Thanks for visiting my blog, you can join me by subscribing

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Preschool at home

Little Faith enjoying life!
Believe it or not, I get a lot of questions as to precisely what one should do with preschool children; what kind of curriculum to buy, etc.

When I was a young child, "preschool" meant just what the word suggests; an important period before any formal schooling began. Back then, even Kindergarten was not considered absolutely necessary.

Sometimes I feel as though I am on some sort of crusade back to common sense, a campaign aimed at freeing parents from the pressure of feeling they if they don't put their children in "programs" at the tender ages of three or four to keep the youngsters from being hindered or damaged in some way for the rest of their lives.

I am convinced that children who have time to develop in a warm, familiar home environment, without the pressure of a formal program, are much better off in the long-run. I've my suspicions that the social engineers are quite aware that children fair worse in institutions, but they are also less malleable by the "system" if they are allowed to bind with their families more than to their teachers and peers in early childhood.

Lorilee at three-years-old
I don't care what Sesame Street has set out to do, and I'm not impressed with what all of the workbooks, and mp3 videos, and apps programs that have tried to convince us of; especially relating basic "readiness" skills does not require a system, a program, or a curriculum.

Readiness is nothing more than giving love and attention to young children and including them in every-day life.

I recently needed my three-year-old to retrieve a plastic container of barrettes from the drawer in my bathroom. I told her that the item I needed was located in the top drawer, that it was round, and that it was colored orange. Wanting to please me, she ran off excitedly and came back with the exact thing I wanted, even though there are three drawers in my bathroom, and the topmost one is full of all sorts of other things.

In order to complete her task, she had to know what "top" meant, what "round" meant and what the color orange looked like. I, and the other family members in this house, have systematically taught her all of these things, although not in any certain sequence or order. She has also taught herself, as she has asked us questions and observed life going on around her.

Building mechanical aptitude
Available to her are large Legos, markers, colors, paper, scissors, dolls, kitchen utensils, a sandbox and swings, closets full of clothes to try on (and take off, and try on, and take off, and try on...), older sisters to put lipstick on, picture books to study, other books to listen to, and parents and older siblings to snuggle with when the movie gets too intense.

We take her on errands, make her sit quietly with us when we have our family singing and Bible study time, and have her help us when we are cleaning the yards, or folding clothes, and making dinner. All of these elements combine to give her a well-rounded idea of early life. 

World Book has graciously provided lists of a typical "course of study" for the different grades. This is how they explain how they have formulated the readiness requirements for preschool-aged children:
...the early childhood education staff at the University of Georgia, with a grant from World Book, Inc., surveyed kindergarten administrators and teachers across North America to determine what skills, competencies, and understandings a child needs in order to perform successfully in the first formal school situation. Well over 3,000 educators responded to the Readiness Skills Study. The results identified 105 desirable readiness skills that will help a child get off to a good start in school.
Any parent, if he/she is attentive, loving, and caring, can easily fulfill and surpass the requirements listed here, the toddlers I have raised are all living proof!


*Understands big and little.
*Understand long and short.
*Matches shaped or objects based on size.

Colors and Shapes

* Recognizes and names primary colors.
* Recognizes circles.
* Recognizes rectangles.
* Matches shapes or objects based on shape.
* Copies shapes.


* Counts orally through ten.
* Counts objects in one-to-one correspondence.
* Understands empty and full.
* Understands more and less.

Reading Readiness

* Remembers objects from a given picture.
* Knows what a letter is.
* Has been read to frequently.
* Has been read to daily.
* Looks at books and magazines.
* Recognizes some nursery rhymes.
* Identifies parts of the body.
* Identifies objects that have a functional use.
* Knows common farm and zoo animals.
* Pronounces own first name.
* Pronounces own last name.
* Expresses self verbally.
* Identifies other children by name
* Tells the meaning of simple words.
* Repeats a sentence of 6-8 words.
* Completes incomplete sentence with proper word.
* Has own books.
* Understands that print carries a message.
* Pretends to read.
* Uses left-to-right progression.
* Answers questions about a short story.
* Tells the meaning of words heard in story.
* Looks at pictures and tells a story.
* Identifies own first name in manuscript.
* Prints own first name.

Position and Direction

* Understands up and down.
* Understands in and out.
* Understands front and back.
* Understands over (on) and under.
* Understands top, bottom, middle.
* Understands beside and next to.
* Understands hot and cold.
* Understands fast and slow.


* Understands day and night.
* Knows age and birthday.

Listening and Sequencing

* Follows simple directions.
* Listens to a short story.
* Listens carefully.
* Recognizes common sounds.
* Repeats a sequence of sounds.
* Repeats a sequence of orally given numbers.
* Retells simple stories in sequence.

Motor Skills

* Is able to run.
* Is able to walk a straight line.
* Is able to jump.
* Is able to hop.
* Is able to alternate feet walking down stairs.
* Is able to march.
* Is able to stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds.
* Is able to walk backwards for five feet.
* Is able to throw a ball.
* Pastes objects.
* Claps hands.
* Matches simple objects.
* Touches fingers.
* Able to button a garment.
* Builds with blocks.
* Completes simple puzzles (five pieces or less).
* Draws and colors beyond
* a simple scribble.
* Able to zip a zipper.
* Controls pencil and crayon well.
* Cuts simple shapes.
* Handles scissors well.
* Able to copy simple shapes.

Social-Emotional Development

* Can be away from parents or primary care givers for 2-3 hours without being upset.
* Takes care of toilet needs independently.
* Feels good about self.
* Is not afraid to go to school.
* Cares for own belongings.
* Knows full name.
* Dresses self.
* Knows how to use handkerchief or tissue.
* Knows own s*x.
* Brushes teeth.
* Crosses residential street safely.
* Asks to go to school.
* Knows parents' names.
* Knows home address.
* Knows home phone number.
* Enters into casual conversation.
* Carries a plate of food.
* Maintains self-control.
* Gets along well with other children.
* Plays with other children.
* Recognizes authority.
* Shares with others.
* Talks easily.
* Likes teachers.
* Meets visitors without shyness.
* Puts away toys.
* Able to stay on task.
* Able to work independently.
* Helps family with chores.

(List courtesy of World Book)

For the Christian family, I would add in these items:
  • The Golden Rule
  • Genesis chapters 1-9
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The books of the Bible
  • The redemption story 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Cheating" in order to learn

God's Holy Commandments
There is a type of cheating that breaks God's law; it is stealing, lying, and coveting. This is done when we look at someone else's answers during a test, or reproduce someone else's work and hand it in as if it were our own, or when we plagiarize a writing assignment.

But there is another kind of "cheating" that isn't cheating at all; it's just an alternative way to learn, or to beat the "system."

For instance, I have often been stuck without a clue while working on a math problem, and peeking at the answers at the back of the book helped put me on the right track. This is not only allowable, this is expected, which is why textbook publishers have the even (or odd) answers included in the back. Most teachers expect students to show their work anyway, so it is really impossible to do anything unethical.

Working on a math problem
Since we enjoy using the Ray's Arithmetics on the discs from Dollar Homeschool, I've printed out the answers into helpful booklets and handed them out to my children--then they are free to look lessons up in order to to see if they understand what is being asked of them, or precisely how a problem should be solved, just as long as they know that they must show all of their own work.

There is another way to "cheat" that is often very beneficial; this is when one is supposed to read through a chapter of information and afterwards answer a series of questions in order to confirm comprehension of the material. The content of the reading assignment is usually the most important in the chapter, and the type that would most certainly be on a test. Now, if a person is extremely interested in the course of study, then he or she would probably want to read the chapter very carefully, and even follow up with a bit of additional research, but, unfortunately, most texts theses days are pretty dry, and the information they contain may be either irrelevant, slanted, or obvious propaganda. In such cases as these, a person just wants to grab the most pertinent data without clouding his or her mind with a lot of nonsense.

This is when the index becomes a student's best friend! By taking a key-word from the question and using it to look up the specific page, often the specific paragraph, in which it is contained, an accurate answer can be formulated. This is a great time-saver, and, especially when the class is required but is also full of a lot of hogwash, this saves brain-space for more important things!

Discovering the proper solution to a problem
Now, I have never used the "regurgitation" method of learning in my homeschool (reading a section and then answering several "canned" questions, or some fill-in-the-blanks, etc.) for about 20 years. In certain ways, this may leave my precious children more vulnerable, since they have never undertaken a subject that, for them, was not either vital or interesting to them, and so they have a tendency to take everything put before them very seriously. But they will need to learn specifically how to use this strategy whenever they are forced to take one of these courses, so I teach them how to perform well while hardly being influenced.

Regurgitation, as I call it, is one of the worst ways to really learn anything. It actually does very little for real retention at all, and is more about memorizing mere facts than in communicating important ideas that a student can then internalize so as to make a lasting impression on his or her reservoir of true and beneficial knowledge.

For instance, I might be able to rattle off the exact dates of the beginning of the Revolutionary War and some of the names of the major persons involved, but I might miss the actual reasons for the war, or the larger implications for mankind, or how the attitudes and ideals of the Founding Fathers could or should affect me in my thinking today. And even if I was made to memorize a statement or two concerning the reasons and effects, it would make very little difference if I was not able to think them through for myself and connect them with other lessons of history or the way I look at my life.

Besides, there are so many angles from which to view any event in history. There are often many different ways to answer even the most basic question of why something happened. Was the Civil War fought exclusively over the issue of slavery?--not hardly! 

A few of our own notebooking pages
Students need to have the opportunity to interpret and analyze the facts in their own way, from their own perspective. This is why the Charlotte Mason method of narration is so much superior to that of simply getting the answers to some "canned" questions. Of course, there are quite a number of different styles of "narration" for any lesson, chapter, book or subject. With my creative and resourceful children, we like not only to write, but to illustrate, act-out, or in some manner display what we are learning. Notebooking is one of the terrific vehicles for this, but there are many others.

What are some of the alternatives that you have found?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Children are special!

Sarah Elizabeth
Here I go again, nag, nag, nag! 

After 29 years of parenting, I honestly believe that I have taped recordings of lectures that are stored in my mind which can go off quite automatically on certain cues. I have precise sayings that immediately dribble out of my mouth without any special forethought whatsoever.

Seriously, raising children takes a lot of repetition, a lot of pestering, and a lot of "constructive criticism." Every day I'm reminding people to brush their teeth, make their beds, be humble, be sweet, be respectful, be diligent, wipe their feet, put their shoes away, take out the trash, clean the counters, finish their schoolwork, write thank-you letters, stand up straight, and on, and on it goes... 

After a while it can grate on one's nerves, all of this energy expended in seeming futility. If a mother is not careful, it can wear her down, steal her joy, and keep her from truly delighting in her children.

Patience being her wonderful self!

Everyone needs a little correction and accountability from time-to-time, but constant "fixing" can tear down a home from the inside-out. If we want to grow a healthy plant, we certainly are not going to prune it down to the root, or drown it with too much water. No, there are times when we must very carefully bind up its tender shoots, and set it on the windowsill so that it can soak up some much needed sun-light, and their are times when we simply sit back to admire it. 

Parents can get so busy, that they allow the circumstances of life to rob them of the emotional energy they need for their children. They might have the best of intentions, but if their little ones rarely hear a positive word, they may never get to benefit from the gift of love and acceptance they need from the most important people in their lives. 

All too soon the youngsters are off and gone, and then the words spoken are often too few, and the relationship is too distant to make any real difference.

Faith, Patience and Lorilee

The proper time to enjoy our children is now--this very instant. It doesn't matter if they are in dirty diapers or have faces covered with acne; they need our affirmation and unconditional love, through the daily expressions of our total delight in them. 

So remember to smile, and flirt, and tickle them. We need to grab them up spontaneously and kiss them behind the ears. We need to learn to play with them, and tell them jokes and funny stories about times when they were little babies, or even when we were babies, share the memories that will make everyone laugh. We must learn to listen to their stories, and laugh at their jokes, and take pleasure in their artwork, even if we can't always tell what it is they were drawing!

And we have a divine opportunity to be their very first and best cheerleaders--their champions in a scary world.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Merry Christmas - Now 33% Savings!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Click on book image
Homeschool Sanity: Not $22.00, not $16.00, now only $15.00 (a savings of 33%), through New Year's Day!

Add this book to your cart and then enter this discount code:  BCDY6B9W

Click on book image

McGuffey's Primer Flashcards Helps and Hints: Not $13.75, Only $9.75 (a savings of 30%), through New Year's Day!

Add this book to your cart and then enter this discount code:  CYGY8DTM

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Perfect Christmas Gift for Him!

Looking for the perfect gift!
It seems that it's so easy to shop for the female gender. Women and girls alike can never seem to have enough "accessories," and every retailer on the planet seems to offer something that ladies just can't live without!

Males, on the other hand, are almost impossible to shop for. We wear out our shoes searching the mall, or spend hours clicking through site after site, desperate in our quest for the "perfect" gifts for the men in our lives.

I believe that men are very basic creatures. Their clothes are simple, their speech is succinct, and even their meal choices can be quite predictable. This is at times puzzling to most women because we just couldn't exist without embellishing almost everything in our lives. A bachelor's apartment might be fitted out with a bed and a blanket, a few utensils, and even some basic food in the cupboards, but as soon as he gets married, suddenly there are flowers on the table, pictures on the walls, and a whole set of dishes, not to mention matching towels in the bathroom!

Hanging out the wash
If a man has some good jeans, a few nice shirts and a pile of T-shirts, his wardrobe (for him) is complete. If he has a comfortable chair to relax in and a hot meal waiting for him at the end of the day, he feels like a king. He doesn't care that much what type of chair he rests his weary bones in, nor does he notice whether or not his dinnerware came from Pottery Barn or IKEA. He usually knows exactly what he likes, and doesn't see any need whatsoever for change.

This is when there is a clash between the s*xes, especially at Christmas time. In a woman's flawed "creativity" can be found a misguided need to "change things up" through the act of gift-giving.

His favorite shirts
For the husband who refuses to wear anything but T-shirts (even to church), we offer a new suit with matching tie. And for the man who is a sports-enthusiast, we offer season tickets to the theater or opera instead of to the football game. We can always justify purchasing a work-out membership for a couch-potato, or a set of Bible CD's to a man who shows little or no interest in spiritual things.

But I'm proposing a different sort of attitude altogether. How about giving a man what he craves; unconditional love and acceptance. 

For the casual dresser, a stack of his favorite T's. For the man who enjoys watching sports, how about a pair of tickets to watch a local team (with the promise of watching and enjoying the game with him). What about a set of DVD's from an old western series and some popcorn, now that would be a great blessing for the man who just wants to sit down and watch John Wayne get the bad-guy (back when life seemed to make more sense), especially if you are willing to sit down with him and watch them, too. As for the man that seems to be averse to spiritual matters, how about putting on a quiet heart that prays and lives so that the Bible can be read in his wife's daily demeanor and actions--now that just might be the best gift for a man like that! 

A long day at the office
It all boils down to loving, accepting, and, yes, enjoying our men for exactly who they are; no posturing or pressuring. 

After all isn't this precisely what we hope they will do for us?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

Friday, December 7, 2012

What will you do with Jesus?

Joseph, baby Jesus and Mary in the manger

It is perfectly acceptable to speak of Him as a sweet babe. We wrap Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger; we even cover Him with light and give Him a radiant halo.

But He is all grown up. He is no more swathed in cherubic sweetness. He was a man--better than that He said he was the Savior--the Lord--the Son of God--what then, will we do with Him?

We can call Him a great teacher--but His lessons are too harsh. His message was about dying in order to live, and losing in order to gain. He traveled throughout Israel like a common transient--He gleaned His food from the fields and slept with only a rock as His pillow. He gave until His skin was bruised and torn and His life's blood flowed. 

Though he was God, yet He was not His own Boss. He laid down His own will and took up His Father's. He fully submitted to God, "Not my will, but Thine," and in the surrender of His life He demonstrated to us the way to life. He is not the fulfiller of dreams, He is the Dream. 
"Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
We can call Him a Prophet--because He spoke the words of God. But He was God, and He was the Word.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:1-5)
We want to include Him in a group of all sorts of good, spiritual men, but He will not fit. He was not good, He was Goodness. He was not spiritual, He was the Son of God, the very God Himself in the flesh. There is nothing spiritual besides Him, and all attempts to glory in any other is vain.

We cannot have Jesus and...

Savior and Lord of all!
...Jesus must stand on His own. Yes, He was a lamb led to the slaughter, yet God declares Him the Lion of Judah. He comforts and loves all who are His own; He died that all might live, but it is a "free-will" choice--to choose Him--to choose life. Each of us must decide for ourselves, because if we are not for Him, we are against Him.  

Someday, when the tombs of all the other "gods," prophets, and kings are swept away into forgetfulness, Jesus will take His place as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Will we be able to claim Him as our Treasure, our One Desire, our God and King, or will we be smitten to the ground, fearful of our fate before His Holy Majesty?

What will you do with Jesus?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lilla Rose--We have a Winner!

Patience modeling a clip
Blessings and salutations!

We have a winner of the Lilla Rose Flexi Clip giveaway--#41, Sara, with 4 girls!  Heather Mason will be in contact with you concerning receiving your prize.

Remember, if you "like" Lilla Rose on Facebook, you can keep up with the latest sales and specials, besides the bonus of learning all about Flexi-Clips in action!

And, if you order any three clips through Dec. 5th, not only will your order come by Christmas, but you will receive a fourth clip, absolutely free (this fourth clip may not arrive in time for December)!