunite her to her brother before he leaves for England. Truly believing that Frank is dead, Alice leaves. The men at the fort start to dig a grave, for they believe that they will need it soon. But will they?

The next part of the book begins several months later, in Boston. The city is full of British soldiers, and the war is pending. A stranger arrives in Boston and takes over as manager in the Ellery rope works. Everyone seems to like this stranger. He is so honest and upright.

Here this review must stop, or else I will give away the exciting story that then unfolds in Boston.

This book is one of the best books that I have read (or actually, heard, for Mom read it out loud to us). It is well written, the language is not too simplistic, it gives a good account of the history that was going on at that time, and, last but not least, it is a very captivating and exciting story that will not let you go until the end. I would recommend it for ages ten and up.

Ava Bluedorn
excerpts from “Methods of Instruction” (State Normal School), 1865:

pages 71-75
…I take it that education means something more than merely conning the facts and repeating the reasonings of text-books. If properly instructed, pupils will desire to look beyond what they have been taught, or what they have simply learned. They will feel that work has been left for them to do, and they will desire to do it. The highest aim of teaching is not to store the mind with the accumulated knowledge of ages, but to arm it with energy and skill; not to enable pupils merely to solve problems in Mathematics, construe sentences in Grammar, or answer questions in Philosophy, but to inspire them with a love of study, to awaken in their minds an animating, life-giving power, that does not rest satisfied with present attainments but is ever striving to open up new truths, to express new beauty, or to contrive new ways of lessening labor or effecting good.

Few, if any, great thinkers were ever made by books….We rely too much upon books. We suffer the mind’s productive powers to lie too nearly dormant. We follow too closely in the paths beaten by others to gain the advantage of that vigorous self-thinking, which is necessary to wrench new truth from nature. Those methods of teaching should be adopted which would throw pupils most upon their own resources, which would call out all the originality that they may possess, which would lead them to repeat the experiments and verify the conclusions of others, and urge them on to add their mite to the sum of human knowledge and human ingenuity.

…Pupils should not be made mere passive recipients of knowledge. Many teachers tell too much. They communicate facts, answer questions, solve problems, and their pupils receive their instruction in blank wonder or stupid indifference. With such teaching knowledge is merely received like grain into a granary of freight into the hold of a ship. Such teachers are like apothecaries or grocers, and simply deal out their stock in trade to their waiting customers. At the best they can only store the memory with facts which must lie there, cumbrous, undigested, and useless.

The search for knowledge should not be characterized by a blind activity on the part of the pupil. We have just seen that a teacher may aid his pupils too much, it is just as true that he may aid them too little. A due regard to the economy of the mental forces will not admit of their useless expenditure. Pupils without direction as to what or how to study may waste their time in fruitless efforts. A traveller in a strange city without a guide may easily lose his strength in ill-directed efforts to find his way, so a timely hint from a teacher may relieve a pupil from a difficulty that is wearing away his time and wearying his patience without conducing to any useful end. The teacher can guide his pupil without carrying him along, he can direct his work without performing it, he can pilot his bark without doing all the rowing.

Progress in study should not be merely mechanical. It is easily possible for pupils to go over studies without learning them. Their progress is measured too often by the quantity of the work looked at, rather than the quality of the work done. Some teachers are at great pains to relieve their pupils from the trouble of thinking. They are constantly watchful to remove every difficulty from their pathway, and, by leading questions, make them seem to know that of which in reality they are ignorant. If learning could be obtained in this way, the road to it would be a “royal” one — a kind of rail-road, ready-graded and well provided with cars and motive power, to transport swiftly along those who are in search of knowledge, and who meanwhile can sit or sleep.

In opposition to those methods of teaching which make the condition of the learner one of passive reception, one of blind activity, or one of mechanical progression, we say that methods of teaching should be suggestive — should prompt pupils to earnest self-exertion. Facts should be communicated in such a manner as to suggest other facts; one effort in reasoning, stimulate to other efforts; one trial of strength, induce other trials; one difficulty overcome, excite an ambition to triumph over other difficulties. The teacher should create interest in study, incite curiosity, promote inquiry, prompt investigation, inspire self-confidence, give hints, make suggestions, tempt pupils on to try their strength and test their skill.

…Nature teaches according to the suggestive method. She excites curiosity, courts investigation, asks to have her riddles read; sometimes, silently persuading the willing to examine her treasures, and sometimes compelling the indolent to study her laws by making obedience to them essential to their well-being.

One of my best lessons in teaching was taught me by a robin. It was in my garden, and the mother robin was teaching her young brood to fly. A little robin sat upon the nest and seemed afraid to move. The mother bird came and stood by its side, stroked it with her bill, and then hopped to a neighboring twig and stood awhile as if to induce the little bird to follow. Again and again she repeated her caresses, and then hopped nimbly to the same twig. At length the little bird gained courage, and to the great joy of its mother, shook its weak wings, started and stood by her side. Another more distant twig was now selected, and further effort brought the little bird to it also. And so the process was repeated many times, until the timid fledgling now grown quite bold could sail away with its mother over woodlands, fields, and meadows.


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