Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2005-Part 2

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From: Tanya Preble
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005

When I first told my daughters ages 14 & 16 that they were going to study logic you should have heard the groans! We are just starting Lesson 13 in The Fallacy Detective and I’m not hearing any more groans from them. I think the only one groaning now is me. How did they learn how to spot all the fallacies in what I say to them so quickly? Hmmmmmmm …. maybe it has something to do with that logic book they’re reading.
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005
Subject: re: My son is a sore loser!

My grandson David had the same problem. He plays chess in a group, and had an especially difficult time when he lost to his sister. I told him, I know that it is very hard for you to lose. If you try really hard not to be upset, you will show great strength and be growing into a real man. Ask God to help you be strong. Try very hard not to cry, and to tell your sister, ‘Great game’. David wants to do the right thing; it is just so hard for some children. Every time he lost, he tried to control himself, and as soon as we were alone, we all gave him lots of praise. He has really worked on self-control, and can lose gracefully, although it will always be difficult for him. Each of us has particular areas of weakness (pride in this case) that we must overcome. It can be done!

Mary Harrington
From: SelahDream
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005


In my experience, it is a normal stage of development for your 7-year-old boy when he cries at loosing. It is hard learning to loose! I think you are doing the right thing in giving him opportunities to practice this character skill. Hang in there! It’s painful to watch, but it’s worth it if he can work through it — and he will. But it will take some time. I think it’s sort of like that stage they go through before they learn to share. Many grown ups could use a refresher course in these skills, too!
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005
From: Pati Smith

On the subject of math curriculum, may I add one more suggestion? Right Start Math. It truly tries to teach kids to understand mathematical concepts, not just regurgitate formulas and methods for solving problems. It encourages learning the pattern of math, not just rote memorization (although there is memorization involved, of course). As a math person myself, I jumped for joy when I found this program. Dr. Cotter, who developed the program, spent many years as a Montessori teacher watching kids learn math, and realized many of the Montessori methods were not helpful. She attained a PhD in mathematical education and researched how math is taught around the world, especially in Asian countries where kids do so well. She incorporated many of her insights and findings into this program, and indeed, it is a well tested and verified program, both in schools and with homeschoolers. Personally, I’m astounded at how well my daughter understands what we are doing, and loves it!

In Christ,
Pati Smith, Redmond, WA
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005
From: Wayne Mason

I want to respond to the sore loser question.

Hi Bethany,

Have you engaged his heart? He is old enough to see that his reaction is sinful pride. He is actually setting up an idol in his heart; the idol of winning or not making mistakes. Perhaps if you appeal to his conscience in that he is offending God with his response he may be able to see it in a different perspective. Then you can give him the opportunity to turn from his sin and turn to Jesus.

Martha in VA
From: apex
Subject: Sewing for little girls
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005

To teach sewing to little girls with a living book, you may want to look into:

The Mary Francis Sewing Book by Jane Eayre Fryer, originally published in 1913 (republished in hardback by LACIS)

An exceptionally clever and fascinating story of a little girl who wanted to sew. More than a story, it tells, in story form, how Mary Frances leans to sew from the sewing tools in her grandmother’s sewing froom who talk to her….The sewing bird, the thimble, the emery bag, and all the other new friends from the thimble people….The lessons which include all the basic sewing stitches, lead to the making of a cross-stitch sampler and then to the making of a complete wardrobe for a 16 doll…33 patterns in all. Instructions are given in the simplest and plainest words, describing every step and offering basic sewing techniques

Most warmly,
Ann Voskamp
From: Steve and Lisa McCullough
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005

Regarding purchasing sewing machines…

If you are fairly new to sewing, I would pair up with an experienced seamstress and go to your local thrift store, where you can buy a perfectly good machine for under $30.

I have been a semi-professional seamstress (meaning I rarely sew for money but always sew for family) since high school. I have made 4 wedding dresses, several formals, tailored blazers, etc. I have always loved to sew.

The only machine I had for years was a second hand Singer (yes, the cheap one with plastic parts). That is what I sewed all those beautiful dresses on. It did not run as smoothly as I would have liked, but it still worked fine.

Last year, as I was browsing a Good Will, I found two perfectly good looking machines. I plugged them in, ran them with a scrap of fabric and the threads that were there, and loved them both. I chose one and left the other. $25 later, I had a portable free arm machine that gave me a second for my girls to start working on. I use it all the time as my main machine now.

I don’t do fancy embroidery or quilting by machine. I do like to have 2 or 3 decorative stitch options (for the baby blankets I make) and 2 or 3 stretch stitch options. But straight and zig-zag will work for years.

I have used alot of machines, and most of them work great. Before you spend alot of money on a fancy machine, consider what you really need. In over 25 years of sewing, my machines have cost me a total of $60.

Lisa McCullough
From: Glenn Ingham
Subject: Re: Help! My son is a sore loser!
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005

Dear Bethany

My ds is the same and more and now he is 9yo and has just today accepted blame for something he did wrong, he couldn’t even do that till now (I WAS SO THANKFUL TO GOD and to him)! He COULDN’T STAND being the lesser in any way. It is common with boys especially (I’m generalizing here I know girls have these issues too). We’ve talked about Jesus and whoever wants to be first will be last and other teachings such as from the Beatitudes over the years. I’ve held up trying as being more important, persevering rather than winning but it is a very male urge and I believe physical too.

You are absolutely right when you say it takes time and patience don’t give up your nurturing with this and in a few years maybe sooner he will get that maturity that Teaching the Trivium (the book) talks about, that Understanding Stage that my son is on the threshold of now. He will gain the fruit of maturity from the seeds of Godliness you have planted over these younger years. May God bless you in the good job you are doing of your motherhood.

BTW thank you so much to the Bluedorns if you’re out there reading for your book especially reading about the stages of maturity, it has been such a blessing to me with my challenging and less mature (you might say) son! I am hoping to see him have some more spurts of being able to handle knowledge and learn better over the next few years. I think I may have spent a lot of time on things that I really didn’t need to and it has been exhausting! He struggles with words but I have found out only he copes better orally so I am using a Latin program which we love called Minimus that is oral (spoken Latin) and fun. Anyway thank you so much and all the best Bethany.

Kind regards from Australia,
Mum to Jessica 12yo and Lachlan 9
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005
From: Jammie Payne
Subject: Mary Frances Sewing Book

I just purchased the Mary Frances Sewing book from my local sewing store today. The store where I bought it also carries the Mary Frances Garden, Cookbook, and Housekeeping books. All have the same main character, Mary Frances, and are in story format. I didn’t realize until today that there was a series of books. I believe the kitchen book is the first one. Just thought I’d pass that along as they are such a delight for moms and daughters both.

God Bless,
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005

Hello! We have a 16 year old daughter who is very shy around people she does not know very well, even if she’s been around them occasionally. She seems content to just keep to herself in group situations, and does not desire to participate in any activity with anyone she is not VERY familiar and comfortable with. She will not reach out to others, and does not respond to others’ attention to her any more than mere politeness would require. She has said that at times she’s been asked questions in a group setting (church, enrichment classes) where she did not know the answers and was made to feel stupid in front of the others. These situations deeply hurt her very sensitive spirit, and therefore she continues to want to avoid all group situations (Bible study, etc.) whenever she can. At times, my husband and I have strongly encouraged or insisted that she attend various functions, but at other times we have let it slide. It is difficult to know when or if we should push, and if so, how hard. She does have a couple of friends and their families that she is comfortable being with, but has great difficulty meeting and getting to know new people. So, my question: What should be required of a shy child to participate in? Mainly, I ask this because I want to see her grow in her consideration of the comfort of others and dwell less on her own tendency to self-centeredness, which I see as a part of being shy. When and how, if at all, should we push her? How can we get her to grow in self-confidence in new situations, with new people? Will this come more with maturity? How can we address this issue sensitively and purposefully with our daughter? I was wondering if anyone had a similar situation with one, or more, of their children and would have any suggestions and/or words of wisdom for us. Thank you for your comments!

Blessings, Jill
Taken from:

International Pun Contest
Submitted by Herc Paloumpis

Here are the 10 first place winners in the International Pun Contest:

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, I’m sorry, sir, only one Carrion allowed per passenger.
3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says I’ve lost my electron. The other says Are you sure? The first replies Yes, I’m positive.
5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. But why? they asked, as they moved off. Because, he said, I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.
8. Friars behind on their belfry payments opened a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, a thug in town to persuade them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he’d be back if they didn’t close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that: Only Hugh can prevent florist friars.
9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him …(Oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)…..A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did!
From jennifer buhler
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005
city: eau claire
state: WI

My husband and I recently received and devoured your Teaching the Trivium book. We are very enthusiastic about much that was taught, especially teaching Greek, Latin, and Hebrew to young students. Our eldest son is five years old and we have been using the classical approach for about three months. I enjoy it but I feel some anxiety that I am not teaching him enough, it is very freeing to not be restricted to a text book but at the same time it not very secure to not have a structured material, especially being new to homeschooling. Also, I don’t know anyone else who has used this approach so I don’t know how the children turn out as adults. I’m not concerned that my sons make mega-bucks, but that they can be independent and support a wife and a family with their education. I’d appreciate some bragging from classical educators to reassure me.
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005


I was terribly shy as a child and teenager. I blushed so easily in situations where I wasn’t comfortable which, of course, made me more uncomfortable. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that my shyness was a direct result of being self centered. You are a step ahead in that you realize that self if the root of her problem. Maybe a Bible study on who your daughter is in Christ would help. I appreciated it very much when people were gentle with me and did not call attention to my shyness. I eventually got over it as I matured in Christ’s love for me. It helped me to overcome my shyness by being put in situations where I had to serve in some capacity.
From: Kirsten Bird
Subject: High School
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005

Why does she need a diploma? In all my years, even when I went to college, no one has ever asked to see my high school diploma. Colleges, as far as I know, do not ask for them. They want to see SAT scores, a high school transcript, and lists of accomplishments. You can easily make your own transcript. Here’s a link to a great software program that you could use.

If she takes college courses in high school, a diploma would also be unnecessary. The Armed Services is the only institution that I’ve heard may ask for a copy of the diploma. You may want to ask around about this, depending on what your daughter wants to do after high school. Of course, if you read the Bluedorn’s book, you may learn college is not all it’s cracked up to be!

From: staigle family
Subject: RE: Help! My son is a sore loser
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005

I’d like to respond to Bethany’s question about her son and his struggle with losing. I could have signed my name to your letter. I agree with other responders that it is typical behavior for some at this age, is immaturity, as well as being an issue of the heart and sin, but wanted to add some thoughts from my own experience. I, too, am an only child. I received a fair bit of criticism with no siblings to share it with. The expectations of me were HIGH and I did not like to disappoint or be disappointed. I often felt that I could do nothing right. As an adult I have perfectionist tendencies now and they can be a hinderance. (I’m not saying I can’t function or need therapy, and my parents very much loved me and taught me about Jesus.) I often find myself “doing what I don’t want to do,” like Paul says, and treating my firstborn with those same high expectations and criticism. Yes, I need to train him in wisdom and truth, but am learning that I also need to examine my own sinful heart and my actions and reactions to him. As the Lord has brought this to my attention I am more aware of how often I nit-pick his behavior. What idols have I set before me that cause me to be so angry and critical? I have literally grabbed hold of my own tongue on more than one occasion! He is his own person, a creation of God, but often a mirror of his Momma. Now that he is 9 he can lose much more gracefully, but his perfectionist tendencies are still present. He is also very compassionate. I am still in the midst of the journey the Lord is gracious to lead me on and I am thankful that my dear son is forgiving and has a pliable heart. I am not sure if this speaks at all to your situation but I pray, if so, it will have been of encouragement to you.

By His Spirit, Roberta
From: Theharris7
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005

In response to the questions about dealing with shyness in teenagers, my 16-year-old son has always been very shy and unwilling to ever state his opinion or preferences. Toastmasters International has a Youth Leadership Program that we found to be wonderful! I invited five other families to participate; we had a total of seven teens involved in our group. A local Toastmasters leader taught the kids for eight weeks, free of charge. Toastmasters provided the texts and everything. We had to provide a location, and some of the parents were very helpful with the youths’ fundraiser. During the eight weeks the teens learned fundamentals of servant leadership, speech preparation, public speaking, organizing and carrying out a fundraiser, and organizing their own graduation event. It was great! Six of the seven kids in our group were painfully shy at the beginning of the course. They walked in for the first meeting with heads hung low, shoulders forward, hands in pockets, only attending at the insistence of their parents. Graduation night they each gave a speech for the families and friends and a couple of Toastmaster members they hadn’t met before. Each teen was gracious and self-confident, speaking on issues they chose themselves, like choosing friends wisely, defending your faith, having a good work ethic, the importance of speech, and the importance of family traditions. The growth in those kids in such a short amount of time was truly incredible. Those concerned parents with shy children ages 13-18 may want to contact their local Toastmasters International group and ask if there is a local facilitator for the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program.

Lisa Harris
From: Elizabeth
Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2005
state: SC

I purchased the book, Hand the Rocks the Cradle and we have almost finished our first book. We are reading The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. My boys are ages 4 and 5 and they are just eating it up. It is hard to put the book down.

I just wanted to thank your family for sharing this with us. You have helped me to bring beauty into our home through your hard work.

Praising Him,
Pastors Wife & Homeschool Mom
A Review of The Mystery of History, Volumes I and II by Linda Hobar
Reviewed by Laurie Bluedorn

I wish The Mystery Of History had been written fifteen or twenty years earlier so that my own family could have used it. It would have been perfect for our large, young family and would have relieved me of the job of putting together my own history curriculum, and it is so much more thorough than anything we ever studied in our years of homeschooling.

I’m not going to describe how the texts are arranged or how they are supposed to be used — others have done that much better than I could. But I do want to list here my observations and respond to some comments which have been directed at the curriculum.

The cover of MOH Volume I tells us exactly what we’ll find inside the book. Within the title — The Mystery of History — the T is a cross dividing the word History into two sections, making the title seem to say The Mystery of His Story — meaning Christ’s story. Isn’t that what history is really all about? Under the title and in the center of the cover, taking up the largest portion of space is a picture of a stairway — an ancient, stone stairway — going up. Going up from a tomb and into the sunlight. Whose tomb would that be? Perhaps it is the tomb of Jesus, the Author of this Story we are about to begin. Jesus came up out of the tomb so that this Story would have a happy ending some day. But even more significant on this cover are two small pictures at the lower right corner, pictures which seem to be bowing to the larger stairway picture. One is a picture of Egyptian art and the other is of the Greek Parthenon. All history bows in submission to the Author of history Who Himself entered history as a man. I have listed here the comments which have been directed at MOH along with my responses.

–Doesn’t balance religious with secular; too heavy on religious.

Some texts make a pretense of trying to balance the religious with secular, though the secular always seems to end up on the heavier side of the balance. Secular literally means of the age, worldly. We use the term to refer to indifference toward or exclusion from religion. All of time — past, present, and future — revolves around the Potter and how He deals with His vessels. All of history is religious. So if we want our history compartmentalized into separate secular and religious boxes, or if we like our religion thinly spread, then we really do not want history as it actually is, but only as secularists want it.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:
… I concluded that one of the only reasons why we are here on earth is to know God and to make Him known. We are designed for relationship…. And I wanted this incredible story to be far more than the short-term accumulation of scattered dates and events. I wanted the living story of God and man to be one of our long-term core subjects……I believe history is the story of God revealing Himself to mankind and that He did it most perfectly through the person of Jesus Christ. (from Volume II)

The author treats pagan gods and non-Christian topics respectfully and honestly, though always compared and contrasted with the truth. For example, separate lessons are dedicated to Buddha and Confucius. After discussing each — who they were and what they taught — we are shown how they differed from Christ — who He was and what He taught.

–Lessons too short; only 2-3 pages which includes the activity suggestions.

Here are the statistics:

MOH I — 108 lessons of 600 words each
MOH II — 84 lessons of 700-1000 words each

Besides the lessons, the activities in both volumes vary in length, but there are about 2-3 paragraphs per activity with at least three activities per lesson, often more than three. Volume II has more activities per lesson than Volume I.

The shorter lessons allow flexibility for homeschoolers. When longer lessons fit the schedule, students can do two or three lessons at a time. On days when time seems scarce, the single lesson may be just the adjustment needed. Either way, each lesson is a thorough treatment of its subject.

–Lessons fluffy with little information; shallow.

If this is true, then the Bluedorn family, including our grown children, must have fluffy, shallow minds, because even now, as adults, we have enjoyed reading through several of the lessons in both volumes. The lessons in both volumes are as thorough as you would find in any history curriculum on the market today. In my opinion, this curriculum would best fit children from ages 5 through 14, but could be adapted for older students.

I would consider the Mystery of History to be a narrative history, similar to the Helene Guerber histories, which were first published in the 19th century and recently republished by Nothing New Press. Next to historical fiction and biographies, narrative histories are the method of my choice for studying history. The first narrative history I ever read to my children was A Child’s History of England by Dickens, and the history we learned from that book still sticks in our minds even though that was 15 years ago.

But not only is MOH a narrative history, it is also a history curriculum. The author adds all kinds of hands-on activities and projects, photos, timeline and mapping assignments, memory work, supplemental resources, and exercises and tests.

–Language and writing style dumbed down; modern and gushy — neat, cool, gosh

Yes, the author does, on occasion in Volume I, use hip words such as neat or cool. And I guess if I must have any complaint with MOH, this would be the only one. The author avoids those types of words in Volume II.

But as far as the overall language and writing style is concerned, there is variety and complexity in the vocabulary, and the sentence structure is pleasing and flows easily — the reader doesn’t have to struggle to understand. It is an enjoyable text to read aloud and doesn’t fall into that mind-tiring simple baby-language of some narrative histories.

–Activities silly and lame

There are a large number and a wide variety of activities which I found to be fascinating. One of the reasons writing this review has taken me so long is that every time I sit down to write, I am drawn into the text and the activities, planning which ones I would like to do someday do with my grandchildren. No one family could possibly do all the activities, and there are plenty to choose from.

–Resource list disappointing; items impossible to find at any U.S. library or bookstores; too many videos and toys recommended

Volume I lists 8 pages of resources; Volume II lists 19 pages of resources. Recommended resources listed in Volume I includes 64 videos, 117 books, 17 toys, and numerous passages from the Bible. I calculated our family had in our own library at least one quarter of the books. But I wanted to find out what other people thought about the resource list, so I asked this question of a group of mothers who use MOH. Here are some of the responses:

We don’t use the videos … but of the recommended books for the younger grades in the first 27 lessons of Volume I, about 75% of them were available through our library system. S.

I just looked up all the resources for the first 20 lessons of Volume I. I found at my library at least one resource for each lesson, often more than one. The rest I found on Amazon. The only one I had problems with is Lesson 11 — World Wise Series on Egypt. Heather

We have used the resource list and have not had much trouble locating the books and videos at our library when we want to explore further. Christina D.

…what my local library hasn’t had available, I’ve been able to find through interlibrary loan. Debbie

…25 of the recommended books in Volume I are found at our local county library. I have not tried interlibrary loans, but I’m sure many more could be found that way. Cheri

Here’s a quote from Volume II of MOH concerning the resource list:

Please bear in mind that these are merely suggested books, movies, and other resources that could enhance your study of the Early Church and the Middle Ages through spice and variety — but they are not necessary to complete this course. The MOH texts are really a stand alone curriculum — no outside books are necessary, but the resource lists were compiled for those who choose to add to the texts.

The author never claimed to create a comprehensive resource list. Through contact with the author, I learned that her resource list was created from her own collection and research — it is not a compilation of other lists of supplemental reading compiled by others. I so much appreciate this. Publishers complain that plagiarism of lists is widespread in homeschool circles.

–Table of contents incomplete

The Table of Contents for both volumes are about as complete as anyone could ask — nine pages of TOC in Volume I and eight pages in Volume II.

–Leaves out a lot of world history. Concentrates only on people, rather than on people and events

MOH approaches the study of history from a chronological standpoint, looking at events happening around the world near the same time. This approach gives us a sense of how God has been at work in every corner of the globe throughout all of history — He was not just working with the Israelites in their little part of the world. Indeed, MOH shows how the events happening in all corners of the world impacted the lives of the Israelites.

All of history is shown to be a continuum, not just a series of isolated events and famous people. For example, Volume I, Lesson 66 points out the connection between the history of Cyrus the Great with the prophesy in Isaiah 44. This lesson also clears up the confusion between Darius the Mede and Cyrus. Lessons on the Biblical prophets are inserted in their proper places, showing the who, what, and where of their importance.

With 108 lessons in Volume I (472 pages) and 84 lessons in Volume II (704 pages), MOH is about as complete a treatment of Ancient and Mediaeval history as any homeschooling family would desire at this level. In Volume I the standard ancient history topics are covered along with chapters on China, India, and American Indians. Volume II covers all points of the globe — north, south, east, and west.

And, yes, since history consists of people doing things — inventing, conquering, writing, speaking, ruling — the lessons of MOH deal with people AND the events surrounding them. In Volume I, approximately 60% of the lesson titles are of specific people, while 40% are of specific events.

–Author takes too long to get the volumes finished.

It takes time to do a good job in researching, writing, testing on an audience, rewriting, formatting, printing, and publishing — particularly with a history curriculum. All good things come to those who wait. I’d much rather wait and allow the author to write a thorough, well researched world history than read something thrown together in a hurry just to please an editor.

We know Mrs. Hobar has a young family which requires her primary attention. We don’t want the writing of this curriculum to interfere with raising her family. The quality of her work makes us willing to wait.

If you are a Christian family looking for a thorough history curriculum you can confidently use with your children up through age 14, and is downright fun, you’ll want to look at the Mystery of History.

Our family has been involved in homeschooling for thirty years. I have seen lots of curriculum come and go, but it seems like the very best is produced by homeschooling families themselves. They see a need and proceed to fill it. Linda Hobar has done this with her creation of The Mystery of History.
From: Greg Demme
Subject: Re: Help! My son is a sore loser
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005

I too have a son (7 years old) with this difficulty. He is our oldest child, and therefore has also had to deal with higher expectations, as one reader mentioned. He of course also has a sin/selfishness problem that must be dealt with, as others have mentioned.

However, I’d like to bring up two other points that I think have been lacking so far in the discussion:

1) These boys’ fathers need to be intimately involved in training their sons on this issue (I myself am a father), unless of course the mothers are raising the children themselves.

2) I believe as parents we must recognize that, in one sense, it is a good thing for our sons to want things to go right. That is to say, although what is manifesting is sinful, it may originate in part from a healthy, God-given desire. If we are training them to be husbands/fathers someday, they will need a healthy dose of desire for the things under their control to go right. Their obedience to the Word, the decisions they make on behalf of the family through prayer, study, and open communication, all these things will directly affect their lives and their families’ lives.

Of course, to develop into maturity, they also need to learn what things they can control and what things they can’t control. We should be training them on this also. We can, of course, pray about those things we cannot control, and this is yet another area in which our sons (and daughters) should be actively trained.

All these factors will assist our sons in developing a healthy ability to put the Lord’s Word first in any situation, honor others above themselves (Rom 12:10), and still learn good habits about how to influence their situations in a Godly fashion for the families God will eventually have them steward.

Greg Demme
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005

I recently spoke with a homeschool parent who is convinced that the Rhetoric Stage entirely consists of pure rhetorical devices and communication ONLY. This is simply incorrect. The very word trivium means where three roads meet, not where one road takes over from the other two. Since grammar is made up of the facts of a matter, we never stop learning grammar throughout our lives. Why should we pretend to suspend this learning process during the last few years of high school? G.
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005

Hi Bluedorn Family!

Skylar and I have a question for Nathaniel and Hans about the Straw Man chapter in The Fallacy Detective. We would like to know if they have found a Christlike approach to take when dealing with people who often/constantly use the Straw Man in discussions. We have looked up and talked about 1 Cor. 13 . . . [love] thinketh no evil . . . We would appreciate any other passages, suggestions, counsel, or resources they might be willing to offer of how to respond inoffensively without excessively explaining oneself (which can then lead to a cycle of straw-manning all the explanations). We realize a root reason exists why someone desires to refute much of what someone else says, but don’t understand about this. We appreciated that this subject was introduced so plainly in their book!! We especially liked the statement in the chapter, They should take the time to find out exactly what they mean by what they say.

Thank you very much! Love in Christ, Kelley Baringer
I’ll pass this on to Hans and Nate and see if they can respond, but perhaps others have something to add.
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005
Subject: Jammie Payne’s Questions
From: Eugene B Sedy

I can address some of your questions! Even though we’ve been homeschooling for almost 12 years, I don’t feel like a veteran because I’m always trying new things and trying to find what is best! I have settled on 2 favorites, however. One is Tatras and the other is Math-U-See.

Question 1:

>>I know that next year we will continue with TATRAS for phonics (we switched to it a couple of months ago) and I wonder if it is enough to learn to spell the MOO words in it, rather than use a formal spelling.>>

In our experience, yes–it is enough. My children, after using TATRAS, have become good spellers. When my older 2 reached an 8th grade level, I found a workbook that was written as a remedial worktext for highschool students. It is now out of print, and I’ve not found anything to replace it for my other children. This worktext reviewed all the spelling rules and used a variety of exercises including dictation.   It was a terrific summary of all they needed to know about spelling.   (Anyone know of a similar program?) Until I used that worktext, and now with my younger children, we just use the words they misspell in their writing. If I encounter a misspelled word, I mark it, they look up the correct spelling, and we talk about the rule that might govern the spelling, or refer back to Tatras: Remember the phonogram that says ‘ee–eh–ay’.   How was that phonogram spelled? Yes-‘ea’. You could add that spelling word to a list the child keeps in a notebook, and review it again later.   I have found that not to be necessary. They usually don’t misspell a word  more that 2 or 3 times in their writing–they really don’t like having to  look up the words in the dictionary, so it’s just easier to finally  memorize it!

My older children, now in highschool, do all of their writing on the computer, so of course, they use spell check. I think good spelling is important, because not all of our writing in real life is done on the computer. On the other hand, I’ve decided that the way we have taught spelling is perfectly adequate to meet our needs without being burdensome.

Question 2:

>>I’m just not sure what to do for history and science if I don’t use a packaged curriculum.>>

Except for a stint with Sonlight curriculum, I have not used a curriculum for science. My children have been interested in nature, and so they get books from the library and read about their current interests. We also have a nice supply of science books (Dorling-Kindersley–type) in our home library. The kids enjoy getting these out from time to time and doing experiments from them. We also buy, and receive as gifts, science kits. Our science study has always been very eclectic, and I have been minimally involved, even so, the kids have always scored very high in the science portions of tests. When my older children were about 7th grade, we began the Apologia Science series. These texts are pretty much self-instructional for older children. Now my 2 highschoolers are taking the Apologia Biology in a class with other homeschoolers, and they are doing very well. As far as history goes, your kiddos are a little young.  Why not do a World in Review? When my older kids were that age, we studied the world continent by continent. I used Jill Johnston’s You Can Change the World, and two other books, Missionary Stories with the Millers, Vol. 1 and 2. We also read aloud books from the Trail Blazer’s series. We colored maps and looked at travel videos of the various regions. We ate native foods, and attempted to do some of the art. (When we were studying Africa, we went to a local art museum when they had an African art exhibit, and were able to do a little batik project!)   This was a lovely, gentle way to become familiar with the world and its people in the context of God’s love for the nations. Later you might look into Beautiful Feet Publications, or Greenleaf Press’s offerings for history for young children.

Question 3:

>>Is there a better way to do math that builds a stronger foundation through the use of concrete, rather than going from concrete to abstract all in one lesson? >>

Math-U-See will do that! I only have experience with the original MUS program, and not the new curriculum. The company continues to sell both, but I guess they are different from each other. I stuck with the older curriculum, because it is what I know, and all of my kids are now at some point along in it. It has been good for my kids who are mathematically gifted, and for my kids who suffer with mathaphobia! My gifted kids use the program in a self-instructional way–usually they just watch the video, and don’t even use the blocks. My kids who are less confident will use the blocks extensively until their confidence builds. I let them use the blocks for as long as they feel necessary.   Eventually, they get to the point where using the blocks slows them down and they understand the concept enough to do it all on paper (or in their heads!). MUS is very good for helping children to develop their intuitive abilities. Last year, my older 2 had taken a highschool level achievement test. I was worried about the math portion, because neither had begun algebra yet. The math portion was mostly algebra, and they (even my mathaphobic one) did fine–mostly because of the intuitive sense they have developed. One caution about MUS: it does not follow any  other program’s scope and sequence, so from time to time, your child  might not score well (meaning in the 85-99 percentile range) on a  portion of a standard math achievement test. I have found that later they catch up and will do very well. If having a solid understanding of math at the end of their homeschooling years is your goal, and not the year-to-year performance on a standardized test, then MUS would probably serve you and your children well.

Mostly, my advice is to not overwhelm yourself with too much right now. Bible, math, and phonics are all you really need to do (and the Bluedorn’s would argue that formal math instruction is not necessary, either!). Enjoy learning with your children!

Janet (with 7 kids aged 6-16, and another due to arrive in about 6 weeks!)
From: fourarws
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005

Message: Our family has very much enjoyed The Fallacy Detective and had planned to head into the Critical Thinking l and ll once we were finished. With the publication of The Teaching Toolbox what would be your recommendation on sequencing logic materials for a 13 year old?

Best Regards,
Mrs.Leigh Blaylock
Here are our recommendations:
Building Thinking Skills Book 2 — age 10
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural — age 11
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal — age 12
The Fallacy Detective — age 13
The Thinking Toolbox — age 13
Critical Thinking Book 1, Chapter 2 — age 14 (you could skip this–CT2 has a short review of this chapter)
Critical Thinking Book 2 — age 14 or 15
Introductory Logic Video Course by Nance — age 15-16
The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley — age 16-17
I have included the ages here, but it is not so much an age requirement for each book as it is a progression. We suggest you progress from Building Thinking Skills to The Fallacy Detective to The Thinking Toolbox to Critical Thinking to Introductory Logic to The Art of Reasoning. There are other books which could replace The Art of Reasoning (Intermediate Logic by Nance, Traditional Logic by Cothran, Material Logic by Cothran, Introduction to Logic by Copi) as you see fit. I wish I could eliminate recommending CT1 altogether, but Chapter 2 of CT1 is not covered in The Fallacy Detective or The Thinking Toolbox, and it is an important chapter. CT2 DOES have a short review of what you learned in Chapter 2 of CT1, so if you are short of funds, you PROBABLY could get away with skipping CT1 entirely and just go directly to CT2. The Thinking Toolbox can be used after or before The Fallacy Detective.

Laurie Bluedorn
From: Kendra Fletcher
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005

We have used TATRAS with our last three children; the first was taught to read using a different curriculum. Because of the strong emphasis on spelling in TATRAS, we have chosen not to use a spelling curriculum at all with our children. They learn all of the phonograms, practice dictation (don’t skip that part of TATRAS!), and then go on from there to begin extensive copywork around age 7. It is my firm belief that they will learn to spell words correctly from the years of repeatedly copying correctly-spelled words. Repetition and usage serve as better teachers than the memorization of a list of 25 spelling words only to be forgotten after a spelling test.

We, like Laurie, are enthusiastic fans of The Mystery of History and we have just completed year two. I would highly recommend it for your children; the 7yo is the perfect age/grade to begin MOH in the fall. Read, read, read lots of historical fiction. Some of our favorites for the younger ones have been: Stories of the Pilgrims, the Little House series, The Door in the Wall, Huguenot Garden, The Matchlock Gun, The Cabin Faced West, Indian Captive, By the Great Horn Spoon!, Children of the New Forest, Tirzah, The Minstrel in the Tower, Adam of the Road, and All of a Kind Family.

We have tackled science several ways, one of which was Considering God’s Creation. My very craft-adept son loved it but my other son who loves to jump on the trampoline, skateboard, and hates pencils dreaded it. This year the 10yo, 7yo, and 5yo are keeping nature notebooks and that has been a wonderful easy-going approach. If you believe Dr. Jay Wile (Apologia Science), nothing in the lower grades is truly science anyway and so exposure, nature study, and reading about science and scientists will be more than enough to prepare them for a real science education in the jr. high and high school years (logic and rhetoric stages).

Sounds like you’re on the right path for Bible. I would add that it is a tremendous blessing that our children are in church with us every Sunday rather than in a Sunday School or children’s church. In fact, our church is completely family-integrated and our elders send out the following week’s order of service, hymns, and Scripture readings/references so that we can prepare our families for the upcoming worship service all week long. Without a formal Bible curriculum, my older two (ages 12 and 10) know the Bible far more intimately than I did at their ages. Train your little ones to worship with you and you’ll be overwhelmed with the fruit!

Math has simply been a matter of learning the basics, which we find Rod and Staff to be a perfect tool in the grammar stage. Our oldest is finishing Saxon 65 this year and will be using Teaching Textbooks for Algebra next year.

I hope this is helpful to you. We are certainly not the last word on curriculum choices but I thought it might be helpful for you to see what others are using or have used in the past. For reference purposes, our children are 12yods, 10yods, 7yods, 5yodd, 4yodd, and 16modd.

Kendra Fletcher
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005
From: James Masloske
Subject: Mystery of History additional recommendations

Dear Laurie,

Thank you for such a wonderful and thorough review of Mystery of History. Our family loves this history program and it works very well with many multi-aged children. It is easy to understand, fun, and very well laid out for busy moms. We all love doing the projects that Mrs. Hobar lays out with every lesson! I would never be able to think of these things on my own and really make this program neat and cool!

I’d like to recommend a couple of things that really make MOH extremely easy to use. First, the Mystery of History Vol. 1 Package which includes MOH 1, Student Bible Atlas, RM Historical World Atlas, and History through the Ages Timeline and Figures. These additional resources make each lesson go so smoothly for map work and timeline. One note about MOH and the timeline is that the dates are different than Archbishop James Ussher, The Annals of the World, and Edward Hull, The Wall Chart of World History use.

Second recommendation would be Ancient History from Primary Sources. This has been invaluable to us, as we have the ancient works discussed in MOH available at our fingertips.

I realize that these recommendations are pricey to most homeschoolers, but, when they can be afforded, they are definitely worth their weight in gold to those of us who are avoiding the library more and more and who are building up a mighty library of our own, and to those of us who want everything right at home to minimize time spent running around or looking things up.

Love in Christ,
Christine Masloske
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005

Thanks for your review on Mystery of History. Our family has used Volume I and thoroughly enjoyed it. We have five sons 8 and under and our older boys and I have learned a lot! We liked it so much, in fact, that we finished the book in 6 months and they are begging (no exaggeration) for the next one. I ordered it yesterday!

I started reviewing Teaching the Trivium again this week, because we had gotten off track in some other areas, and the information in it helps me to refocus. It is a lifetime resource for us!
From: SLO
Date: Tue, 3 May 2005
Subject: Implementing the Trivium

Dearest Bluedorn Family,

I am not quite certain how to begin this letter. I have spoken to your sons at a recent convention (and I can’t wait until our children are old enough to benefit from The Fallacy Detective!)…and I am awed at the lovely work your daughter has done in her books! I am also thrilled with the content of your book Teaching the Trivium. I have been searching for such a method of teaching and now that I have found it, I am trying to figure out how to implement it!  We began homeschooling just this year and I have been diligent in reading all I can in trying to formulate our methods. I have been drawn particularly to The Well Trained Mind, the Charlotte Mason methods, Ambleside Online and now to your book. Our children are ages 7 and 10 and I feel we are beginning too late to incorporate all the richness you have brought forth in your text! Our son will begin Latin this coming year but so far we have only been working on root word studies with both of them.   I suppose my question is….how can a regular mom, with regular demands upon her life, do so much towards teaching her children? (I am speaking mainly on learning Greek, Hebrew and/or Latin here). I am not well versed in the knowledge of foreign language and I often question the need to learn so much of same when there are so many other things to impart to our young ones (and so few hours in the day!). I will continue to read and implement more and more as I begin to break free from my traditional institutionalized schooling background …it is an uphill battle at times! Any suggestions or words of encouragement are appreciated!

I think you’ll find there are a lot of regular moms here, self included. Harvey and I first met in a Greek class in college in 1973 — I quickly dropped out as it was too difficult for me. Harvey has always taken over teaching the children Greek up until they were old enough to teach themselves. I did the Latin with them, although I know it was a struggle at times to keep up, what with all the other things on my plate at the time. We never tried Hebrew, except that Johannah learned the alphabet in order to write her Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew. So, if you are thinking that you MUST teach the children Greek, Latin, and Hebrew all at the same time with no help, then, yes, that would be overwhelming. I suggest you pick one language, and start with that. Latin is easier than Greek, although, for us, Greek seems more important. Perhaps you see more value in Latin and so would want to start there. Find a curriculum which is self-teaching so you can learn it along with the children without the help of an instructor. Then later, if your husband is willing to help in the language department, perhaps your family can tackle a second language. It is the rare family which will master all three languages beyond the dabbling stage. But as far as being a regular mom, I can only offer myself as an example. I have no particular aptitude in languages or logic (it took me 5 passes — 5 kids — through the Critical Thinking books to finally get it). Science and history were adventures the children and I went on together. Literature was learned on a couch — I wonder exactly HOW many hours I have read aloud over the past 25 years. I wish I could start over again, but there are definitely some things I would change. For one thing, I wish I had read Stacy McDonald’s article My Honey Is My Hero (Homeschooling Today Magazine Jan/Feb, 2005) long ago. She motivates me to want to be a better wife. And while you’re at it, in that same issue, you might want to read Ruth Beechick’s article The Immersion Method. ……And, while you’re still at it, have your budding artists copy the Degas paintings which are included in that issue, matt, frame, and hang their work and declare them the most beautiful works of art you have ever seen.

It’s time for a truly classical contest.  This time, the subject will be a very classical piece of literature (not the book kind, though).  Can anyone tell me where this phrase comes from:  Gort, Klatu mirada Nikto.  The 6th person to email me the correct answer wins a copy of the new book The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

From: Andrew & Jocelyn James
Subject: Encouragement to other regular mums
Date: Thu, 19 May 2005

Hi Laurie,

Thanks for your words here. I appreciate your humility in saying that things were not always easy. I do get so much encouragement from reading your book, about what can be done from the home and do sometimes wonder how I’m going to do it all. Like you, I have felt really built up by reading HS Today this week. Our husbands are so important not only to us but also in the family.

I also have to trust that anything that we (between my dh and me) miss now in the education of our children is something I can leave in the Lord’s hands. My children may have an opportunity to explore some aspects of Science, Maths, Greek etc when they are older that we haven’t gotten to. It is hard to balance our human responsibility to bring up our children with our frailties. Above all, though God is sovereign and I have to remember not to strive too much on my own.


P.S. Your children seem to have learnt a lot from all those countless hours of reading – it’s a wonderful example.
Date: Thu, 19 May 2005
From: Jammie Payne
Subject: Thanks, CCC math, book recommendation, community libraries

Thank you all for the wonderful recommendations. I will enjoy looking those books up and finding out more about them. Also, has anyone used Christ Centered Curriculum math? I saw it on a website and it looked interesting. I found a dowloadable copy of an old math text (1878) on We have enjoyed looking through this old math book like Laura (of Little House) might have used.   I do want to share a book that my daughter checks out as often as possible at the library. Since it took no time at all to read through the Abeka text that came with her school stuff, we often check out science type books. She loves the Burgess Book of Birds for Children. It is very old. Our library’s copy is ragged and torn, but the librarian loves all things old and hates to cull the books. It is a bird field guide, but written in a narrative format. It is soooo long that we’ve not read it all. We read a chapter or two and then turn it in for a while. There is also a Burgess Book of Animals. We live in a small TX town and have really been blessed by the Community Library. If you live in TX, you might try to locate one of these little libraries. They often need volunteers. After volunteering a year as the story hour lady, I was asked for recommendations of books to buy. When the books came in, I laughed as the 78 yo librarian said, Did you know these are old books? I read them to my children. She also culled an old set of encyclopedias to us, because she just can’t bear to throw away books. The kids have really enjoyed the library. Also, with all the volunteers being Christians, it has been a great place for my kids to interact with older Christians.

mom to 3 (ages 1, 3, and 7)
From: Matthew Lewis
Subject: Review of The Thinking Toolbox
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005


Critical thinking is one very important topic that, all too often, is neglected or even overlooked during a child’s education. While a parent may recognize the importance of teaching critical thinking, the tools available to teach it may often seem less than inspiring.  All that changes with the release of The Thinking Toolbox, written by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. In thirty-five easy lessons, the authors lead the reader on a journey through all the most important areas of critical thinking. In a conversational tone and with abundant examples, quizzes, and  even a few whodunit’s, Hans and Nathaniel explain such topics as evidence,  primary and secondary sources, circumstantial evidence, analyzing data,  finding premises and conclusions, and much more.  One of the main strengths of this book is how understandable it is. The authors break down even complex concepts into simple terms, making everything clear through examples and illustrations. Humor and mystery help  keep interest up; one of my favorite portions of the book was The Case of  the Stolen Manoot, in which your job is to use the critical thinking skills  taught in the book to find out who stole the, er, famous (?!) Manoot painting from Mrs. McLeary’s home.  The authors wrote The Thinking Toolbox for age thirteen and up. While I believe this is a good general guideline, I have also known homeschooled students who would have gotten a lot out of this book as early as age seven or eight. This book has the rare ability to capture and hold the interest of nearly any age, meaning there is no reason why parents-or grandparents-can’t go through this book with a school-age student and get just as much out of it.  I believe that The Thinking Toolbox belongs in every homeschool library. The principles it teaches so admirably will go a long way toward helping your children understand and apply the proper use logic and critical thinking in their daily lives. Highly recommended!
Sorry that you haven’t heard from us very much lately — I’ve been to nine homeschool conventions this year so far and have two more yet to come — CHEA of CA in Ontario, CA (July 8-10) and Phoenix, AZ (July 22-23). Stop by my booth and visit if you have a chance. After I recover from this convention season, I’m going to write a paper on a scientific discovery I’ve made these last few months. I have discovered that the human brain can only tolerate 10 hours per day in an exhibit hall. After 10 hours, the brain starts a melt-down. Also, I have found that there are certain questions which will trigger this melt-down — questions such as What is the trivium?; At what age should I start my kids on Latin?; and, the most dangerous, Are any of your kids married yet?  At the CA and AZ conventions we will be selling prints of Johannah’s paintings which are produced on an Epson Photo R1800 using archival quality inks. We will also be offering these prints on the website sometime soon.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2005
From: The Brown Family
Subject: question about Tapestry of Grace

Hello Harvey and Laurie,

Thanks so very much for the excellent overview in Teaching the Trivium of 10 things to do before your child is 10. I have been re-reading it and it helps bring me back to the essentials in our homeschooling.

I do have a question to ask, do you have any thoughts about the Tapestry of Grace curriculum? I have been attracted to it, for a few reasons:

1) teaching history chronologically in 4 year cycles through literature (real books),
2) each year is broken into the 3 stages — grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric (actually grammar is split into lower grammar and upper grammar too),
3) you can use their recommended books, or substitute those you have already on that topic

My question to any of the email loop people is, are they using TOG and liking it? My question to you, Harvey and Laurie, do you think there are advantages or disadvantages to this approach (the 4 year history cycle, for example)?

Any ideas would be very appreciated.
Melinda Brown
I have looked through one of the Tapestry of Grace volumes and it seems like it would be very useful to homeschooling parents. I didn’t get a chance to see Volume One (ancient history) so, perhaps I might not agree with all the literature choices, but you could easily leave out or substitute any particular piece.

As far as studying history in a 4 year cycle, I don’t think we as homeschooling families need to be bound by those artificial constraints.

History is not like math or Latin or grammar where we must follow a particular sequence of steps to learn the subject properly. In addition, studying history chronologically is not a requirement for using the classical approach. In fact, I think it would be much better to NOT study history chronologically in the grammar or logic stages — interest directed history study (using a prepared curriculum, if desired) seems a much better plan for young children. Teaching children to LOVE history is one of the goals in the grammar and logic stages, and perhaps an artificially structured study of history might not help us reach that goal.

I suggest leaving the chronological study of history for rhetoric level students. Or even later.

Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005
From: Pamela Butler
Subject: Genevieve Foster’s history books

Recently I purchased a copy of George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster. I was extremely pleased with it at first, but as I progressed, my confidence faded: Foster seems to lack a distinctly Christian worldview.

Has anyone else seen this as a flaw in an otherwise captivating narrative?

Also, the recommended reading level begins at 4th grade, yet is seems like excellent read-aloud material. Is there a compelling reason why I should wait until my knowledge-level children are older before using this as the backbone for a history timeline?

What other resources might be recommended for teaching younger students American history from a Christian perspective?

Thanks for any thoughts of wisdom ~

I suggest that you might want to ignore reading levels. Here is the rule I followed — if I liked the book and wanted to read it, then I read it aloud to my children, no matter what the reading level was. The summer of 1981, the year Ava was born and Nathan our oldest was 5, I read aloud through the works of Jules Verne. Oh, that was fun! Laurie
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005
From: Matthew P Henry

We had the wonderful privilege of meeting Laurie Bluedorn at the NC Homeschool conference in Winston-Salem, NC. We have been using many of the materials God has allowed the Bluedorns to produce. We have used the Greek Alphabetarion and The Fallacy Detective. We purchased and have begun to use Homeschooling Greek, Volume 1. We have followed many of the Bluedorn’s recommendations as to when to begin teaching logic. We related a story to Laurie about our 10 year old son. We had begun using the Critical Thinking books recommended in their Suggested Course of Study for Learning Logic.

While we started my son on Book 2 of Building Thinking Skills, I had already purchased the Fallacy Detective. I realized, very quickly, how messed up my thinking was and how much we needed the training in Fallacy Detective as a family. My wife and I started going through the Fallacy Detective together and we would discuss fallacies when we were at the supper table or in the car together. My son started immediately asking questions and asking about the Fallacy Detective. Well, a few short weeks of our 10 year old asking questions, we decided to go ahead and take him through Fallacy Detective. It has been marvelous. We have finished Fallacy Detective and it has helped in many areas of our walk with the Lord and other training. We have nicknamed my son Mr. Appeal to Pity, because if something is hard in his life or he can’t do it, he wants to make us feel bad that he has to do it.  Also, in our normal day to day interaction, we have realized how many Red Herrings we do. Just in asking each other questions or trying to carry on a conversation how we don’t deal with the matter at hand. I would highly recommend any father to take his family through the Fallacy Detective. You’ll be surprised at what you learn!  Oh, we just purchased The Thinking Toolbox too and are looking forward to go through this new book as a family.

Thank you Bluedorns!
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2005
From: J&KCox
Subject: reading list for kindergartners

Does anyone have suggestions for a reading list for kindergartners and early primary school? We are interested in a list we can provide to family members who like to purchase books but who need guidance. We can create our own list but wondered if there was some formal list available, as this would perhaps carry more weight with some. We agree with a statement by Mr. Bluedorn, If a piece of literature cannot be used to build Christian culture in my children, then it will be used to build something culturally anti-Christian in my children. Many of the books given to us by family are implicitly anti-Christian and plainly a waste of time. I looked through the archives of the loop and could only find comments by some people thanking you for the reading list, but I couldn’t actually find a copy of a reading list (with the exception of a few books listed on your website). Right now I am reading Ben-Hur to my 5-year old daughter at night. The list I have in mind would include shorter books!

Any assistance would greatly be appreciated.

Karen Cox
Burke County, Georgia
We have two booklets in our catalog:

Hand That Rocks the Cradle — a list of 19th and 20th century fiction which I read aloud to my kids

Lives in Print — a list of biographies
From: Becca Beard
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005

Joceylyn wrote:
Thanks for your words here. I appreciate your humility in saying that things were not always easy. I do get so much encouragement from reading your book, about what can be done from the home and do sometimes wonder how I’m going to do it all. Like you, I have felt really built up by reading HS Today this week. Our husbands are so important not only to us but also in the family.  I also have to trust that anything that we (between my dh and me) miss now in the education of our children is something I can leave in the Lord’s hands. My children may have an opportunity to explore some aspects of Science, Maths, Greek etc when they are older that we haven’t gotten to. It is hard to balance our human responsibility to bring up our children with our frailties. Above all, though God is sovereign and I have remember not to strive too much on my own.


What you wrote about reminded me of something I just read in a book titled “Safely Home” by Tom Eldredge. (Found at ) In it, he writes that it is dangerous to put too much importance on knowledge for knowledge’s sake and urges one to teach and disciple our children through a relationship, focusing on the important things in life first of all – the Hebrew model of education.

Here is an excerpt:
“They [the Israelites] avoided the temptation of allowing learning to receive the glory properly accorded only to God. This testimony is a monument to the humility of this great people.

When the Israelites needed special technical skill or knowledge, God gave it to them in a way in which man could not receive the glory. For example, it seems evident that the craftsmen who built the tabernacle never took engineering courses at the Egyptian schools while they were in bondage there. The Egyptians kept them making bricks so that they could not get ahead as a people. Yet, Israelite craftsmen – including metallurgists, highly skilled carpenters, chemists, and textile workers – were given the knowledge to perform their tasks in a special dispensation from God (Exodus 31:1-11).

Their greatest king and military leader, David, never attended military college or took formal classes in weaponry. Like most young men of his people, he tended sheep and learned the law. In 2 Samuel 22:35, he humbly attributed his great tactical skill to God’s grace: “He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.” David’s son, Solomon, was known to be wise. People came from all parts of the world to marvel at his wisdom. But he had no university education, nor had he studied at one of the great classical academies. He simply asked God for wisdom, choosing that gift above riches, and, as the Bible tells us, “He was wiser than all men” (1 Kings 4:31).

Educated as a Pharisee and therefore full of great learning, the Apostle Paul nonetheless warns us: ‘Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? …For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe … For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor. 1: 19-21; 26-27).’ ”

My dad also tells of a preacher he knew as a boy. When he became a preacher, he could not read. Big problem for a preacher! J But this man prayed for the knowledge of how to read and it was granted him. LOVE that story! J So we can all rest in the knowledge that God will absolutely supply all that our children will need to fulfill His purposes for them in this world. Whew! The pressure’s off. LoL

Flower Mound, TX
Ben (9), Lydia (6), Jack (4)
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005

I’m enjoying reading Teaching the Trivium so much! I’d like your advice on a sequence for Logic and Foreign Languages. My oldest daughter is 10 years old, and I’d planned to start her in the Mindbenders books to prepare for Logic. Is Building Thinking Skills Book 2 better than this series? Also, we’ve completed Prima Latina, and plan to do Latina Christiana I this year. We also worked on memorizing the Greek and Hebrew alphabets last year. After reading your section on foreign language, we are planning on learning Greek as a family. We are from the south, and it would be very helpful to learn Spanish as well. I’d like your advice on the sequence to achieve our goal in the area of foreign language. I’d thought about continuing the Latin until we finish Latina Christiana II, continue learning Greek with the Greek Alphabetarion, then on to Homeschool Greek, and beginning to learn some Spanish vocabulary now, and maybe get a Spanish curriculum when we finish the Latin. My reasoning behind this is that I want the children to know enough Latin to help with English vocabulary, but if I had to pick two languages for us to focus on, it would be Greek and Spanish. Any advice would be appreciated. We also have an 8yr old boy, 6yr old girl, and 18 month old girl coming up. The older two were in on the memorization of the alphabets last year.

Thanks and God bless you,
Carla Burdette
Here are our suggestions for logic:
Building Thinking Skills Book 2 (TM not needed) — age 10
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural (TM needed) — age 11
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal (TM needed) — age 12
The Fallacy Detective — age 13
The Thinking Toolbox — age 13
Critical Thinking Book 2 (TM needed) — age 14-15
Introductory Logic Video Course by Nance — age 15-16
The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley — age 16-17
I have included the ages here, but it is not so much an age requirement for each book as it is a progression. We suggest you progress from Building Thinking Skills to The Fallacy Detective to The Thinking Toolbox to Critical Thinking to Introductory Logic to The Art of Reasoning. There are other books which could replace The Art of Reasoning (Intermediate Logic by Nance, Traditional Logic by Cothran, Material Logic by Cothran, Introduction to Logic by Copi) as you see fit. I prefer BTS over Mindbenders — BTS is a more comprehensive course of study.

Concerning language study:

The goal for language learning is to acquire a familiarity and skill with a language at one of the following three levels:

1. Lexical Skill. When we acquire this level, we have developed a working knowledge in the basic elements of the language, such that we can read words, pronounce words, and find words in a lexicon.
2. Grammatical Skill. When we acquire this level, we have developed a working understanding in the connecting structure of the language, such that we can use both the lexicon and the grammar to read literature in the language.
3. Fluency Skill. When we acquire this level, we have developed a working wisdom in the flow of meaning of the language, such that we have confidence to read and translate in the language with little dependence upon a lexicon or grammar.

We must determine which level of proficiency we wish to acquire. For example, if our goal is Biblical study, we would need Fluency Skill in Greek and at least Grammatical Skill in Hebrew. If our goal is study in ancient literature and philosophy, we would need Fluency Skill in both Latin and Greek. (See more on this subject in our book Teaching the Trivium, chapter five.)
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005
From: Patricia Maxwell

Here is an interesting web site on delayed teaching of arithmetic. Apparently in 1933 the superintendent began an experiment to not teach formal mathematics until after 6th grade.

Patricia M.
From: mrmrsclark
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005
state: CO

I have a 3 1/2 year old who will begin reading soon and a 1 year old. It is time for me to begin looking into homeschooling. I really like the Trivium method and would like to use it in my home. I appreciate your schedule. It seems like an awful lot of work and time spent, however. How easy is it to work outside activities into your schedule? For example: Shopping, Women’s Bible study or Ministry, exercise, children’s socialization. I want my children to be well educated but I also feel that they and myself need outside pursuits other than education. Where is this allowed in your schedule?
You have asked a good question, one that takes most of us a long time to figure out. How do you balance academics with outside activities? Have you read the chapter in our book Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten? That particular chapter is on our web site, and you are free to print it out. Actually, academics for children below age ten shouldn’t take up an unusual amount of time. For a moderately sized family, academics plus all reading aloud time should take 6 hours per day, at the MAXIMUM (I’m including here volunteer work, library and field trips, and art and craft time). Families with one or two children would take less time.  You asked specifically about shopping, women’s Bible study or ministry, exercise, and children’s socialization. The first three items are important and will need to be worked into your schedule. When I was homeschooling, Fridays were our town days — we went to the library, the nursing home, garage sales, and grocery store and did whatever other shopping and errands needed to be done. As the children got older we also worked in music lessons, which we generally took twice a month. Exercise is important and you will want to teach your children good exercise habits. All five of our children, though now grown, see daily exercise as essential — have you seen their Adventure Club web site? Concerning the last item you mentioned — children’s socialization — we have discussed this controversial topic in detail elsewhere and you might want to search the archives of the Trivium Pursuit web site.

Date: Thu, 9 Jun 2005
From: Clara

Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

If you are a non classically educated parent providing a Christian classical education for your children this is an invaluable resource.

It would be wonderful to have copywork from the ancients or recountings of historical events told by those who lived closer to the time period than we do.

To do this would require the daunting task of sifting through hundreds of online resources to find ancient historical writings. The problem is not just locating them but then determining what would be appropriate for your children since there is quite a bit of shocking and inappropriate information. If you are educating several children as well as attending to your household it is understandable that you wouldn’t even try to seek out such material.

With Ancient History from Primary Sources A Literary Timeline the work is all done in a very approachable, logical format. In this volume you will find the names of primary source authors listed in chronological order, with a short bio as well as which of their works are extant. The accompanying CDs have the writings that are cited. An actual timeline is in the book paralleling the different cultures with the list of writings placed in their appropriate time period (Hebrew& Christian, Egyptian, Mesopotamia, Greek, Roman). This volume also includes important resources for parents i.e. Using Primary Sources to Study History, Four Approaches to The Study of Ancient Literature, Bible Chronology Puzzle and several other interesting appendices.

Once again, I enthusiastically thank the Bluedorn family for sharing the insights the Lord has given them over the years, therefore enabling our present journey in home education to be a smoother one.
From: Rex and Daryn
Subject: TTT in the Arctic soon
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2005

Dear Bluedorn family,

Hello from the Arctic Circle of Norway. We are so excited to hear our book order from you is in California and is now being sent on its way to us here in Kautokeino, Norway. We will be making use of the midnight sun to glean knowledge from your experiences. Thank you for sharing yourselves.

We are a family from New Zealand serving here in the Arctic with Youth With A Mission. We have four children aged six down to eight months old. We have much to learn and many challenges ahead. We have an awesome God who leads and guides and we have seen time and time again provide for us in so many ways as we seek to serve Him with all that we have.

Looking forward to reading and learning more.
God Bless You All
Daryn Short
My grandfather was from Norway — so I’m 1/4 Norwegian! I hope you will find our book useful. Laurie
From: Don Potter
Subject: Whole-language and logic/rhetoric
Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2005

Dear Harvey,

Here is a pretty good analysis of Ken Goodman’s whole-language method of teaching reading. The author of the article considers both Goodman’s logic and rhetoric. It would make a good exercise for advanced students of logic with an interest in reading instruction.

My school district spent $2.5 million for 57 teachers to teach Reading Recovery, which is basically a form of whole-language instruction. Just imagine how many phonics books we could have bought for $2.5 million! I am thinking about writing an article for the local paper proposing to take that money and buy copies of Alpha-Phonics. Yikes, I could buy 86 thousand books! In fact, more than that because Paradigm would probably give me a great discount for an order that big. If you think I am crazy, just think about how crazy it is to spend $2.5 million dollars on a program that causes rather than cures reading disabilities.

Don Potter
From: George Alvarez
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005
city: Vienna
state: Virginia

I like the website. I’ve not gone through all of it, but so far so good. I would like to see more training techniques. For instance, I read the following: You do not realize that he cannot pay careful attention, and that you need to train him in a missing skill.

I have realized for about 3 years now that my 9 year old cannot pay attention. I understand that my children are not properly trained in many skills that they should either possess or be developing now.

I’d love to see a lot of training tips, programs, techniques, whatever you have to offer.

Specifically, I’d like to ask how I might go about training my children to pay careful attention to things. Can you help guide me?

Thanks! God Bless you for your site and sharing your thoughts and experiences.

I think what you are asking is how do I go about training my nine year old to pay careful attention to me when I speak.  If a child has been taught, from the beginning, to pay careful attention to WHEN and WHAT Mommy and Daddy are speaking, that usually carries over into other parts of his life. A book we recommend which will help you accomplish this is The Mother at Home by John Abbott. Laurie
From: Kelly Midkiff
Subject: a question regarding memorization
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005

I have been browsing the website and the circle time suggestions have made a huge impact here! At first I bypassed them since I only have 1 preschooler and he is autistic and very hard to make sit. Then I read through the ideas and it struck me that this is what I want to do with the older children while they are learning (still) the habit of attention! Regardless of their ages (they are all under 13 though) this sort of structured time where they know what is expected of them is PERFECT for instilling those habits. And it’s the PERFECT time/structure for memory work. To that end I am compiling a list of things for the children to memorize. Here is what I have to this point. Does anyone have further suggestions?

~Children’s Catechism (great!, by the way, from the Bluedorn’s)
~Books of the Bible
~Scripture Memory
~Parts of Speech (We use Simply Grammar right now and I make cards from each part of speech learned.)
~Days of week, month,year, etc.
~Mystery of History important dates/people
~Music – hymn of week, note reading, etc.
~Math facts

I put these things on 4×6 index cards then filed them in a index card file box as per the website (preschoolersandpeace). It is working wonderfully and I don’t have to keep a stack of books with me to do memory work!

Kelly Dawn
Date: Sun, 03 Jul 2005
Genevieve Foster’s History Books

Response to Pam Butler’s inquiry on Chat Loop.

We used the Foster book this past year and loved it. I used plenty of other books on US history as well, including other books on Washington, but hers was unique (and very well written) in that it included stories of other influential people living at the same around the world, some of whom Washington himself knew. I don’t think that every resource we use must be one that is written from a Christian worldview. If your own is mature enough, you can more easily spot revisionist history should you come across it, or you can make sure you have one or two other major resources that hold to that worldview to shore up your study, but I don’t believe Foster has any major flaws to be concerned about. It was one resource highly recommended by the classical Christian folks at Veritas Press, and one I’m planning on including in our home library. It doesn’t hold up to use necessarily as a backbone for a history timeline; you’d want to use a more comprehensive resource for that (Kingfisher History Encyclopedia for example), but yes, it made a very good read-aloud for us (10 and 12 year olds), and is a book I would recommend without hesitation. I’d recommend visiting to find excellent resources for younger history students. Our own study included a text (United States History for Christian Schools, BJU Press), and then a host of other resources, many biographies, named in their catalog. At any rate, it’s a good place to start!
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005
Subject: German programs
From: Barry S. Cureton

Hi to Jodi who wrote in asking about German language programs. We are beginning German with our 8th grade son and our situation sounds a bit similar so I thought I’d pass along our plan.  My husband-like you, had several years of German and liked it, so he felt confident enough to begin with Ben. I have used both French Made Simple and Latin Made Simple books and like them as good basic texts, so we purchased two used copies of German Made Simple from the site we won’t cite and they are working through them together. These books are easy to use and the format allows you to do as much or as little as you want for each lesson time. I would say however, that this kind of book would only work with someone who has a good basic grasp of the language. I also purchased Instant Immersion German audio CD’s for conversational practice. They are not too pricey and provide good, straightforward conversation practice. As we are just beginning this, my advice isn’t fully baked yet, but I hope this helps to hear how we are approaching German.

Margaret Cureton
Woodstock, Maryland
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005
Subject: Re: Scheduling Nightmares
From: Eugene B Sedy

Kelly wrote: Austin will begin 9th grade this fall with math (meaning more time needed from me tutoring) and logic will be added in as well as Latin the following year. I can’t fit it all in! Add 3 other children, one of whom is autistic and requires constant supervision from me as well and therapy daily that I do with him and I am maxed.

Hi Kelly,  I can imagine that one might be maxed if she had an autistic child, and no others! That child requires and deserves the greater part of your attention. I’ve got 2 pieces of advice: think ROUTINE rather than SCHEDULE, and teach your children, especially your oldest, to work independently (I know you didn’t want to hear that, but read on, I’ll explain.)  I, too, had tried several times to schedule our lives according to MOTH. I won’t say it is impossible for our family, but very difficult, and more stressful (for me), than productive. Our children (7 + a new baby) are involved with music lessons, scouts, a horse, jobs, and on occasion, swimming lessons. The only 2 days of the week we were home for the entire day last year were Tuesdays and Fridays. The other 3 weekdays we were out at various times. I tried to make a schedule for each day, and it just became confusing! What has worked for us is ROUTINE. We start everyday with a Bible Lesson, then breakfast. After breakfast is chores, and after that is math. After math (is that how we got the word, aftermath?!), I do phonics (Tatras) one at a time with my 3 youngest students. The rest of the day is up to the kids–they can do the rest of their studies and instrument practice in any order they wish–it just needs to get DONE. If it’s not too rainy, I allow a 30 minute recess after lunch while I take a walk around the block. I figure the fresh air is good for us. If the kids aren’t done with studies before the recess, then back in they go to finish. There’s no fun stuff allowed until they are done. On the days that we are out and about, once we come in I spend 30-45 minutes reading aloud. I found that usually we are not too eager to jump into our studies after being out, so reading aloud helps to settle us in to our routine, starting with–you guessed it–math! While the kids are working on their stuff, I go over everyone’s math with them individually. That usually takes a couple of hours in the afternoon. If I don’t get to it that afternoon, I get to it whenever I can. I just try to do my best to get as much done in a day that I can. It’s not often that we actually get everything done. I’ve learned to accept that, and we just pick up the next day where we left off. You know, the worst day of homeschooling is still better than the best day of mass schooling. Just keep that in mind. We can’t do it all, God doesn’t expect us to. I think he just expects us to be faithful to do our best with what he has given us. I trust Him to make up the difference.   Of course, the above advice is largely dependent on your children being able to work independently. I realized early on that in order for us to be able to accomplish the most for the greatest number of people we had to teach them to be independent students. Your son Austin should be able to work almost completely independently with you just checking his progress. Please don’t be afraid to try this with him. I’m assuming that he must be 13 or 14 years old. I really believe that learning to be an independent student is an important life skill that will help your children to be life-long learners, and self-motivated and productive citizens. Teaching your son to be independent now with his work of studying will prepare him to be a better provider for his own family some day. The process of learning how to be independent students is probably even more important than actual subject matter at this point. It is a process, too; and your kids might fail from time to time. My own 14 yo son skipped doing much of his Algebra for about 2 months. Well, he has learned that it’s important not to skip doing math or any other subject because of the unpleasant consequences of such a choice. I’m glad that he’s learned that now instead of when he’s trying to balance courses at college; or having to get fired from a job because he failed to do a particular task. I’ve also learned to be more specific in my requirements (No, doing 2 or 3 problems on a page does not mean you can answer ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you done your math and checked it?’) and more regular in my check-ins. Anyway, the occasional failures are to be expected, and okay when they are turned around and used as a teaching point. In the end, I think teaching my kids to be independent, to take responsibility for their own education has encouraged them to do better. All in all, I think it encourages them to know that Mom and Dad trust, respect, and believe in their capabilities enough to let them have ownership of their learning.   Now with all this independent stuff going on it doesn’t mean that we never do anything together. Sometimes we all spend an afternoon making salt maps, or we get carried away with reading a book together. Our discussions of what we’re learning take place at the dinner table, and this brings Dad into the picture as well. Lately, I’ll sit down to have a cup of coffee or tea, and I’ll find my kids sitting down with me and we just enjoy talking together. I think you might find that if you let your children become more independent, you might be less harried and a more pleasant mom with whom to spend time. I say that because that is what has happened for me!

God bless you as you do your best–
From: Pete & Maribel Hernandez;
Subject: RE: Handwriting
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005

Dear Amber

I really love using the Michael R. Sull’s Spencerian Script Penmanship Kit. Mr. Sull sent me the complete kit. He also sent it to two other homeschool moms. He wanted input on his product. I can’t say enough good things about it.  I saw great improvement in our children’s handwriting. My husband and I joined the fun with the children and began learning how to write Spencerian alphabet in order to gild the letters unto a flower press. We bought calligraphy pens, gel pens and regular pens in order to see what colors we liked best. The letter Mr. Sull sent us was filled with ornate doves and swirls. On his videos he teaches how to create these lovely decorations to enhance the writing. Even if a parent does not care for all the embellishment that is part of the curriculum, improved   handwriting will become evident.

Maribel Hernandez, mommy to seven precious children, ages 3-21
From: Kathryn Gardner
Subject: re: German interactive program
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005

Hi Laurie. My name is Kath Gardner from Australia. I have just been reading through some of the latest emails on your site, Trivium Email List Issue #438, and saw that one lady was after a German interactive program. (article #3) My daughters and I have been using a program found at, which is American and can be accessed for about $20US. Perhaps you could pass that info on to her. Thanks.

While I’m here, may I say I am thoroughly enjoying your book, ‘Teaching the Trivium’ which I have just borrowed from a friend while I wait for my own copy. What a breath of fresh air it is, to hear your Christian viewpoint on so many basics, and how to implement them. There are so many things that I have believed for years, but not really understood, nor been able to communicate to others. It has given me so much confidence to persevere in what I’ve believed the Lord to be saying all along. Thank you for your ministry. May the Lord bless you and your family.

Yours in Christ, Kath Gardner
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2005
From: Julie;
Subject: Art Supplies

Dear Laurie,

I have listened to some of your tapes and would welcome your opinions on the following. We have a 4 yo (boy), 6 yo (boy), 9 yo (girl), 7.5 yo (girl) and will enter our 2nd year of homeschooling soon. What supplies would you have available for art? Would you invest in a craft book/art book and good-quality art supplies from Timberdoodle or Rainbow, or even a local art supply store? How often would you encourage some type of art project/creation?

I appreciate and value your opinions,

Julie Springfield
good quality colored pencils
matting board scraps from a picture framing store
wallpaper sample books
fabric scraps — wide variety
tape which is easy for the child to manipulate
cross-stitch supplies
scissors for doing fine work
yarn — wide variety like found at Hobby Lobby
ribbon — wide variety
sewing machine — teach them to use one early
water color paints in tubes (not those dried out cubes of water colors like we used in school long ago)
good quality brushes
sculpy clay
paper — cheap paper for most work, but good paper for more serious work
glue sticks
What have I left out?
Your local art supply store will carry many of these items.
Taken from

Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew by Johannah Bluedorn.

Toddler board book.

Miss Bluedorn presents an outstanding way for little ones to learn Hebrew with Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew. On each page, this charming board book has a Hebrew letter, its pronunciation, how to write it, and a little picture that helps tots remember the sound of the letter. Children can even use a wet-erase pen to trace over the letters! Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew will spark small children’s enthusiasm for Hebrew studies.

Reviewed by Carly Robinson.
From: Don Potter
Subject: Instructional Audio for Flesch
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005

Dear Friends of Phonics-First,

Today I posted a series of five mp3 audio files on my web site to help parents and teachers understand how to teach the 72 Phonics Exercises in the back of Rudolf Flesch’s 1955 Why Johnny Can’t Read and what you can do about it. The audio was done extemporaneously, sharing all the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach. In the future I may improve it with a carefully edited script.  Quite frankly, I agree with Flesch that the education of America’s children is too important to leave to professional educators. The sorry history of reading instruction in America bears this out. Flesch’s home primer remains one of the absolutely best methods for teaching beginners to read. It is also unbeatable for remedial reading. It is one of the few methods that comes with a built in guarantee — see page thirty-three.

It is my earnest hope that parents – armed with Flesch’s Primer and assisted by with my Audio Instructions – will take courage and teach their children to read the correct way – with phonics-first.

Many special thanks to Mr. Edward Miller, the author of the Miller Word Identification Assessment, for sharing with me his technique for using Flesch’s Exercises to help students suffering from whole-word dyslexia.

Don Potter,
Odessa, TX
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005
Subject: Using Abeka or other pre-fab curriculum with a large family
From: Eugene B Sedy;

Someone recently wrote:

>>Most of my local homeschooling friends with large families, especially those with more experience than us (our oldest is entering first grade this year), have eventually started using Abeka materials in an effort to simplify homeschooling. Apparently the work can be done fairly independently, and then the parents feel free to supplement with living books, extra science experiments, etc. I’m just wondering how many in this group have felt the need to use a package curricula such as Abeka in order to have time to attend to the needs of a large family? We do so much parent-child interactive material now, but I wonder how to keep up that pace in the future with a growing family. Any thoughts would be appreciated. >>

I’m homeschooling 7 kids, aged 6-16. We also have a new baby. Because of being pregnant and the prospect of the demands of new babyhood, I decided last year to simplify our homeschooling by using Alpha Omega Lifepacs and Switched On School house CDs. I suppose it did simplify some things, but after using a literature-focused method (using Truth Quest history guides and one year with Tapestry of Grace), I found that using the Lifepacs was extremely boring. They were boring for the kids AND me. It put such a sour taste in our mouths for school, it was hard to motivate any of us to do further supplementation. It made it seem like reading, making maps, doing a timeline was just so much extra work. I decided that that was not the way to do school. After talking with a  friend who used Robinson Curriculum with great success with her 7  children, two of whom are no longer children but successful grown men, I  decided I would structure (or de-structure!) our school around that mode.  So far, so good–we are all back to enjoying learning, and I see that our natural inquisitiveness is returning. I say we because doing things this way, we all learn. Even if I don’t get around to reading all the books my children read, I sure enjoy and learn alot by them telling me about them. Using the workbooks definitely squelched all that mutual sharing of what was being learned–if indeed they truly learned it. I plan to use the TQ guides with my 2 older children for American History, because those guides really help point us in the right direction, and guide us to reflect on what it all means. Also, my children work so much better by themselves, independently, when they enjoy what they are doing. That was not the case with the workbooks; so in the end, the workbooks may have saved me a little time, but they actually made school more of a hassle, and so cost me peace. Not a good tradeoff.


PS–See, some might call me a veteran hser, but I don’t feel that way  at all even though we’ve been at this for about 11 years now. I’m learning all the time, trying new things, trying to do what works best for our family–I still don’t feel like I’ve arrived!
From: Frank Rogers
Subject: German Language Training
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005
Tacoma, WA

Hi, Jodi and Margaret (who had talked about teaching their children German.)

I would like to recommend the Elementary German Series by Peter Hagboldt as supplementary material to any German grammar book/tape/video they may use.

This is the bound version of five booklets that were published separately (and may still be purchased separately) and are available on the internet. The first two in the series are Allerlei and Fabeln. Be sure and buy EGS with a publication date of 1958 or later. Early than that, the last booklets were published in the older German script which is no longer used in Germany and which, for most beginning readers, is difficult to handle.

The first booklet in the series, Allerlei, cleverly uses cognates (words that appear to be English words) to teach German words that are not cognates. Allerlei uses just 500 words and 30 idioms.

I purchased Allerlei as part of a German course I took in Junior College. I took it with me when I joined the AF and it maintained my interest in German to the point where I took a German Language correspondence course from the Univ of Wash. Then I was sent to Germany where my German fluency allowed me to meet a young lady who couldn’t speak any English. She eventually became my wife and the mother of my five children. On the 12th of July we celebrated our Golden Wedding anniversary. I owe many thanks to Peter Hagboldt.

If you are interested, I can send you a few sample pages in a PDF file.

R’spy, Frank Rogers, TATRAS
From: Ryan Family
Date: Thu, Jul 28 2005 18:13:43 GMT-0400
Re The Fallacy Detective

Maria wrote:
>>I am not sure what category most people would put this into. Is it appropriate to include this as part of English, as one of her English courses? There is not a lot of math in there, but you do talk about misuse of statistics, etc. Or…is it Philosophy?>>

The Fallacy Detective would properly be categorized as dialectic, following the traditional Trivium of Cassiodorus and Martianus Capella. In modern education, logic has been lumped in with philosophy, and reserved for higher education — college and perhaps an honors high school class. A century ago, an educated person was expected to have formally studied logic, but today this subject has mostly passed out of the crumbling ruins of academia. Thus, so many contemporary politicians, journalists and other professionals are prone to flawed thinking and articulation.

As Christian Classical Homeschoolers, we have a wonderful opportunity to simply dump the arbitrary categories of the mainstream educational establishment and embrace the tried and true methods used in past centuries, methods that produced some of the greatest thinkers in human history.
From: J
Subject: Regarding Socialization
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005

Mrs. Bluedorn,

I had emailed Nathaniel regarding the topic of homeschooling and socialization. He suggested that I write to you. I have faced some ‘opposition’ to homeschooling from two close friends, as well as from my parents. Do you mind sharing a bit on this topic?  Of course, the main objection that my friends and family have to homeschooling is the infamous ‘socialization’ factor. For instance, my friend and I had lunch on Monday. Our daughter (age 3) was with me. It wasn’t long before my friend asked, When are you going to start her in preschool? I told her that we weren’t going to put her in preschool. This opened the door for her to share unsolicited advice about how our daughter needed to be with children her own age, on a much more frequent basis than the play times we have now. I explained that we have three families who we get together with regularly for play. She insisted that outings 2-3 times a week were simply not enough. That child needs to be around other kids, she insisted. She then pointed out that she was shy about speaking to the waiter who served us our lunch. I thought her shyness was quite normal for a three year old. She called her shyness ‘cowering’. I call it shy.

Frankly, in the crazy world in which we find ourselves I’m not concerned with the fact that our daughter is shy or hesitant around strangers.

She also insisted that it was insufficient that she spends most of her time with her family, myself, her father and her grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins. She insisted that a much more broad exposure to other children her age was crucial.

I just don’t understand where this idea came from. I keep asking myself, What possible benefit could there be for a child spending 5-6 hours a day, surrounded by 20-30 other children of the same age? Who decided that it was ‘healthy’ for kids to be surrounded (inundated) by other kids for the majority of their day?

How would you address this? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Here are some random thoughts on the socialization issue. Children will pattern their behavior after whoever they are around the most. Most children today are institutionalized from a very young age — 2 or 3 in preschool — till age 22 when they graduate from college. For the most productive part of most every day, they are in the company of a group of children their own age, most times their exact age. Of course, most children who are institutionalized during those years will have many days where they socialize with others of differing ages and walks of life, but the majority of their life is spent with kids their own age. Is it any wonder that whatever bond which the child formed with Mother or Daddy in the first couple of years of his life begins to weaken, till at about age 8 or 9 it becomes so weak that it takes little pressure to break. In the meantime, a strong bond begins to form between the child and his peers, and even between child and school teacher.

I suppose that one of the reasons you chose to homeschool your child is that you would like that bond, which started to form the day she was born, to continue to grow and stay strong until the day she marries and her affections are transferred to someone else.  Your daughter needs to be with children her own age. You’ll hear this quite a bit over the next several years so it might be good to have some ammunition — some good hard facts — to counter this argument. My favorite answer to this is: How do you know that? What proof do you have that this is true? And they don’t have any proof. It’s just one of those pseudo-science factoids that has been perpetuated by the NEA perhaps. On the other hand, there is an abundance of studies to the contrary. Here is something I just read in the PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter (July-August 2005): Few parents have heard about the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care, an ongoing $100 million survey of 1,100 children. It’s the largest and most rigorous examination of day care in history, taking into account family income and the quality of day care. Recent evidence from the study shows that the total number of hours a child is without a parent, from birth through preschool, matters. The more time in child care of any kind or quality, the more aggressive the child, according to results published in Child Development. Children in full-time day care were close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those cared for by their mothers at home (excerpted Psychology today, Vol. 38, No. 3, p. 18). That’s just one item. There are lots more if you look. It doesn’t sound like she has any evidence to back up her statements, but since she is your friend you might be hesitant to confront her on the matter. Perhaps she is feeling a bit guilty that you have decided to homeschool and she is taking the easy route. Or perhaps just a few words here and there on why you want to homeschool will get her to thinking outside her box.

Concerning shyness, I think I can speak to that subject with some experience. I had some of the shyest kids in the world. They would hide behind me when we met up with strangers or even people they knew. I’m sure our relatives thought we were ruining our children by homeschooling them. But today, I doubt anyone would call our children shy.

From: Eugene Chan
Subject: Alphabetarion
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005

Dear Bluedorns,

We have been using your Greek Alphabetarion for several years now and really appreciate it. The children enjoy using the Scripture readings in the back to practise their Greek reading. We like the selections because they are easily seen with the larger print, and we can easily check our pronunciation with the transliteration. I am wondering if there are any other kinds of readers that we can use to practise reading, that are designed like your selections, until our children are at the age to begin studying Greek. We have copied parts from the margins of our NT with Greek parallel, but the print is small (even with enlargement) and there is no transliteration to check if we get a combination of sounds we don’t recognize. It gets rather tedious to read for all of us. They always beg to go back to your book to practise! Do you know if you all will be designing a reader to help in this in-between time, or do you already have a resource we can use of which I am unaware?

Thanks for any help you can offer!
Laura Chan
Our new book A Greek Hupogrammon: A Beginner’s Copybook for the Greek Alphabet with Pronunciations by Harvey Bluedorn will be sent to the printer on Monday, and we should have delivery three weeks later. As soon as we finalize the quote from the printer we’ll be able to figure out the retail price, and then we’ll offer a pre-publication sale.

Title: A Greek Hupogrammon: A Beginner’s Copybook for the Greek Alphabet with Pronunciations
Author: Harvey Bluedorn
Pages: 176
Trim size: 8 1/2 X 11
Cover: full color
Binding: perfect
Format: consumable workbook
Book description:
Learn the Greek alphabet and pronunciation system in a simple yet comprehensive way.
Features of this book:
Designed to correspond with A Greek Alphabetarion by Harvey Bluedorn.
Practice writing all the Greek letters and marks, including accents, breathers, and obsoletes.
Practice finding Greek letters in words and sentences.
Practice identifying the sounds of Greek letters and Greek vowel combinations.
Practice reading and writing words and sentences in Greek, including eleven pages of numerals.
A variety of exercises in different formats.
Answer key to exercises in the back.
Consumable workbook — you will need one for each student.
For ages 8 and up.
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005

Greetings to the Trivium Pursuit Loop,

I called Laurie today and she asked me to share with you that my son Henry (age 14) won an essay contest, though he had only started to learn paragraph construction the semester previous to this contest. Also, my son Eddie (age 11) came very near placing in the top five, though I had not yet given him any formal composition instruction. I think that reading aloud and their time spent reading themselves, prepares them to write. However, I do want to recommend Put That In Writing by Shari Barrett as an excellent and helpful curriculum if you, like me, feel you need one. I like its structure and clarity and we are eagerly awaiting Level 2.

I also want to encourage everyone to take Laurie’s advice and involve your children in contests. Who knows, they just might win! The contest my boys participated in was sponsored by the Midwest Creation Fellowship and I’m sure they would welcome more participants. Check out their website at in the days to come for the rules for the 2006 contest.

I would like to add a note, too, about handwriting. I highly recommend We Write to Read by Peterson Directed Handwriting. I don’t know if they have a website. Their telephone number is (412) 837-4900. They have a great booklet for left-handers that I used for my now 11 yr. old when he was first learning. I intend to begin my 6 yr. old on it this fall. It is time intensive, but the fruit is worth the effort. It teaches proper placement of the paper, how to hold your pencil properly, how to sit properly, etc., plus all the mechanics of proper letter formation; first printing, then cursive. I just thought I might add this to the recent discussion regarding handwriting. While I’m at it, I would like to relate my experience regarding the teaching of mathematics. My oldest was taught formally from age 6, but with my second son, I waited to do formal instruction, i.e., using a textbook or workbook, until age 10. It worked, and math seems to be easier for him than for his older brother. He is now 11 and in two years has completed Saxon 54, 65 and 76.

Susan Hoffmann
From: Britta McColl
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005

Review of A Greek Alphabetarion by Harvey Bluedorn

I recently purchased this book along with the Greek Alphabet Flash Cards and Greek Alphabet Banner to use in teaching my children Greek. I love the way that Mr. Bluedorn has set up this language program. Mastering the sounds of the Greek alphabet is truly the most practical way of beginning language study. I was saddened to see that Matt (review above) does not see the value of this book. It is not simply an alphabet book, it also teaches the phonetic code of Greek. The sounds the letters make. It uses a similar teaching system to the Spalding method (The Writing Road to Reading) and to Wanda Sanseri’s method which is an Orton/Spalding based program called: Spell to Write and Read. The reason that we have an epidemic of dyslexia in America today is because children are not taught the phonetic code of the English language. They are taught whole-language/sight reading methods and can often read only books containing the small number of words that they have been taught. When you teach the phonetic code of a language first, children can sound out any word that they have not previously read and will read and comprehend at a much higher level.  (For more information on this topic go to my Amazon review of Spell to Write and Read.) The same will be true of children who are first taught the phonetic code of Greek. They will eventually read and comprehend Greek at a much higher level than their counterparts who were taught a few Greek words by sight. Since I already teach my children with Spell to Write and Read and they are familiar with this system of learning, it should be relatively easy to add on this program. First we will master all the sounds of the Greek alphabet, then I will check my children’s understanding by giving them Greek phonogram quizzes (a la Spell to Write and Read), and then we can work into spelling simple Greek words. Reading Greek will be the next natural step. Though I feel challenged by the idea of studying Greek, having this well laid out system by Mr. Bluedorn gives me hope and the tools I need to dig in and start learning. I highly recommend that you also purchase the Greek Alphabet Flash Cards and the Greek Alphabet Banner to go along with this book and CD. We have already placed our Greek Alphabet Banner in our kitchen and it is quite beautiful and draws our children into a curiosity about these strange letters. Curiosity is the first step to learning! I am also looking forward to purchasing Mr. Bluedorn’s Greek Copybook that will be available later this summer.

Britta McColl
Morning Star Learning
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005

This is in response to GPRESHONG. I found it interesting that your friends are switching to ABEKA as their families grow; we quit using ABEKA as our family grew! I found it much easier and much more enjoyable to create my own unit studies or use those already available from other sources as a guideline. My five children are all about three years apart, and it was impossible to teach all the classes from Abeka materials for that many grade levels. Abeka does not lend itself well to self-teaching. I also found that my oldest, who used Abeka all the way through, was completely unable to think. She has an excellent memory and can spout facts but don’t ask her anything wherein she would need to understand a concept. She has had difficulty in college because of that. My oldest son (a junior in high school this coming year) uses the Math U See video on his own while I work with the younger three boys individually using Bright Minds (Critical Thinking Co.) math books. The younger three also use Bright Minds math CDs on their own. We always do Bible, history, and science together. Fire and Ice sermons are a wonderful way to begin each day. Answers in Genesis offers many interesting articles online for science, which are of interest to all ages. This can be the beginning of independent research for older students, which will incorporate their science, history, research, composition, and typing/handwriting skills. Though Abeka does offer a good science curriculum, science is always best taught with a more hands on approach. Bright Minds offers supplemental hands on science, and God’s Design Science offers a complete hands-on curriculum for younger students. For English, we read the classics out loud as a group, and the boys use Editor in Chief and Punctuation Puzzler CDs from Bright Minds independently. We play games like Parts of Speech Bingo together. Our literature study has been the basis for much of our history as well in the last two years. Our day is varied, fun, and we are all learning more than we ever did using Abeka’s boxed curriculum. Of note, Abeka is contradictory to the Trivium. In fact, they blatantly refer to themselves as a traditional curriculum and, therefore, would not be useful to someone trying to use a Classical approach.

Lisa Harris
From: Sebastian
Subject: audio Greek new testament
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005

Dear Harvey and Laurie,

While I was researching on the web I found this really good website: I thought you might be interested in. I think Harvey studied Greek and among other neat downloads they have a Greek new testament audio bible for free download. Maybe you are interested in that?

We hope all is well with you and send our greetings!
Sebastian, Germany
Hi Harvey,

I am intrigued by your position that Paul was married. I wish to gather facts to be able to convince myself. What facts have you gathered to support your belief and where can I find them?

Thanks for any help you have time to give.
Blessings, Andy
Below are a couple of things which I found in my notes.

7:1 ¶ Now (I will respond) concerning what things you wrote to me:  “It is good [/honorable] for-a-man not to attach himself to [/to touch] a woman [/wife].”

The primary meaning of the Greek verb haptomai is: to fasten oneself to something, to cling to, to attach to; the secondary meaning: to attack; thirdly: to touch something, to affect; fourthly: to grasp with the senses, to apprehend; fifthly: to reach, to overtake; and finally in the passive it also has the meaning: to be set on fire. The Greek noun anEr means either “man ­ adult male ­ gentleman” or “husband,” and the Greek word gunE means either “woman ­ adult female ­ lady” or “wife,” The way these two words are translated depends upon the context. Many of the contexts in this chapter will allow either translation. This proposition is apparently a quotation or a paraphrase of one of the propositions which the Corinthians asserted in the letter which they wrote to Paul. Other propositions appear later in the epistle and are introduced with “Now concerning …” (see 7:25; 8:1; 11:2,3; 12:1; 15:1-3; 16:1; 16:12). Paul apparently had another source of information as well about problems at Corinth (1:11; 1:17,18; compare 16:17). To take this proposition as simply Paul’s way of introducing his discussion of the subject — this seems contrary to other facts we know about Paul’s teaching on the subject. Paul elsewhere taught that

(1) marriage is honorable (Hebrews 13:4);
(2) marriage is a picture of Christ and the assembly (Ephesians 5:22-33);
(3) marriage to one wife is required of overseers, elders, ministers (First Timothy 3:2,4,12; Titus 1:5,6);
(4) marriage to one husband is required of a widow who would receive aid (First Timothy 5:9);
(5) it is desirable that younger widows marry again (First Timothy 5:14);
(6) to forbid marriage is a seducing, demonic, false, hypocritical, and unconscionable doctrine (First Timothy 4:1-5).

Hence Paul could not here be asserting a general rule that married life is less desirable and that single life is more preferable.

7:2 But with-a-view-to fornications,  let- each (man) -possess his own wife [/woman],   and let- each (woman) -possess her own husband [/man].

“Fornications” in the plural may refer to the many temptations in that culture to sexual indulgences outside of marriage. The term “fornication” included many actions, such as premarital promiscuity, homosexuality, bestiality. Fornication also included adultery, except where adultery or marriage is mentioned in the context as a separate category. Corinth in particular was filled with such fornications. Paul commands faithful monogamy as the proper and effective counteragent to all temptations to fornication. Compare, First Thessalonians 4:2 For you know what injunctions we gave to you through the Lord Jesus. 4:3 For this is God’s will: your sanctification, for you to hold yourselves away from fornication: 4:4 Each one from among you ought to know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 4:5 not to conduct himself in passion of desire [/lust], even as also do the nations which are not knowing God. Compare First Peter 3:7 you husbands are to be continually dwelling with your wives according to knowledge, ­ as with a weaker vessel ­ apportioning honor to the wife [/female].

7:8 Now I say to the unmarried (widowers) [agamos], and to the (unmarried) widows [chEra]:  it is good [/honorable] for them   if they should remain even as I myself (remain ­ that is, an unmarried widower). 7:9 Yet if they do not possess self control,   (then) let them marry,   for to marry is better than to continue burning (with natural desire).

8 — The Greeks did not have a separate word for a widower. Therefore, the reference to unmarried men [agamos], directly connected and paralleled in this context with widows [chEra], would regularly be understood to refer to widowers. Paul puts himself in the same category as widowers and widows — those whose spouse has died. Therefore, Paul must be a widower himself. Paul was formerly a Pharisee, and the Pharisees taught unambiguously that it was the duty of every man to marry. Paul was apparently a voting member of the council of the sanhedrin (Acts 6:12,15; 8:1), which required that every member be married and have children. Perhaps his wife was dead and his children were grown. Paul does not explicitly address those who have never been married –­ virgins –until verses 25-38. Paul teaches the same principle in verses 39-40 where he says that he thinks the widow will be happier if she remains unmarried, but she does not sin if she does marry.

9 — This agrees with the principle taught in First Timothy 5:11-15.

Harvey Bluedorn


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