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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Announcing Homeschool Sanity—the book!

Recapture the best of the past!
It's not easy being a homeschooling parent today. Educating one's children is a huge responsibility. There seem to be more "answers" than there are questions! Everyone has a textbook, or a method, or a philosophy. But how are we supposed to figure out just what path to take?

We want our children to have the very best and to grow up with the God of the Bible as their frame of reference; but the best way to accomplish this seems to be just out of our reach!

For more than 23 years I have been asking these same questions about education. During my own journey, I have read books and research by the most insightful and influential homeschooling leaders such as—Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Ruth Beechick, Charlotte Mason, John Taylor Gatto, and many more. They were true pioneers of the current homeschool movement and all were dedicated to the welfare of children and their families.

Although their messages were often diverse, I began to identify a common theme. In the last few years I have discovered the Eclectic Education Series, and all those threads began to reveal an incalculably rich tapestry of education resources, that for many were lost to the past.

My heart was burdened with the realization that there are many others just like me—that are seeking a way to simplify their homeschooling into a coherent system which makes room for a child's personality and gifts, but at the same time gives him structure as well as discipline.

I have come to realize that the modern educational systems and methods are strangely unique in our human history, and they have failed us abysmally. Never before have we had so much knowledge at our fingertips, and yet, the literacy rates of our nation's school systems are at an all-time low. Despite the fact that we live in the information age—the divorce, homicide and suicide rates are at all-time highs. Our children face greater challenges today than we would have ever dreamed, nevertheless, many don't have the tools to handle these new demands and pressures.

It is time we threw out the progressive educational philosophies and ideologies which have lead us here. We need to turn back the clock and promote the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. We must revive the unswerving Christian devotion that used to be lived out by our predecessors before the present narcissistic influence of humanism took over!

We can rediscover the tools of learning that helped our forefathers overcome the great obstacles of their time, that have only recently been replaced by "dumbed-down" work texts and worthless statistics which require no higher thinking on the part of young learners.

Homeschool Sanity: a Practical Guide to Redemptive Home Educating is my attempt to communicate a way back to common sense learning. It is a pathway back to the simplicity and joy of gaining the knowledge born out of the reverence for the God of the Bible. It is a journey filled with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

This book is easy to read. Even if one only has time for perusing, something useful and encouraging will be achieved (I have included a few pages in this article from my book for your consideration).

It is full of colorful and engaging graphics, helps, charts, templates and resources. Even the busiest mother will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as she reads just how easy it is to give her children an education that will be a blessing to them for the rest of their lives!

Here is a small portion of what I have included in Homeschool Sanity's 160 pages:
  • An overview of the different methodologies of homeschooling
  • A brief history of education in America
  • Preschool
  • Reading and literature
  • Grammar
  • Arithmetic 
  • History
  • Science
No fancy psycho-anything here. I have rediscovered precisely why things used to work, and why they are so very broken today. I hope to lead the way into a fresh attempt to bring back the best of the past in order to prepare our children for the best future possible.

In essence, I have tried to make learning the "old" ways as convenient as possible for our modern lifestyles.

This is why you will find many nifty charts and templates ready for your use. You will discover a catalog of successful methodologies for your own re-education. If you are like me, you will not feel tired and anxious after you read my book; you will be refreshed and filled with real hope!

Many thanks to Dollar Homeschool for the wonderful resources offered in the form of the Eclectic Education Series. This book would not have been possible were it not for the opportunity I had to write the guides for each of the wonderful Eclectic collections.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tutorial--Printing and Binding eBooks

There are so many wonderful, old, and mostly free books online--one just can't help but download them and pour over them from one's hard drive. But reading these and sharing these, especially with children for their education, is another story.

I have decided I want to read these, not in their electronic form, but in as close to the look and feel of a "real book" as possible. I also want to make sure that if I go to all the trouble of printing and binding, these books will last as long as possible, so that as many of my children as possible can enjoy each one.

I have done general how-to's for printing and binding options before, but here is a step-by-step breakdown of how I print and bind mine.

To begin with, I have an auto-duplexing printer, meaning it automatically prints on both sides of the paper. This has been a blessing for me! I use the HP Office 8000 Pro. Besides its auto-duplexing feature, I chose this one because the cost of ink was so low--just over 1 cent per page! (the cartridges have a 2,200 page yield, and yet cost the same as cartridges for any other HP inkjet meant for personal use).

After bringing up whatever book I want to print, whether in PDF version or in Microsoft Office, I pull down the file menu and click on the print option.

Within the print window I click properties. In the next dialog box I select "booklet printing." I then check the "OK" box. When the original print window returns to the front of the screen, I plug in the pages I want to be printed.

This is a very important step. Even if a book is 400 pages long, it is best not to print any more than 20, double-sided pages at a time. 

Printing just that many pages allows for any errors, because when you print in booklet form the pages are numbered in a very specific way so that they will be in sequence when they are bound together. Also, printing just a few pages at a time allows you to bind them together so that they look and behave more like a book when you are finished.

I keep a tally sheet close to the computer and list each set of pages, such as:

61-80, etc.

I put a check on the left hand side of the number as I begin to print, and on the right side of each number as the printing has been completed. This simply tallying system has saved me so much grief as I am often interrupted while going through this process.

After I have printed all of the "booklets" and stacked them in a staggered way so they will not become confused, I begin the process of stapling each booklet in the middle. I try and stagger the staples, which helps the spine of the book to be more even when I finally glue all of the separate booklets together.

I then proceed to fold each carefully along the stapled middle. I use some sort of instrument (in this picture I am using the barrel of a marker) to make sure the fold is crisp and precise.

 After folding I stack the separate booklets up in order. Then I use two rulers with some binding clips to hold the pages as I use a hot glue gun and a Popsicle stick to glue the pages together. After the pages are glued, I measure the spine.

I then take a manilla folder, which has fold lines already in the middle, and measure just how many folds will be necessary for the spine of my book. In this instance, I find I will have to add another crease, so I use a ruler and the blade of an open pair of scissors to score the folder so that the crease is neat and crisp.

I use my paper cutter to cut the length of my book cover to just a smidgeon over 8.5". I then proceed to measure the sides of my book, making sure I allow for the spine, to a little over 5.5" each.

I then use my hot glue gun in the gutter of the manilla folder which I have just cut, and quickly apply the booklets I have previously glued together. I use my fingers to make sure the spine of the book is well-adhered to the folder.

For added security, I apply a bead of hot glue just inside the front and back covers, where the pages meet the spine.

I like to take some of the time between printings to design front and spine covers for the finished book. I use Microsoft Publisher to do this, but one could use PrintMaster, or even the open-source program GIMP.

I like to create a sort of "sticker" to put on the front of the book by using an interesting image from the PDF of the book itself. It is easy to clip one of these, copy it using either by pressing down the control key and the letter "c" at the same time, or right clicking the image and selecting "copy." I then open up the graphic design software and paste the picture (again, using the control key and the letter "v" at the same time, or by right-clicking and selecting "paste" in the drop-down menu).

I have been able to enhance my cover designs by taking advantage of the many black-and-white vintage images at Clip Art Etc. I have especially enjoyed their decorative letter section, which make my otherwise bland covers look a bit more "Victorian" and appropriate!

The spine cover is done by using one of the banner designs from Clip Art Etc. and filling it with the title of the book and the author or publisher, where appropriate.

Of course, it is important to estimate the size of each of these "stickers" before saving and printing them!

After I have printed and cut out my labels, I place them on the book where I would like to see them glued, then draw a light pencil line around them. I then put a light coat of Elmer's rubber cement on the front of the book and the back of the label. After both of these dry, I put the label on the book (this is an old graphic designer's trick--it is a much better method than simply applying and pasting a paper object).

My last task is to cover the whole book in clear plastic laminate; if I am going to this kind of trouble to print and bind a book, I am going to make sure it lasts through more than a couple of children!

Measuring the clear paper.

Cutting off the corners helps when wrapping the plastic around the cover.

Folding the plastic under.

Adding a bead of melted glue on the ends helps with security and longevity.

Opens and feels like a "real" paperback book.

Two finished products--printed from Living Books Curriculum

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The church in your home, Spurgeon

This quote is taken from Charles Spurgeon's devotional book "Morning by Morning", published in 1866:

If there be such a Church in our house [Philemon 2] let us order it well and let all act as in the sight of God Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness diligence kindness and integrity More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household family worship must in such a case be more devout and hearty internal love must be more warm and unbroken and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christ like We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family church in the inspired book of remembrance As a Church let us now draw nigh to the great Head of the one Church universal and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.