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Monday, April 29, 2013

See the Light DVD Review/Giveaway!

Art is in our blood. We have artistic/creative-types on both sides of our family, and some have been quite successful. Five out of six of our grown children are in some way involved in Graphic Design, two of them make a good living at it. All of our children began to sketch at an early age; the humorous thing is that, if we have to correct them, we just take away their drawing privileges for a day! 

So the other day, when we were all working on a design project, the most perfect thing for us to keep the younger ones happy was to put in a DVD from See the Light. This particular one was entitled, God's Runaway, which covers the story of Jonah. The girls sat in the family room with some supplies and followed along with the DVD.


When I later asked the girls what they liked about the See the Light video, the oldest of the three, who is nine-years-old, said she loved how they made things glow, and that she learned about curves, how to hold her pencils better, and about shadowing. This meant so much to her, since she draws probably about three hours a day!

My children have learned how to draw and create intuitively, which has helped them to be creative problem-solvers, but I think it is important that they also have some time for actual instruction in methods and technique from those who are more skilled. I know that the few tips that they have learn on these wonderful art instruction DVDs has helped tremendously! I highly recommend them to you. If you would like a chance to win this wonderful learning tool for your own family, just click on the link below:

See the Light Giveaway! Just click here to enter...

* The FTC requires that I tell you that see the Light is a paid advertiser on my blog and I received a free DVD in order to review it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lilla Rose Mother's Day idea!

This would make a great gift for Mom (hint, hint)!


* The FTC requires that I disclose that I am paid to advertise Lilla Rose products on my blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Older Children and Home Learning

Sometimes I think we get it too much of a hurry for our kids to grow up. We prod and push them to smile, to crawl, to walk, to ride a bike.

But some children just will not cooperate with our schedules. Children who grew up to be radio broadcasters or famous speakers sometimes did not speak until they were toddlers. I once had an athletic friend who did not walk until she was three-years-old.

There are some thoughtful leaders, the types that have made famous speeches and been vastly influential for good, who have never enjoyed talking, at least not shallow chit-chatting.

There was a time when being thoughtful and quiet was an appreciated character trait. Young people were encouraged to take time to think before speaking, not to jump into a conversation too quickly, not to be flighty or too social.

I used to fret about how I needed to drum up "opportunities" for my youngsters to have "social experiences," partly believing the lie that home-schooled children aren't outgoing enough, but I have since repented.

I have learned to relax and trust; trust that God knows His times, trust that my children are maturing at their own rate. 

Without the outside pressure to perform in public, they have learned to listen to God, and have learned to tune in to find out who they are.

One child spent hours upon hours studying the history of "costume" and how to make patterns from scratch and sew beautiful clothing. She grabbed Harvey's and Pinneo's grammars and plunged herself deeply into language arts, writing page after page of poetry. She went on long walks to the library and bought classics to read such as Cervante's Don Quixote. She played with her younger siblings and created all sorts of pastry treats in the kitchen. She studied chemistry and anatomy so that she could learn everything available to aid her in her artistic pursuits. And she drew and drew, fantastic scenes and lovely ladies.

Another child has spent time building up his body; he regularly does calisthenics, goes on long morning runs, and works in the yard without being told. The rest of his time he spends reading theology books and thinking deep thoughts about God. He will spend hours on his face praying, and then, when the time is right, he will share his love of the Master in his booming voice with the enthusiasm of an 18th century evangelist. Funny, but we never assigned any of these books to him, and we never required him to do exercises or run, he just decided that these activities would be worthy of his time.

According to Dr. Raymond Moore, the Smithsonian Institute studied the common life influencing factors of twenty world-class geniuses and found them to be:

1) Warm, loving educationally responsive parents and other adults.
2) Scant association outside the family.
3) A great deal of creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their ideas, drilling as necessary.

Instead of being concerned for my children and their social life, I am relieved, thankful, hopeful, overjoyed!

When our oldest daughter at home did eventually take some college courses, she was a little bit intimidated at first, but it did not take very long until she realized just how blessed she was to have had all of that time to explore on her own. There are some things that she is learning that have helped her, but she is advanced in most of her classes, because she took advantage of her time and didn't just explore, but honed her skills until they were finely tuned. 

Besides, she really has no trouble being friendly, but in a very grounded, self-assured way. Unlike most young people, she knows who she is, she has a close walk with God, and this has stabilized her. Certainly, she is still discovering new things about herself in her relation to life, but not with the uncertainty of most people her age.

She has learned the lessons of being by herself and enjoying it, something that many adults have never had the time to do. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Irregular Learning

A walk around the pond
I am really enjoying what we are doing for school. The children are learning so much, and I can see their progress.

The ones who are just beginning are already showing areas that are their strengths, and others that are their current weaknesses, but I am not concerned. I have learned that, just because I child is struggling in the area of reading or math at the age of six, doesn't mean that he/she will be struggling forever! I am a firm believer that many "learning disabilities" disappear as children mature.

Of course, some of us simply are weak in certain areas, and this can take some acceptance. The idea is to strike a balance between what we should expect and challenge our children to do, and what they are actually capable of doing.

The middle girls are both growing greatly. They are doing well in their McGuffey's, and they are moving steadily forward with their Ray's Arithmetics, both in different places in the Elementary book. The story problems can sometimes be a little difficult, but that is when we get out the chalkboard and make pictures.

Questions about math
Besides their regular work, these girls read voraciously, and one has decided to do a number of lessons in Long's Language each week, and she loves memorizing the little poetry as she is directed, etc. The other has been working through a writing curriculum from 7 Sisters which I won as a prize through the Homeschooling Blog Awards. She already gobbled her way through the poetry section, totally on her own, and now is zipping through the short story portion--and loving every minute! She definitely has the writing bug.

The older children have a great time with the McGuffey's and Ray's, the daughter of the two really, really loves McGuffey--she would do four lessons a day if we had the time. She not only likes to do the lessons, but she likes to share what she is discovering through them with all of us. She is very quick, and she loves to decorate the pages as she does her work in her copybook. Ray's is her favorite, though, and she would probably do that all day--she is always asking for more time to do it! She also excels in domestic skills, is learning to create a pattern on her own and sew her own clothes, has been doing little stitchery works, and will be baby-sitting her niece once-a-week. She is hoping to learn DSLR photography and put her photos on her blog.

Long's Language work
The son of the two is so full of artistic creativity--and yet he can also be technical. I hate to hamper him in any way, but I have to help him by goading him a bit now-and-again and making him do his lessons (well). He is sweet about it, though, and sees the wisdom of it himself. He can sometimes feel as though his creativity makes his mind wander from one wonderful thought to another in rapid succession, so I am trying to help him to learn how to discipline his gifts (the spirit of the Prophet is subject to the prophet).  He is working on learning to use the Adobe creative suite, and his handiwork is fantastic! Perhaps someday he will be selling them through our website, one that he is currently working on with much fervor so that we can launch it soon. Probably then this blog will end up there...

Meanwhile, both are also  reading, the Creative is often found with his nose in something from J.R.R. Tolkien (he wrote more than just the ring trilogy and The Hobbit) and the Dear Young Lady is searching for something to follow up after reading all of the popular classics.

Together we have finished a concentrated study of the etymology of the English language, fascinating and one which has enabled the children to have a better grasp of vocabulary, grammar, even spelling, with a greater appreciation as to how our Bible came to us. Of course, we studied all of this because I found it so fascinating, and the children caught my enthusiasm!

Sarah sewing
Our current studies together include an overview of all punctuation (I repeat this study periodically, using different methods, etc. to reinforce their own studies) and have daily short dictation exercises.
I have also begun to cover all sorts of very practical areas of living in greater detail, such as our current study of microbiology and keeping our homes and our lives healthy. I am planning on covering all sorts of growing-up skills, such as caring for clothing, nutrition and cooking, etc. I am taking these subjects on because I have often assumed that they just "know" because I have learned about these different areas and become skilled in homemaking slowly over many years, and I forget that this is a new group that needs to be taught and led more specifically.

Of course, I am enjoying each subject, even each part of each subject. Whenever I get feeling pressured, my loved ones will suggest that I put our little learning sessions aside for a time. What they don't realize is that I would gladly give up a lot of other things, but our learning times are the best parts of my day! My oldest daughter, who also home-schools her children, feels very much the same! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lilla Rose Mother's Day Specials brought to you by Heather Mason

Mother's Day will be here soon! Lilla Rose is offering a lovely, feminine gift idea for your special mother! An "extra small" flexi clip ($13) adorns a light-weight scarf beautifully! A medium size ($15) is perfect for a bun. Or you may wish to choose one of our unique bobby pins ($9) that are sturdy and beautiful. 

If you find that you have ordered the wrong size clip, Lilla Rose will conveniently exchange it for free! Styling and sizing videos are available on Heather's website!
hair style silver bun
If you are new to Lilla Rose, choose a free item with purchase of any three! Heather Mason will contact you regarding the free item. Do not put it in your "shopping cart."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Re-discovering Eclectic Learning

One-room schoolhouse
If there is anything that I have learned these past 25 years of homeschooling, it is that teaching children is not nearly as difficult as we have made it out to be over the past 100 years or so. Familiarizing myself with many of the methods and texts from the 19th century, during the industrial revolution which produced the entrepreneurs, explorers, inventors and leaders who built up our great nation has confirmed this for me. The real problem lies in taking a mind, such as mine, which is used to being fed like a baby penguin with pre-digested food (for thought), and training it to obtain, chew and swallow whole ideas that need to be broken down and digested without being overly influenced by the interpretation of others.

The Pilgrims knew how to obey God and trust Him to show them the next step. Our Founding Fathers also relied upon God Almighty to guide them as they laid the foundations of a government (for and by the people) the likes of which the world had never seen before. The courageous pioneers left their homes in the east fortified with only their self-education and their family Bible.

The Eclectic Series of Learning, and others like it from the same era, were widely used by teachers who may have been no more than 16 years old themselves, yet were in charge of classrooms filled with students of all ages, abilities and diverse backgrounds. Amazingly, I have heard it said, that the entrance requirements for college in those days were much more stringent than the graduation requirements of college in our present times.

So how, indeed, am I utilizing these old texts?

Mother/daughter bond
First, I'm reading and studying them for myself. I'm taking the simplest approach in my perusal of them by allowing the "teacher helps" to suggest the things that are most important to teach my children. When I begin this way, I aid myself in discovering the things I must re-learn. The same is true as I reacquaint myself with mathematics as Ray’s Arithmetics presents it. I have been snatching minutes here and there to prepare myself to teach in this way--reawakening my own discovery instincts. This seems to be most difficult in the primers, since there is so little information per lesson, but there is a reason these are short and sweet. Reading the same material over and over to a small child, as long as it is done with a heart of love, interest and enthusiasm, is an effective way to help him in assimilation--I am thinking here of how many times I've read the same Dr. Seuss books repeatedly to the same child until they have been memorized by the both of us!

It is important to remember that children of the past did not spend as many hours in school--they had families to be a part of, and work to do. I once read that Livingstone, the same physician-missionary-explorer who discovered the head of the Nile River in Africa, attended school for a few hours after work each night, and “received his lessons” in-between attending the thread spools in a cloth factory during the day.

Real learning should never conflict with real life, and so this system is not meant to be an end in itself, but the means to an end. Everything presented has a practical purpose (even learning how to honor God and live a noble life is woven throughout these materials). This is why the lessons are not filled with useless information and are devoid of seat-work. We are so used to workbooks and the like that we feel unsure of ourselves without them, but as long as the material is presented well, and then mastered through repetition and oral recitation, we can rest assured that nothing further is necessary!

The Good Shepherd
This works very well with our family's motto “Homeschooling is everything, and everything is homeschooling.”

I've also come to the conclusion from much of the literature that I have read from the 19th century that “getting one’s lessons” meant reading and memorizing information so that it could be recited before the class. My children that already read will be required to practice reading out loud and to have the suggested spelling words memorized for oral recitation. The same thing goes for the math facts in Ray’s Arithmetics.

Enlightening ideas I have gleaned from numerous homeschooling authors are being confirmed to me--treating each child as a scholar, not a dullard; small, consistent lessons are better, especially at young ages; work, exercise and play are important; working at one’s own level and pace for mastery is best. For instance, in the preface of one of the primers I noted an extremely important quote, "To awaken noble sentiments, and to sow seed for good in the hearts of children, should be the aim of ever teacher." 

A great question is the requirements of the State. There should be no conflict here at all. I'm convinced that any child beginning at the age of six with Ray’s and McGuffey’s should easily out-perform any public-schooled child in any standardized test by the age of eight--given he has had adequate time and resources for delight-directed studies and is familiarized with test-taking strategies. The methods employed here will give a better education in a few years than is given in 12 years in most modern schools.

My dear son can attest to this. He is a store manager over a number of employees with high school diplomas, several headed for college, who cannot perform basic math to run a cash-register. Eighth-grade students of the 19th and early 20th century could do most figures in their heads!

Also, building a portfolio with these books would not be difficult at all. Ruth Beechick has created charts to keep track of just the things an educator would deem important and that would aid a parent in creating a proper presentation. It would not be difficult to create one without her help, however.

I have purchased composition books from Roaring Spring for the youngest set and steno books for the older set for practice and copy work. I will also be creating rings for memorization of certain basic facts. Our wipe-off board should be employed regularly as well. I have also become sort of a public-domain junkie and have been downloading and printing and comb-binding more books. The children have been begging me to get started on our new, old “program” (I'm having so much fun!). My husband is just as excited as I am, and it was at his suggestion that I took a break to write this post so that you could become encouraged, too.

If a 16-year-old young lady could teach a whole classroom using these old texts, it can’t be “rocket science,” just a different way of approaching learning; a better way.

I will be posting my own discoveries as we continue this interesting journey together. Please feel free to share some of your eclectic education discoveries too!

* This post was originally published on June 2010. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Education welfare

No one wants to be a welfare case. It's just not American, it's not proper, it's not dignified to accept hand-outs that other people have been forced to pay for. But that is just what public education is, it is money purloined from regular citizens, which then turns into funds for propaganda. Just consider this article: Starve the Beast