Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2003-Part 2

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From: Clay Lin
Subject: Homeschool Greek

Dear Mr. Bluedorn,

I have just received Homeschool Greek and I am delighted to find out it is as good, if not much better, as advertised. Thank you very much for publishing such a great material for studying biblical Greek, I believe it is very useful even for a non-native English speaker like me. May the Lord richly bless you in your faithful service.

Sincerely yours,
Clay Lin
From: Don Potter
Subject: Alpha-Phonics
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003


On the Education page of my web site, I recently posted my detailed daily lesson plans for teaching Sam Blumenfeld’s Alpha-Phonics in a single school year. It is very detailed and clearly demonstrates that Alpha-Phonics can be taught to a large class of bilingual (or English speaking) students in a single school year. This goes far beyond absolutely anything attempted in the typical public (government) school classroom. The scope and sequence of the reading program used at my school attempts no such honorable feat of orthographic completeness and excellence. On my Religion page, I have a link to the Audio Bible, where people can go to listen to the KJV Bible. On my Spanish page, I have a link to a Spanish Bible, La Biblia de las Americas, for people to listen to and read. As you know, the secret of language learning is listening.

I should also like to highly recommend a powerful and motivational computer program for teaching beginning reading called Read, Write and Type. This wonderful program teaches children as young as five years old to type and read. I have been using it to help older elementary students who show signs of whole-word dyslexia. (My granddaughter in Jr. High taught herself to touch type with it!) The results with kids with whole-word dyslexia have been very encouraging. I use Ed Miller’s Miller Word Identification Assessment (MWIA) to measure their whole-word dyslexia and to determine the impact of remediation. Geraldine Rodgers mentions Miller’s Assessment in her book The Hidden Story, in which she reveals the devastating impact of early American psychologist on American education through their introduction of the whole-word method. There are links to Read, Write and Type and The Hidden Story on my Education page.

Anyone interested in the Trivium and Classical Education will like the Textkit web site where there are a growing number of public domain Greek and Latin works becoming available. Recently they published John William White’s First Greek Book, perhaps the finest beginning grammar of Classical Greek ever published. I am presently photocopying Huddliston’s Essentials of NT Greek which I am sending to Textkit for scanning and publication on the web. Machen started editing Huddilston in 1909, eventually publishing the edited work as his own Beginner’s Greek Grammar. Huddilston has a number of valuable features that for some unfortunate reason are missing from Machen’s book. I also plan to make available on the web Charles F. Bradley’s Greek New Testament Word Lists which were used by Huddilston in the production of his Elements of NT Greek. This is a list of words (1051 words) from the NT which are organized according to frequency and grammatical category, published in 1889 by the Garrett Biblical Institute. I plan to produce and market audio CDs for all of these books in the future. There is a link to the Textkit web site on my Greek page.

All things to the glory of God,
Donald Potter
Odessa, TX
Date: Sat, 17 May 2003
From: Laura Heyl

city: Deerfield
state: IL
message: Resources for learning Biblical Hebrew

The First Hebrew Primer, Third Edition: The Adult Beginner’s Path to Biblical Hebrew, Simon, Resnikof & Motzkin, 1992, EKS Publishing, CA – a fun way to learn Biblical Hebrew; includes familiar tales such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and others in Hebrew; guided reading in the book of Ruth.

The First Hebrew Reader: Guided Selections from the Hebrew Bible, Jessica Goldstein, 2000, EKS Publishing, CA Biblical Hebrew: A Text and Workbook, Kittel, Hoffer & Wright, 1989, Yale University Press, New Haven and London more scholarly; very well done. Highly recommended.

Readings in Biblical Hebrew, ben Zvi, Hancock & Beinert, 1993, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
From: Hazel Burke
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003

Hi there, folks!

This is in response to Samantha who is at a loss as to where to begin to create a disciplined, organized household. I agree that prayer is the perfect place to start. Without that, everything else is for naught. Once that is underway, I recommend looking at for some really helpful tips. Someone on this loop recommended her site about a year ago or so, and it has changed the way my household has run. Her basic premise is doing things in baby steps so as not to get overwhelmed or discouraged. And I truly believe, after years of being frazzled and disorganized (with housework, school, etc.), that I have more freedom of movement and more free time to “improvise” now that I have a schedule I keep. Scheduling does not have to be a noose around your neck, and being organized does not have to become an endless task of drudgery. I used to believe the myth that you can’t have both an organized, clean house and a homeschool at the same time. God made you creative, and that same creativity will help you to make this a fun journey, both for yourself and for your daughter. I hope this helps!

Sincerely, Lynda Dietz
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003
From: David & Rita Holets

> I’m looking for a recommendation for a child’s first dictionary.

Our family has a copy of Webster’s New World Children’s Dictionary (mine was published in 1991). It is great for younger children because it has large print and the tabs on the alphabet are color coded into three sections. It also has lots of pictures, drawings and charts (like verb tenses, synonyms, word and letter histories). In the back is a small atlas, information on presidents, states, etc. We use it from beginning readers up to age 10 or so, and it seems to serve the purpose for most words that children of that age would use.

Hope this helps,
Rita Holets
From: LivNLrn3R
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003
Subject: Re: I am ready to start being a bit more structured about schooling.

Hi Samantha,

I just wanted to send you some ideas regarding your question on getting a little more organized with your daughter’s learning materials. I have 3 sons 9, 11, 13, who have always been homeschooled. I, too, start out with a list of what I want us to be learning about. Then I look at the structure of our days and our week. For us, it’s best to do “skill” areas in the morning. We start with Bible time (reading scripture, devotional discussions/prayer, and memory work), then go to math and language arts for the rest of the morning. We do use a textbook for grammar, but have done different things for spelling, handwriting, and composition that just depends on the children. No need wasting time on something that isn’t necessary. For instance, if your daughter can narrate back either verbally or write down something of what she’s read, and the spelling is ok, and the grammar is fine, the handwriting is decent, then at her age you probably don’t need formal materials for those things. When/if you see particular problems, address them individually. We use afternoons for “content” areas such as history, science, logic, Latin, read alouds. My older son has his higher level work during this time. With younger kids, I would say more read-alouds, and get outside as much as possible. Do informal observations, keep nature journals, measure things, start collections, plant a garden, etc. It is helpful if you also look at your year as a whole (what months will you be schooling, when is vacation, when do you want to take time off for holidays, etc), at least I think so. It gives me a bigger picture for our year. For instance, if I’m trying to cover a particular time of history then I need to pace it out with library books, projects, any writing/notebook work, field trips, etc. One thing we’ve found to be especially helpful is to leave Friday afternoons, or even all Friday (with younger children), open from structured work. This is where you can spend a whole day doing art, music, poetry, field trips, outside work, service projects, etc. Even errands, cooking ahead, etc so your weekends are free for family time.

I hope this helps! It’s what we’ve come to over the years of trial and error 🙂

Becki in CA
From: Scott Miller
Subject: Spalding method
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2003

>What is the difference between The Spalding Method and two phonics programs based on Spalding: Riggs and Dettmer?

The Spalding method was developed by Romalda Spalding and is found documented in the text: The Writing Road to Reading. It isn’t written in a user friendly manner, and so Riggs, Dettmer and others have written “helps” for those who want to use the method. The “help” I highly recommend is the one written by Wanda Sanseri – who studied under Mrs. Spalding. She has just revised hers and it is now called “Spell to Write and Read”. I have taught 5 of my children with this method – and though some are natural spellers and some are not, they all spell above their grade level and are excellent, fluent readers. The method gives them the tools to recall the rules that apply to difficult words. For more information on this excellent program, go to

Karen Miller
Hudsonville, MI
From: Fplf72
Date: Thu, 1 May 2003
Subject: question about SRA DISTAR reading program

I am using the SRA DISTAR lesson book called Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. I like it well enough and my boys appear to be learning from it as well. I was wondering if anyone else uses this or has heard of it. Is this an intensive enough phonics? I guess that’s my concern that this is not in depth enough. Though it seems fine to me…I’m unfamiliar with other phonics programs. This is just what my mother uses at her school and gave me to start out with. In short I and my children are familiar with it! Thanks for any help or advice!

P.S. Is it possible to connect with any Trivium families in the central Indiana area?
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is an intensive phonics curriculum.
New books on tape from Blackstone Audiobooks (
Men of Iron — Pyle
The Bronze Bow — Speare
Jo’s Boys — Alcott
Sufferings in Africa — Captain James Riley
The Captivity of the Oatman Girls — Lorenzo Oatman
The Shining Company — Sutcliff
The Elusive Pimpernel — Orczy
The Poison Belt — Doyl
The Histories — Herodotus
Barnaby Rudge — Dickens
Journey to the Center of the Earth — Verne
Justin Morgan Had a Horse — Henry
Ivanhoe — Scott
Johnny Tremain — Forbes
Basket of Flowers — J. H. St. A.
A Garland for Girls — Alcott
From: “Debbie Gottlieb”
Subject: Reply to Naomi re: Distar/Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Date: Sun, 4 May 2003

Hi Naomi,

I used Distar as a special ed. teacher in the public schools (eons ago!) and then used Teach Your Child to Read with all five of my children (now ages 22-12). It is a highly effective phonics program. My better readers/spellers used only this material and then went into “real” books. I had two that needed more support/skill work and for them I used Intensive Phonics…rather labor intensive, but an excellent program. If your children succeed in achieving independent reading skills from TYCTR, I’d leave it at that.

From: Sheri Payne
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003
Subject: question about SRA DISTAR reading program

>I am using the SRA DISTAR lesson book called Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. I was wondering if anyone else uses this or has heard of it. Is this an intensive enough phonics?

I have used this program for my oldest two. The second is just about finished (he is just 6). I have seen this program work well for two very different children. My oldest had some struggles with reading, but the short duration of each lesson helped her. She just turned 8, is reading at a 5th grade level, and enjoys reading. My 6 year old basically taught himself how to read, however I used the lessons as a way to reinforce phonics over sight reading. He is already at a 3rd grade reading level and progressing quickly.

Although this text doesn’t outline phonics rules, it does teach most of them. I am now introducing my 8 year old to the formal rules through the Bluedorn’s book, Handy English Encoder and Decoder. She is writing them into her English notebook.

homeschool mom of 3 in Hawai’i
Date: Tue, 06 May 2003
From: Joan O. Ham

> >I am starting the Ancients again with my daughter (age 7) in August and while I am highly inspired to read the Henty classics, I am looking for (if possible), heroine-centered historical fiction to read to her.

We have been studying the ancients, beginning with the Old Testament, since September. My two daughters are 5 and 7. Most of the books we’ve read were not heroine based. However, because we have read widely to them, our girls have learned that a good story is compelling whether or not it is a “girl” story. Here are some of the read-alouds we all enjoyed:
1. “Hittite Warrior” by, Joanna Williamson: Even though the main character is Uriah (a young man), the setting is they story of Deborah leading the Hebrews to fight the Canaanites. Our girls begged Daddy to read more than one chapter many an evening.
2. “Children’s Homer” by, Padraic Collum: Penelope is a great role model in that she waits for her husband to return and is faithful to him despite the presence of many suitors in her home. It is an excellent example of marital fidelity. My girls really enjoyed this classic story, to the point that my 7-year-old named a stuffed animal after Helen.
3. Aesop’s fables are excellent. We have had the girls dramatize some, also retell them (narration), draw pictures, etc. My girls never seem to tire of Aesop.
4. “Senefer” by, Beatrice Lumpkin (the story of Egypt’s great mathematician) was a big hit, especially with my older daughter who loves math.
5. Clyde Robert Bulla has a retelling of Joseph, which is another story my girls never seem to tire of, even though there are no female characters.
6. They also enjoyed the Gilgamesh trilogy by, Ludmilla Zeman. We spent a few weeks comparing that ancient Near East myth to the Bible. This was a great way to introduce the girls to the lessons from Romans 1 (about people distorting the truth of God).

We haven’t yet read, but will soon:
1. “Royal Diaries of Cleopatra VII” by, Kristiana Gregory
2. “Children of the Fox” by, Jill Patton Walsh
3. “Eagle of the Ninth” by, Rosemary Sutcliff

Finally, “Alexander the Great” by, Andrew Langley was read by the 5-year-old in one sitting. She talked about Alexander for weeks afterwards.

I hope these recommendations help.
Michael and Joannie Ham
Knoxville, TN
Date: Wed, 07 May 2003
Subject: Re: question about SRA DISTAR reading program
From: Barry White

Dear friends,

With regard to the recent question about SRA DISTAR reading program on this loop, I have used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with two of my children. One, my son, just wasn’t ready and became extremely frustrated, so I stopped and later moved on to something else to avoid a negative association. (I should have stopped LONG before he became that stressed, and would have if I had known what I know now.) I tried DISTAR again with my next child, a daughter. The timing was right, and she took off with it. We both loved the “stories” and the sense of anticipation. The good news is that both of these children are now fluent readers that truly enjoy reading, both to themselves and to younger siblings out loud.

The next child, also a girl, I started with Teach Your Child… this year, but stopped midstream to switch to TATRAS. Ruthie was doing well and enjoying the lessons, but I began to notice that the other two children, now nine and eleven, while excellent readers, are atrocious spellers. I would say that the SRA DISTAR program is great in producing decoders, and that it falls short in giving the information needed to become at least a reasonable speller. TATRAS, on the other hand, in teaching all the sounds of a phonogram at the same time, seems to have natural tools for spelling built in. I am planning to use TATRAS next year to remediate the spelling of the two older children.

As an aside, my oldest child started with a program with a list of rules, spelling and otherwise, as long as my arm. It was thorough, if nothing else! As a beginning homeschooler I was hesitant to act on what I was thinking, “Surely a five-year old doesn’t need to slog through all this!” I finally did drop it though, and just continued having her read, with me pointing out “funny words” and helpful rules as appropriate. Once we started dictation, she was off and running in both reading and spelling. Once she’s seen a word, she knows if it “looks right” when she writes it. A gift indeed. I think she would have done well no matter what program I used.

Older and hopefully wiser now, I was looking for something that included not only intensive phonics, but broadly applicable phonics. I think TATRAS is it. We’re still in the Penny Primer, but I’ve been pleased with the program.

Hope this explanation helps you with the information you were looking for. You will probably have fun and end up with a good reader with DISTAR, but may have to teach spelling later if your child is not a natural speller like my oldest daughter. If you’re interested in TATRAS, at least it is very reasonably priced. Once your child is on his way with a reasonable number of phonograms with TATRAS, you could use the stories in the DISTAR program for some fun practice. I would keep those illustrations covered as the program directs so as not to lose the benefit of decoding and trying to comprehend what has been read in anticipation of seeing the picture. A great idea – and it’s fun!

Katherine in Cambodia
Date: Wed, 07 May 2003
From: Martin and Kimberly Eddy
Subject: Help with Teaching Reading to an 8yo boy

I am hoping someone can give me some advice or helpful suggestions on reading with my 8 year old son. My oldest child, a girl, is 10 and an excellent reader. My 6 year old daughter also is a very good reader and teaching phonics was very easy with both of them, and my 5 year old daughter just started spontaneously reading on her own. My son, however, is still struggling, and is now more discouraged than ever that his sisters are passing him by. We have been using AlphaPhonics, and are up to lesson 60, learning consonant blends. I have also tried “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” but that seemed to really confuse him. The main problem seems to be Judah just does not remember what he has been taught in earlier lessons. If I try to backtrack, he cries and tells me he already did that lesson. I cannot tell you how many times I have told him that “-dge” says “/j/” , for example, but yet I have to remind him of that when he comes to a word with that ending, or any other blend. Often when we are doing our reading, I have to make him stop and tell me what the vowel in the word is, so that he realizes that the words all have different vowels in them.

With him being only 8, I would not really be too worried, as it may just be a developmental thing, however we are getting a lot of pressure from outside sources, especially the grandparents from both sides who are urging us to put him in school so he can get “the help he needs”, and even some friends who know he does not read yet have started making comments. My husband had a similar problem with reading (and still does) and so my answer has always been that school is not going to change it–at 36 my husband is still basically illiterate, and struggles in the same parts of phonics as Judah does, which leads me to believe this is not just about his age, but perhaps a learning disability.

Having just read Teaching the Trivium, I have thought about going back and doing an English notebook with him. Any suggestions on going about doing this, or how I could help him remember the different phonograms better?

Thank you,
Kimberly Eddy
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003
From: (Joshua Lee)


Thank you for your book Teaching the Trivium. I am almost done with the book. I have a daughter who will be turning four in June. Are there any good books that you recommend for “read aloud” time?

Thank you,
Joshua Lee
How about:

The Matchlock Gun by Edmonds
Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Field
Goody Two Shoes by Goldsmith
books by Lois Lenski
The Borrowers by Norton
From: Kristina Solid
Subject: Suggestions for piano lessons
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003

Dear Bluedorns,

My 9 year old daughter has been asking for a year now to learn to play the piano. Our HUGE convention in Orlando is in two weeks and she asked me yesterday if I would purchase some books to teach her to play. Any thoughts on a 9 year old learning to play would be greatly appreciated. Also, any suggestions you could share on a home taught piano course (taught by a mommy who begrudgingly “suffered” through two years of piano lessons and now regrets ever quitting!) would be most helpful. I have heard about a course called “Pianimals” but I can’t really decipher via the internet what methods (programmed interactive?) are used for learning/instruction.

Thank you!
In Him,
Kristina Solid
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003
From: S
Subject: Teaching a gifted child within the Trivium

Dear Friends,

After careful consideration of our experience with our daughter, who is seven now, and our circumstances, we decided to have her tested for IQ and the areas of learning ability that this impacts. We were not surprised by the results, yet overawed by the degree of development in 10 out of the twelve areas. We will be receiving the report in a few days and then later have an interview too, However, as it is with God, nothing is a coincidence… we are at this moment/season in life seriously evaluating our style of homeschooling and both, my husband and I, are being changed and challenged by Christian Classical Education and everything in us says a vehement, “Yes”. But this information, regarding her abilities, in the light of what you classify or better still recognize, as the Grammar stage, is a huge challenge to us, because we see her reading, comprehending and understanding far beyond her years, chronologically. We also know her to be mature beyond her years, so how do we deal with the guidelines you provide or set in recognition of developmental milestones. We need some clarity on this issue, and while I am beginning to gain some understanding for myself that you have no desire to be prescriptive across the board as that would be defeatist to the purpose of educating each child individually, I am also lacking in wisdom and understanding of then, how should we approach this? All wisdom and especially of those parents who have experienced similar scenarios is greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,
Just because we talk about “averages” and “usual ranges” does not mean your child must be conformed to such things. No two children develop alike. That’s why the classroom factory model of education creates so many dysfunctional “factory rejects.” You need to honestly assess your child’s developmental stage, and conform the curriculum to the child, not vice versa.

For example, we are often quoted for mentioning a well established scientific observation — that developmentally speaking, children are not fully ready for “formal workbook type math” until about age nine or ten, and that it is more profitable to teach them in more concrete and informal ways until then, whereas there is potential for harm in many children if you do teach them in formal ways before then. That’s a general rule of thumb, and it has literally millennia of experience behind it. However, there are notable exceptions to this rule of thumb. I think I’ve even heard of one child who could perform calculus before age four or five. Presuming he is truly performing with comprehension, that does not mean that every child can potentially do calculus before age five. It also does not mean that this child is equally ahead in other parts of development, such as self-discipline, social skills, showing respect for elders, etc. In fact, in order to maintain some balance and humility, it may be necessary to draw attention away from some area of early emerging talent. That, of course, is the challenge to the parent.

In short, you must assess the development of your child in each area, then match the curriculum to your child’s development. Don’t try to fit your child into a prepackaged educational mold. If you make a determination, then see that your child is really ahead or behind in the game, then adjust to the child. You have to balance between challenging the child and frustrating the child.

I now have a copy of this new curriculum [Ancient History from Primary Sources] by the Bluedorns, and it is going to be a very valuable addition to the resources of classical educators. The level of use I would put it at is the dialectic and rhetoric stages. Here is an excerpt from the introduction on the use of this curriculum:

“This book is not a history curriculum, nor a textbook, nor an all inclusive timeline. Others have written such things [included in an appendix], and this book supplements them. This is a reference book which guides the student on a selective timeline tour through ancient history, outlining the major events and personalities, and noting the primary literary sources from which these things are known. Time-wise, this book covers the period from the creation of the world to the fall of Rome in ad 476. Space-wise, this book covers the civilizations of the near east and west. Each event or person in history is accompanied by suggested readings from various ancient sources.”

The first quarter of the book is a detailed ancient history timeline. If anyone is familiar with the Timetables of History reference, it is sort of similar to that, in that a column exists for Hebrew and Christian history, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman history. It is superior to that resource in that, first of all, all the evolutionary nonsense doesn’t have to be waded through, and second of all, instead of listing every last event, the major events and persons are given maximum exposure. Still it is a very detailed treatment, but not so detailed as to be overwhelming. Under each event or person in the timeline, then, is a listing of the ancient literature which told the story of that event or person.

The next section of the book is an alphabetical guidebook, if you will, to ancient literature. It is divided by region. The Bible, the primary source for the Hebrew and Christian column in the timeline, has a large section to itself; the authors of the books are discussed, and what each book covers, and how it fits into the ancient history big picture. The next regional section is Egypt, and all the literature we have from ancient Egypt is then given a brief summary. And so on for Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman. As an example, the Bluedorns write to introduce the Egypt section: “Here is a select list of literature from Egypt. We have chosen those works commonly considered to be culturally important, yet not inappropriate for students age twelve and up.” As ancient literature is known for inappropriate material, this is a wonderful service for classical educators.

Something which is very helpful is that when describing long works, they list significant excerpts, so that a whole work doesn’t have to slogged through to get to the most relevant bits.

The approx. last quarter of the book are appendices, in the usual thorough and helpful manner of Bluedorn appendices. The appendices include: Four approaches to the study of ancient literature; Nothing is Neutral; Was Paul a classical Greek scholar?; The Bible chronology puzzle (WONDERFUL!); Sources consulted (for their ancient literature research; extensive as usual); and finally, History curricula and Resources (to be used with the book).

All in all, a very much needed analysis of primary sources. I forgot to mention that it comes with a CD of the texts of the primary sources covered in the guide, so you don’t even have to go out and buy Penguin classics if you don’t want to. This is going in CCH’s catalog for both dialectic and rhetoric ancient history and literature.

Christine Miller
Classical Christian Homeschooling
From: Chester and Karen Replogle
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003


Congratulations! We adopted brothers from Russia several years ago. The eldest was almost 7. You didn’t mention how long you’ve has Yuri, so you may have passed some of the following. I’m not sure classical schooling is different for ESL children, they just go at a different rate. Our boys were enthusiastic to learn about all aspects of their new home, so much came easy to them.

Our primary focus, too, was family bonding. The first thing we taught “formally” was the Doxology, followed by the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed. With these recognizable “sound groups”, they could participate with worship service. (These are classical GRAMMAR-stage activities) I say “sound groups” because we know they didn’t understand a word of it. We rejoiced in their delighted smiles of recognition, though. And our daily family devotional time quickly became familiar.

Our next focus was the household routine–learning the names of dishes, furniture, etc. We also played Legos and “pre-school” picture matching games. And just talked and talked and talked.

When we started “formal” schooling, we worked exclusively on phonics. I went over board, probably because I never had phonics instruction. We used parts of five phonics programs! I found Get Ready for the Code (EPS) very helpful, and fun–we learned several Russian words. It is NOT Christian, but our boys were soon voluntarily placing stickers over the occasional witch or jack-o-lantern. We followed that with Saxon Phonics.

Reading can be a greater challenge, primarily due to the limited vocabulary. In this I struggle greatly! So many books we tried too soon!! Their interest level easily accommodated books like Ivanhoe, but trying to explain cavalry with the first 100 words of English (ugh!) Reading aloud can be very boring for them! I found the DK/Usborne-type books invaluable. Again, non-Christian but the pictures and limited text were very encouraging for our boys. This was a concession for me, in that they were not on my desired reading list. But then, our boys missed the cardboard book stage!

Well, this is too long for the loop. Please contact me off line, if you want to chat more. Remember, Yuri is learning a lot daily–new food, clothes, cars, buildings, road signs, alphabet, family, etc! I hope you’re enjoying every moment; and don’t forget to journal!

By grace,
Date: Sun, 11 May 2003
Subject: Using Sonlight
From: Eugene B Sedy

Recently, Payson and Laurie wrote asking about Sonlight Curriculum. You didn’t mention the ages of your children, but I’m guessing they are small, since it sounds like your family is in the “growing” stage. I used Sonlight levels 3 and 4 several years ago with my older 2 children.

Here’s my story: We had been living in Virginia which has lenient hsing regulations, and all that was required to be taught was math and language arts. I had a growing family, too–adding a new baby every 20 months or so! I was short on time, energy, and money. I decided to just concentrate on what the state required. I used Saltmine and Hifwip phonics, and Open Court Math. I read to the kids lots and lots, and I also had them memorize large portions of scripture. I had them copy sentences out of Webster’s spelling primer to practice handwriting. That was it, and it was very do-able. When they got to a 2nd grade level, we were going to be moving, and I started worrying that they weren’t doing enough, so I started looking into curriculums. I picked Sonlight, because its literature basis appealed to me. We started with Level 3 (American History, Part 1). Sonlight is very thorough, but it’s also very “academic” and its pace can be very stressful if you do everything for every week. I tried to do everything, but slowed the pace so we took over 3 years to complete Levels 3 and 4. Using Sonlight, I realized that the kids could understand and enjoy literature much beyond their reading ability if it was read aloud to them. Sonlight also taught me how to breakdown books and workbooks into manageable assignments. The creative writing portion is especially good, but was a challenge for my son. He’s just not a “creative writer” kind of guy, and now I realize with his analytical mind geared towards engineering that he will probably never write a piece of “creative writing” outside of our household! (Writing Strands has been a much better choice for him–it breaks the writing process down into steps that make sense to him.) The books for the history portion are very good, and although you construct a timeline, there is not a lot of flow–I felt it jumped from one event to the next without much explanation about how these events were connected. Maybe that would have been too much info for my kids, but I would have liked more background included for my own knowledge base. The science portion was okay. There was a heavy emphasis on vocabulary words. At the time I used the curriculum, they used a lot of Usborne books which, in my opinion, are about as cohesive as a Sesame Street episode. The kids liked them, but they seem disorganized in their presentation to me. By time I was using Level 4, I was substituting my own curricula choices for math, science, and creative writing, and grammar. I realized that I was spending a lot of money needlessly. I was also becoming more interested in the classical approach. I first read “The Well Trained Mind,” and finally came across Bluedorn’s book Teaching the Trivium. What a refreshing book to read! I found myself wishing that I had been able to read “Teaching the Trivium” when Leah and Joe were still small. I realized I HAD been on the right track with them before I ever bought into a formal curriculum. I had been sidetracked into taking another course because I was fearful of “not doing enough.” I am sorry that I bought into that fear.

All in all, Sonlight was alright. I learned how to pace ourselves, how to make a timeline, and to use literature in teaching history. It did add more stress to our schooling, and it was expensive. I really do wish I had just persevered with the way I had started out. Thankfully, my kids survived, have a good working knowledge of American History, and we’re now back to doing the things Bluedorn’s recommend for their appropriate ages.

You are willing to buy the books (it gets expensive!) from Sonlight–why not instead buy the books important to a classical education? There are many sources for these books including Bluedorns, Greenleaf Press, Veritas, to name a few. The books recommended by Sonlight are fine books, but they are the kind you can find anywhere–put them on your Christmas list for the relatives. Spend your money on the books that have lasting value.

Well–that’s probably more info than you wanted–hope my thoughts have been helpful.

Janet Sedy
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003
From: Marcia B Blackwood
Re: Barry White

With regard to spelling, you may not know one very important aspect of becoming a good speller. A person who is a great visualizer is usually a great speller. By visualizing, I mean the ability to “see” pictures in your mind (not some religious practice) A person who is a good visualizer has these characteristics– they often look up as they are explaining something–they describe things with visual words (looks like this, color, size, number of, ) rather than conceptual words (words that do not paint a picture like peaceful, calm, cozy, nice, etc.) They are good at spelling, as they have a “picture” of the word they want to spell in their mind. Visualization and Conceptualization are two approaches to learning and they are each helpful in various aspects of learning. Most of us find one way is much easier than the other to think. You can develop visualization skills by such activities as:

1. Show the person a colorful picture from a magazine or book, have them describe the picture in visual words that are associated with what one would normally “see”, such as “a red grist mill covered with green ivy. A blue sky with one puffy white cloud. Sarkl8ng water, spraying droplets when it hits the rocks. Two birds in a tree, and lots of dandelions on the ground.”

2. As the person becomes adept at descriptions, allow him to study the picture for a few seconds and then remove it. This time he must describe the scene, as above, but this time from memory.

3. As the person becomes proficient at describing as in step 2, you no longer use pictures. Instead give him a phrase to work with, such as: “A Desert Oasis. An attic in an old house. A favorite place to go (or be). Let them use their imagination to develop complete visual descriptions of these ideas. You might also have the person learn to expand simple two word sentences by adding descriptive words that make the sentence interesting. Example: Expand “Sister went.” to My older sister with the long red hair went reluctantly to the grocery store. (This is not necessarily the best 🙂

You get the idea, I hope.

The thing that is always a clue for those observing a visualizer is that their eyes move up and to either side (or sometimes they close their eyes so their picture can to on a “blank screen”) when they are visualizing. A conceptualizer usually looks straight ahead or down when thinking.

Hope this helps you.
Marcia Blackwood (ND in Indianapolis, IN)
From: Anne Calvert
Subject: Literature for character development in boys, Reading, Thoughts on Organization
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003

Does anybody know of any really good literature to give to an 11 year old boy for developing character? I am looking for something where a role model is clearly shown struggling and overcoming temptations. He loves the GA Henty books , but I find that the heros in these books, while being honest, hard working, etc. are very shallow and remind me a little of Superman. I feel that these characters tend to make my son arrogant and self centered. Also, are there any magazines or periodicals for boys along that line? I would appreciate whatever advice or suggestions anybody could offer.

I wanted to respond to Kimberly Eddy about her son who is struggling with learning to read. Her description fits my son almost perfectly except that my son is 9. We are even on the same lesson in Alphaphonics that you all are. I have had to review portions of Alphaphonics over and over, and he still hasn’t turned into a “reader”.

She wrote:
<My son, however, is still struggling, and is now more discouraged than ever that his sisters are passing him by. We have been using AlphaPhonics, and are up to lesson 60, learning consonant blends> <The main problem seems to be Judah just does not remember what he has been taught in earlier lessons. If I try to backtrack, he cries and tells me he already did that lesson. I cannot tell you how many times I have told him that “-dge” says “/j/” , for example, but yet I have to remind him of that when he comes to a word with that ending, or any other blend.>

My son David is just that way, except that he doesn’t mind going back over the same lessons over and over. We have had a very relaxed atmosphere, no little sisters passing him up, and he doesn’t feel any pressure from any relatives, and I think that helps. One thing that has helped me with him is that we took all the phonograms and wrote them on 3×5 cards as we learned them, and would glue each one to a piece of poster board which is hung on the wall. We would review these every time we did reading drills, and then after his reading we would have a “spelling” test. I would read about 10 of the words to him and he would figure out the spelling using his chart of phonograms to write it. If he got them all right, there would be some kind of reward. If he ever got “stuck” on a spelling I would give him hints until he figured it out. He will read things on signs to me now and then especially if they have an irregular spelling such as the word “talk” or “walk”.

I am planning to move him over to the TATRAS program which I have used before on the advice of my good friend Janet. One advantage of the vertical phonics is that they can read a larger number of words more quickly right from the start. Also the phonics program forces them to analyze each word because they are not listed in word families i.e. can, tan, man, etc… It comes with a phonogram chart to hang on the wall for phonics drills too. Also it would probably benefit him to be in a different program from his sisters which would make it more difficult to compare their progress. TATRAS is a very inexpensive program, but is one of THE best.

My oldest child, a girl, was also a late reader. I have read that girls normally read a year or two sooner than boys on average, and she began to be a “reader” (chapter books, few or no pictures) just before her eighth birthday. So I am giving it another year to kick in for him before I panic. (I remember feeling panicked with my daughter, and now she loves to read. She loves to tell everybody about the day I walked into the room to find her sitting there quietly reading a book. I nearly passed out). Also, he doesn’t have to be able to read in order to learn and excel at other subjects. My son sits at the table when we do writing/grammar assignments with the older children and understands it all perfectly. (We use Understanding Writing by Susan Bradrick which we LOVE) He also begs to “write” stories (with me doing the writing).

Also, I have a friend who has lots of girls and one boy. All the girls were good readers, but the boy struggled with reading, and the relatives would compare him unfavorably with his cousins in the public schools. He was very good in math, however, and would do pages and pages of math just for the fun of it, and probably to save face also.

Here are a few observations that I have made in regards to my son’s development. When he was five he REALLY wanted to read, but when we brought out the phonics he wasn’t able to blend the sounds and became frustrated. I put the phonics away and read aloud to the family for a year. The next year he got a little further, but got frustrated again. I put the phonics away for 6 months and read aloud. 6 months later it was getting easier for him, but still he wasn’t enjoying with it and struggled. I put it away for a year and tried again. This time he was able to sail through simple one-syllable words with short vowel sounds with ease, but when we got to the consonant blends he began to struggle again. We got through most of the consonant blends anyway, and then we put away the phonics again. Then we got the consonant blends down better, but he would struggle with two-syllable words. Now I think I will switch over to TATRAS for reading. I really think it is better for teaching reading, and I will maybe use Alphaphonics on the side to teach some spelling. But either way, we will be very relaxed about it. This prevents burnout and keeps the child from feeling like a failure.

On another note, I just wanted to say thanks to the people who wrote in about how to get things organized. The flylady thing will be a big help I think. I just have to remember to take baby steps (my biggest problem, trying to leap over buildings in a single bound). I ran across a couple of good ideas for simplifying the laundry that I thought I would share. The first is this, you put a box of safety pins in the laundry room or wherever your children undress. You train your children to turn their socks right side out and pin them together at the toe before putting them in the laundry. You wash the socks pinned together and then when they are done there is no more matching socks together, or lost socks etc. Another idea for large families is this. To mark the laundry you put one dot for the first boy, two dots for the second boy, three dots for the third etc… When you hand down one garment to a younger child, just add a dot. If the clothing is dark, you can use fabric paint to make the dots, use one color for girls, another for boys if you need to. This last idea has been very helpful to me. I went to Office Depot and bought large plastic stacking bins that are open in front. They come in sets of three and cost $15. I put them in the laundry room stacked six bins high and left off the wheels and labeled each bin with the name of a child. When the dryer is done I fold each garment as I pull it out and put it in the appropriate bin. This job will soon be shared by the kids. The children pick up their clean laundry every morning before breakfast and put it away. With six children, this has been a great help.

Also, I was just wondering if there are any other families on this loop in SE Louisiana or SW Mississippi. I would love to hear from anybody who would care to write.

Anne Calvert
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003
From: Jim Hodges
city: Newalla
state: OK

Just wanted to let you know that there is now a web site where FIVE titles recorded by Jim Hodges Productions are available. (I’ve been busy recording!)

Beric the Britian will be title number 6 and should be available within a month.

With Hope in Him,
Jim Hodges
Subject: questions about math and a 12 yob
From: brendaj68
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003

Dear Harvey and Laurie,

My youngest son is soon to be 12 and is a dream “student” with all of his learning except math. We have been using Saxon 54 off and on now for a year. When we work together he can do the problems just fine, but when he sits down to do the work on his own, he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. He still struggles with his math facts (which we have been working on now for the past three years), and just doesn’t seem to have a clue why you “borrow.” Missing numbers completely lose him. What should I do? Should I keep drilling him, going over these problems day after day (which frustrate him and me) or should I just put his math aside for a while longer and try at another time? I realize boys develop slower in this area, but I am in a mild mamma panic, feeling he should be getting some of this by now. You can tell by the look on his face that it just isn’t making any sense at all to him. Would you suggest trying another math program?

Thank you for your help,
Brenda Jones
I suggest putting it away for the summer and in September starting with a different curriculum, perhaps in a lower grade. You don’t necessarily need to tell him it is a lower grade. This summer you might want to work on the math facts. In fact, I wouldn’t start another curriculum until he pretty much has the facts memorized. Buy one of the large number dominoes games and play it this summer. When you do start the new curriculum I suggest doing it with him — learn it together — and let him know you love doing it with him.

Hi Laurie,

I found your name on the internet with your brief review of Clark Russell’s John Holdsworth, Chief Mate and The Wreck of the Grosvenor. I’ve been collecting this author’s books for a few years now and I’m trying to write a book (the first, I believe) on his life and work. I’ve also created a detailed bibliography of his novels, other books and over 200 short stories. What an output for one man who from middle age couldn’t hold a pen for long due to acute rheumatoid arthritis!

Coincidentally, John Holdsworth was the first book I found by Clark Russell (before then I’d only heard of him through Conan Doyle’s short story ‘the five Orange Pips’ where Watson is reading one of Clark Russell’s sea stories. It’s a great book and an enthralling read that had me gripped to the last page. Wreck’ is another favourite (and, I think, his most famous work). However, I have about 70 other Clark Russell titles and I’d love to hear from you about your interest as Clark Russell admirers seem pretty thin on the ground. Have you read any other books by him? (The Frozen Pirate is even better than the two books you mention). Do you know of any other Clark Russell readers?

Here are more W. Clark Russell titles I particularly like:
– Auld Lang Syne (1878)
– An Ocean Tragedy (1881)
– Jack’s Courtship (1884)
– A Strange Voyage (1885)
– The Golden Hope (1887)
– Heart of Oak (1895) (titled ‘A Three-Stranded Yarn. The Wreck of the Lady Emma’ in US)
– The Ship’s Adventure (1901) (titled ‘The Mate of the Good Ship York in US)
– Overdue (1903) (entitled ‘The Captain’s Wife’ in US)
– Abandoned (1904)
– all the short story/article collections are very good: My Watch Below (1882), Round the Galley Fire (1883), On the Fo’c’sle Head (1884), In the Middle Watch (1885), A Book for the Hammock (1887), The Phantom Death and Other Stories (1895).

Regards – John Addy, England
Date: Sat, 17 May 2003
From: (Krista DeGroot)
city: Callaway
state: NE

I have purchased and mostly read Trivium Pursuit, and you’ve done a thorough job convincing me that the classical style is for us! I spent a largely boring year using Rod and Staff with my five/six-year old. I do appreciate their God-centered approach (although it does humor me on occasion). My daughter did all right, but we are both looking forward to our “last day” of reading lessons (Monday). I decided it would be a reasonable exercise for us to finish what we started, though I did reduce the tediousness by eliminating all but the phonics workbook and the reader. At any rate, we did instigate the reading time that you propose and as long as we let our four-year-old work puzzles or other things to occupy her hands, it is the highlight of our “formal instruction” day. NOW, when I purchased your book, I also purchased Noah Webster’s “Elementary Spelling Book.” It looks like a good tool, but I have no idea just how to use it. I read the Preface, but I am still not able to discern the best way to use this resource. Do you have a handbook to help me, or will you give me some general guidelines via e-mail? I would appreciate it. I’ll tell you, the concept of “training” vs. “teaching” during the knowledge years has been liberating. We are excited to begin working on the Latin and Hebrew alphabets with our daughters. We are looking forward to drawing from your experiences from the book lists your recommend, and we are planning to start with your “Hand that Rocks the Cradle.” Thank you for taking time to share your experiences. They are illuminating my blind jump into home schooling! I do not have the gift of teaching (though my husband does), and it has literally been a relief to break away from the formal schoolroom paradigm. It has actually been a joy to be a home schooling parent something I considered important and necessary, but painful just a few months ago! I believe God is using you for and in His good will.
There is a section in our book Teaching the Trivium that describes how to use Webster’s Speller — it’s in Chapter 12.
Date: Wed, 21 May 2003
From: Wanda Kersey

city: Hayward
state: CA
Thank you. Just read your “Ten things..” article and will read and re-read again. I am thinking of homeschooling my 4-year-old daughter and this gives me a place to start. I particularly like the concept of reading two hours a day but so far we have only read the little 5-10 minute books. Can you recommend a good continuous “long-read” book for us to start with?
How about:
books by Lois Lenski
The Matchlock Gun by Edmonds
Charlotte’s Webb by White
All of a Kind Family by Taylor
Found at:

Ancient History from Primary Sources
Harvey Bluedorn & Laurie Bluedorn

Compiled by experienced homeschoolers Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline is an extensive bibliography of primary sources of ancient history, ranging from the writings of Aristotle and the scriptures of the Bible, to the chronicles of Pliny and Virgil, and much, much more. Offering history curricula, two CDS with full text English translations of most of the literature referred to in the book, as well as biographical information on the authors of the ancient writings, Ancient History From Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline is a first rate, “user friendly” resource written and designed especially for homeschooling parents and of invaluable assistance to traditional classroom teachers of children ages twelve and older.
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003
Subject: question on “Lost Tools of Learning”

I have been engaged in a discussion with others who previously schooled in the CE tradition yet now feel that CE does not truly give a child “the lost tools of learning.” Rather CE “spoon feeds” a child a great deal of facts but never allows them to truly “think deeply”. These former Classical educators now have implemented Robinson’s Curriculum as they feel that a child wrestling through his/her own learning develops a more active learner who can think independently. These discussions have given me much food for thought.

I have been reading through Trivium Pursuit and I have gleaned so much—but does something as simple and yet profound as 1hr math, 1 essay/day and reading develop a superior learner? Are we “spoon feeding” our children when we lay out Greek, Latin assignments, go through spelling and grammar lessons daily, read alouds etc? Are WE the ones taking ownership for the learning? How do we transfer that to our children so they feel responsible and are active participants? And can a student reading through texts and literature independently in a structure as advised by Robinson compare to an education that includes the Socratic method of analyzing literature?

A sincere seeker who wants what is best for her children….
Sometimes our oversimplified view of a particular educational approach, or our adoption of a particular person’s application of a certain educational approach, will lead us to draw hasty and faulty conclusions. For example, some person’s application of the classical approach will have the grammar stage student (up to age 12) memorizing a vast array of random facts. If someone was new to classical education and all he looked at was this memorizing part of classical education and didn’t fully understand the other aspects of this person’s application, such as lots of reading aloud, oral narration, science experiments, among other things, but instead he dwelt on this memorizing in an excessive unbalanced manner, then he might be lead to think that the classical approach consisted of spoon feeding children facts and not allowing them to think deeply. So, although Harvey and I personally don’t agree with most other classical educators on the issue of what things to memorize — we find it a better use of our time to memorize passages of literature, yet all classical educators would say that memorization is only a part of classical education. The other parts of reading aloud, oral narration, science experiments, among other things, do encourage deep thinking, although it is in the logic stage and the rhetoric stage where the deep thinking is truly developed. So, you can see that if someone jumped into the classical approach in the grammar stage, didn’t truly understand all aspects of the approach, but perhaps practiced it in an unbalanced manner, and then gave up too quickly, that person might be tempted to label the classical approach in the way you have described.

In addition, knowing Mr. Robinson as we do, his children don’t just do math, write, and read. I can assure you that he practices, and encourages others to practice, dialoguing with his children. I’m sure there is as much, if not more, lively conversation around his house as there is in any “classical” home. The Robinson Curriculum fits well with the classical approach. We might add Greek and logic, and you might want to tweak it in your own way.

From: Kendra Fletcher
Subject: Good Literature for 11ish boys
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003

Hi Anne,

We have three boys, the eldest of whom is 10. I am terribly particular about what I hand to this child to read as I believe he is especially influenced by literature and movies.

Last September my husband and I had the fabulous opportunity to travel to New Zealand and spend the better portion of the week with pioneering Kiwi homeschoolers Craig and Barbara Smith (whom we “met” on this loop, but that’s a different story). After touring Barbara’s extensive library in the garage, I asked her what was her all-time favorite read-aloud. She replied, “Children of the New Forest, hands down”. I had never heard of this 19th century book or its author, Captain Marryat, but I now know it is a British children’s classic that has been largely overlooked by us less-literary Americans.

Well, Barbara gave me a copy which I read to my boys upon our return home. They hung on every word. They begged for more. So did I! The boys in the story were real (not Superman-like, as you described), struggling with very tangible emotions like anger over the unjust burning of their childhood home. At the same time, they showed incredible responsibility and duty for the care of their younger sisters, always deferring to them and their needs while maintaining “manliness”. They hunt, go to war, defend their king against Cromwell and his cronies (another interesting topic of discussion as we had often discussed the Reformation in defense of the Protestants but never from a Catholic perspective, as presented in the book), and in the end “get the girl”, although not in an overly sentimental, mushy, or inappropriate way.

Since finishing the book, I have bought enough copies for each of my children to leave home with, plus extras to give as gifts. There seems to be at least one copy up for auction on Ebay regularly.

Other than that wonderful book (and Captain Marryat has written others that might be of interest to you), I would recommend books by Isabella Alden, available from Keepers of the Faith: Our favorites for the boys have been Hedge Fence, Her Mother’s Bible, and Three People. Again, real boys with real-life struggles, but righteousness always takes hold of their hearts. The author was a strong prohibitionist and her books are filled with “alcohol is evil” messages, with which you can do whatever you like depending upon your convictions.

Some other fun and safe “boy” books we have enjoyed are Owls in the Family, The Door in the Wall, Treasure Island, By the Great Horn Spoon!, and Across Five Aprils. All of these we read aloud so that I could edit if necessary. I don’t, however, think these particular titles needed too much discussion. If you come across anything truly wonderful for boys, I would sure love to hear of it. I am always in a quest for good literature that upholds virtuosity in boys while setting an example of masculine bravery and chivalry.

Happy reading-
Kendra Fletcher
From: homeed4
Subject: Home-Made History Press Release
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003

Home-Made History:400-1600 AD by Vicki Hensel and Anne Siglin is a 32-week chronological study of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation for students in first through eighth grades. Presented from a Christian perspective, Home-Made History includes a multi-level student text with vocabulary exercises and discussion questions and a teacher’s guide filled with background information, suggestions for writing and hands-on activities, a recommended reading list, excerpts from good literature for copy work, memorization and narration, fun word puzzles for painless review, quarterly review quizzes, templates and forms to aid in scheduling and report writing, and a thorough world geography study with maps.

Student Text Specifications:94 pages, 8 ½ x 11, single-spaced paragraph format with black and white illustrations that accompany each of the thirty-two topics, color cover with uni-binding and clear plastic protective covering.

Table of Contents:

I           Timeline of Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation
II          Introduction
Letter to Students
III        Weekly Topics (written at two levels of difficulty)
Dark Ages
Byzantine Empire
The Rise of Islam
Medieval Britain
Medieval Europe
The Vikings
Normans Invade Britain
Castles and the Feudal System
Knights and Crusaders
The Magna Carta
Marco Polo and the Mongol Empire
Scotland’s Fight for Freedom
Early Italian Renaissance
The Far East
Century of Crisis (100 Years’ War, Black Death and the Great Schism)
Printing and the Early Reformers
Wars of the Roses
Early Explorers
The Aztecs
High Renaissance
The Reformation
Northern Renaissance
Science and Technology
The Counter Reformation
Later Explorers
Elizabethan England
William Shakespeare
IV        Vocabulary & Discussion (for each of the 32 weekly topics)

Teacher’s Guide Specifications – approximately 250 pages, 8 ½ x 11, in three-ring binder with dividers and color cover insert.

Table of Contents:

I           Introduction
How to Make the Most of Home-Made History
II          Teacher’s Notes
Background Information (on each of 32 topics)
Geography Study
Hands-On Activities
Writing Activities
III        Reading List
IV        Selections for Copy Work, Memorization, Narration and Dictation
V         Quizzes and Word Puzzles with Answers
VI        Forms and Templates
Study Schedule
Book Reports
Book Summary
Illustrate a Story
VII       Maps
Great Britain

From: Cathy Duffy
Subject: review of Ancient History from Primary Sources
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003

Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline
By Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
reviewed by Cathy Duffy

Long-time advocates of classical education, the Bluedorns have come up with a way to make classical education less costly in terms of both time and money. Using primary sources whenever practical is a hallmark of classical education, but generally that means many trips to the library, searching for out-of-print books, hunting on the internet, and otherwise going to a good deal of trouble to get the resources. And once you’ve found a resource, what do you do with it? Do you have your child read the entire book? How can you know which parts are valuable and which would be better skipped? Ancient History from Primary Sources and its companion CD set answers all these questions while providing many of the primary sources on the CDs. The two CDs contain the complete text of more than 1,200 works from 80 different authors of ancient times. Translations of works that were selected seem to have all been chosen by virtue of being in the public domain, which means these translations are more than 75 years old. Consequently, the translations might not be the best available or the most easily readable for students. Nevertheless, most translations will do for your purposes since students will most often be reading small parts from selected works. That’s where the book itself is so valuable. The Bluedorns have created a timeline that is also subdivided into columns for the ancient civilizations of the Near East and West. “Hebrew and Christian” civilization is one column while the others are Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman. The Hebrew and Christian column primarily lists biblical events and references but also includes sources from authors such as Josephus, Augustine, Eusebius, and Clement of Rome. Each listing is very specific as to chapter and verse unless the work is too short to require it. For example, among Greek listings for the period 425-400 B.C. is one for Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution 32-40. So students would read only sections 32-40 of this piece. The numbering identification system for ancient works might seem a little tricky, but the Bluedorns explain how it functions in the beginning of the book. Because the CDs and other sources now provide easy access to so many ancient sources, you will find many more listed in the book than you might imagine. Of course, parents are free to select which of these to use. The Bluedorns have been fairly selective about works they’ve listed in their timeline even though complete works are on the CDs. They tell us, “we have taken care to cite better examples of literature, but even in some of the best literature, an author will sometimes insert an occasional (and unnecessary) comment which many parents will not find acceptable…. So we recommend that a parent or teacher read the literature first, and then make an independent determination regarding its acceptability” (p 14). They avoid Homer, Virgil and other poets, satirists, tragedians, and comedians because of “questionable and graphic content.” The Bluedorns explain their criteria and which authors fall into a number of categories to help parents be aware of potential problems. All sources referenced in the book are not included on the CDs, soother possible sources, including a number of internet sites, are provided in the introductory chapter. After the timeline, another valuable section lists authors alphabetically under each civilization. For each there is a brief biography, list of extant works (sometimes with commentary), and locations of significant excerpts. As you would expect, the primary works were written for adult audiences and remain so in their translations. However, the Bluedorns suggest using them with students about age 12 and older. They allow that students down to age10 might read them, but younger students should read limited passages then “give oral narration, do copywork, or write from dictation” while older students might read more extensively and write essays (p. 18). Ancient History from Primary Sources is not intended to be a complete curriculum, but it should serve as a valuable reference for parents and teachers trying to provide a classical education.
From: Peter Mills
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003

Does anybody know of any really good literature to give to an 11-year-old boy for developing character? We read books about genuine heroes like Medal of Honor Heroes by Col. Red Reeder, Medical Heroes of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame and even a book about Victoria Cross recipients.

From: Horns72
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003
Subject: Question about how Dads take a more active role in Homeschooling

I am looking to take a more active role with the homeschooling of my children. They are 9, 8, and 5. I believe I read a while back that teaching logic was a good place to start for dads/men. Can you point me in the right direction?

Alan Patty Boerne, TX
We suggest that Father teach Greek and Logic to the children. Your children could start the Greek now using our Greek Alphabetarion, and you could start logic when the oldest is 12 or 13.

From: The Brown Family
Subject: suggestions and ideas for training and teaching an only child
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003

Hello Harvey and Laurie,

I have read Trivium Pursuit and am so thankful to have read it. Thank you for the excellent book!

I appreciate very much the questions and thoughtful replies in your Trivium Loop. I have a question myself, and it has to do with homeschooling an only child. My daughter Amelia is 4 1/2, very sweet and eager to learn. We have started her with TATRAS for reading and she can already read the Penny Primer. My question really has more to do with me. I grew up in a family of 5 kids, was used to chaos and also used to not having sole attention of anyone since I could kind of sit on the sidelines and go unobserved for awhile.

I am concerned that Amelia is in a fishbowl. She has none of the things I am used to (other siblings to play with, someone else to teach or help) and I want her to not have the 100% scrutiny I feel I am giving her. Do any of your readers have suggestions as to what things I might do? Amelia’s personality is much different than mine, and I think her learning style is different also. We have had no problems with her really at all, but I want to examine what things I need to change within my own heart (expectations, set ups for teaching and training someone of a different learning style). Any ideas out there?

Thanks so much!
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003
From: Matthew P Henry

Hi Anne, saw your note on the Trivium Loop.

I’ve never heard that Henty books don’t teach character. My 8 year old son and I are working on our 5th one, and they all show great character, and great humility. The one we are reading now is especially good; it’s True to the Old Flag. In the second chapter, Harold, the boy in the story, got down on his knees and thanked God for protection from the Indians and ask God to give him and his cousin he was protecting God’s protection. In Dragon and the Raven, several of the key characters converted to Christianity and were baptized! Several times the key character humbled himself when he could have seen himself as a superman. My favorite one was the girl character in Wulf the Saxon who gave up her entire life of happiness for the country of England! Can’t ask for more character building stuff than that. Are you sure you are reading the same G. A. Henty books we are?

Preston Speed, who publishes Henty books does have a quarterly magazine called The Captain. It is great when doing more research on the history behind the books.
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003
From: Matthew P Henry
Subject: Books to little ones

Just a note, just about anything in the Bluedorn’s Hand that Rocks the Cradle guide as a level 1 can be read to young children. My 1 1/2 year old just loves to sit in daddy’s lap and read! We can ready for 30 minutes, and she doesn’t move! We are just about finished with Johnny Tremain. We did start with the book list that was mentioned and gradually moved her to the big chapter books. She just loves them.
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003
From: Matthew P Henry
Subject: Teaching piano

You sound like us! I play the piano and have since 5 years old. We have an 8 year old, almost 9, that I’ve really wanted to get interested in the piano, but I didn’t want to give him the old read the book, do the lessons type teaching. I know this doesn’t exactly help you, but wanted to give some ideas maybe.
We ran across a friend of ours who homeschooled their two daughters and they both teach music. They teach it in a Greg Harris Delight directed way. They teach all three areas of music, note reading, ear training and theory. She also used adult books rather then the kids books because she said the kid books just have too much fluff in them.

My son came home after the first lesson playing Yankee Doodle, his favorite song. All she did in the first lesson was show him the notes on the piano, that each note has a name (she didn’t teach him those names on the first lesson though). She started him on the first note of Yankee Doodle, and had him sound out the song (which he was thrilled with) and she wrote the letter names in a notebook. After the first week, he could play Yankee Doodle from memory and has progressed even more.

So, that said, I don’t know of any books or tapes that follow this method, but I wish we did.

There is supposed to be a good video series called Piano for Quitters, although, I haven’t seen it.
From: Kathy Craig
Subject: RE: suggestions for piano lessons for 9 year old girl
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003

Kristina Solid asked: Any thoughts on a 9 year old learning to play would be greatly appreciated. Also, any suggestions you could share on a home taught piano course.

Yes, I began my 9 year old daughter on piano (she was just 1 month shy of 10 at the time which was last fall). My main instrument is violin so I asked my friend who is a piano teacher what she recommended and what she recommended was Teaching Little Fingers to Play by Thompson.

I really believe in readiness and she was really ready. She wanted a lesson every day at first and got through Teaching Little Fingers in about a month. Then my friend recommended following up with Teaching Little Fingers to Play More by Thompson and the John W. Schaum Piano Course A-The Red Book. We started in on that and then my friend had an opening so I turned my daughter over to her for lessons. By this time there was enough material for her to take a lesson once a week and have enough to practice on for a week. So, those are good books to start with. Then her piano teacher started adding in materials over the year. I probably could have continued teaching but I was not familiar with the piano materials or what would have been most suitable for my daughter. Here are the materials she added: Theory is Fun: Book One by David Hirschberg; Artistry At the Piano: Repertoire 1 by Jon George; some books of Christmas carols and patriotic songs; some sheet music pieces, A Dozen A Day primer and mini book. These were followed up with Piano Adventures 2A series by Nancy and Randall Faber. There are 4 books in this: Technique and Artistry book, Performance book, Lesson book, Theory book.

So that is how my daughter who is now 10 started. She loves the piano and her teacher. In fact, she made her teacher happy the other day. The teacher asked her what her favorite subject was and she said: practicing!

My thoughts on readiness, I don’t believe a child is ready until one can give them a lesson, demonstrating what is to be done and then the child can practice it on her own without hand holding. Sometimes a little help may be needed and it is important to listen to her but she has to own her practicing.
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003
From: Wylie W Fulton

I thought this was worth passing on, especially to you that have read Pilgrim’s Progress or who deal with undisciplined young people. In fact, a re-reading of Bunyan’s book would be a special treat for some of us these days, myself especially!

Sincerely in Christ, Wylie
Little Obstinate
(Alexander Whyte, in Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress)

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule Psalm 32:9.

Little Obstinate was born and brought up in the City of Destruction. His father was old ‘Spare the Rod’, and his mother’s name was ‘Spoil the Child’. Little Obstinate was the only child of his parents. He was born when they were no longer young, and they doted on their only child, and gave him his own way in everything. Everything he asked for he got, and if he did not immediately get it you would have heard his screams and his kicks three doors off! His parents were not in themselves bad people, but, if Solomon speaks true, they hated their child, for they gave him all his own way in everything, and nothing would ever make them say ‘no’ to him, or lift up the ROD when he said ‘no’ to them.

Little Obstinate’s two parents were far from ungodly people, though they lived in such a city; but they were daily destroying their only son by letting him always have his own way, and by never saying no to his greed, and his lies, and his anger, and his noisy and disorderly ways. Eli in the Old Testament was not a bad man, but he destroyed both the ark of the Lord and himself and his sons also, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

The meekness, the sweetness, the docility, and the love of a chastised child has gone to all our hearts in a way we can never forget. There is something sometimes almost past description in the way a chastised child clings to and kisses the hand that chastised it. But poor old ‘Spare the Rod’ never had experiences like that. And little Obstinate, having been born like Job’s wild donkey’s colt, grew up to be a man like David’s unbridled mule, until in after life he became the author of all the evil and mischief that is associated in our minds with his evil name.

In old ‘Spare the Rod’s’ child also this true proverb was fulfilled, that ‘the child is the father of the man’. For all that little Obstinate had been in the nursery, in the schoolroom, and in the playground; all that, only in an aggravated way; he was as a youth and as a grown up man.

As to the cure of obstinacy; the ROD in a firm, watchful, wise, and loving hand will cure it. And much agonizing prayer will above all cure it.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes Proverbs 13:24.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him Proverbs 22:15.

Withhold not correction from the child: for it thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell Proverbs 23:13-14.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame Proverbs 29:15
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003
From: Kevin & Sara Shull

I am responding to the question about Sonlight. We’ve happily used Sonlight since Kindergarten and we’ve just finished 3rd grade with the oldest. My kids are aged 8, 5, 3, 2 and 8 weeks. As you can imagine I’m pretty busy! Happily busy, LOL! We are book lovers and my third grader and I have really enjoyed the Sonlight books. I have heard that since Sonlight originally developed their curriculum with the needs of missionaries living in remote areas in mind, they have purposely packed their program full enough to keep a child with no access to libraries, outside activities, etc., busy. This is certainly true. That feature has been helpful to me as I can take or leave their activity/writing/question ideas as I want to – the weekly/daily prep time is very minimal. We generally use only narrations and our own lively discussions as the only supplement to the books, rather than their assignments. In our case, I pre-read everything over the summer (or as much of it as I can, each core program averages 40 books) then decide what books I want to drop, and what books I will assign to my daughter to read that were originally designed to be read-aloud. She needs the extra reading material, and then we have some flexibility to add in other read-aloud books if I want to during the year. Occasionally I don¹t like a book and we skip it. It has been very easy for me to modify the program for our quickly growing family along with my varying levels of energy during pregnancy and young baby times) and to fit it into the Bluedorn style before Ten recommended lifestyle. For us it has been very flexible and it leaves enough time for family bible study, play and exploration, crafts, time with siblings, etc. I am the type who doesn’t mind following our own schedule and skipping things to catch up if need be. I think of Sonlight as a great framework, under our ownership and leadership. I believe the Lord led us to Sonlight as a help to homeschooling through frequent pregnancies and many babies and toddlers. I can conceive of a more perfect, ideal set of books – but I know that at this point in our life, I personally would not be able to actually pull it together. It is very hard to even make it to the library these days and I don’t have a vehicle most days when my husband is at work. I also find that my mental abilities are somewhat more limited especially when I’m pregnant. Having an organized starting point allows me to concentrate more on the time with the kids and reading, discussing, and learning with them rather than on preparation for the time with the kids. It’s nice to have the books at home; my kids have gone back to many of them over and over again. Some people may not feel that Sonlight is “classical” enough in its selections and this is not really Sonlight’s aim. They purposely include many non-western civilization selections – often emphasizing “unreached people groups” from a missionary standpoint. This has also fit in well with our family emphasis and the emphasis of our church. We have several close friends/families in third world mission situations and our church also emphasizes unreached people groups. For these reasons, Sonlight has been especially helpful to us (and enjoyable too.) Sonlight has a great list of “30 plus reasons NOT to use Sonlight Curriculum” on their website and in their catalog which may be helpful to you in seeing what they are like. Some book discussions require discussion and close supervision by parents, not for immorality but realism as to some evils in the world. I really recommend pre-reading not just the child’s reading materials, but the history materials as well to make sure you are comfortable with the contents. Some children are more sensitive than others. I know there are people who distinctly DISlike Sonlight for a variety of reasons. Some feel that Sonlight is not “Christian” enough or that they are wrong to include “bad” situations. We live in inner city Minneapolis in an older, poorer neighborhood so discussing the realities of sin and depravity, crime and their consequences have been a part of life
(although our children are quite sheltered) and have given us opportunities to show them the immediate need for Christ’s light in the world and the urgency of the Gospel, the necessity of a correct worldview and Godly thinking. I think some of the situations in the Sonlight books provide this opportunity for discussion as well. We do, however, our own Bible study as a family each day and we have our own Bible memory program (Not the Sonlight Bible portion). We also read the Bible at our own pace and ignore their schedule on that so I can’t advise to that portion of the program. I have been less impressed with their language arts materials. I do use them (for writing ideas/copywork especially), but I eliminate most of their grammar work as it is developmentally very advanced even for my terrific readers. I had to laugh at the other Mom’s experience that the Usborne books are like a chaotic Sesame Street episode. This is true! However, my daughter reads them on her own and has learned an astonishing amount of “Science Trivia” from them. There is some evolutionary content in the books, but the people at Sonlight are creationists in their orientation. It is set up for the parent to frame the discussion as to “how old the earth is” and “when” God created all things for His Glory. I am sorry this has been so long. I think Sonlight is a good place to start for families who share their perspective and don’t have the time or energy to start from scratch with book selections. It is designed for a lot of parental discussion along with the books. We are planning to use it through seventh grade and then begin a more vigorous approach with the more traditional classical readings. We have found God to be very faithful in leading us to the “right” educational materials for our family. May God bless you in your discovery of what He would have you teach to your children.

Sara Shull
From: Steve and Lisa McCullough
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003
Regarding teaching piano…

We are using the Simply Music videos. The old method of having to learn to read music before you can play is thrown out the window. In this program, he teaches several songs – nice, two handed, full sounding pieces – and introduces appropriate music theory as necessary. This is not a Christian program and it does include some pop-secular pieces, FYI. My kids, 6 and 8, are absolutely loving it! My oldest has a musical bent, and is able to take the chords and songs she learns, then adapt them to accompany the Sunday School on a few of their favorite songs. They are playing and enjoying piano BEFORE having to go through the torture of reading in order to play. I am a flute teacher and have college choir training, so I recognize the importance of learning to read music, but it doesn’t have to be at the very beginning. We learn to talk before we learn to read, so we can learn to read music after we can play music. I always wanted to play piano and never learned. I wish I had this as a young girl. This is what we use for our beginning piano training. After completing this course we may move into formal piano, we may find additional at home training – don’t know yet. Neil Moore, the developer of the three video sets of this course, hopes to continue the training into full music reading but it is not yet developed.

Hope this helps.
Lisa McCullough
Republic, WA
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003
From: Pat Slone

We are using the VideoText Algebra course.

If you take look at the FAQ at Video Text you can get some more information about the scope and sequence they recommend for high school math.

Basically it is complete algebra, and then to geometry/trig.

Pat Slone
Batavia, IL
From: Roxanne Stockdale
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003
Subject: Geometry

The primary reason that the public schools seem to use the order Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II is so that the students will have the necessary skills for taking PSAT and other standardized tests. Other than that, there is no mathematical reason for doing so. I used the same order for my first 2 children, but for different reasons. For my oldest, I had him study Geometry in conjunction with Logic, because they complemented each other so well; for my dd, I had her take Geometry between Alg. I &amp; II to give her a break from Algebra (she really seemed to need it!).

Roxanne S in PA
Subject: Re: Jacobs Geometry
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003
Margaret Maurer

To Barry White:

With my then 13.5 yod, we began Jacobs Algebra in the last half of 7th grade. She just didn’t get it, though she did well generally in Saxon. We left off with what portion she did get through and are consigned to calling it Pre-Algebra. However, at the same time, dd studied Traditional Logic I and II by Martin Cothran ending in 8th grade. When we picked up the Jacobs Geometry this year (9th) to give it a try, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she did quite well in Geometry. When I was in school the sequence was: Alg. I, Geo, and Alg. II. I didn’t get Alg. either, but now (aged 15) is doing extremely well in Geometry. Before using Jacobs Geometry, I would definitely at least begin a formal logic study; so much of Jacob’s text is based on logic that I feel that the first portions in particular would be more difficult without having studied logic.

Margaret in Summerville, SC
From: Junekc135
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003

to Barry White – Math Decisions

We used Saxon during the middle grades. Then we went to Jacobs Algebra 1, followed by Jacobs Geometry. Jacobs Geometry has an Algebra 1 review at the end of the first several chapters, which was extremely helpful.

to Angela – Math Curricula

We used Modern Curriculum Press for K – 3. It is straightforward and very inexpensive. You don’t need any teacher manuals. My kids never minded doing 2 pages a day. I used Legos and change when needed, and also would make up addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems on occasion. We shut the book and practiced on those problems until they had the facts down well. They were very well prepared for Saxon 5/4 in 4th grade. After Saxon Algebra 1/2, we used Jacobs Algebra 1 &amp; Jacobs Geometry. It requires quite a bit of time on my part, but I think it causes the student to think more. My daughter has learned a ton. Although the courses are challenging, they have not been overwhelming.

From: ginaglenn
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003

In response to the math curriculum suggestions: As for math, the Alabacus is WONDERFUL! It uses an abacus and children learn units. This is good for k-4 with a transition to Ray’s for grade 5. (Or you could use Saxon 65). Of course, this presupposes an earlier start in math but, the Alabacus is wonderful & fun for young kids.
From: Patty Puser
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003

Dear Laurie,

I’d like to put a comment for the math discussion! I have used the Saxon 1 Math for my first grader. This is our first year of homeschooling. He struggled greatly with math last year using a different curriculum, and being in a class with 20 students. He has excelled in the subject this year, so much so that we will begin Saxon 2 before the school year ends. The lessons can be very repetitive, however, I just skipped over some of the work I also found that it was not necessary to complete the second side of the worksheet at a later time in the day. We usually only work the front side of the worksheets, and he does additional work on the back for fun.

I hope this was helpful!
Patty Puser
From: The Shealys
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2003

>>Also I was wondering if anyone has ever used the Ray’s Arithmetic series and if so what do you think about it? Thank you.

I use Ray’s Primary Arithmetic for my 1st and 2nd grader. I haven’t decided whether I will continue with it next year, or use a more informal approach. (Still reading and pondering my Teaching the Trivium.)

I usually do not recommend Ray’s to other people, even though I love it. Ray’s is a great book for someone looking to take their children through arithmetic in a linear fashion, and is not afraid to do it all themselves. Ray’s lists the equations to learn and a few word problems for each lesson. You must teach the lesson, develop drills, etc. (I don’t use the workbooks that come with Ray’s) It covers addition, then subtraction, then a review of both, multiplication, division then a review. In the back are a few lessons on measurement, but much is archaic in that area 🙂

The pluses of Ray’s is that you are in control, you don’t have to move at a certain pace, and you are free to decide how much drill is enough. No pressure to complete that workbook page 🙂 I also like doing arithmetic orally at this age.

HTH, Valerie.
From: Junekc135
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003

Math curricula:
For my younger kids, I use Modern Curriculum Press. It is an inexpensive very basic curriculum – no colorful pictures. I used Legos, money, and several days of practicing math facts when needed and found each child fully ready for Saxon 5/4 in fourth grade. This required only 10 or so minutes a day (2 pages a day) and there were no tears or tribulations. We use Saxon from Saxon 5/4 through Algebra 1/2, then switch to Jacob’s Algebra and Geometry. Jacob’s requires more thinking – not just doing problems the same way over and over. But it requires more of the teacher too – I spend nearly an hour a day reviewing the material &amp; helping my daughter correct the problems she misses. (Hopefully it won’t take that long with the other kids). The solution manual doesn’t tell you how to get to the answer. But my daughter is doing well and actually enjoys it.

Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003
From: Leslie George

I have a math recommendation for those students who seem to have no short term memory and need a lot of drill and repetition. My 13 yo son has done Saxon Math for 2 1/2 years. When he began the Algebra 1/2, he fell apart. He became bogged down and hated math (which was always a good subject for him). I ordered Key To Algebra by King and Rasmussen. What a blessing! It introduces one concept at a time and has dozens of just that kind of problem. Perfect for those who need time to learn. Thomas will finish the ten workbooks this year and begin high school Algebra next year. I am going to try Jacob’s Algebra, as I heard it is a better match for those who have trouble with Saxon. To those of you who understand what I mean about having no short term memory, I will offer this: It may take them forever to learn something, but when they do, it is there! (Probably on hard drive.)

Leslie George
From: Steve and Shelly Mertz
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003

We currently use Singapore Math and Miquon Math (we used Saxon Math last year, but for my math challenged dd the repetition was torture!). I am very impressed with Singapore — it is very affordable, the books have appealing pictures and type, and the program seems to be more powerful than the cartoon drawings would initially suggest! There are supplemental workbooks available – also very inexpensive – for extra drill on things like word problems, and I would strongly recommend those. The Miquon program we use as sort of a supplement — usually one day/week I give the kids a packet of the lab sheets and pull out the Cuisennaire rods. They see it as a fun day of math, while I feel like they are still learning!

at home with Christy (8), Alex (6) and Elise (1)
From: Sheri Payne
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003

As for math, I love Math-U-See. I agonized over whether to teach math at this point, based on reading what you and others have written about math instruction. However, I feel that very simple math, taught in a very concrete way, is very appropriate for young children. Math-U-See provides that kind of instruction. I will have to see how I like their advanced math, however.

homeschool mom of 3 in Hawai’i
From: Kirsten Bird
Date: Sat, 31 May 2003


I’d like to answer the question about Singapore Math.

We’ve used Singapore Math for about two years with our 5th and 8th grade daughters. The children both love the challenging word problems in these books and feel a real sense of accomplishment in solving them. After using Singapore, they both feel Saxon dumbs down their word problems. The Singapore books are about one year ahead of most American texts, so a seventh grader would generally start with the 6th grade Singapore book. Another thing I like about Singapore is that it gives a lot more problems in financial transactions such as commission, mortgage interest, car loans, etc. that apply to real life. Our fifth grader uses Saxon and Singapore and does only half the problems in the Saxon book. Our 8th grader does Singapore and Video Text Algebra and will do a separate geometry course as well. Singapore Math is also very reasonably priced.

A few things to be concerned about:

1. Singapore does not give enough drill for the younger children in the basic facts. We supplement with a drill sheet every day. The Saxon timed tests are excellent for this.

2. Singapore does not follow the standard American sequence of math courses in high school. Instead of teaching algebra and geometry separately, it is covered each year in a little more depth. So if your student is preparing for SAT’s and college, it is a good idea to also follow another math program with the standard sequence so all the subjects are covered before SAT time.

3. As far as I know, there are no solutions manuals for the elementary grade books, but you can go on-line at their website and get your questions answered.

No math program is perfect, and I feel that using two programs at once is very helpful. You can read more about Singapore Math at

Kirsten Bird
Homeschooling Mom to 5 in WA
From: Robert and Michele von Hein
Subject: Singapore Math
Date: Sat, 31 May 2003

I began my son with this program in fifth grade, at 10 years old. I had pulled him from public school (we went to Christian school through third grade, moved, lived through public for a year). We began with Singapore’s Primary Math 4A, after taking the placement test. It really does focus on higher order thinking, and I believe the new US versions will include English units of measure and US currency (which was a drawback of the pure Singapore versions!). Sonlight curriculum recommends Singapore math, and their review might be very helpful to you. We enjoyed it thoroughly. I might also recommend their Intensive Practice series—it includes more problems that continue to probe each concept, and some excellent word problems. The levels correlate to the primary math series. I’m not sure if we will be able to handle their New Elementary Math, which follows the Primary Math series, though. I guess more later on that topic! Feel free to email me privately if you have further questions. On the other hand, if the moderator feels this would be useful intercourse, than by all means, we can keep it in the loop. (I have three other kids that use Singapore, too, and it is by far their favorite program.) Have the Bluedorn’s looked at it? I have to say, I was not a fan of Saxon after reviewing the Algebra 1/2 program, though.

Christ’s richest blessings,
From: Don Potter
Date: Sat, 31 May 2003

I just published Hazel Loring’s 1980 Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics for First Grade for FREE download on my web site. This is one of the very best beginning phonics methods ever published. It used to be circulated by the Reading Reform Foundation. Untold thousands of copies were distributed throughout the country. I retyped the book in order to get a really clear copy to publish in pdf format. Robert Sweet Jr., founder and past president of the National Right to Read Foundation, wrote concerning this book, “I have here a twenty-five page booklet called Blend Phonics written by Hazel Loring, a master teacher born in 1902, who taught under both “whole word” and phonics systems. The legacy she has left us is powerful. Within the pages of this little booklet is the cure for illiteracy as we begin the twenty-first century. If every pre-service reading teacher, every reading supervisor, every kindergarten, first- and second-grade teacher in America had the information contained in Hazel Loring’s 25-page booklet and taught it this fall, there would be such a dramatic decrease in illiteracy in this country that the national media would be forced to take note.” May God pour out His grace on the children of this nation by send thousands of parents and teachers to my site to download this effective and easy to teach little phonics booklet. I also just published Samuel T. Orton’s 1929 article, The “Sight Reading” Method of Teaching Reading, as a Source of Reading Disability. With God’s help I, am determined to continue enriching my web site with these hard to get articles and books.

In Christ,
Don Potter
Odessa, TX
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003
From: loulogan

To Kendra re: “good literature for 11ish boys”

We loved The King’s Shadow and Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Very different books, both well written and both full of realistic life lessons. (And both were available at the local library.) Thanks to everyone who recommends quality books on this loop. What a treasure you have been!

Louise Logan
From: Clint Stark
Subject: response to Homeschooling & Parenting Only child
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003

This letter is in response to Melinda Brown suggestions and ideas for teaching an only child.


Our daughter is 7 years so we aren’t too far ahead of you as parents of an only child. We also have anguished much in wondering whether our dd was getting what she needed or whether she was getting too much, etc. etc. I will share some of my thoughts and what we’ve learned so far. Forgive me if I say things you already know, maybe someone else will be helped by them!

First of all, God is in control and gives us the families he wants for us. In all that we do we must keep our eyes on Him and seek his wisdom and guidance. All of his truths are applicable no matter what the size of the family. This has given us great peace. Raising one child requires the same discipline, consequences, first time obedience, teaching of morals, values and virtues as raising two, three or more. Three parenting resources we have used extensively over the years, alongside our Bible, are Shepherding a Childs Heart, by Ted Tripp; Child Training Tips by Reb Bradly.

One challenge for us has been child centeredness. To start with try and begin each day in the Word and prayer – even if only for a very short time. Next, it is important to keep your marriage relationship at the forefront of your family. Give time to your marriage. Try to go on “dates” leaving your child w/ trusted friends or family members. This goes along way in teaching your child that she is not the center of the world.

Begin giving your little one family responsibility. At 4 she can dust, unload the silverware from the dishwasher, feed the dog, make her bed (don’t expect perfection), help weed the garden (our daughter keeps all the dandelions away from our yard), set the table. She needs to know that you and your husband are not there to wait on her. It is easy when parenting one to just do things yourself. Don’t.

Be structured. With one child it is easy to be pretty unstructured but I have learned some form of structure is important in teaching responsibility and orderliness. Although it can be flexible, we have a daily routine.

Do many family activities — pray together, walks, hiking, picnicking even in the yard, travels, Bible study, read together with Dad too, do ministry activities together, cook together, garden — this will keep closeness in your family and creates family identity — very important as I think only children are at greater risk of peer dependence.

You can allow your child to have some interaction with older, younger and same age children — just as she would if she had siblings. Even though our daughter has a couple closer friends near her age that she enjoys spending time with, we sometimes invite over sibling groups instead of just one child. Baby-sit if you are able, or at least invite over a friend for tea who may have a baby or toddlers. Let your daughter, with supervision, entertain the little one. I occasionally do activities with other homeschool moms and all of our children together. We have gone hiking, to the zoo, play time etc. Last year at Christmas a few of us baked cookies and delivered them along with Christmas carol singing, to an assisted living center. Also, our homeschool support group does organized performing arts field trips, this has been enriching and educational although you must carefully screen what you go to see. Last year for a couple months I collaborated with another mom and we did a unit study together, meeting once a week for a couple hours.

These are just a few thoughts and I hope they are helpful. I hope other only child families may be able to give input too. As for learning styles, my learning style too is different from my daughter’s. There is a great section in Educating The Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson on learning styles and how to determine what learning style your child has.

Blessings to you and your family,
The Stark Family
Clint, Rhonda & Katie
Palmer, Alaska
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003
From: Doug Atkinson
Subject: Suggestions for piano lessons

We recently decided that we want our three children to learn to play classical piano. We purchased a grand piano (my wife also plays), and I began researching various piano programs and teaching methods. Please note that I am not an expert, so this information is what I gleaned from the various Internet sites.

Some time ago, we purchased the Simply Music set (it is much cheaper now than when we bought it!). As others have mentioned, it is designed to get you playing before learning music theory. Without practical experience to prove otherwise, I’m not sure this method is the best way to start a child. My wife plays a bit “by ear”, using sheet music to provide cues. When she tried to take lessons many years ago, she was quite bored because the theory programs start very basic, and the music is not highly exciting. If your 9 year old learns to play songs, will she later have the patience to go back to square 1 to learn to read music?

It may turn out that those who have learned the Simply Music may actually take to the theory faster, but I just wanted to provide this caution.

There is a lot of information on the Internet on Piano Methods, so I made a brief summary for myself. The comments are mine, and reflect my best unscientific picture:

Alfred Basic Piano Library: Ok, folk song emphasis rather than classical. Also, position playing used is not considered the best approach by some.

Bastien Piano Basics: pacing too fast, but good technique and seems to be better liked than Alfred.

Clark & Goss – The Music Tree: sounds good for classical, though layout not as nice as Alfred or Bastien. Solid.

Faber & MacArthur Piano Adventures. Position playing. Sounds okay, but did not seem to be as well liked as Clark’s.

Hal Leonard Student Piano Library: Didn’t find many opinions on this one, though it is widely available.

Robert Pace: Very good, classical method. Needs good teacher.

Robyn Method: strong method, but the books look a bit dated.

Suzuki Method: Some sources stated that this method seemed to work best for Japanese students, but there are many proponents of this method stateside! I believe the emphasis is on playing by ear, and I think it requires a certified instructor.

Thompson Method: Compared with the others, this method looks quite dated. This is the method my wife had tried years ago, and she didn’t care for it.

Please note that there are many other methods out there as well. Based on the information I read, I would have leaned toward The Music Tree, though I haven’t seen the books in person. The Faber and Pace methods were also highly regarded. However, our piano teacher uses the Alfred Basic Piano Library, so this is what I purchased.

The pages are very colorful, and in a quick comparison with some Bastien books I saw in a music store, I like the Alfred layout and graphics much better. Although the Alfred course is secular, they do offer a “sacred” course that is Christian oriented. I haven’t seen this version in person. Alfred also offers a “homeschool” catalog, with suggestions for materials you can use without a formal teacher.

So far, our son has only had a few lessons, but he has been doing well and is remaining interested! For the first lesson we tried to include our 6 year old son, but he had difficulty relating finger numbering to his hands, so we have held him off from formal lessons right now.

You might also want to consider computer software to teach music theory, or to supplement formal lessons. I have posted to my non-commercial website (the ads there are Tripod’s, not my own!) a listing of many of the music theory programs available. The site is:

I found Alfred’s Teach Yourself Piano program for $10 at Best Buys. It is a little “stiff,” but follows the book by the same name. It is more suited for a teenager or adult who wants to learn on his own. The graphics seem a bit dated, but the program is okay for the basics.

I also just purchased the MIDISaurus program. It is designed for younger children and provides lots of interaction and an animated dinosaur to teach music theory. We have just installed the program so I can’t make any comments on its effectiveness. I’m hoping it will help my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son get better prepped for formal lessons.

Probably the best Music Theory software for a 9 year old, though, would be Harmonic Vision’s Music Ace program. This also uses animation, but is presented at a little more sophisticated level than MIDIsaurus. I don’t have this one, but they provide a good demonstration version you can download for free. (see

Finally, if you are going to use a computer program, it will help you to get a MIDI compatible keyboard. I’m looking into this now, and am trying to decide between a dedicated MIDI keyboard, or a Yamaha PS170 type keyboard that provides a MIDI interface. Even if you get the Simply Music program, you are probably better off getting a MIDI compatible keyboard rather than spending the same amount of money on a the non-MIDI Casio offered at their site.

Hope this helps!
Doug Atkinson
Barnegat, NJ
From: Don Potter
Subject: Spelling as a Categorical Act
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003

To all of my phonics-first friends,

I just finished posting Raymond Laurita’s SPELLING AS A CATEGORICAL ACT on the Education page of my web site This article serves as a compact introduction to Ray’s magnum opus, Orthographic Structuralism: The New Spelling. May my humble web site become a voice of reason crying out for rational instructional reform in America’s desolate educational wilderness.

Don Potter
Odessa, TX
From: Fplf72
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003
Subject: homeschool frustrations

I really like homeschooling but need some advice and perhaps a more balanced viewpoint than what my limited experience gives me. I’m getting frustrated with not having time to do anything else. I have three boys, ages 6, 5 and a nearly two year old. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed I am busy, I’m wondering how do I fit in working in the garden, cleaning out the fridge, organizing rooms and so on? Before I started with a schedule I’d do whatever I had on my mind to do whether it was re-organizing the living room or deep cleaning the bathroom. Now those intense tasks are hard to find time for. My boys do help out and they have their chores, but there is only so much they can do. And now that it’s summer and all public school kids are out do I ease up on school? Do I cut it in half? What does everyone else do? I feel guilty when I am not schooling them and they’re on their own playing…because other kids their age are in school. And because they’re not doing anything constructive, they’re not actively learning. They do have playtimes during the day but then there are those days where they mostly just play while I attend to tasks around the house and they help me when they are able but I feel like I’m going to get caught not schooling! I’m just getting so frustrated, I feel like I will never have the time to do things like learn how to knit or finish that quilt I started. I just don’t what to expect of them and myself. Any advice is very welcome. I’m sure I can’t see things properly from where I stand. I know this is long thanks to all who read and waded through it!

Naomi Findley
I’ll try to answer part of your questions and perhaps others can address the rest. I suggest taking the summer off as far as formal academics are concerned. Instead, spend more time on the informal part of schooling: spend lots of time reading aloud, which you probably would like to do anyway; investigate new types of art media or crafts; take field trips; gardening; or any of the other projects/subjects you didn’t have time for during the regular school year. I think summer is the perfect time to work on science, especially for the younger students. Now is when you might have time (and energy) to find all those items you need to do the science experiments your kids wanted to do. Now is when the libraries are less crowded so you can research that subject you’ve always been interested in. When our children were young we participated in 4-H and the county fair, so summertime was when we concentrated on our sewing and crafts. “Naturecraft” is a fair category our children usually entered and had lots of fun with. For this category you have to produce a piece of art using only things found in nature: leaves, bark, flowers, twigs, rocks, etc.

From: Samantha
Subject: Projects and Shutterbooks
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003

Greetings all.

I would like to know more about “projects.” Laurie talks about the projects her kids did in TTT, like a historical hats project the girls did…is a “project” always something *other than* just a written report? Like a display board? What else can you use for “projects”? I have been looking into this “shutterbook” or “lapbook” thing going around in homeschooling circles. Have any of you used these things in your homeschool, especially with children older than preschool, and even into Later Knowledge Level? If so, how have you used them? What have you documented with them? Details, please! I have such a hard time visualizing things without detailed descriptions and/or pictures… Thanks again…I always get great ideas when I put a question out there for “y’all”!

From: Becca Beard
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003

>I hear homeschoolers mention nature journals and journaling in general, a prayer journal??? What are your thoughts? >Barb

Hi Barb,
I keep a prayer journal. I write my request on one side of the page, and on the other, I write down the specific way God answered my prayer. I’m finding that it’s a great way to see God’s hand in my life, and a great reminder and encouragement to stay consistent with my prayers. I WANT to see the answers God will give! I think that in the end, what better way for your kids to get a sense of who you are/were, than through your prayers. What you prayed for, how long you prayed for it and how consistent you were in praying for things that did not get answers right away. I think that’s a great legacy to leave our kids.

Hope that helps! God bless,
Flower Mound, TX
From: Michelle Leichty
Subject: Re: Journaling
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003

I am planning on starting my children on journaling soon, although they are quite young (5,3,1, due 8/03). Personally, I’ve been journaling (not on a regular basis) since high school. I find that it helps me process thoughts, helps me discover more about myself, my emotions and my reactions to circumstances in my life. It has revealed to me areas of sin, wrong thinking, etc., which has allowed me to grow in my relationship with Christ. I’m hoping for the same benefit for my children, plus the added bonus of me understanding them better, and them understanding themselves better. To start, they will be dictating to me their answers to a couple of questions – “What was the best part of your day…” and “What was the worst part of your day…” For myself, I’d like to journal more often, but I haven’t made it a priority right now with my children being so close together. Maybe that will change once I start with the children!

Enjoy your journaling –
From: Bob and Kim Gripshover
Subject: reply to Naomi about getting it all done
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003

Hi Naomi, I haven’t responded to any posts before, so I guess this will be my maiden run. I too struggle with wanting a neat home, and school taking up so much time. I have found it helpful to enlist the help of the children to a certain extent. Mine are aged 8 and 6. (I have 3 others, but they are too little to be very helpful.) They are in charge of the dishwasher, the scraping, loading and putting away, as well as the sweeping of the kitchen floor and the countertops. (wiped) They don’t like it, but they do it because this is their job. I help them sometimes if I have my work completed, and I always give them Sunday off, which they love. They also vacuum, sweep the floors, and are supposed to keep their own rooms clean. My 6 year old is not as good at this, and I often have to go into his room with a shovel it seems, but the effort he does put in is helpful. My 8 year olds room is immaculate; neater than my room. That is just his personality. Before I leave the second floor in the morning, I go around and do what I call my morning tidy. I make the kids beds who cannot make them, and just do a quick pickup in their rooms and mine. Make sure all the wet towels from morning showers are hung and the boys toilet flushed!! (The little ones sometimes forget this it seems) For laundry, I have a system which after much prayer, I came upon. I used to do everyone’s laundry all at once, and it would just pile to the ceiling it seemed, and it was never done. Now, I have laundry baskets in each persons room. I do one persons laundry each day, and maybe 1 load of wet towels. This usually amounts to 3 loads of laundry a day. I wash, dry, fold and put away that persons clothes, and then I am finished!! I do not start another persons just because it may be 9 AM and I CAN, I just call it a day, feel good about the laundry being done, and wait until the next day for the next person. This eliminates the sorting chaos of a larger family. I love it, and I am never behind anymore. The only thing is the self discipline to do that one persons each day, but I have had to skip every now and again. Another thing is to have order. Do you have a place for most items? I struggle with this. I tend to like to stick something in a drawer when I don’t know what to do with. Resist this urge; you only have to deal with it later. The best bet is to have a morning tidy; then do your school. The children could then help you with a 1/2 hour to hour chore time for a break from school. Then, in the afternoon, while dinner is simmering, do a quick pick-up in the kitchen and family rooms for Dad’s arrival. Before bed, all toys picked up and put away. It really only does take minutes, and you should not be the only person doing this!! While my husband puts the kids to bed, I will often pick up the family room, arrange pillows etc., and make sure the kitchen is clean. Don’t walk past things. Pick up that sock or toy on your way here and there. As far as deep cleaning, it can’t be done I would say without stress during school time. I would wait for a Friday you schedule off or Saturday. I had an upstairs closet that I had to grimace at all year, and now that it is summer, I finally cleaned it and told the kids it was off limits to them.
From: Sheri Payne
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003

I highly recommend This is not only a great help with organization and cleaning, it also helps you examine yourself through God’s eyes. It is a baby-stepping way to peace in your home and your life. Here’s my story: I was homeschooling my oldest with a pre-packaged curriculum for K, but I found that I was constantly taking weeks off from schooling to clean for company, spring cleaning, a disgusted husband, etc. At the end of the school year I was discouraged that I had spent so little time working with her and the younger children. I found myself on my knees begging God to help me. I was seriously thinking that I could not homeschool and keep a clean house or entertain. A homeschooling email newsletter mentioned FlyLady. God was definitely at work in this; I never read this newsletter anymore, but hadn’t gotten around to unsubscribing. For some reason I scanned this particular edition, but didn’t read any article except the one that happened to mention FlyLady. I decided to check out her website. I thought, I can do this; or at least, it wouldn’t hurt to try!  By the end of the summer, our household was completely different. I truly realized how different when our turn came to host couple’s Bunco, which also entails a full meal for 12 people. I didn’t stay up frantically cleaning until 2 am, I didn’t get up early enlisting my dh to scrub every corner of the house, I didn’t run my kids outside with threats of violence if they even touched one thing inside – you know what I mean? Instead, I went to bed early, got up late, did my normal daily routine, then added some quick vacuuming and dusting. Much of the food had already been prepped, and I was even able to enjoy the evening. When everyone left around 11 pm, most of the dishes were already loaded in the dishwasher, the extra tables and chairs were already put away, and the food had been cleared. DH and I quickly did the few remaining dishes, vacuumed the living room, and moved our furniture back. The best part was, I awoke the next morning with a clean house, clean dishes, and a shining clean sink. This was a major turning point in my life; I finally realized that I now had control over my house. This means I now have the time to *really* devote to my children. Instead of a prepackaged curriculum I discovered classical education and have designed my own plan. I’m able to open my home for all kinds of events and meetings, even with little or no notice. I still struggle somewhat, but I’ve let go of that perfectionist attitude that I had acquired as a young wife and mother. My dh has really seen the difference; he even recommends FlyLady to the husbands of the women I’ve counseled. I’ve seen so many homeschooling moms struggle with this same issue, and I’ve also seen so many of them find peace with FlyLady. You should check her out.

From: Don Potter
Subject: Organizing Decoding Instruction
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003

Dear friends,

I want to announce the recent publication on my web site of Marcia K. Henry’s fabulous article, Organizing Decoding Instruction, first published in 1991 in the Orton Dyslexia Society publication All Language and the Creation of Literacy. This book was a bombshell expose of whole-word (Whole Language) method and was in the vanguard of the present revival of phonic instruction. Henry’s article, in particular, is full of highly detailed and usable information. I personally taught her WORDS program for two years to children from second through sixth grade. The students and their teachers all acclaimed the program as a rousing success. With the kind help of Ms. Henry, I recently obtained permission from the International Dyslexia Society to publish the article on my web site I am confident that those of you who were fortunate enough to have already read the essays in All Language and the Creation of Literacy will rejoice with me at the possibility for increased readership through internet publication. Feel free to read the article and recommend it to educators far and wide. You can find Henry’s article on my Education page. There are other articles there of great value, heading the list is Samuel T. Orton’s largely unheeded early warning of the problems with the whole-word method. The articles I am publishing by Raymond Laurita are particularly insightful and valuable. With over 1000 hits this month alone to Hazel Loring’s Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics, we can expect significant improvement in reading instruction across the nation. My lesson plans for Sam Blumenfeld’s incomparable Alpha-Phonics has also received a very significant number of hits.

Sincerely, Donald Potter, Bilingual educator and former Instructional Resource Teacher, Odessa, TX
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003
From: The Riggs Institute
Subject: Re: Organizing Decoding Instruction

Congratulations, Mr. Potter, you have selected one of the best articles in a wonderful selection of articles in this most incredible publication of the former Orton Society, All Language &amp; the Creation of Literacy. Someone told me about it (probably one of your list) and we’ve carried it in our catalog for most of the time it has been in print. The two separate Orton Dyslexia Society Symposia, from which it came, were held in Bloomington, Minnesota March 31 – April 2, 1990 and again in Washington, D.C., October 31, 1990; they were entitled, respectively, Whole Language and Phonics and Literacy and Language. It was at a time in the great debate when many thoughtful people were asking why phonics couldn’t be added to or combined with whole language programs. Possibly they’d read the compiled research in Becoming a Nation of Readers and knew that there was only one chapter on phonics and that much of the rest of this synthesis for the nation’s leading reading professors held many of the tenants of whole language programs in some regard. In case anyone is interested, the other authors and titles are: Sylvia Richardson, Evolution of Approaches to Beginning Reading and the Need for Diversification in Education Marilyn Jager-Adams, Why Not Phonics and Whole Language? Joanna Williams, The Meaning of a Phonics Base for Reading Instruction Jeanne Chall, American Reading Instruction: Science, Art, and Ideology Diane DeFord, On Noble Thoughts, or Toward a Clarification of Theory and Practice Within a Whole Language Orientation 2nd Conference Sylvia Richardson, The Alphabetic Principle: Roots of Literacy Margaret Snowling & Charles Hulme, Speech Processing and Learning to Spell Robert Calfee, Marilyn Chambliss & Melissa Beretz, Organizing for Comprehension and Composition Myrna McCulloch
From: Lyn Carradine
Subject: Projects and Shutterbooks
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003

I have been looking into this shutterbook or lapbook.. Have any of you used these things in your homeschool. My kids have made a few lapbooks. My son who hated writing at age 8 and 9 made some wonderful projects on topics of interest to him. His biggest was on dinosaurs. He did research and read lots of books. He made lots of illustrations in lots of shapes and styles (Dinah Zike’s Big Book of Books really helps with this although there are lots of websites available as well with good ideas.) I helped him type up and print out most of what had to be written. I did have him write a few small labels that were odd shapes which he didn’t mind too much. He really enjoyed doing this, was proud to show off his work, and still takes them out and reads them from time to time. He was able to record what he learned without having to write and that was very important for him at the time. My girls (ages 8 and 11) have worked with me making lapbooks on topics we were studying in school, but they have never done one alone. I think I enjoy the collecting of the materials and deciding how to display it all more than the kids, but once it’s finished they sure do love to show them off to family and friends.

Taken from “Through Baca’s Vale” by J.C. Philpot

July 11
And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 2 Corinthians 1:7

The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean them from the world; another purpose is to shew them the weakness of the creature; a third purpose is to make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine godliness made manifest in their soul’s experience. What am I, and what are you when we have no trials? Light, frothy, worldly-minded, carnal, frivolous. We may talk of the things of God, but they are at a distance; there are no solemn feelings, no melting sensations, no real brokenness, no genuine contrition, no weeping at the divine feet, no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection. But when affliction, be it in providence or be it in grace, brings a man down; when it empties him of all his high thoughts, lays him low in his own eyes, brings trouble into his heart, I warrant you he wants something more than outside gospel. He wants power; he wants to experience in his soul the operations of the blessed Spirit; he wants to have a precious Jesus manifesting himself to his soul in love and blood; he wants to see his lovely countenance beaming upon him in ravishing smiles; he wants to hear the sweet whispers of dying love speaking inward peace; he wants to have the blessed Lord come into his soul, manifesting himself to him as he does not manifest himself to the world.

What brings a man here? A few dry notions floating to and fro in his brain, like a few drops of oil in a pail of water? That will never bring the life and power of vital godliness into a man’s heart. It must be by being experimentally acquainted with trouble. When he is led into the path of tribulation, he then begins to long after, and, in God’s own time and way, he begins to drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness, made manifest in his heart by the power of God.
From: Argp1234
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003
Subject: How much copywork for an 8-year-old

I will say that this is about right. I taught a 7 yo girl (a friend’s child) who isn’t “allergic” to pencils and she did about the same amount of copywork or less some days. When she came to my home for this past school year, she had been doing A Beka curriculum in private schools for K and 1st grade, and her handwriting was horrible! After looking over the amount of writing in this curriculum, I now saw why- way too much! I would print out a short paragraph and let her copy it through the week, a sentence at a time. Her handwriting is wonderful now. I believe the Charlotte Mason method of short lessons with excellence made all the difference. She did however write her own math answers, but narrations were done orally and I would type them up and she would draw the picture. Any other writing she did was completely on her own. When she would go home from my house, she would write in print, but here, her copywork was always cursive. She did also write 10 spelling words, but if she wrote spelling words, math and copywork in one day, it would begin to wear her down, so I tried to even it out.

Hope this helps.

A quick intro since I am new to the loop:

My dh, Roger, and I homeschool in the great state of Texas, I have 2 children homeschooling Samantha 12 yo and C.J. 5 yo and I also teach the 7 yo girl a family friend, Cheyenne. We have tried various methods and have been trying the CM/Classical method for about 2 years now, and are just beginning to find our “groove”. I also have an 18 yo son and a 22 yo daughter who are graduated, but were not homeschooled.

In Christ
Angel Pettigrew in Tx
From: Tricia Downey
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003

This is a response to Rich and Debi Cali, but it is only my 2 cents worth. I also know there is a difference between boys and girls.

I have an 8 1/2 year old daughter. Her copywork is a Scripture memory verse (sometimes divided into sections over a few weeks, if it is a long one). She copies the same verse every day for 5 days. The first 4 days are “practice” and the 5th day she writes it the best she can, and after I have looked it over, she gets to decorate it however she pleases (glue and glitter, colored pencils, markers, whatever). Sometimes we cover them in contact paper and it becomes a place mat for herself or a gift for someone else. Most of all, I keep many of them, so that over time, she can see her improvements when she looks them over later on.

For math, I have her do a page or two in her book, which we are using Miquon. When I finish the current book (red) I will switch to Math It for awhile, because I believe math facts are extremely important to know, and this helps them learn them in a fun way. There is no writing in Math It.

I also have 12 spelling words for her a week. Any she masters 1/2 way through the week are left off for the end of the week, focusing on those she needs more work with.

Hope that helps.
God bless,
Tricia Downey
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003
From: (Laura Boswell)

country: Canada

I just have a question for the loop – I am wondering about the “English notebook” that you recommend. Well, we have a 8yo boy and a almost 6yod boy who both read fairly well. We have used phonics pathways although not consistently. We have not yet started an English notebook for the boys and would like to. Both boys write well too and don’t need much prompting. My question is this: If the boys can already read where should I begin in the notebook? It seems silly to make a page of things beginning with ‘a’ and so on. And yet, I know that they don’t know all the phonics rules and the oldest especially reads by sight. I don’t want to dumb them down by repeating stuff they already know. But I don’t want the notebook to be incomplete either. Where do I start now that it is later? Thankfully my three yod is just now really interested in learning his alphabet so he will have a notebook started from scratch, so to speak.

Thank you Harvey and Laurie for your encouragement! You are a blessing to us. Laura
If you don’t feel it’s necessary to start their English Notebooks with phonics (although, since your boys aren’t that familiar with the phonics rules, they might benefit from a general phonics review), then you can start by using the notebook as a place to put their copywork and dictation lessons. Later you can add spelling and grammar.

Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003
Subject: Re: transition from Montessori to classical
From: Timothy S Innocenti

You might enjoy some of the suggestions in Natural Structure: A Montessori Approach to Classical Education at Home by Edward and Nancy Walsh. Many of the practical life activities used in Montessori (and even the language and math apparatus) are very enjoyable for children under age 10. With a Montessori background, it might help make the transition to home a little easier to have some familiar items available.

Other books that may be helpful in making the transition are Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years and Teaching Montessori in the Home: The School Years. Both are by Elizabeth G. Hainstock and are probably at your local library or can be inter-library loaned for free or very inexpensively.

Blessings on your transition,
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003
From: Scott/Carol Bertilson
Subject: A New Piano Course

I wholeheartedly agree with Doug Atkinson about piano lessons. I play by ear and partially read music. I have always regretted that I did not learn to read music fluently before I learned to improvise. It is very difficult to learn to read fluently once you have learned to play by ear. I am not able to play music that I am not familiar with, and cannot play anything beyond the simplest classical pieces designed for children. I do have a course to recommend for learning to read and play piano correctly. I found out about it at our homeschool convention. It is called “The Conservatory Piano Course” and was developed at a music school (the Hovland-Jost Conservatory) here in the Twin Cities. My children take their lessons there and are progressing very quickly. All the teachers use the same curriculum. The course has been painstakingly designed based on testing on 1000’s of children and many teachers. It is based on a “classical” approach to teaching music, hearkening back to the old methods which did not add in a bunch of misleading tricks (such as the rhymes for teaching the staff). It does not use “hand positions” which are ineffective and harmful to teaching reading. It is far more efficient than other courses that teach reading. It follows the straightforward, natural progression of teaching musical thought according to the order in which it was discovered in history. It uses only time-tested piano literature, both traditional and classical, instead of wasting time on “popular” songs that don’t teach much musically. It seeks not only to teach reading skills, technical skills (something missing in most methods), and improvisation, but how to develop thinking (musically).

The author, Mary Hovland, has written an extensive manual to guide the use of the curriculum which will be available this fall. You can read about it at (although I can’t get the page to come up right now). The course is very practical, well-planned, easy to follow and the manual gives very specific guidance as to how to successfully teach all aspects of piano. My only warning is that it must be taught by a parent that is a well-trained pianist. The reality is, technique cannot be taught without demonstration by someone who knows how to play correctly. And technique is essential to developing finger strength and creating good tone (ie- sounding good). That is why I do not teach my own children. Now my children teach me! Since this is a brand new curriculum and is just beginning to be marketed in some music stores, most teachers do not know about it. But it would be worth it to mention it to any piano teachers you know because it is such a good course, it would make any teacher more effective than they presently are. Hope this helps someone.
From: Kendra Fletcher
Subject: Copywork and 8yo boys
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2003

I agree with Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn; you are not requiring too little of your son to ask for 20 minutes of copywork per day. The difference in copywork output between our 10yo boy and 8yo boy is sizeable. Seems many boys dread writing until a certain age (I’m sure there’s an average but I would be loathe to tell it lest you hold him to an unreasonable statistic), and then they turn this mysterious corner…and begin to write!

My philosophy, if any, with my younger sons coming up is to allow them to find joy in writing by requiring very little, while at the same time encouraging them to write a little more as the year progresses. I don’t push them, but that has only been after witnessing that corner rounded by the firstborn. I trust it will eventually arrive for the others as well. If not, then there certainly will be a season when required writing will be necessary, but not until they have some substantial maturity…14, 15 years old?

Relax… take a deep breath. 8 is still pretty little.
Kendra Fletcher
From: Jean Kovatovich
Subject: Math for early elementary
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003

Math is painful at our home and we have tried five different programs between K and 2nd grade. I finally stopped math altogether a few months ago and everyone is happy! I am intrigued by your idea of letting go of the formal math until age 10 or so, however, I would like to maintain some sort of effort in this department. I like the possibility of using games and real-life teaching opportunities. The real-life things I can identify and implement throughout the day with no problem. I would like some suggestions, however, for some good math game resources. We have a rule in our home…if a game is all luck and no strategy, it doesn’t come home. As you can imagine, we own just a select few, high-quality games and we are in need of some variety without sacrificing quality. Boxcars and One-Eyed Jacks has been recommended to me as a source for math games, but I’m fishing for reviews or other suggestions for my kids who are first and second grade. Thanks in advance for any ideas!

Jean Kovatovich
San Antonio, TX
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Can others send us their ideas?
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2003
Subject: Summer schooling?
From: jonathan ehmen

Question to all,

Do you school though out the summer as well or do you take that break? Even if your schooling takes a break, do you still work on memory work, for example, Latin chants? I know my daughter wants a “summer break,” but I know I don’t want all our work to be lost!!!

We always took a summer break because we were pretty active in 4-H and had to have lots of time to work on fair projects. We also did (and still do) lots of gardening and canning. But we always kept up the reading aloud in the summer months.

From: Steve and Lisa McCullough
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003

Regarding a 12 yo learning math – I am not an expert on all math programs, but after using Saxon, Professor B, and Singapore, I stopped searching when I found Math-U-See. After reviewing the first few texts for the program, we have been using it exclusively for two years (for 2nd and 3rd grade) and are very happy with it. It is “hands on” and does and excellent job introducing and teaching math concepts. I recommend it often to those who are in your situation – students having general trouble with math, needing to change programs and uncertain what the student really knows and understands. Math-U-See is very user-friendly. I used Saxon in the early years for about 2 months, until I realized it was extremely cumbersome: for me to prepare a lesson I had to eliminate what we already knew well, determine how to emphasize the weak areas, and then create a new way to teach in a way the student could actually comprehend. Math-U-See texts are set up in a few chapters – say 36 – covering 2-3 years of material. It would be very easy to go all the way back to Foundations and work through the chapters, spending one day on some, 3 days on another, camping out for a month on the weak spots, and set up the building blocks of math again. Also, this is a simple, black and white program – no cutesy cartoons that might make the program appear too young for a junior high student. He would never have to know he is starting out in a kindergarten-3rd grade book. There are no grade/age levels associated with the texts and they all have the same format. My husband is a public school principal (no, really) and his school is currently getting rid of Saxon and searching for a better math program. He explains it this way. The Saxon philosophy is that, if you repeat and practice the formulas enough, you’ll learn how to do it. It can work well for students who can make their own connections, but not for those who need to be shown the reason why. After watching the Math-U-See introduction video, my husband commented “that’s exactly how I taught math!” (he was an excellent junior high math teacher, including remedial) I am certain this is not the only excellent math program out there, but it is worth a look in your curriculum shopping. The Math-U-See website is, and you can also research the yahoo group.
From: Chester and Karen Replogle
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2003

>>For the inquiry about Singapore math. Wendy wrote: My daughter is 11 and is finishing Saxon 65. She did well with Saxon; however, I’ve found her strong in computation and weak in analysis… I am not in a hurry to leave Saxon… My son will be 10 this summer and will start formal math in the fall.

I had the same situation with my son. I ordered the “Topical Sums” from Sonlight. They are not in the new catalog, but are available from Rainbow Resources, and I’m sure others. They are workbooks of just word problems. As the title suggests, the workbooks are divided into topics (graphs, angles, addition, etc). The examples are excellent. The problems, divided into two difficulty levels, are not tedious not difficult. Each requires several steps to solve. I ordered books 4, 5 & 6. I did not start with Singapore, so I’ll leave that advice to others!

By Grace,
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003
Subject: Algebra II after Jacobs
From: barry Cureton

Hi Karen- We too have used and enjoyed Jacobs Algebra I, and are finishing up his Geometry this year. We will be using Paul Foerster’s Algebra II and Trigonometry for 10th and 11th grade (it is planned as a two year course). It comes recommended by the folks at Veritas Press, they reportedly asked Jacob’s for his advice, owing to the fact that he himself had not written an Algebra II book, and Foerster’s book was his suggestion. I have found the advice given by Veritas to be trustworthy, so we’re taking the leap. Best wishes!

Margaret Cureton, Woodstock, Maryland
From: julie cochran
Subject: jacobs algebra and geometry
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003

I contacted Mr. Jacobs via another source (Debra Bell’s website?) and he said that his algebra text is a two year course covering Algebra 1 and 2 for the non technical/non math student (someone going more into the arts who is NOT going to probably take calculus). I would be interested to know what to do after mine has completed algebra and geometry also, though. (she is about half way through the algebra text on her own and loves its layout! ) I guess I was thinking of doing one of the consumer math programs out there….i think bob jones sells one that i have seen. ie. how to do budgets, accounting, checkbooks, etc. run a business….(anyone know of the BEST one of those out there for a girl who wants to start her own catering business some day and own a ranch? smile.) i guess it depends what you want the student to advance to.

julie cochran
From: 1RmSchlHse
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003

WOW! Some great ideas and info on math & homeschooling in #320. Thanks, everybody! OTOH, I wonder–did I miss it–or has anyone reviewed “Basic College Mathematics”? I ran across a blurb for the series in a catalog from Bluestocking Press~~ who recommends it highly. They recommend going to: where I found info on a lot of stuff, interactive lessons for math, geometry, algebra, et cetera.

kenn 1RmSchlHse
From: Dan & Cathy Meissner
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003
Re: Math Question

I know of several families that have followed Jacob’s Algebra and Geometry courses with Algebra II and Trigonometry by Paul A. Foerster. They have found it to be an excellent and challenging course. Veritas Press states that they called Mr. Jacobs and this was the book that he recommended to follow his sequence.

Cathy M.
From: KeenHomeschool
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Subject: Re: Math Games for early elementary


My children loved Math Mouse Games by Cathy Duffy, copyright 1989. I’m dating my self. 🙂 Here is a description: Created by Cathy Duffy, these games teach and reinforce math skills. They are designed for children 3.5 through 7 and teach colors, patterns, simple money concepts, “less than,” “more than,” and “equal to.” (My older children used it for a long time up until around 4th and 5th grades.) On my box it says: 9 Games: Gobbling Fractions, Roll-A-Problem, Gardening, Blast Off, Space Race, Grocery Store, Fraction/Decimal Cards, Multiplication Board and Add Off. Mine is in a box that has all the items to play the games with, like a spinner, die, play money for the store, plus lots more. We liked it so much that I’ve kept it even past my older ones ages, and I’m glad I did. We had a “second chance” to have two more boys added to our family. They are ages 3 and 1, so we’ll get to “share” this great fun with them, too! Another thing we did was to set up a “paid” chore system. The payment was for chores that I might be willing to pay someone to do in my home. We used Doorpost’s Service Opportunities for this. This incorporated learning of simple add/sub/mult/div, time/clock, money (my children “knew” how to count change back to a dollar at a young age!), percentages, decimals, etc. We will skip the formal math for our little boys until age 10 and opt for games and real life/everyday math skills on the next go-around in our homeschooling adventure! Ruth Beechick in some of her books utilizes the 100 Chart for learning math as well. You can make your own 100 Chart from stiff paper, wood, etc. Great for learning to count by 2’s, 3’s, and the list goes on.

From: Aceplace
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003

For Jean Kovatovich from Texas

We’ve had a lot of math pain at our house, too. At the last Middle Tennessee curriculum fair, I met a vendor who is a wonderful math resource. She uses lots of games, and so far, every one she has recommended has been great. They include Blink, Chips, Set, Rush Hour and Izzi. Blink and Set both deal with being able to see and recognize sets according to various properties–color, shape, number, shading and so on. Blink is particularly good with the K-2 age group you mentioned. The business is The Teacher’s Store, the owner’s name is Wendy (I forget the last name; it may start with “Z”). Her website is If you have questions, she can tell you what each game works on. She’s based in West Plains, Missouri. My three oldest children, 11, 9 and 6, all enjoy each of the games I mentioned. I hope this helps.

Amy Eytchison
Brentwood, TN
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
From: Michael Van Vooren

To Jean K.,

Math game ideas …
1. (this is a store that sells some great math & other games.)
2. (this site has some great ideas for math games and others.)
3. Our family always played math games with food. Counting, sorting, adding, subtracting (favorite for all since it usually meant they got to eat the food), multiplying and dividing. We used fruit, raisins, candy even. We used small cups to sort, divide, multiply. We’d cover up some of the food for algebra type problems. It was always fun. Then later you can do menu items with prices and have fun with food in a make-believe restaurant. (Seriously, we are not overweight people from these games! 🙂 )

The Van Voorens
From: The Shealys
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003


I recently purchased the Muggins Math Games and am very pleased with them. There is strategic thinking involved in winning the games, and they are a lot of fun. For instance, in one of the games, you roll three dice, total them, and then divide the number up to strategically place your marbles on the board, trying to block your opponent(s) or take an spot needed for victory. You can use these games to drill all four operations, or restrict play to only one or two operations. While the wooden boards are expensive, some homeschool suppliers sell the whiteboard version for about ten dollars or so. For those of you with little guys, my 4yo ds loves the younger version called Jelly Beans. At his level, it is mostly luck, but will grow into strategic thinking as he grows. He has already learned his number names and one to one correspondence. Most importantly, he begs to play the game. I would not purchase Fudge, as it is too similar to Knock-Out, which is included if you purchase the wooden Muggins set.

From: alegna b
Subject: Math game for early elementary
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003

I recommend the game of Set ( It’s definitely not a game of chance, although I wouldn’t describe it as a game of strategy. You can read the instructions and try it online at the web site.
From: Hazel Burke
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003

Regarding math games…one you could make yourself is as simple as this: Make a 3″ by 4″ game “board” on a sheet of paper. Label the squares with the numbers 1 – 12. Throw three dice, and whatever numbers come up must be combined in some way (add, subtract, multiply, divide, or any variety of these) to result in a number from 1 – 12. The person whose turn it is puts a marker (a penny, a Lego) on the square with his answer, and you take turns until the whole board gets filled. Whoever has the most markers is the winner — or you could use the same markers for everyone and avoid the win-lose issue…when the board is filled up, the game is over.

I hope this is helpful,
Lynda Dietz
From: Linda Adair
Subject: Mom feels inadequate!
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003

After reading your article Trivium in a Capsule, I know why I have never considered using your teaching materials…I feel totally inadequate! I see my own lack of understanding and knowledge and can’t possibly see how I could teach my own children these things! I have always said I am a mom not a teacher! Do you address this anywhere else in your articles. If anything when I read material like this I wonder how in the world I could teach my children anything! I left school when I was 15 years old, never having learned how to learn and couldn’t wait to get out of the system. I hated school and everything about it! When the Lord laid it on our hearts to teach our children at home we knew that He would make the way. It has been a struggle as I have held on to fear. But there was no option for us to quit. I have adhered to the teaching of Marilyn Howshall but I still lack the freedom and confidence that she has. Do you have an answer for folks like me?

Thanks for your time.
Sincerely, Linda Adair
I’ll let others answer this question, but I would like to make one comment. Many of us are in this same situation — and that’s why homeschooling is perfect for us. Homeschooling is mainly for the parents — the kids are just coming along for the ride. Now we can learn or relearn the things we didn’t learn when we were in school. It’s an exciting adventure — one that I wouldn’t have missed for a million dollars. As a homeschooling mom I learned far more about Protozoa and using the microscope than I ever learned with Mr. Battles in Advanced Biology in high school, and, talk about history, why, I don’t think I even knew what history was till I started reading to my kids all those historical fiction books. Now I love history, and I love studying science, and art, and, actually, everything — well, maybe not calculus and physics, but we got through those subjects as well. Look at homeschooling as an adventure and a fantastic learning opportunity for yourself as well as your children. If you find that homeschooling becomes dull or overly stressful, then you might want to consider re-evaluating your approach.

Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003
Subject: math
From: David & Rita Holets

Ever heard of Lial’s College Mathematics? This seems to fit the Bluedorn’s philosophy as it is recommended for a first time math book for a 10 year old! They say this is all you need before Algebra. Very expensive, but worth looking at. I found it on the Bluestocking Press website. I would love to hear from anyone who has used this.

Grace and blessings, Rita Holets
From: kmweeks
Subject: Suggestion for scheduling

Suggestion for scheduling concerns–Response to Naomi Findley’s June 6, 2003 homeschooling frustrations

Go to for the book Managers of Their Homes. Here is the description from the website of this book: Universally, homeschooling moms face a daunting task as they fit school into already busy days. In this book, Managers of Their Homes, which comes with a unique hands-on Scheduling Kit, Teri Maxwell shares practical, proven time-management methods. As a homeschooling mom since 1985 with eight children, the Lord has taught Teri these simple, but workable solutions to the difficulty homeschooling moms have of “getting it ALL done.” It doesn’t matter whether you have one child or twelve, this book will help you to plan your daily schedule. How does one schedule school time? What about schooling with babies and toddlers? Are you struggling with keeping up in areas such as laundry, dishes, or housekeeping? Does it seem like there is no time for you in the day? Are you missing special time with your children? Do you feel stressed over the busyness of your days or not accomplishing all you want? Are your children doing what you want them to do each day? Gain new hope from MOTH (Managers of Their Homes) from moms who have applied these methods. They have moved from chaos, stress, and disorganization to peace, contentment, and productivity. You can as well! The book was tested by 24 home-school families, who read a pre-release version of the book and implemented a schedule in their homes. The results were astounding – far surpassing even what we were expecting! Throughout the entire book (8.5 x 11 inches; 174 pages) these test mom’s comments are featured in sidebars. As you journey through the book, you’ll enjoy being able to read the comments and experiences of these moms as they progressed through the book, making and implementing their schedules.

I am in the process of using the scheduling kit from Managers of their Homes, so I cannot share whether it has been a success for me or not. I sure hope it will be! Reading all the comments from the test moms showed me that others have had success with it. Also, on they offer a book called Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit which has been very helpful for me. A description of it is on the website. Hope these suggestions help all who read this!!

K. Weeks Idaho
From: Kathryn Hackner
Subject: teaching children to draw
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about teaching children to draw? I have 3 young children; my oldest is 6, soon to be 7. Whenever we sit down to draw together, my oldest daughter (whom I would say is a perfectionist) wants her picture to look just like mine. Then of course she gets frustrated, so I don’t draw my own picture with her. Does a child’s drawing abilities just develop on their own, or should I be using aids to teach her to draw, paint with watercolors, etc.? Our library does not seem to have much in the way of books for her age to teach drawing, etc. My oldest daughter mainly draws people and animals. She just always seems to be drawing the same things in her pictures and cards. I’d like to help her expand what she can draw. We found one cute book in the library, and it was more cartoon drawing, and I’d like to focus more on real life drawing. Am I just trying to start my daughter too young? If so, what is a good age to begin teaching drawing, etc? By the way, I am so thankful to be on your email loop. What encouragement and great ideas, advice, etc!!

Blessings, Kathryn in Ontario, Canada
Perhaps I can share with you some of the things we did in the way of art in our home when the children were small. 1. I like to have prints of great pieces of art plastered all over the walls. I wish I could have more but am limited by wall space. I have obtained these prints from a number of sources: garage sales, library book sales, art museum gift shops, post cards, prints from the internet. Periodically I will move the picture around, adding new ones and taking down those that have been displayed awhile. 2. I tried to give the children the time, the space, and the materials to work on their art. They need plenty of uninterrupted time to develop their creativity with art, with plenty of uninterrupted space to spread out their projects for lengthy periods of time, and plenty of good quality art and craft supplies. Art supplies need to be readily accessible, not put up on a shelf so that only Mom can get them down.3. Many of the great artists learned to paint and draw by copying the masters, and that’s exactly how our children learned. On my walls I have numerous copies of paintings by Renoir and Monet that were done by the children over the years. 4. In their early years the children did much of their art work with colored pencils, graduating to paints later on. Buy good quality colored pencils. 5. Wallpaper sample books are very useful, as are matting board scraps. These can be used to make greeting cards which are a great way to practice new art techniques.

From: Robert and Michele von Hein
Subject: The Black Arrow
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2003

Dear Bluedorns and likeminded folk,

We are currently trying to read through Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow. We are reading about knights and history, etc. during the Wars of the Roses, and my boys, 9 and 11, are very interested in this particular text. Unfortunately, I am having a terrible time with the dialogue. Between arcane terms that don’t have any meaning to me, and broken King’s English, some of it is very hard to understand. Does anyone have any ideas or a resource that could help us on this one? We would really like to persevere and get through the book.

Blessings, Michele von Hein
Yes, that particular book and also Stevenson’s Kidnapped are a bit hard to understand. I usually don’t recommend watching the video of a book first, but, in this case, it is easier to get the gist of the plot if you watch the movie first.

From: G
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003

Dear Laurie,

Yesterday I went to … & back and got a wonderful dose of the Bluedorns via the tapes you sent me! God is so amazing to have brought you across my path – all of you are just what I needed to cement my convictions about my daughter’s education. I sense a wonderful peace and assurance about the classical education style for my daughter (and me). We would have to make some lifestyle changes but there is no doubt in my mind that it would be well worth it. When I told my daughter about it, describing the concept that we need to gird ourselves and prepare ourselves, to be equipped and ready with an answer for the hope that lies within (that the days ahead will become more difficult and decadent), her response was, This is about a lot more than just school, isn’t it Mom? I said, Yes, it’s about LIFE! Our one downfall (from the tapes that I heard so far), is that she has had a fast food diet of reading some less than challenging books (Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, etc) so we will have to get her up to speed on that. She’s a phenomenal reader – so I am confident that this will resolve itself. We don’t have a tv so that’s not an issue. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you &amp; your family have responded to God’s call about this issue! Your example is an incredible inspiration to me – and I feel now that I have the tools and direction to do the job properly. Prior to reading Lisa Whelchel’s book (and her chapter on the Classical system), it was a nebulous issue to me – where would I start? what would I teach? etc. Now I have the map to do it right! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! May God bless you & keep you and make His face to shine upon you!



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