Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Art Technique

Here is an easy way to shade! It very much reminds me of the shading of the wood engravings in McGuffey's Readers. Today's bonus school work assignment: take one of your drawings and shade it using the lines, cross-hatch or stippling.

From McGuffey's Reader. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

10 Reasons Why You Can't Shelter Your Kids

Home school families often get accused of sheltering their children, warping them for future life, and not exposing them to socialization and the "real world."

The accusation of "sheltering" is quite laughable. Anyone who is a parent has shed the belief that you can shelter your child, whether it be from exposure to germs, or eating junk food, or watching TV, to keeping them away from people who may corrupt their manners.

The idea that you can shelter your child is a myth. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to shelter your child. Here's why:

1. You stopped sheltering your child the moment they were born. 
Unless you were the only person there, your child was exposed to people the moment they were born: poking, prodding, over-handling, diapering, people breathing germs, ooey-gooey kisses from relatives and strangers, and being passed from person to person-- your child was probably over-exposed to socialization from day one.

2. Grandparents. 
They might have been strict with you when you were little, but they've fallen off the wagon since.

3. Bachelor Uncles. 
Bachelor uncles have nothing to do in the evenings, but bring over all kinds of games or ideas, such as a trunk full of illegal fireworks, a months-dead raccoon to prove their failed career in taxidermy, or a "fun game of poker."

4. Wayward Cousins
There are always one or more of these on the wild side of the family.

5. "Rescue Relatives"
These are the relatives that are polar opposites of your family. They would love to interfere in your child raising and undermine in any way that is unhelpful (except in handy ways such as paying your child's way through college). However you tried to avoid them at family reunions, your child knows enough about them and their habits, their indulgences, and their feelings toward you over the years to run to them when they want to run away from home.

5. Neighbor kids
You never know what they are up to.

6. "Well-meaning" People
There are always plenty of "well-meaning" people to inform your child on any manner of subjects. Relatives,church members, doctors, friends from work, or absolute strangers-- you can't keep your child away from "well-meaning" people.

7. Television Screens
They are everywhere: doctor's offices, stores, restaurants. Even if you do not own a television set and have not willfully exposed your child to its corruption, you cannot be accused of sheltering your child from the TV. Ditto for radio and other media.

8. We Live Here
We are always talking about things going on in the world, and we complain audibly. If there is a listening ear, we'll pour out our frustrations with the state of things.  Modern children know about things that you didn't even know about when you were their age, because they listen to adults talking.
And, unless you blindfold your kids when they leave the house, they are going to see what is going on for themselves.

9. You Tell them
All the parents I know naturally teach their children what they need to know. This includes discussions on current events, how the world works, how to live in it and how to overcome it. Children ask lots of questions about everything they see or hear from the time they can talk, so you cannot avoid teaching your children about the world.

10. The Bible.
Have you ever tried to read the entire Bible aloud to your little kids? How many chapters did you feel you had to skip? The Bible is a central part of home education. If anyone thinks that you are sheltering your kids by giving them a religious education, tell them to read the Bible!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The English Language

If you have ever tried to teach a child to read, or are coaching a young speller, you will soon come to realize how amazing it is that you absorbed this language as a child and are able to cope with it at all! English is a melting pot of words and influences. Phonics are great to teach reading, but you also need to memorize a lot of exceptions to the rules.

Through the years of teaching children to read, my students and I have been through many baffling moments. The silent e's have rules that are easy to learn, so they aren't so bad, but try all those other silent combinations. Knight and Gnat and Sign? Try explaining that pesky "-ough" that can make a sound every-which-a-way it wants. Bough? Trough? Thought? Through? Though? Enough?

(The poets decided they'd had enough, and went to thru and tho instead)

Then of course, if you take one of those words, like Enough, you also have to point out that other words that rhyme may not be spelled the same, like Stuff.
Bough and Bow and Thou.
Through and Blue and Blew, Too.

I recently started to listen to the Wycliffe Bible, English made a lot more sense back then in the 1380's. After listening to several of these, I have to say that I like Middle English.

I don't know how accurate the pronunciation is, though I have read that there is evidence that most silent e's were pronounced. Certainly the ghostly "ght" and "igh" letter groups make more sense spoken out loud. The letters K and G in Knight, for instance, were all sounded out in the video above. How we since managed to swallow them into silence I do not know.

I know some people are wanting to simplify the English language, but I wonder who might be for going back and making it the way it was?

Knowing how English was spoken in history helps me understand a lot of our words and their spelling. Now my students can be assured that those extra silent letters are not put into our words just to make first grade harder!
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