Archive for the ‘Classical education’ Category

An Illustrated book of Bad Arguements

I just HAD to post this quickly, a great resource as a refresher OR for those unfamiliar with the study of logic. You must check it out! His HILARIOUS rendition of copyright in the first pages of his book is reason enough alone ūüėÄ

How can we teach what we don’t understand? The best day is one filled with wonder as we learn new things together and teach EACH OTHER the joy of discovery and of being human, thanks be to God.

From the author, Ali Almossawi:

“This book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals.  I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice.”

BUY HIS BOOK! or you could just make a donation, the book is still viewable online and includes quite talented, beautiful artistry, i might add. He was amazing enough to offer it under CCL. Anyone that selfless deserves some appreciation. and Allah knows best, al hamdulilah.


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When you have a child, you naturally begin teaching them even before they begin talking or walking. In the medieval past, the Trivium was taught as mainly three subjects: grammar, logic and rhetoric but perhaps¬†the reason the classical method has experienced a revival is because it transcends all time and people because, it roughly corresponds with the progressing development¬†of the child’s brain and skills. Another reason i¬†feel Classical education has become popular is because our modern school system in America sucks, for lack of a better word. Ok, i can use other words, many longer ūüėČ A beautiful short video illustrating¬†why¬†children fail in school: http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/animalschool/animalschool.swf

¬†I won’t even delve into problems with schools¬†but i¬†will list three main¬†issues i¬†have with¬†government-funded¬†schools. Children are not instructed in a way that¬†makes them¬†lifelong learners or encourages thinking but¬†are simply¬†taught to get the right answer and sometimes that answer isn’t even correct according to others but it is to the¬†textbook publishers. Education here is largely approached as one-¬†size-¬†fits-¬†all¬†where individual talents¬†are not recognized or developed and weaker areas are ignored while¬†grades are given¬†when the child doesn’t truly understand the subject or content. The grade earned is not accurate compared to what the child learned. In other words, there is no mastery¬†only satisfactory or sufficient enough to go on to the next¬†concept or grade while in reality there are many “holes” and no true understanding of the subject. Finally, values standards and morals are no longer expected or being taught in schools. I am not talking about religion, i¬†am talking about a child learning they are not the center of the universe and how to behave and interact with others. i¬†learned¬†teaching¬†dd, the latter is defined as¬†a course in “citizenship” and¬†was required¬†as part of the curricula¬†in Texas and some other¬†states.

Citizenship is loosely taught in kindergarten as “Social Studies”. You know that book, All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten, yeah values¬†that’s what i¬†mean. In Islam we call it Adaab¬†and Akhlaq: manners and character. Our public schools have no real character development.

¬†I know some would say that¬†character development¬†and teaching¬†values is¬†the parents job, but there needs to be consistency between school and home for the child to excel. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s this wasn’t a problem¬†because school teachers¬†had most of the same attitudes and values the parents¬†did. I’m not staying ALL of their ideas¬†were good* but accountability for your actions and academic excellence was emphasized. With modern society and largely the breakup of the family, babies and small¬†children are away from their home. Children are away from their¬†mothers in daycare or preschool and this has created students who are unattached, uncompassionate, with behavioral¬†problems¬†as well as speech, reading and math delays. It is not only the breakup of the¬†family or mothers working¬†but the lack of values and morals in society now in general.¬†The new generations motto”¬†ITS ALL ABOUT ME”.

According to the WTM, the first stage is preschool or first grade till about fourth grade. Logic begins at either fifth or sixth grade depending on the student’s abilities and is generally considered now to be “middle school”, six through eighth grade. Some schools start “middle school” at fifth grade. The logic stage begins to ask how and why, connecting and understanding what they learned or memorized in the grammar stage. Rhetoric begins when the student uses all the information they have learned from the grammar and logic stage to express what they have learned through writing, speaking and even debate. Being able to communicate throughly, eloquently and ready for college level work is the goal of the Rhetoric stage. For more information about the Trivium stages and classical method read an excerpt from The Well Trained Mind here http://highereducation-mama4x.blogspot.com/p/wtm.html¬†Also i¬†enjoyed reading her blog, it’s a good overview the WTM for those who haven’t read the book or for beginners.

Any psychologist or parent will tell you that in the beginning years the child copies by word and action whatever¬†he/she¬†sees. This is the parrot stage, the “grammar” stage¬†in the Trivium.¬†When the child grows older,¬†about age nine or ten they start to make connections, compartmentalize and rationalize the information they have learned. They become a thinking¬†being. I know that in Judaism the¬†age of understanding and becoming responsible for one’s actions is twelve¬†or thirteen, which is based on the Torah or Old Testament. Muslims are¬†told in the Quran at age ten the child must start praying. In Islam it is puberty¬†around the age of ten the child is¬†accountable for their actions but it depends on the level of mental maturity and physical development. Recently I¬†found¬†out¬†age fifteen is the latest age for accountability if no other signs of puberty are present. i will look up the scholar that said this.

I have three children. My daughter, my first baby, is now eighteen. She will be starting college soon and wanted to stay in Texas when we moved out of state.  My other girl dear daughter age eleven,(dd) is now starting uncharted waters: the middle stage of the Trivium, the logic stage. The baby of the family my son, (ds) is considered in first grade now and he is six years old but will be seven after September. i am starting over again using the WTM but he has memorized many chapters of the Quran in Arabic and some dua between age three and six, as well as beginning reading and math. He has been begging me to let him lead the prayer but i said no not until he is seven but i realized he is already seven because we follow the lunar calender. The lunar calender is shorter by about two weeks I think, so technically he is seven. Muslims are commanded to have their children pray at age ten so it is important to remember at age nine they may already be ten thus it is obligatory for them to make salat.  

I enrolled my son in an online school in our state that uses the k12 curriculum. Check it out with sample lessons at www.k12.com¬†I don’t recommend it for everybody because it is highly accountable and time-consuming. When i¬†taught my dd with it in Texas, we spend at least five to six hours a day on instruction. K12¬†is designed for the first grades until grade four or so to be dependant on the parent while after fourth and fifth when the child’s computer skills are sharp and reading is easy¬†they are supposed to be more independently learning. By high school the student is expected to be fully independent, while only coming to the parent for a few questions or to keep track of progress, which is easily done online. Dd is ONLY an independent reader, everything else she has to be nudged or nagged, lol. Eventually, the Texas k12 program was like pulling teeth but she did love online classes which they held for math and other subjects especially for kids needing help. If you could not attend at that time, you could watch a recorded class later, it was really neat.

Anyway, k12 can be good for some home educators but it’s not for everybody, it’s very thorough and covers subjects and topics you may not want to, or want to go a different route, or you may not agree with their interpretation. You also have to move at the class pace and can fall behind if the child doesn’t understand or wants to delve deeper.

I did feel World History was pretty un-biased and i¬†liked the approach. unfortunately¬†dd does not enjoy History the way I do but i’m¬†gettin¬†her there ūüėČ I absolutely LOVED the way k12¬†teaches spelling. More on that later.

K12¬†divides Language Arts into four areas: Grammar, Writing, Spelling and Reading (Literature). Of course, k12¬†Reading is the same as schools: snippets of great folktales and books with comprehension questions and other activities afterward, something I don’t like and the authors of The Well Trained Mind are against. Even as a child i¬†preferred to read novels and talk about it in class verses excerpts and tedious worksheets. Dd starting loosing her luster and her favorite subject became a chore. Later, i will write a post about their reading list as well as their approach to spelling, similar to a seminar I attended on teaching spelling.

Years ago, i also discovered Sequential Spelling another awesome, common sense approach to spelling. It is particularly succesful with dyslexic children and adults or others with learning disabilities. For more info, visit  http://www.avko.org/sequentialspelling.html

In addition to phonics, i¬†am a fan of the most common words in the English language or the Dolch site words because they appear¬†most frequently¬†in what we read and they do not follow typical rules, so the child cannot¬†sound them out. If the child can master these, it¬†would be a great benefit to their skill and speed in reading. There are many lists and sites online with the Dolch list or you can search most common words English language. I have some of my favorites saved on a disk, i will add that later. Here is a free sample from the sequential spelling site of¬†220 Dolch words check it out, it’s really neat how they cover them:¬†¬†http://www.avko.org/Samples/650/650%202.16.50-90.pdf

So,¬†we are waiting for ds’s¬†first grade k12 curriculum to arrive. In the meantime, I helped him increase¬†his reading and arithmetic. I also¬†started him with the Ancients for History. Currently he is¬†able to read short vowel words, most common sight words and words with silent ‘e’. Even though he was nowhere near his sisters¬†verbal¬†skills age¬†one and up, suddenly he started making logical connections they never did at¬†his age. While¬†his sisters¬†always exceeded what was in What to Expect the First Year¬†guidelines,¬†he was speech delayed and in¬†all other areas from birth to almost¬†three AT LEVEL or average. I felt bad then because they were so advanced at each stage compared to him I thought he wouldn’t be as bright as his sisters. I was surprised when he started making statements that were far beyond a child’s comprehension at his age and making logical connections. I wish i could remember one he made before. The other day when I¬†reviewed the multiplication tables¬†with dd, he shouted out the answer not because he memorized it but because he counted it in his head, something his sister was never able to grasp at age six! We tested him several times and even dd was surprised and proud of him. I will take that over her being annoyed at him anytime!

I am testing and recognizing his strengths so I can further develop¬†his strengths¬†while increasing his abilities in weaker areas. I feel so many children’s strengths are not recognized or fully developed whether artistic, linguistic, mathematically or in humanities. I wasn’t trying to rhyme i¬†swear sometimes my thoughts come out like that. We started the first couple lessons in First Language lessons, which he almost immediately memorized after i¬†repeated the definition of a noun and grew restless after five minutes. Actually, i’m¬†sure I have told him what a noun is and that’s why he was impatient.lol. I read online the first book, levels one and two is very repetitive while the second, levels three and four speeds up considerably. This is true so with dd i¬†had skipped ahead once she understood the lesson. With my son, it is even more important to move on once he ‘gets it’ because he grows bored and likes to be active. Although none would describe his sister as introverted, she can read for hours. i hope he can do this one day!

I meant to start this post with what i did so far with ds and dd. Ds, beginning the grammar stage, new for him, again for me and logic with dd but my thoughts and writing grew too long so i will write a separate post and continue an overview of what we did in the next  post, God willing. 

*Such as, children should be seen and not heard

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Ok. I don’t normally do this or believe in using other people’s articles, but I HAD to repost this and the only reason besides it has the PERFECT title and from the author’s words it’s like she’s my twin, is because¬†it has been posted a few times, is easily found and I providing¬†the original link. uhh…did ya get that? it’s 4 o clock in the morning for me. :0¬† Lisa Russell is a writer and educator¬†and has her own¬†blog at ¬†http://lisarussell.org/blog/¬†¬† ¬†God willing I will be posting two more helpful posts shortly as well as further explanation and example of how we build and sustain Islamic knowledge with¬†the Classical Method, WTM, even K12, as well as through teaching Social Studies and Spelling. I am really excited how¬†DD has been coming along with our new curriculum and¬†how¬†easily I am connecting and supplementing it with a comprehensive base of¬†Islamic History, Seerah, Aqeedah, and Adaab. All praise is due to God. What we have been doing is truly Tarbiyyah¬†as well as one form of “unschooling” at it’s best.

posted May 5, 2009 6:16 PM by Michelle Kretzschmar SAHERO

¬†No Thank You, We Don’t Believe in Socialization

By Lisa Russel ©2000 Lisa Russell Used with Permission

¬†I can’t believe I am writing an article about socialization, the word makes my skin crawl. As homeschoolers, we are often accosted by people who assume that since we’re homeschooling, our kids won’t be “socialized.” The word has become such a catch phrase that it has entirely lost any meaning. The first time I heard the word, I was attending a Catholic day school as a first grader. Having been a “reader” for almost 2 years, I found the phonics and reading lessons to be incredibly boring. Luckily the girl behind me felt the same way, and when we were done with our silly little worksheets, we would chat back and forth. I’ve never known two 6 yr. olds who could maintain a quiet conversation, so naturally a ruler-carrying nun interrupted us with a few strong raps on our desk. We were both asked to stay in at recess, and sit quietly in our desks for the entire 25 minutes, because “We are not here to socialize, young ladies.” Those words were repeated over and over throughout my education, by just about every teacher I’ve ever had. If we’re not there to socialize, then why were we there? I learned to read at home. If I finished my work early (which I always did,) could I have gone home? If I were already familiar with the subject matter, would I have been excused from class that day? If schools weren’t made for socializing, then why on earth would anyone assume that homeschoolers¬†were missing out? As a society full of people whose childhood‚Äôs were spent waiting anxiously for recess time, and trying desperately to “socialize” with the kids in class; It is often difficult for people to have an image of a child whose social life is NOT based on school buddies. Do you ever remember sitting in class, and wanting desperately to speak to your friend? It’s kind of hard to concentrate on the lessons when you’re bouncing around trying not to talk. Have you ever had a teacher who rearranged the seats every now and then, to prevent talking, splitting up friends and “talking corners.” Were you ever caught passing notes in class? Now–flash forward to “real life.” Imagine the following scenes: Your employer is auditing the Inter-Office Email system and comes across a personal note between you and a coworker. You are required to stand at the podium in the next sales meeting to read it aloud to your coworkers. The Police knock on your door, and announce that because you and your neighbor have gotten so close, they’re separating you. You must move your home and your belongings to the other side of town, and you may only meet at public places on weekends. You’re sitting at a booth waiting for a coworker to arrive for a scheduled lunch date. Suddenly a member of upper management sits down across from you and demands your credit cards. When your friend arrives, you just order water and claim you’re not hungry, since he stole your lunch money. You’re applying for a job and in an unconventional hiring practice, you are made to line up with other applicants, and wait patiently while representatives from two competing companies take their pick from the lineup. You’re taking your parents out for an anniversary dinner. After you find a table, a waiter tells you that seniors have a separate dining room, lest they “corrupt” the younger members of society. You go to the grocery store only to find that since you are 32 years old you must shop at the store for 32 year olds. It’s 8 miles away and they don’t sell meat because the manager is a vegetarian, but your birthday is coming up and soon you’ll be able to shop at the store for 33 yr. olds. You’d like to learn about Aviation History. You go to the library and check out a book on the subject only to be given a list of “other subjects” that you must read about before you are permitted to check out the aviation book. You’re having a hard time finding what you need in the local department store. The saleslady explains that each item is arranged alphabetically in the store, so instead of having a section for shoes, you will find the men’s shoes in between the maternity clothes and the mirrors. Your Cable Company announces that anyone wishing to watch the Superbowl this year must log on a certain number of hours watching the Discovery Channel before they can be permitted to watch the game. You apply for a job only to be told that this job is for 29 year olds. Since you’re 32, you’ll have to stay with your level. In a group project, your boss decides to pair you up with the person you don’t “click” with. His hope is that you’ll get learn to get along with each other, regardless of how the project turns out. These absurd examples were created to point out how absolutely ridiculous the idea of “socializing” in schools is. Many people had a friend who they stayed friends with all through grammar school-WHY? Because their names were alphabetically similar, and they always ended up in line with each other. As an adult, have you ever made friends with someone simply because your names were similar? How long would such a friendship last and how meaningful would it be, providing you had nothing else in common? People often use the bully as an example of why it’s so important to let kids “socialize” at school. If that’s so important, then the bully needs to go to JAIL after a few months, because self-respecting society simply doesn’t put up with that, nor should my 6 yr. old. Sure, there are crappy people in the world, but the world does a much better job of taking care of these things. A bullying brat in the first grade will still be a bullying brat in the 6th grade. He will still be picking on the same kids year after year after year, unless he moves to a new town. How long would the average adult put up with a bully? Personally, as an adult, I have only come across one grown up bully. I choose not to be around this miserable woman. So do many other people. THAT is real life. If she were a coworker, I would find a different job. If she worked at a business I patronized-¬†not only would I refrain from doing business with that company, I would write a letter to the bully, her manager, the owner and the main office. A kid in a classroom has no way to emotionally protect themselves against such a person. I would never expect my kids to put up with bad treatment from a bully in the name of “toughening them up.” For what? So they can be submissive wimps when they grow up too? So they can “ignore” their miserable bosses and abusive spouses? In real life, if an employer discovered that an employee was harassing the other staff members, that employee could be fired (pending the 90 day evaluation) or relocated. In real life, if you are so dreadfully harassed by a coworker you can seek legal recourse independently. In a classroom, the teacher and other children are often powerless. The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to me as learning nutrition from a grocery store. As Homeschoolers, the world is our classroom. We interact with people of all ages, sexes and backgrounds. We talk to and learn from everyone who strikes our interest. We use good manners in our home and I’m always pleased when others comment on the manners my children have picked up. I believe good manners to be an important social skill. Respecting common areas is also of value to us. We often carry a grocery bag with us on walks, in case we find trash that needs to be discarded. When we’re waiting at a bus stop, if there is trash on the ground, we make a point to carry it onto the bus and discard of it properly. Once, while waiting at a bus stop-we saw a grown man drop his popsicle wrapper on the ground. He was 2 feet from a trash can-my daughter looked up at me with eyes as big as saucers. I told her (out loud) “It must have blown out of his and from that little wind, because no-one would throw trash on the ground on purpose. I’m sure when he’s done with his popsicle, he will pick it up and throw it away correctly-¬†otherwise, we can take care of it so we don’t have an ugly world.” He did pick it up, rather sheepishly. I can’t imagine expecting my children to have a respect for the cleanliness of common areas in an environment where bathroom walls are covered in graffiti and trees are scratched with symbols of “love” of all things. Another social skill we strive to teach our children is that all people are created equal. I can’t imagine doing that in an environment where physically disadvantaged children are segregated into a “special” classroom. Or even children who speak a different language at home. They are segregated and forced to learn English, while never acknowledging the unique culture they were raised in, and not enabling the other students to learn FROM them. Learning, in school, comes from the books and teachers. We will learn Spanish from a BOOK, not from a Spanish-speaking student; and not until¬†7th grade. I have never felt it would be beneficial to stick my 6-yr. old in a room full of other 6-yr. olds. I believe God created a world full of people of all ages and sexes to insure that the younger ones and older ones learn from each other. A few years ago, we were living thousands of miles from any older family members, so I brought my kids (then 5 and 2) to an assisted living facility, so they could interact with the elderly. Staff members told us that many of the older people would wake up every day and ask if we would be visiting soon. We always went on Wednesdays. My daughters learned some old show tunes while one of the men played piano, and the others would sing along. If I didn’t have to chase my 2-yr. old around, I would have had plenty of women ready to share the art of crocheting with me (something I’ve always wanted to learn.) If a friend was too sick to come out of their room during our visit, we would often spend a few minutes in their room. I always let them give the kids whatever cookies they had baked for them, and I ended up cleaning a few of the apartments while we visited, simply because I would have done the same for my own Grandmother. Every room had pictures from my kids posted on their refrigerators. We called this “Visiting the Grandmas and Grandpas” and my daughters both (almost 2 years later) have fond memories of our visits. I’m sure that if we were still visiting there, my unborn child would have a thousand handmade blankets and booties to keep him warm all winter. I don’t remember any such experiences in my entire School life, although I do remember being a bit afraid of old people if they were too wrinkly or weak looking. I never really knew anyone over 60. I never sped down the hall on someone’s wheelchair lap, squealing as we popped wheelies and screeched around corners. I never got to hear stories about what life was like before indoor plumbing and electricity, from the point of view of a woman with Alzheimer‚Äôs, who might believe she was still 5 years old, talking with my daughter as if she were a friend. I never got to help a 90 yr. old woman keep her arm steady while she painted a picture. And I never watched a room full of “grandma’s” waiting for me by the window, because we were 15 minutes late. On a recent visit to an Art allery, we noticed a man walking back and forth, carrying framed artwork from is old pickup truck. I asked my 6 yr. old if she thought he might be the artist. We both agreed that was a possibility, and after a little pep-talk to overcome her stage fright, she approached him and asked. He was the artist, and he was bringing in his work to be evaluated by the curator. We all sat down and he explained some of his techniques and listened to her opinions about which piece she liked best. He told about how he enjoyed art when he was 6 and would “sell” pictures to family and friends. He recounted how he felt while creating a few of the pieces, and how each one has special meaning to him. He even let her know how nervous he was to show them to the curator and how he hoped she found them as interesting as we did. As he was called into the office, a group of thirty-four 3rd graders filed past, ever so quietly, while their teacher explained each piece on the walls. The children were so quiet and well behaved. They didn’t seem to mind moving on from one picture to the next (The problem with homeschoolers is they tend to linger on things they enjoy). They didn’t seem to have any questions or comments (Maybe they’ll discuss that later in class). And they never got a chance to meet the gentleman in the pickup truck. I hope my kids aren’t missing out on any “socialization.”

©2000 Lisa Russell Used with Permission Lisa Russell; A Gen X homeschooling mom, writer, wife, daydreamer, U.S. traveler, hiker, poet, artist, web designer, and whatever else suits the moment. Lisa Russell can be contacted at: http://www.lisarussell.net or: lisa@lisarussell.net

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Greetings! Although i¬†wanted to post my own thoughts, i¬†came across this on my facebook¬†and couldn’t resist reposting it/sharing it¬†and since it HAS been twice already on other sites, figured there’s no copyright so it’s alright. Yes, sometimes i think in rhyme…¬†



The Smithsonian Institution’s recipe for genius and leadership: 

Children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents; 

Children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and 

Children should have little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives. ‚ÄďH. McCurdy¬†

My husband and I have no qualms about our style of parenting, which is so tied up in home education. He grew up beside his father in a greenhouse. Our first apartment at 500 sq ft, had 31 houseplants in it. He now works as a landscape designer. So we understand this analogy: Children are like little plants. You take the seed and put it in a little cup of the best topsoil. You give it lots of light. You gently sprinkle it with drops of water so the delicate leaves aren’t broken. When it gets a decent root system, you transplant it to a bigger pot. You protect it from the wind and the hottest sun. You bring it in when there’s a freeze. You don’t put it out where the dog will trample it or a deer will eat the buds. When its well-established, and the season is right, you can transplant it finally to its place outside your home. Then it will do well on its own in the downpours and coldest winters. 

So we plan to raise our children, protecting them and ensuring they are firmly established before they go out into the world. It is our hope that they do much better¬†at surviving their relationships and careers with such a secure beginning. Our family follows the Classical Education model. I use the book, “The Well-Trained Mind” as the base for our curriculum. The basic premise of the classical method is the breakdown of education into three sections which each build on each other. First is the Grammar stage, generally 1st-4th¬†grades, in which¬†a child‚Äôs curiosity is encouraged¬†by just stuffing them full of images and facts. The next stage is the Logic stage, generally 5th-¬†8th grades, where an adolescent begins to find the answers to the how and why of what they learned in the Grammar stage. Last is the Rhetoric stage, in which 9th -12th graders learn how to coherently express what they have learned. In Classical Education, all learning follows history as its base and the other subjects work around it. In addition, a student goes over the same material three times in his education (cycling through the material once in each stage).¬†

An example of this is our reading material. Ideally, it should be exciting to entrance and interest the first grader, in-depth for the questioning fifth grader, and even more interesting and in depth for the ninth grader. In our home, I buy books on a fifth grade level to read to our first grader, and when we cycle back to the same material in the fifth grade, they read it for themselves, and in ninth grade they read source material. For example, I read The Trojan War and the 12 Labors of Hercules to my first grader. All of my children were enthralled. There were no pictures except those that streamed through their imaginations. Then, when we return to ancient history in the fifth grade, she will curl up on the couch and read about Hercules on her own. This time she’ll learn that mom edited out the reason why he was assigned the 12 tasks: he killed his wife and children in a drunken rage. Then, when she returns again to the ancients in the ninth grade, she won’t be intimidated by reading Homer’s Illiad itself in the poetic original version. What’s to be afraid of, when you’re already familiar with the times and places? Also, when she was taught astronomy in the second grade, she already knew the story behind the crab-shaped constellation, from last year when she saw Hercules toss him into the sky in her mind’s eye. 

I was looking at a book from a series aimed at second-graders, called Junie B. Jones. It is listed on reading lists for this age group- yet it has sentences starting with conjunctions and fragments on every page. It has adjectives like bestest. It frequently says me and her. On a whim I looked up classical literature for this age group. I found rough breakdowns of classical literature by grade level. One example was The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. The first five sentences in The Velveteen Rabbit had an average of 29.2 words in each sentence. The first five sentences of Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth had an average of 5.4 words per sentence. 

An example of one of the more complex sentences which I found in JBJ¬†& her Big Fat Mouth was “Eating things that you find on the ground is very, very dangerous.” I gave it another try and¬†found “That‚Äôs because I had tingling excitement in me about Job Day.” In addition to using more complex sentence structure, Williams does not pare down her vocabulary to meet the child reader. Look how this sentence from The Velveteen Rabbit teaches the meaning of the word superior: “The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real.” JBJ¬†is so full of incorrect grammar and simple sentences because it is written from the point of view of¬†a modern first-grader, who would actually speak like that (unfortunately) and have simple interactions. However, there are quite a few older books, written in a different time, from the point of view of a five-year-old (Heidi, Little House series). They are also more complex and descriptive and are much preferred to modern books written for our young people.¬†

Another difference found in the Classical Education model is the emphasis of the use of whole books instead of readers. In public schools today, segments of books are printed in textbooks with summary questions at the end. The publisher chops the most exciting or pertinent portions of a work out, puts it in the textbook, and asks directed questions which can be answered by that portion. Then we wonder later why kids can’t dig through a whole book and find themes when it is not spelled out to them! 

I encourage you to challenge your child’s reading level by not feeding them Goosebumps or Sweet Valley High, Babysitter’s Club, or such books. Yes, your child is reading, but she is not really being challenged when she only reads about familiar locales in familiar phrasing. Always read what is a little difficult, not playground conversation in written form. When I was in middle school I really enjoyed the Sackett series by Louis L’Amour. A few of them are written from the point of view of a young girl. They give excellent images of early backwoods Eastern America. They encourage determination, hard work, overcoming obstacles, honesty, trustworthiness, gumption, and a host of other excellent qualities. 

Those are virtues I would hope that any parent would like to see cultivated in their child. But because educating at home is solely the responsibility of the parents, these are especially crucial. As homeschoolers, we have great freedom to: 

Do our schoolwork wherever we want 

Wear whatever we want 

Go at whatever pace we choose 

Drop work we already know 

Spend extra time on topics we love 

Do our work whenever we want 

Take breaks or work through 

but these freedoms give us responsibilities that families with children in regular schools don’t carry. They aren’t held accountable for what is (or isn’t) learned. They don’t have to be personally disciplined to cover the material or lessons themselves. They have an outside authority taking care of all that, who will be held accountable in a public forum. As home educators, we have to force ourselves take care of the objectives. We meet the goals which we set for ourselves, or we don’t. No one else will come in and check on us. We have to be responsible for our own education, and that means getting the work done and then doing the playing. So traits like persistence, responsibility, determination, honesty and the ability to do hard work are instilled in each work day, as much as math, science, history or English skills are. Unlike those who defer the education of their children to others, we are able and willing to drop the spelling lesson and address the poor attitude. We can put the multiplication drills on hold until the whining is under control. We can give time to grieve a lost grandparent before expecting academic performance to continue on uninterrupted. There are many, many reasons why we have chosen to educate our children at home. These are just a few. 


Teresa Dear is a homeschooling mother of four. She and her husband of eleven years are not worried about the socialization of their children. You can follow the blog exploration of classical education in general and their homeschool lifestyle in particular at 


http://highereducation-mama4x.blogspot.com She divides her time between education, the house, the extra-curricular activities, shopping for curriculum, and stocking her http://www.mama4x.etsy.com storefront, where you can find handmade greeting cards and vintage ephemera.http://www.homeschool-articles.com/ 

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