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Monday, November 20, 2006

Why I love Classical Education

Aussie In America (Stacy) asked, "I was thinking about homeschooling methods this morning and was wondering how you came to decide upon the Classical Method. You seem very passionate about it and I would love to know why/if you prefer this to other methods."

A little background information, my daughter went to public school last year for kindergarten. She had a good year and there was no major problems with the school, in fact, we love her kindergarten teacher. How we came to the decision to homeschool is another post (one I think I've already written, which I'll have to look up) that I will save for another time.

I used Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum to help decide what learning style and method to use. She has these wonderful exercises within the book to determine what you philosophy of education is, how you want to teach and run your homeschool, and how to determine your child's learning style. This is the best $21.99 (which is $14.99 now at Amazon) I have spent!

My answers are still in the book, so I'll share them with you.

What do you think is most important for your children to learn?
I want my children to:

• Have a lifelong love of learning
• Be avid readers
• Have a clear understanding of the world
• have a strong Christian foundation
• To be able to explore broader areas of education
• To be perform at their level, not tied down to grade levels
• To have fun and grow together

Duffy also provides a wonderful way to discover what education method you would probably most enjoy by a point system. Here's my highest scoring preferences:

• predictable structure
• children read historical novels and biographies rather than textbooks
• grammar program that emphasizes rules & memorization
• mental training and mental discipline have higher priority than stimulating curiosity and interest
• informal evaluation of child's progress by talking over what they've read (narrations) rather than testing
• young children do a significant amount of memorization, repetition and recitation
• teens get a strong background in the great books of western civilization
• teens develop a "life of the mind" more than vocational skills
• presenting my children with information to learn rather than having them choose their own topics to investigate (there is still room for choice in classical)
• availability of resources that are scripted for the parent/teacher
• lots of discussion and interaction in the learning process
• covering subjects (history, science, religion) at the same time with same materials with as many children as possible
• making connections between different subject areas, showing relationships, viewing that as a high priority in learning.
• to teach my children one on one as much as possible
• learn grammar in casual way then working on mastery in their writing
• make field trips an essential part of schooling
• flexible curriculum and schedules so I can capitalize on "teachable moments"
• to set my own goals and schedule reather than adopting someone else's
• to select curriculum that suit my child's learning style rather than widely recognized and accepted by authorities.

I actually scored higher in the Charlotte Mason category but after reading The Well-Trained Mind- it all clicked. I prefer my children not to learn with computer software and dvds. I love a lot of Mason's teachings.

I have a "Perfect Paula" in Camille, she likes workbooks, consistence structure in both schedule and curriculum (the girl plans the next day every night before bedtime!), rules and predictability, lectures or lessons that follow an outline, repetition and memorization, drill and review, and gentle help to develop creativity and deeper thinking skills. Classical education seems built for her!

I'd rather have my children memorizing addition facts and grammar rules, poems, etc than hearing them recite word for word a quote from their favorite movie. Children have a natural ability to memorize and recite, classical education utilizes this more than any other method. Plus I love the fact my children will be chronologically learning about history and repeating years of study instead of jumping around and never going in-depth into anything.

For example: Ancients - 1st Grade, 5th Grade, 9th Grade (Great Books)

I see value in other methods but none of them made me feel comfortable. I think that is what is important. Can you teach it? I love books, I love reading to my children, I love to hear them read. Even Danny with his car, car, truck, truck translation right now. I even see value in following the Bluedorns' version of classical education. I think the best way to educate your child is to use their learning style, honor God and show interest in what you're teaching to influence your children.

The value of learning Latin, reading books instead of textbooks, learning how to communicate properly through writing and speech, building a solid foundation of knowledge by using levels of knowledge of a subject (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and learning right alongside of my children- that is why I love classical education.


Our Homeschool Reference Arsenal

When I have a question about homeschooling or technique, I turn to the homeschool arsenal I've created. It's filled with books that I lean on to help me identify where our weaknesses are and what we can do to strengthen those weaknesses. There are times that I just want to ask someone who's been there and I turn to my homeschooling friends. I wanted to share what I keep in my arsenal and maybe find out what's in yours as well.

1. NRSV Bible
2. Camille's NRSV Children's Bible

1. The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
2. Teaching the trivium: Christian homeschooling in a classical style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
3. A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
4. A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
5. Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education by Laura Berquist

1. 100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing The Right Curriculum And Approach For Your Child's Learning Style by Cathy Duffy
2. How Children Learn by John Holt
3. The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias

1. THE THREE R'S by Ruth Beechick
2. Books to Build On by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
3. Read To Me: Raising Kids Who Love To Read By Bernice Cullinan
4. Language and Thinking for Young Children by Ruth Beechick
5. The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

1. A Survivor's Guide to Home Schooling by Schackelford, Luann
2. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (3rd Edition) by Debra Bell
3. What Your First Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good First-Grade Education by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
4. What Your Second Grader Needs to Know : Fundamentals of a Good Second Grade Education Revised by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
5. Homeschooling Your Child Step-by-Step: 100 Simple Solutions to Homeschooling Toughest Problems by Lauramaery Gold
6. Help for the Harried Homeschooler : A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child's Education with the Rest of Your Life by Christine Field

1. The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life by Parker Palmer
2. To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey by Parker Palmer
3. Finding Your Purpose As A Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground by Donna Otto
4. The Mother at Home by John S.C. Abbott
5. Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel (Focus on the Family)
6. Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre
7. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
8. Peacemaking For Families by Ken Sande
9. Talking Pictures: A Parents' Guide to Using Movies to Discuss Ethics, Values, and Everyday Problems with Children by Ronald Madison, Ed.D and Corey Schmidt

*This list doesn't include books I've read that have been borrowed from friends and the library or include the books I want to own.

When I need to talk to someone, I rely on my homeschooling friends that are a phone call away, the WTM Boards, the Classical Homeschooling Forum and my homeschooling blogger friends.

God Bless the parents that homeschooled their children without the means of support we have today. We are so blessed to have the curriculums, how-to books, the magazines and catalogs, plus the internet to reach out to one another. I cannot imagine the struggles that homeschooling parents in the 1970's and 1980's had to go through. I am so grateful for the homeschoolers before me that have paved the road!

What's in your arsenal? Share yours, it may help another homeschooler!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Want to Play?

As the weather cools down and we start spending more time indoors, I've been looking at games to add to our game shelf. We already have some fabulous games but I'd really like to add some educational games that focus and teaching while having fun. Hint: These would make wonderful Christmas gifts!

Mind Your Manners
With over 100 different picture cards depicting proper and improper manners, children learn to distinguish between correct and incorrect behavior at an early age. Playing the game is a fun filled way to help children remember the correct choices as real life situations face them. 2-6 players. Ages 4 and up.

Places to get Mind Your Manners
Sycamore Tree Catalog $13.95
Education 4 Kids $13.95

The Allowance Game
It's never too early for children to develop an interest in earning and saving money and making purchases. Choices must be made, as in real-life, whether to spend money, earn money, or put it into savings.

Coin chips from l¢ to 50¢ and currency from $1 to $10 included. 2-4 players.

Education 4 Kids, $20.41
Educational Learning Games, $19.95
Toys to Grow On, $14.95

Amazing Animal Trivia Game
Kids exercise memory skills, test their knowledge, learn animal facts and love every minute they’re playing this fun board game. Answer fascinating questions about animals for the chance to collect animals “hiding” around the board on cards. The player with the most sets of animal cards wins! Game board, 6 tokens, 30 animal tiles, die, and an amazing 200 question cards. 2 to 6 players.

Ages 5 to 13

Available at
MindwareOnline for $19.95
Amazon for $23.95

Other very cool games at Mindware Online
Egyptian Game (Ages 7 and up) $24.95
Made for Trade, A Game of Early American Life (Ages 8 and up) $26.95
Where in the World? Geography Game (Ages 8 and up) $29.95
Equate, A Math version of Scrabble (8 and up) $29.95

You may be able to find these online for cheaper or in other catalogs. We already have and love Art Memo (a memory game using paintings), SomeBody (human anatomy game) and Armor of God (a game which allows players to collect the armor pieces while learning what it means to put on the armor of God).

Do you have a favorite game that your family enjoys?


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Raising Bookworms

My daughter is reading from Our New Friends, an old Dick and Jane
reader that was used in schools back in the 1950's.
My son is reading Nonsense, A Handbook of Logical Fallacies.
He keeps saying "truck, truck, car, car" - hmmm, I'll have to read that section!
Just sharing a precious moment


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Looking for Cicero

I am on a hunt. I would like to find a book for children about Cicero, Aristotle, Homer, etc. The hunt has not been easy, I have survived many perils in this quest. Who am I kidding? Here's what I've found and if you know of any others- please don't shy- tell me about it.

Books from the Biography from Ancient Civilizations series:

Homer • Socrates Julius Caesar HammurabiConfuciusBuddhaConstantineAugustus CaesarCleopatra MosesCharlemagneAristotle Rameses the GreatHippocratesArchimedesNeroCatherine the GreatAlexander the GreatPericlesMarco PoloHerodotusJoan of ArcCiceroGenghis Khan King ArthurPlato

I have placed one of these on order through my library so that I can see it for myself, Amazon has them listed for Grades 5-8. As I've found, some books listed for older grades are quite useable for the younger grades. Here's book reviews of the series. The set is $518.70 (ouch, or $15.88 each at Amazon, $19.99 each elsewhere), so I recommend obtaining them through the library even asking your librarian to purchase them.

Becky shared these books with me as well when I asked her if she knew of any:

1. Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates by Mark David Usher

2. Philosophy Rocks! by Stephen Law - An outstanding book that introduces kids to academic philosophy. Ages 8+

3. Young Person's Guide to Philosophy by Jeremy Weate- Very good book for kids 8+. Arranged historically with excellent illustrations.

4. What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy by Thomas Nagel, Very short introduction, Ages 10+

5. Philosophy for Kids : 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder ... About
Everything! by David A. White - Arranged by topic. Addresses kid's questions. Good dicussion starter. Ages 7-14. Great essay topics for h'schoolers.

6. Socrates for Kids by Essman, Geared to ages 6 to 8. Stories.

7. The Philosopher's Club by Phillips

Other websites I found of interest during my search:

If you know of any other books similar, please let me know!


Friday, November 3, 2006

12-K Planning

Horizons Preschool
Pre-writing DNealian
Math games & manipulatives
Tons of picture books

Leading Little Ones to God, K. Taylor books
Sing, Spell, Read & Write K/1
Poetry Memorization- A Child's Garden of Verses
Horizons K
Handwriting- D'Nealian
Galloping the Globe

Beginnings I- OT
Sing, Spell, Read & Write K/1
Handwriting- D'Nealian
Horizons 1
French - informal
Language Lessons for the Very Young
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 1
Life science with living books
Artistic Pursuit, K-3 Book 1

2nd -
Beginnings II-NT
Classically Cursive if ready
Horizons Math 2
French- informal
Primary Language Lessons
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 2
Earth Science/Astronomy self-made lessons*
piano instruction

Discovery: In the Beginning OT
Horizons Math 3
French- informal
Writing Tales 1
Intermediate Language Lessons
Building Thinking Skills Book 1
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 3
Living Learning Chemistry
Drawing with Children
2nd year of piano instruction

4th -
Discovery- Early History Of Israel
First Start French 1
Horizons Math 4
Classical Composition Narrative or Writing Tales 2
Critical thinking product-
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 4
Junior Analytical Grammar
NOEO Physics or Bite-Size Physics
Artistic Pursuits K-3 Book 3

5th -
Discovery- Promises Fulfilled
First Start French 2
Horizons Math 5
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 1
CC Narrative AND CW's Poetry for Beginners
finish Intermediate Language lessons if needed
Critical Thinking Books 1 & 2
Prentice Hall Science Explorer- Human Biology & Health, Cells & Heredity, From Bacteria To Plants, Animals
Artistic Pursuits 4-6 Book 1

6th -
Discovery- Words of Wisdom
French ?
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 2
Horizons 6
CC Maxim
Art of Argument (CAP)
Grammar-Analytical Grammar
Prentice Hall Science Explorer- Earth's Changing Surface, Earth's Waters, Inside Earth, Weather and Climate, Astronomy, Environmental Science
Artistic Pursuits 4-6 Book 2 or Drawing with Older Children

Summer session of Advanced Poetry, possibly Traditional Logic I

7th -
Discovery- God’s Perfect Plan
Spelling Workout H
French ?
Algebra or Pre-Algebra (?)
Vocabulary from Classical Roots A
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 3, D/R focus with Streams
CC Cheira (Trad Logic is best done before Refutation/Confirmation)
Traditional Logic I & II
Grammar-Analytical Grammar
Latina Christiana I
Prentice Hall Science Explorer- Chemical Building Blocks, Chemical Interactions

8th -
Quest- In the Beginning
Vocabulary From Classical Roots B and C
French ?
Algebra I or II (?)
CC Refutation/Confirmation, Common Topic
Traditional II or Material Logic
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 4
Grammar-Analytical Grammar
Latina Christiana II
Prentice Hall Science Explorer- Electricity & Magnetism, Motion, Forces, & Energy, Sound & Light

**no ideas about math/science for 9-12, possible dual enrollment**

9th -
Quest- Early History of Israel
Trigonometry or Geometry(?)
French ?
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 1
CC Encomium/Invective/Comparison
Material Logic or Classical Rhetoric
Vocabulary from Classical Roots C and D
AG's High School Review
Henle I (Latin Exam)

Summer Mission Trip

10th -
Quest- Promises Fulfilled; Christian Handbook of Apologetics
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 2
Geometry or Calculus (?)
French ?
CC Characterization and Description, Thesis/Law
Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle
Grammar- AG's High School Review

Summer session of Shakespeare

Quest- Words of Wisdom; Christian Handbook of Apologetics
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 3
Physics (?)
French ?

Summer Mission Trip

Quest- Faith At Work; Christian Handbook of Apologetics
Tapestry of Grace Redesign Yr 4
French ?


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Spreading Wings

I recently made the decision to stop doing graphic design for a while. I love to design but the more I homeschool classically the more it is on my heart to learn as much as I can. I've always loved to learn and would often play school as a child. Here is a list of things that I want to do personally (to spread my wings) and a few goals I've set for myself.

Current endeavors:

1. Classically educate myself through reading the Great Books. I am currently doing this with other women who wish to do the same at the Great Books Reading Partnership.

2. Learn and embrace logical thinking. I have found that this is imperative for self-learning and critiquing what I read. Both Mortimer Adler in How to Read A Book and Susan W. Bauer in The Well-Educated Mind point out that to truly understand what you read you must be able to understand the author's arguments and premises of these arguments. Well, neither Bauer or Adler will get any agrument from me! I'm currently reading Nonsense, A Handbook of Logical Fallacies by Robert Gula and then I will read Anthony Weston's, The Rulebook for Arguments and if I get very brave I will then try to tackle Socratic Logic which is a study of formal logic. The embracing part is going to be the challenge, reading about something is a lot different than applying it!

3. Giving back to the homeschool community. Reviewing homeschooling products or aiding in the development of homeschool curriculums is a newfound honor and joy of mine. I also want to continue with the Classical Homeschooling Forum (or hit Aristotle) in providing information, encouragement and support to fellow classical homeschoolers.

Endeavors to be:

1. I want to learn about my beliefs.
This encompasses: bible, doctrine, creation/evolution, philosophy and theology. This will be done in part as I read the Great Books but I will be doing other reading that falls in line with my prior post about young earth vs. old earth. I don't want to just "feel" that I believe something, I want to know why I believe something and how I came to believe it and understand what I don't believe as well. I feel this will aid me in witnessing to others, as I become more solidly founded in my faith this itself will be a witness to others.

2. Learn Latin and hopefully one modern language before my children do.
I realize how beneficial it would be to have a fluent influence in their lives and I don't know anyone else that speaks Latin! I haven't been able to devote the time necessary to study my book English Grammar for Students of Latin because I tried Wheelock's Latin and it was too hard. I don't even know what a declension is!

3. Be a better (fill in the blank.) This is actually a "current" endeavor and should be listed as a "current and forevermore" endeavor but I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, disciple of Christ, and friend.

None of this is easy, none of this is doable at once. I've recently found the time that it takes to do graphic design takes away from any serious reading I wish to do. I was not like this prior to homeschooling, I was reading Karen Kingsbury novels and learning to crochet and baking goodies every week. I'm still trying to find a balance between being a home-making, creative Mamma and homeschooling, self-educating Mamma.

How are you spreading your wings? How would you like to?