Wednesday, February 28, 2007

August 17, 2000 - Writing Assignments

You WON'T be able to finish everything I include if you also use supplements. For example, if you are going to use Spelling Power, DON'T use my spelling! That's too much! The same goes for Wordly Wise - choose one and stick with it, or hop around, but don't do both or you will have rebellion on your hands. You will have to use your best judgment on what to include and what to exclude, cut down on the discussion questions or memory work a little, etc. (Remember - NEVER be a slave to any curriculum. Make sure that YOU rule it and that IT doesn't rule you!) By the way, the melody idea for the Bible passage is excellent - it also works well if you give a verse or passage a certain drum beat - the rhythm helps them remember it better. Regarding the writing, again you will have to include what you feel is best for your situation (which has got to be one of the most extremely unique that I have heard to date, if that makes you feel better). The goal is to have the children writing SOMETHING almost every day. I RARELY require more than a paragraph in any assignment, and I often spend several days having the children go back and see how they can make that paragraph better.

Let me explain my philosophy on that, so both of you will understand it a little better. I hear of writing assignments in certain textbook curricula that require children as young as FIFTH grade to do a long research paper. I think that is RIDICULOUS! Pushing children through pages and pages of writing is not going to help them be good at writing - it only teaches them to write as much as they can - to take up space until the required pages are completed. (Remember counting words in high school and college?) Children get to be good writers by writing something every day. We compile lots of lists in A World of Adventure because they are really good pre-writing activities. When someone asks me to give a workshop or a speech on a given topic, the first thing I do is stare at the computer screen and wonder what I will say (just like most children tell their parents - "what should I write?") Then, I start to make a list of what I want to include. After that, I
organize my thoughts in a logical way. (This is why I stress so strongly that ALL children learn how to type onto a computer screen. It can be learned independently, and once the skill is there, writing will be so much easier, as the child is not so resistant to changing and editing if it is easy and she does not have to rewrite the WHOLE thing again.) I try to take the children through the same kinds of logical thinking and procedural skills in my writing assignments. Very few people start out as good writers. Our writing improves as we are able to look at it with a critical eye and change it for the better. Otherwise, we just keep turning out the same old mediocre work. Children don't know HOW to make their writing better until they are encouraged to go back to it and see how they can add to it, change it or subract from it so that it will be more interesting. That is why I often give an assignment one day and have them begin to look at it the next day, and even give more days to work on just the improving of it. Sometimes they will be given an entire week for just one paragraph. While they are actually writing every day, they are not putting out the same type of creative energy required for a new paragraph, instead, they are learning how to improve the work they have already written. If your child is young, and/or you feel the first assignment is enough, leave it at that and work into teaching the improvement part gradually. When Ryan came home from school in fifth grade, he HATED to write, and was NOT good at it. We began with simple journaling, but every topic I gave him to write about, he would only write about two sentences and then he would use every trick in the book to take up the rest of the page with illustrations, charts, graphs, diagrams, writing double-spaced, writing THE END really big at the end of his two sentences. While I was thrilled he was creative enough to think of these devious methods, the goal was for him to be a better writer. I let him do this for quite a while (about a month) and finally I started requiring that he write a VERY short paragraph. He hated it . . . but he did it . . although he never wrote more than that. After several months I began to require that he write two paragraphs, which he did (under great duress). My goal for him was to be able to sit down at the computer and just be able to WRITE without asking what he would say, etc. If you had been at one of the conventions, I would have shown you his journal and let you compare it to his more recent work, and you would be amazed . . . most people are. It took YEARS for him to get to where he is now, and we are still working on improvements. But the key is, he did improve, largely because he wrote SOMETHING almost every day. We don't want to have our children hate writing, nor do we want to fight with them to get them to do it, but we DO have to have them write or they will NEVER be good at it. They have to start somewhere, and that is what I have tried to do in this book. The reason I never require much more than one paragraph per assignment is because I so strongly feel that if we can get our children to write a really strong paragraph, we have won the battle. Once they can do that extremely well, they can ALWAYS add more paragraphs!!!!! Getting them past that first strong paragraph is the hardest part and it takes lots of time.

All that to say . . . be patient with them and try to follow the assignments where they work for you. Even if you have to start with one or two sentences like I had to with Ryan, then start there. No one wants to fight with their children over any school subject, but the question is, where do we draw the line between being patient and actually making them write? Francie's decision to not have her daughter do more writing on her very good first day paragraph on the second day was the right one. You will both need to be sensitive to the right times to continue a writing assignment, and when to let them be finished. I can give you the daily lesson plans, but I can't do what both of you do best, know your own child's potential, and their breaking point. A World of Adventure is really PACKED with learning, and there are many days you won't be able to do EVERYTHING. With most other unit studies you HAVE to supplement material, and my goal was to not have the parent saddled with searching for which other program they would use to do that in various subjects, but to include everything myself, so that if necessary, you could pick and choose what worked for you each day. Just to give you an idea of the broad range of parents out there, I can tell you that some say "that's all we have to do each day?" and others say "I can't get all that done in a day." Some say "only one paragraph for writing - is that ENOUGH?" and others say "Are you kidding, my child took such a long time writing that paragraph I don't know how this is ever going to work." Your perspective depends on you and your own background, each of your children's learning styles and capabilities, the curriculum you used before, how many children you have, etc, etc, etc.

Julie, you may want to start school earlier, and also assign independent reading for Elli in the Egypt and Desert books later in the day, and have her report back to you on what she read while you are doing something else, like nursing, etc. It sounds like she'd be REALLY good at that, given her verbal skills! She could also read to the other children a little so they could be learning about those subjects, too. Once again, don't be too hard on yourself, as I think you have about the most difficult (and I mean that in a nice way) situation I have heard to date. I met one person in Ohio with triplets, but you get the prize for major undertakings in homeschooling with your kids.

Francie, FYI, bios and logos are included in the unit on Greece when we study the human body. I try to spread the roots out over the year as much as I can, so you will probably come across others I could have included at a particular time, but have chosen to present them at what seemed like a more appropriate time later on in the study. You can do them as you like, though, and then review them when they are presented later. I would also like for you to copy me when you send Julie the WTM sample day - I am curious and like what I have heard about it. This also helps me when people ask if they can incorporate a certain program with mine.

You are both delightful, and I have enjoyed hearing your stories.


August 24, 2000 - Egypt, Sensitive Issues

I read your message to the group and have been watching to see the responses of others on this sensitive issue.

Can I just say to everyone right here and now that in writing this book I tried to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL in what to include and what NOT to include. You will note that there are no experiments or activities in the body of my book regarding any mummies or anything that gave me a "creepy" feeling (such as "make your own coffin" kinds of things). These "riskier" topics are offered in the optional projects sections, along with books on mummies - which are listed separately from the "Egypt" books, so that parents can decide on their own what they are comfortable for their children to see. The majority of children love this disgusting stuff and are completely fascinated by it - others are much more sensitive.

I think we all agree that we need to be very careful in what we place before our children's eyes, but I realize we can take this too far as well. My personal feeling is that if we must err, let it be on the side of overprotection. If she were my daughter, I would NOT include her in on anything that has to do with mummies any more. If she is already terrorized by the pictures, I don't think she should see any more or even hear about them. She is only in first grade and she does not have to be involved in this part of the unit study other than to see how children lived long ago in ancient Egypt. I would really immerse her in the desert project and I would have your other kids do as much silent independent reading as possible about Egypt. Bring her in on anything that is non-threatening to her. Maybe you can do some things at night with the other kids while your husband is home to entertain your first grader with desert books, etc.

I agree that it is important to face our fears, but it is also our job to guard the hearts of our children and I think you have done your best to help her overcome her fear. Mummies ARE gruesome and I don't think trying to make them "user-friendly" to her is going to work.

Remember, children think irrationally about these things because their fears are so real to them. If it comes up again accidentally, I would remind her that it WAS gruesome - and it was also very sad to see what people did when they didn't have the love of Jesus in their hearts. I would stress how glad we are that we know we will live in heaven someday with Him and that everything there will be beautiful and happy, and that here on Earth, Jesus wants us to be happy too - that means turning our fears over to Him. Pray together and leave it alone until it comes up again, at which time you should repeat the very same thing. By reassuring her time after time, she will eventually take comfort in the words that whe knows you will repeat again to her. She needs to be verbally reassured by you right now more than ever. Even if it means that she doesn't listen in on The Golden Goblet - that's ok - although I don't think there's any scary mummy parts in it.

Maybe you could get her redirected in some kind of project on the story of Joseph instead, like making clay models of him and his brothers, or making his coat out of a large white paper shopping bag and having her color it with the many colors. How about letting her do a little study of her own on a related topic, like on rivers (to go with the Nile theme). This would be special just for her. If you start thinking about it I think you will be able to come up with something that is related that will interest her without scaring her to death. Certainly, no good can come of that. I would also talk earnestly and pray with your other kids about her sensitivity and ask for their help. Sometimes older siblings take great delight in teasing younger siblings about their insecurities. Ask them to help you protect her in this endeavor. Get them in on a little secret and add a little pun: "MUM'S the word!" Work quietly together to help her through this.

The unfortunate thing about studying ancient civilizations is seeing some of the strange, and often wicked, things they did. We have two choices:

(1.) We can never study them and have our kids walking around with "blinders" on, or
(2.) We can study them with sensitivity right alongside of the word of God and learn about other cultures with one main focus - that we ALL need Jesus and - without Him our world is in total chaos!

Just my opinion, but since I sort of "got you into this" I thought I'd offer a way out as well. If she is sensitive to this, she may also get the creeps about other things in future units of other ancient civilizations. You will really need to pray for godly discretion and wisdom, and be extra sensitive to things that might disturb her. On the other hand, she just might surprise you and have no troubles down the road. It might just be the "mummy thing" and . . . I must admit, I can hardly look at some of these books on a dark and stormy night myself! Try not to be too hard on yourself about it and keep everything in perspective. The rest of the kids really love the study, so let them continue having fun. I know you will be able to come up with something she will really like that will fit into this unit.

Please let me know how this situation progresses.


August 28, 2000 Spelling / Vocabulary

A cautionary note about spelling, vocabulary words, and dictionary drills; do all of these in moderation. You can snuff out that love of learning by overdoing these. That's what the government schools do and we don't want to be like them. Smile

Spelling is important, but don't do it every day. You know your children best, but once a week may be enough for them.

The vocabulary words are just that. They shouldn't have to look these up because Dorian has already given a short description. You can handle this as you wish, but these lists aren't intended for memorization and testing. They are there so that you will know what the word is when you read it in context of the book.

I know that this is a departure from "the norm." But, learning should be an adventure, not a drudgery. Have fun and enjoy learning together. (You all have my express permission not to do spelling every day!!)


September 10. 2000 - Grades

Regarding Grades:
We should teach our children and ourselves to always work toward a standard of excellence in everything we do - not to strive for a B or an A. For bright over-achievers, an A takes very little effort and we have done them no favors by awarding an A to them if they have not strived for excellence. These arbitary grades mean different things to each unique child and take varying levels of effort for each person to achieve them. In my opinion, grades are RIDICULOUS (I will explain more later about this) - but if the umbrella school requires them, just write down a series of objectives that your children must meet to achieve a grade in each subject. Such as:

Completion of X number of books in each subject, and list them.
Participation in daily class discussion.
Attitude toward assignments and subjects
Neatness in all assignments
Completion of all assignments on a timely basis
Organizational skills in each subject and for all assignments
Overall understanding of subject upon completion of unit
Any tests that you make up and give can be graded and added to this list

I have just listed the objectives that teachers grade on in school every year. Why can't they apply to the LA work? Go through each objective before you begin your year so that your children will know what is expected of them. For each objective, give a scale of 1-5, for each grade letter. Jot down notes for each during the quarter and remind your children that they need to be working harder in some areas and encourage them with positive feedback in other areas. (We do this anyway, don't we?) Then, at the end of the quarter, "grade" them on their performance level for each. I would have my kids go through the information in the unit books and make up their own individual tests (including the answers), study them, and then be able to answer orally all the questions they included. This is an EXCELLENT learning tool when they do it themselves - MUCH better than teacher-made tests. Unless you have a high schooler and have to provide grades, or are required by your district/state to provide grades for all of your children - why waste your time on them?

September 10. 2000 - Disagreements About Homeschooling

Regarding family disagreements over homeschooling:
Those who are apprehensive about homeschooling are usually die-hard products of
the public school system and are not willing to open their eyes to something
different that could be even (shock!) BETTER! When we first started
homeschooling, my dad was TOTALLY against it! I mean TOTALLY! And I am a
certified teacher!!!! Through the years, though, he has seen how Ryan has
turned out and has been able to compare him to others he knows that are also
Ryan's age. Ryan is more articulate, polite, has a self-starting attitude, is
a positive person, has leadership qualities above and beyond those his age and
those of older teenagers (he was appointed captain of his soccer team as a
freshman, and again this year as a sophomore, even though there were older
upper classmen on the team). He creates his own school schedule and follows it
meticulously. He can carry on an extremely intelligent coversation with people
of all ages. He has confidence, and a good overall knowledge of how to
approach new things and new situations. He does NOT follow the crowd, he is
willing to stand up for what he believes to be right, he is a servant in church
ministries. Ryan is living proof to my dad, that homeschooling WORKED! Ryan
did NOT get this way by being force-fed worksheets, reading try textbooks, and
taking tests, by spending more time around his peers than he does with his
family, by going to class day in and day out - being told to take out his
textbook and turn to page 23, then do his assignment, then line up, then go to
the next class, etc.

Today, my dad is our biggest supporter, and he follows the progress of Learning
Adventures with healthy pride and admiration. He can see now how important it
is for children to be INVOLVED and ENGAGED in the learning process, not just
following along with the program like little robots. Yes, they need guidance,
but they will never learn to be self-motivators if we do not guide them to do
so - and if we are not there with them during the major part of their days, we
cannot do this!

Am I saying that public-schooled children can never turn out this way?
Absolutely not, I only know what I see everyday as "normal" behavior from the
majority of these kids - even Christians. Homeschooling has to be right for
you, and I really believe it must be a calling. Many of you have older
children who attend ps successfully. What I am saying, is that in
homeschooling our children, we have a better opportunity to mold our children's
attitudes and work habits, keep their minds and hearts pure, and foster their
self-motivational skills - because they are in a loving, trusting environment
in which they can try these skills and develop confidence in using them without
danger, ridicule, or loss of self esteem. What a privilege!

September 10. 2000 - Report Cards/Records/Test

Regarding "Report Cards"
As for report cards - the WHOLE POINT of them (schools invented them) is so that teachers (who are not our children's parents) can keep the parent informed of how the child is doing in an environment the parent knows nothing about! When we ARE the parents and we are working with our child and teaching them DAILY, we do not need to KNOW how they are doing . . . we KNOW how they are doing! We know they need work in writing, or in spelling, etc. We know they are a natural when it comes to history, etc. Furthermore, grades smack of "levels." Either they discourage average or reluctant learners, or they fill with pride those who are over-achievers. If dad wants to know how they are doing, show samples of their work, or maybe he could actually get involved in some reading and discussion time to see how well they are internalizing the information. Grades don't tell us how our children are doing, parent involvement DOES! Again - unless your district/state requires them - report cards are a waste of time!

Regarding Record-Keeping:
We should all keep good records of our children's school years, in terms of work done by our children, but this has already been described above in terms of creating a portfolio for each of your children. Ryan keeps track of his own book lists, and types them up for his transcript and records in bibliographic format. When your children are involved in their own record-keeping, you are giving them a chance to practice leadership skills, and motivational techniques. They will have a better picture of what their yearly goals should be.

Regarding Tests:
Tests CAN be a learning tool, but they do not promote LONG-TERM knowledge. I was talking to a an acquaintance, who happens to be a university professor, last year about methods of learning. He mentioned that he ALWAYS has his students write papers INSTEAD of taking tests - that way they actually LEARN SOMETHING! Many of his colleagues agree, and statistics have shown that tests are not effective in terms of long-term knowledge retention. Yet, schools continue to use them because it is an easy way for one teacher to assess the knowledge of all the students in his or her classroom. Studies have been done wherein a teacher gives a test on a friday and then pops it out again the following week - and even those who excelled on the test the first time around performed significantly lower just a WEEK later. Research, writing, and projects are MUCH better for the retention of knowledge because a student does not just have to memorize and spit back information for one test, but must work with that information, actually THINK about it, and mold it into the correct format. Then it must be looked at again so that it can be refined into a better project. It is in this process that knowledge is internalized and becomes a part of us, so we will remember it better. In unit study, we have an even greater chance of knowledge retention, because of the connection of facts and events - we remember one thing because it was connected to another thing.

September 10. 2000 - Umbrella Schools

Regarding umbrella schools and their requirements:
Copying all the daily plans would be really expensive, but listing the topics for each day seems so cumbersome. How detailed do they want you to be? Do you need to submit plans in advance or at the end of the quarter?

Do they want something like the following, or do they want more or less detail? Do they require DAILY plans or do they only want a summary of what you will cover in a quarter? I have a feeling each umbrella school will have different answers to these questions, but you need to find out exactly what yours requires so that you can comply. It would be great if all the LA users could help each other out on this, as you suggested, but it may be difficult in terms of the differing requirements for each umbrella school.

Is this what they are looking for?
Day 1
Historical Literature - Gen. 37 / Discussion for Comprehension
Latin/Greek Roots (Chronos)
Writing events of story in chronological order
Egyptian History - Read _____________, Sample Egyptian foods
Science (Deserts) - Read _____________
Fine Arts - Hymns on topic
Math - (list book and pages covered)
Typing - (list book and pages covered)

If they only require proof of study after the fact could you prepare a portfolio of your children's work for this? LA is PERFECT for this - you could include a book list of books read - have your children type them up in bibliographic format (that would be SUPER impressive when they see how much reading your children have done), and the writing assignments and vocabulary lists would be great additions. Take pictures of all projects and experiments as you do them together so that you have a wonderful assortment of "proof of learning activities." Write up your science experiments - the procedure, the results, and what you learned. You could include all of these in a large notebook.

September 14, 2000 - Bibliography / Large Families

The bibliography at the end of the introduction is a list of books that I used to write this book. A majority of the books are at an adult level and would not be appropriate or even interesting for use for your children in this study. It may even get you way off track in terms of each theme, as some have just a small portion taken from them as research for the book as a whole. I have listed the books in the beginning of each unit that would be good for your children to use. They are more focused on each unit and its theme. You will find additional books on the shelves of your own library on each of these topics - those are the ones that you should check out too.

Regarding how to use each of the adventure manuals with numerous children: if you want to truly pull out all your hair in one year - use all of them at once! They are really meant to be used by an entire family (for the bonding to occur) one at a time. You are missing all the benefits of a unit study if you try to do more than one at a time. Furthermore, it will confuse you and your children. Large families often simultaneously go through a lower level unit study for their younger kids (some are using Five in a Row, some are doing their own study like Lori is on Creation, etc.) and they supplement for their older high school kids with a few high school textbooks. You can do what you want of course, but I HIGHLY recommend that you ALL do as much of A World of Adventure together as you can - until you are finished with the book. Supplement, in your case, at the bottom, with your younger kids with phonics, language arts, and math at their level. IF necessary, use a literature-based unit study, like Five in a Row for the little ones. (MANY parents find that they don't need to do this, though - their younger kids WANT to be a part of the Adventure book because the older kids are enjoying it so much.) Don't try to teach Ancient AND American history in one year though - it is too difficult. When you have all finished the first book, have the whole family move on to the second, and then the third after that, etc. When all five books have been completed by your family, THEN start over with A World of Adventure. This is how the classical approach to education works - you do the ancients and move through history until you hit current events, and then you start over again.

The BEAUTY of this approach is that by the time your oldest children have finished the series, they have gotten a deep look at each segment of history and are now ready for a good review of the whole thing. This time you go through the series, you can supplement with older, more advanced books (those I suggest in the beginnings of many of the units as "More Learning Adventures") for your older kids, while your younger students will look at this as a fresh look at each historical segment, because they were too young to totally take advantage of all the knowledge the first time around. You work in a cycle like this until all your children have completed the cycle of history, and have reviewed it as well.

I hope this helps you understand better how it will all work. Try to always stay in chronological order, but as the younger ones join your study, they won't be starting at the beginning. They will learn from their own point of entry (whichever book you are on at the time they are ready to enter the study with you). They will eventually get a chance to start back at the beginning and truly work their way through history chronologically as well.

Check out the Institute for Creation Research (address listed in the introduction of the book) for some excellent creation books. There are also some good creation unit studies available in the homeschool market.
Happy hunting!


September 15, 2000 - Spelling/Correcting Writing

Hello Everyone!

A question came up today about spelling and correcting writing. When someone asks a question that pertains to how others might implement A World of Adventure, I always try to address it with the whole group. I realize that MANY of you will already know some of the things that come up, but with a group this size and with so many different backgrounds and situations, I want to make sure that there are no questions left unanswered. Some of you are super-confident in what you are doing and others want more guidance, so I will err on the side of giving you "more" instead of "less."

Regarding spelling words:
Yes! Add words to each child's individual list that he/she spells wrong - in any subject - or however you may want to do it. These are really the words your child needs to work on learning to spell. The lists I provide only pertain to that one rule each time and, while it is important to know, understand, and then USE the rule in their own writing, the words that they continue to spell wrong should be the ones they have on their individual lists. You will have to use your best judgment here. Some children will spell SO many words wrong that you will completely discourage them by giving them 40 (or more!) words for their spelling list each week. The idea of adding words with the same letter and sound pattern is EXCELLENT - the very BEST way to teach spelling! Just make sure that the words you add really apply in letter and sound. For example, if a child gets the word COUGH wrong and is having trouble with the GH ending saying the F sound.

Good words to add to his list would be ROUGH, TOUGH, or LAUGH. Do NOT use the word THROUGH, because even though it has the GH spelling at the end, the GH does not make the F sound in this case and does not apply to the sound/spelling pattern. This is a rather obvious example so that you will all see what I mean, but as you add words with similar patterns, please be aware of this. When your child has tested correctly on a word, you may cross it out until he spells it wrong again (hopefully he won't, but don't hold your breath), or you may make a check by it on his master list so that you can review it again orally on an informal basis. That will be up to you. If your child is a very poor speller be careful not to burn him out with too many spelling words each week. It is better for him to conquer some of the rules and patterns with confidence than it is to spread him too thin and not learn any well at all. Spelling is SO INDIVIDUAL with kids - and adults! We all have our own little hang-ups when it comes to remembering the correct spellings of words. That is why I SO FAVOR individualized lists. I am a very good speller by nature, but I always have to stop and think when I come to the word ATTACH. I always want to spell it ATTATCH, which makes so much more sense to me! So, I wonder if we ever REALLY conquer spelling completely. We just have to keep reading a lot, writing a lot, and doing our best to be accurate and keep on learning the rest of our lives.

Regarding correcting errors in writing assignments:
Yes, for the most part, you should always correct punctuation, capitals, etc. in their writing. If you do not correct them, they will not be aware that it is wrong and will continue to write things inaccurately. There are a couple of different theories on how to do this. One is to mention to them that they have a punctuation error in the first sentence -see if they can find it and correct it on their own. Go through the whole assignment this way, letting them find their own errors. I really favor this method because it teaches them to LOOK for their own errors, and eventually prompts them to watch that they don't make those errors in the first place! However, this method is VERY time consuming, unless you can come up with a method or code for letting them know what kind of error is lurking in each of their sentences and mark it accordingly. Otherwise, you have to wait for them to find it and correct it before you can let them know about the next error they have to find. This may not be practical for all of you, but I still think it is the most effective way to correct a child's paper. The other way is the traditional method of correcting their work by marking their papers in some way the errors that need to be corrected. By the way, NEVER mark anything wrong, unless it is your intent to have your child correct it. There is really no point to that - no learning takes place. If you do mark the errors for your child, please try not to use a big, fat, red pen! Schools are really good at this, and it is really discouraging to a child to see red marks all over his paper. Try to find a gentler way of letting him know he has made a mistake and must correct it. Once again, this is why I HIGHLY favor typing, as these corrections can be made with little trouble (and few tears!)

The only time I would NOT correct a paper is when the mistakes are minor and the child has worked with his whole heart on something that will not really be shown as a part of a notebook or portfolio (try not to include writing papers with lots of errors in a portfolio that will be shown to school officials). A personal journal is another example of something you may not want to correct in detail because your focus is to get your child to just write about themselves and their feelings without any inhibitions about spelling and punctuation. There are no journaling assignments in A World of Adventure, but there is a unit on journaling in the next book, so you will each have to decide how you will handle this with your own children. The point of both of these examples is that it IS discouraging to ALWAYS be told that your work is "not good enough" (even though we don't say those words, that is basically the message that our children receive). It IS our job to correct our children's work - for their own good - but we also want to build their confidence levels, so once in a while we have to make exceptions to the "correct EVERYTHING" rule.

Try to ALWAYS point out the good in what they wrote when you also must point out errors. Bringing up the rule that goes with the error is another good teaching method. "I really like how you told about Queen Elizabeth's childhood, but it looks like you forgot to add a capital letter to her title - remember, all proper nouns and titles of royalty have to be capitalized."

Hope these ideas help!


September 16, 2000 - Errors/ grading

If your child can type onto a computer screen, he won't have to rewrite or even "erase" anything (smile)! (One of my goals will definitely be accomplished if I get all of you parents to teach your kids to type.) I always think it is better to write in pencil so a child won't have the frustration of having to rewrite things. I have seen differing opinions on this - some want the child to use ink so that they will get in the habit of slashing through words on a rough copy, making arrows, and making the usual editing marks on their own work. This is so the child isn't trying to always erase and "make the rough copy his final copy." I see the value of this, but I think it is easier to just use pencil - even for the final copy. Have you ever had to write something out and got to the very end and made a mistake? Who wants to write the whole thing over again? And, furthermore, what would be the point of that? If it is neat and carefully done, why shouldn't your child be able to use pencil for his final copy?

If you are talking about spelling errors or easily replaced words such as "were" for "was," I would NEVER suggest rewriting the sentence until you are ready for the FINAL copy to be written out neatly. However, in the writing process, sentences will often need major revisions for improvement and that means either erasing or rewriting - my feeling is to choose the less painful method for the child. Before Ryan could type well, I had him double space all of his writing in pencil, so that he had room to insert and edit on the original rough copy. Then he only had to rewrite the final copy once. He is left-handed and has never been a guy that liked the process of handwriting (even though his writing is neat). It was always cumbersome to him and took a long time, so where I could, I tried to let him answer orally. I figured - what was the point of frustrating him further - if the task at hand did not REQUIRE the process of writing?

Regarding grading papers - I really feel that the grade should be based on the final project. If you compared it to a school project - ideally, a child would do an assignment at home, and the parent would look over it - pointing out errors to be corrected. At that point, the assignment would be corrected and/or rewritten - then turned in to the teacher for grading the next day. That's what we used to do when Ryan was in school. I don't think that is an unrealistic expectation, especially if your children are correcting their own errors along the way. Grades should be based on the learning that has taken place in the end - right? The purpose of an assignment is to get practice in achieving a particular skill or goal. If, in writing a paper, a child has achieved that goal, and has learned that skill, why do we need to bring up all the errors that they made in the process? Here's another thought - what if the child had a horrible start and DID make tons of errors on the rough copy - but had a good attitude and was willing to make changes for the better - and then turned out a REALLY GREAT paper! Should their grade be lowered because of what they wrote the first time out? I don't think so. I mean, all of you ladies would probably not have been very happy with my rough draft of A World of Adventure - and I am glad that I don't have to be "graded" on it! But the final copy is a culmination of my efforts and something I am happy to share with others. That's how it should be with our children's work too.

If you feel that this is too lenient, you can grade on the original work. For writing, it is a LOT about the process - their attitude toward it, and their willingness to be open-minded to improvement. That is why I feel grading should be based on the final piece of work - not on all the errors they made in getting there. For math, or more "objective" subjects, a stricter guideline may apply. Teachers often take grades from half of the daily lessons, for example, but include all quiz and test scores (again, the "final" product) in the grading process.

Great idea on the Alpha-Phonics list - and I am pleased to see that your plan is to only add a few other words in order to reinforce - not to overwhelm. You get it.


September 26, 2000 - Elements of Literature

Many stories have more than one climax, but there is usually one MAJOR high point - the point at which you can't even break away long enough to bring the popcorn up to your mouth until you find out what happens. Stories also often have many rising and falling moments - those are the things that keep the reader interested. When I introduced the elements of literature to the children, I didn't want to go into all the different examples of plots and sub-plots and examples of multiple points of rising and falling action. (It is hard enough for them to get the basic idea of each of the elements.) I tried not to go into more detail than was necessary - other than to explain that a story - OVERALL - has a general introductory section (exposition), moments of action that continue and eventually rise (rising action) to a major culmination (climax), after which the details are only leftovers from the climax (falling action) and then the final outcome (resolution). By really understanding how stories are written, your children will eventually come to really appreciate these elements as they understand exactly WHY they liked a story so much - perhaps it was FILLED with rising and falling action and the story kept their complete attention throughout, for example. They will understand why a story WASN'T good - perhaps it did not have a good exposition - or the characters were flat - and the children never really "got into" the story. Don't worry that your kids aren't picking up on this kind of thing yet - but these are some of the goals of learning the elements of literature. Then, when they go to write their own stories some day, they will have a solid understanding of what makes a good story - what will keep their reader interested, etc. You can help your kids by mentioning an element or two as you read ANY story with them "Wow - that part of the story was REALLY exciting - when the action was rising and rising until it reached the climax and the father rescued his daughter from the flooding river." Or - "I loved the resolution of that story - everything turned out right when the father brought his daughter home to the family safely." By using the terms in real ways, relating them to real stories, your children will catch on to their meanings much more quickly. We we will continue to touch on these elements from time to time throughout the year as a review (but we will not go into the detail that we have in the first weeks of the Egypt unit).

There are many high points in the story of Joseph, and one of them IS when Potiphar's wife gets Joseph thrown into prison. But in the total scheme of the story - it is not THE most important climax. Don't be too hard on yourself or your daughter - ESPECIALLY if you did not read my paragraph to her! Every sample that I include is meant to be read to your child - otherwise they will have no clue about how to proceed. There is nothing more frustrating to a child (or an adult) than not understanding what is expected. In fact, a really great learning tool - if a child still does not understand, and you know they're not faking - is to have them copy my paragraph. I am a big believer in having children copy paragraphs from books, good literature, etc. so that they will understand how to be good writers themselves. There is something about the actual "writing" of it that causes an internalization of some sort. When Ryan has difficulty memorizing something - I always have him type it out - over and over again if necessary. I would MUCH rather see a child copy my paragraph than not truly understand what they are supposed to be doing.

Learning should not be guesswork for children. I think as parents we tend to believe that if we give our kids too many examples that we are "telling them the answers." I used to do this with Ryan and then when he didn't think of his own creative answers or ideas, I would become frustrated with him! How ridiculous! Isn't that sort of like wives that won't tell their husbands what they want for Christmas, but then pout when they don't get what they want!! If we don't communicate well with our children in teaching and training them, they will NEVER KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED! It took me awhile to figure out that the MORE I helped Ryan - giving him examples of what a good way to start a sentence might be, or suggesting a better way to structure a sentence - or offering a great way to start a story or end it - the BETTER writer he became! I HAD the tools to help him all along - BUT I WAS WITHHOLDING them! (Poor baby!) PLEEEEEEASE read my samples and examples aloud to your children - that is why they are there. If they want to "copy" parts - that's okay. Eventually, they can break away little by little.

Regarding spending too much time on one paragraph. Never make them spend more than 30 minutes on actual writing in one session. First you need to briefly talk about what they will write - make a list TOGETHER of thoughts they will include (help them and walk them through the entire list if necessary) and then have them start at the beginning of the list and just start writing about each thought they will include. If they have spent thirty minutes on it and haven't gone very far, you'll have to alter the next day's assignment (or exclude the writing assignment part) until they finish the original assignment. Remember - make my plans work FOR you and your kids - NOT against you or them. I would much rather see them copy it (or selected portions of it) - than to cause hours of tears and frustrations - NOTHING really good is accomplished in that. Some children will whip out a paragraph in a few minutes - others will take a class session - and still others will struggle on and on. The goal, of course, is for them to become more comfortable with writing, as they do it on a regular basis. Some of the younger kids, like Ashlin (what a BEAUTIFUL name), will have a hard time even understanding the concept of rising and falling action - much less writing about it - so don't worry too much about not following the plans EXACTLY. Use them to your benefit - as an introduction to the concept - when we review it later, they will remember the term and might get it a little better, and the next time we cover it, the light might "go on" for them! Remember, the elements of literature are even presented in high school, so you are getting a jump on the topic, and don't need to push for mastery level so soon. Writing about each element is only one way to apply the knowledge of what each term means - but it does give them writing practice at the same time.

Relating the elements of literature to short stories that are familiar and well-loved by your children is a GREAT way to reinforce the topic (I can't tell which of you suggested this to Kathy from the e-mail printout that John handed me.) Most of all, relax, and don't panic when your kids don't immediately master everything that we will cover this year. Remember, schools repeat concepts year after year - they know that children learn with PRACTICE. Children also learn best through modeling other people and other examples in their life, so teach them to following correct examples, and even if you have to walk them through the writing of EACH sentence at first, DO IT - you are modeling for them an example of how it should be done (both the procedure AND the outcome). That's practically what I had to do with Ryan - and in those days, I felt like he would NEVER be able to write a SIMPLE paragraph. I just had to keep positively reinforcing what little things he did write well and give him suggestions as to how to do the rest. I was frustrated with him (and I was wrong) much of that time because he wasn't making the progress I wanted to see him make. But, amazing wonder of wonders - he actually (very gradually) began suggesting some very good examples of writing. The more we read good literature together, and practiced writing - the more examples he had to draw from and eventually had a good "repertoire" of writing techniques from which to choose. Every child has to build up that repertoire of his own based on ideas and techniques he sees around him. When they first start writing, most children are literally bankrupt when it comes to writing techniques. If we have not made them write regularly, have not exposed them continually to reading and good literature, and then have not worked hand-in-hand with them, giving them examples and ideas - we cannot expect them to be successful. But when we do all these things in a spirit of love and patience (please do better with this than I did with Ryan) - we are instilling the confidence that they need to step out on their own. Enjoy this time of learning with them and don't put too much undue pressure on yourselves or them. The secret is to challenge them and get them to WANT to strive for excellence without losing your cool or their full attention. Also - hang in there - A World of Adventure is filled with all different kinds of writing assignments and activities - some kids will be better at some than at others.


October 16, 2000 - Holiday Plans

Dear Everyone,

There are no holiday plans. The only things I can think of that are even remotely related to any holiday are listening to Handel's Messiah - which is covered in the Ancient Rome unit along with prophecy and the birth of Christ, and both The Door in the Wall and Adam of the Road, in the Middle Ages unit, happen to have Christmas celebrations within the context of the books. Don't confuse these with holiday plans, though. I am a big believer in trying to make things connect, but the units in AWOA are meant to be followed according to the order in the book and it is better if nothing is skipped. If you skip the Egypt unit, you will miss anything that is introduced in that unit, list-making, the elements of literature, etc. When these concepts/skills appear again as a review, you will only be introducing them and you will have to backtrack so that you will know how to present these concepts. If you have already completed an Egypt unit on your own and don't want to do LA as a review, you will need to read through the entire unit very carefully so that when a concept appears again as a review in another unit, you and your children will know what it is all about. Pleeeeease do not do the units out of order, or it will be confusing to both you and your children. If you are not following the daily plans as given, then move along at a pace that works well for you, but do it sequentially.


October 23, 2000 - Spelling Lists

Yes, there are spelling lists in LA - we cover all the basic spelling rules
(i before e, except after c) etc. and the spelling words apply to each of
the rules. There are also lists pertaining to the topic you will be
studying (example - some of the spelling words during the time you will
cover the astronomy unit are: Mercury, Venus, telescope, etc.) There are
also several groups of spelling words on "words commonly misspelled in
today's world" in addition to lists of how to use the correct spellings of
words within the context of sentences (example - I will ACCEPT your gift.
I told everyone EXCEPT Bill). In addition to this, we STRONGLY encourage
you to keep track of each of your children's misspelled words from their
daily work and add these to the regular spelling lists (this would be the
individual list that Debra was talking about). Spelling lists are not
usually given every week, so a really good plan is to use the lists
provided on the weeks they are given, and concentrate on each child's
individual list during the weeks that formal lists are not given. We
USUALLY trade off with spelling and grammar, so that you won't have
spelling on grammar days, and you won't have grammar on spelling days.
However, this is not always the case and MANY times the spelling
assignments are interwoven directly into another skill we are covering,
such as dictionary skills, writing - or even punctuation and grammar


October 27, 2000 - Latin or Greek

I know you are asking how you would know which roots are Latin and which are Greek, but I also feel the need to briefly explain why I did not include this information in the curriculum. The reason I did not list the Latin or Greek derivations is because I don't think it's that important in what we are trying to teach our children about unlocking the meanings of words. These are not actual Latin or Greek lessons - they are just vocabulary building tools. In high school I took a course on Semantics/Word Origins. I don't recall learning specific derivations - at least I don't remember learning them - but I DID learn the meanings of the prefixes, suffixes, and roots, which helped me greatly in my future college education and in everyday life. There is SOOOO much to learn out there in our great, big, wonderful world - and sometimes we have to stop and examine whether or not every single piece of information is useful to us at a certain point in our lives. This curriculum was written for grades 4-8 - my goal in including the roots was to introduce your children to a WONDERFUL key - something that would help them unlock the meanings of words for the rest of their lives. It is soooo much more important for your children to remember that the word chronos means time, instead of knowing that it came from the Greek. I also think that by introducing your children to these roots now, that you are sparking their interest in studying Latin in their high school years! I know some methods of study advocate a strong Latin program for intermediate-age children, but I'm not so sure that I completely agree with that. I think that you can introduce your children to Latin and other languages in their younger years in less "formal" ways so that they are ready to tackle the more formal language programs in high school (or in the late junior high years). So . . . that's WHY I presented the roots the way I did - without derivations.

Now, I'll tell you how to find out WHICH they are - Latin or Greek: if you REALLY want to know what the derivation is, simply look in your dictionary and it will tell you! We do a study of this in the Greek unit - see Day 36 for instructions if you haven't gotten there yet. If you feel that the derivations are really important to include . . . GO FOR IT!

Hope this helps!


November 15, 2000 Grammar in Vol 2 - 5

I have addressed the question of how grammar (and other subjects) will be
covered in future books to some of you individually, but I don't think I've
explained this to the whole group. In any case, with so MANY new
adventurers in our group, let me make sure you all understand how they will
work once again. First of all, each book in this series is for ALL
children in grades four through eight. The first book is NOT a fourth
grade book, the second a fifth grade book, etc. Each book can be used for
ANY child in grades four through eight. So, if you think about the books
that way, it will help you to understand that they are to be used in a
cycle. When the five-year cycle is completed and you still have younger
children that have not completed it, you can just start over with them and
either have your older ones do a review with some good supplements or
replacements in certain subjects, or have them working completely on their
own in some areas, but staying with you in bible and history (they would be
doing an in-depth review at their own level, but would also be moving along
with the rest of your family through the span of history), for example.
Still others will want to have their high schoolers working out of formal
high school textbooks in order to prepare for college while the rest of the
family completes the cycle again. ANY child can start the cycle at the
beginning of any of the books and the only thing that he/she will miss out
on is the sequence of history that was covered in the previous book(s).
Nothing else will be "continuous" in the same way, though. Different
science topics will be covered in Book 2 with basic science objectives,
different Bible themes will be covered with basic spiritual enrichment
objectives, fine arts will be covered as it pertains to early American
history (and some European history of the same time period), and the same
basic social studies objectives will be covered (geography and map skills,
cultures, etc.) only they, too, will pertain to the time period we will be
studying. All language arts concepts and skills will be taught again, but
within the context of the required literature or the time period.

Just as the parts of speech, writing skills, punctuation, study and
reference skills, figurative language, etc. are covered in a fourth grade
text book, these are also covered in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth
grade textbooks. Children learn through repetition and review - that is
why these topics are covered over and over again each year, so that by the
time your kids are in high school, they will know these "basics." Just as
a textbook reviews topics at the beginning of each year, we will also do
this in the Adventure series - so that any child coming into the series at
the beginning of any one of the books will be exposed to each concept and
skill in a way that is easy to understand. IF he/she has never learned the
skill/concept before, it will be easy enough to pick it up because we will
always provide plenty of information to use with a beginner. Older
children in your family who either already know and understand the
skill/concept - or, who have gone successfully through a previous Adventure
book will use that same activity as a review. You will note that these
concepts - such as grammar, get increasingly more difficult within the
course of each book, so that by the end of each year, your younger students
(maybe 3rd and 4th graders) may not catch on to everything. That's okay,
though, because our job is not to beat something into our children's heads
the first time they hear it, but to EXPOSE them to a concept toward
eventual complete understanding. We will review as the year continues and
the next year the same concepts will be introduced and reviewed again -
just like they would be in school. Think about it, if we all understood,
mastered, and remembered EVERYTHING the very first time, there would be no
need for twelve whole grades! Since this is not the case, we need many
years to practice, review, and master the skills that are necessary to
function with literacy, godly integrity, and success in our adult world.
Some students will catch onto certain concepts the very first time and find
them very "easy" - others will NEED all five years of "re-introduction" and
review on a certain topic in order to gain confidence and mastery of it.

So . . . Peggy, in answer to your question about where your younger son
will fit into the picture when he gets to fourth grade, and his older
brothers are in sixth and seventh grades . . . ALL of your children will be
working out of the same Adventure book on the same lessons. By then, if
your oldest child has completely mastered a certain concept, you should
supplement with something more advanced. This would be just like if one of
your kids was in the sixth grade, but was working ahead of that in some
subjects - even if you were using text books, you would want to supplement
them or replace them with something that would be more challenging to him.

For now, with your third grader, just try to expose him to each of the
concepts, and if he struggles, either adjust the assignment and/or move on.
He will see it again when we review it and at least it will be familiar to
him, even though he might not understand it all. Each time it is covered,
he will meet it again. I have used the example of a "friend" to illustrate
this - and I will use it again here to help make this clear. When you meet
someone, you know NOTHING about him/her except what you have seen and
learned from that first introduction. You can't possibly know everything
about him because you have just met him! Each time you see him, you get to
know a little more about him and feel more comfortable around him. The
more time you spend with him, the more easily you get along with him until,
after seeing him periodically for an entire year - he has become a "good
friend" - someone with whom you are completely comfortable and know well.
It should be the same thing with new skills/concepts and the learning
curves of our children. To expect them to master a subject just after it
is introduced would be unreasonable and unfair of us. Yet we tend to do
just that when it comes to teaching our kids. Perhaps it is because we
constantly find ourselves on the defensive with non-home educators. We
always feel the intense need to PROVE that our kids our learning - even at
the expense of our children - by FORCING them to GET SOMETHING before they
are ready! Do you know what I mean? I'm sure we ALL have done this at one
time or another - I know I have. After all, it is a reflection on us as
parents and teachers if our kids don't "get something" isn't it?

We DO have a responsibility to teach our children and there should be high
expectations and high standards - but they should also be reasonable - and
the definition of "teach" does not include "forcing knowledge down the
throat" of a child!

I am sorry if it seems that I am belaboring this question with an
unecessarily LONG answer, but I can't even COUNT the number of moms who
have asked questions that really pertain to the "levels" of their children.
Because we grew up using textbooks, it is hard for us to even THINK about
skills and concepts out of their "grade-level box" and to those who are new
to the unit study approach (especially) this is a FUNDAMENTAL issue in
understanding how it all works.

Your goal should be to teach all of your 4th-8th graders from this
curriculum - you will find that some children are a perfect fit, to others
it will be more challenging (just keep gently moving on), and still others
(more advanced in certain areas) will need more challenging supplements to
go along with this curriculum. For younger students, or for those who are
really struggling with a certain concept, adjust the assignment so they are
exposed to it, but are not forced to do the entire thing. Remember, if you
skip something entirely because your child doesn't understand it - you are
not doing him any favors. Later on, he WILL need to understand it, but he
won't have even a clue as to what it is about. Again, if you just
introduce that "new friend" to your child don't force them to "work at it
until they get it" just as you might force a child to "play with a new
friend for hours" - instead - just make sure they keep "meeting" for rather
brief periods at a time - and eventually they will become more comfortable
with the concept. They still may not understand everything about it, but
at least there will be a familiarity with it - which is a great start.

Peggy, you are right to be thinking ahead - I hope I have answered your
questions and have not confused you further! This is sort of a hard
concept to get across to parents - especially since most of us came from
textbook backgrounds ourselves! These questions about grade "levels" have
got to be some of the most frequently asked questions, so don't think you
are alone! If you have any further questions or still don't quite
understand what I have tried to say here, please let me know.


November 22, 2000 Hymnals

I read John's message to you about the hymnals and I have to make a few
corrections concerning the information he gave you. You probably will NOT
be able to find a hymnal in a library because they are usually very
denomination-specific. Before you buy, you should check with your church
to see which of the hymns we cover may or may not be included in the hymnal
your church uses. Many churches have updated their hymnals to include new
hymns and choruses - and in the process may exclude some of the older
hymns. If your church uses a fairly modern hymnal, you may check to see if
they have copies of the old version rambling around the church somewhere.
Once the new one is in use, copies of the old one often sit around because
no one knows what to do with them! Throwing away old hymnals seems very
sacreligious - but its not like you can really expect to sell them at a
rummage sale or something, so they usually get stacked in storerooms, etc.
You may even try calling around to some of the churches in your area to see
whether or not they have copies they would be happy to share, sell for a
modest amount or small donation, or even give away. I used both a new and
an old hymnal to write the hymns portion of the Renaissance/Reformation
unit. John got mixed up with the tip about the library because he saw me
doing research from library books on the historical origins of hymns.
Those books ARE in the library, but they are not in hymnal format and
usually do not give the musical portion/notes.

Buying a new hymnal (especially one that your church does not use) might be
very expensive. Unless your family is very musical and you would use it a
lot, you might have a hard time getting your money's worth out of it. See
if you can borrow one from your church instead. However, if you do find
most of the hymns I include in the hymnal at your church, it WOULD be a
good thing for your family to have. I have a friend who calls the church
office to find out which hymns will be sung on Sunday so that she can be
singing them and talking about them through the week with her children.
Then, on Sunday, the whole family is truly prepared for worship - they come
EXPECTING to worship and their hearts are ready. I think this is a GREAT
idea - and an excellent benefit to having a hymnal in your home.

If you have a hard time locating some of the hymns I include in your own
hymnal, just read them as poetry to your children and include the biblical
background I provide for each. I think there are 23 hymns referenced in
the unit - most of which I KNOW you will be able to find in any traditional
hymnal because they are so well-known. The other songs/hymns that are
included in the unit are from the Bible that you will just read. If you
have a creative family - try making up your own tunes for them, as well as
for the ones you can't find in your hymnal! Who knows what interesting new
melodies might spring forth from your home!!!!

Musically yours,


November 28, 2000 High School Resources

Yes, Faithe, we use Apologia Science for Ryan, along with a grade level
math program. He reads real, living history books (we are in the late
1800's) and literature books from the library that go along with that
period. If you are using LA for your family and have high schoolers, you
really need to supplement quite a bit - especially if they are college
bound. They should have a more advanced grammar program (WTM recommends A
Beka Grammar) and should be doing more advanced writing projects. Both
Writing Strands and IEW are really good programs. High schoolers should be
doing research papers, essays, and a variety of other types of writing that
programs such as these will help you accomplish. They need to continue
increasing their vocabulary and stay on top of the Latin and Greek roots -
adding to them as they go along. A foreign language is really good to have
(at least two years) in high school as well. You can stay with the theme
that the rest of the family is on in LA if you choose more advanced history
and literature books from the library. The literature books in LA are
great family read-alouds, but your high schooler should also be reading
more advanced literature. I usually give ideas for you to supplement
thematically in the beginning of each unit, but you can also choose
classics and other types of books. I find it very profitable to also read
a biography of the author when studying his/her works. (Example - the
works of Twain, Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, or the Bronte sisters . . .)
The biography brings the history and the philosophy of the period well into
play and helps your student understand how and why the work was written, as
well as its theme, tone, and message. I have NEVER felt the need to work
strictly out of a history text. Although they can be valuable as
introductions and even more valuable as reviews, a student will always
learn more by reading library books on history and biographies than he or
she will from the traditional history textbook route. Combine history and
writing at times - have them do research papers on historical questions and
issues . . . comparing the leadership of Grant and Lee - or speculating
what would have happened if the English had won the Revolutionary War
instead of America, etc. Logic is also a good subject to include in your
high school studies. Whatever you decide to do, please make sure that you
are aware of your state's requirements for your high schooler - and please
be aware that you must keep a transcript for your high schooler. There are
several books available in the homeschooling market that will help you do
this with confidence. You probably have to have one course on your own
state history/government, and Physical Education requirements need to be
met as well - which is something homeschoolers don't always consider. The
fine arts requirement can be accomplished by tabulating the hours spent on
the kinds of fine arts projects, readings and studies that we do in LA -
music and art history, culture, and hands-on art techniques and skills. My
required fine arts college course included the same stuff that we do in LA
fine arts. I think only one year of fine arts is actually required in high
school - but you will need to check on that as well and make sure that you
are putting in the number of hours requred. You can always read more
biographies of artists and composers, work on a new or favorite musical or
art project, take a local art course from a craft store or community
program, or take music lessons in order to complete your time requirements.

If you only have a high schooler, you will have to decide if A World of
Adventure will be that beneficial to you, because you will have to
supplement so much. However, if you have children within grades 4-8 in
addition to your high schooler, you can fairly easily keep the whole family
involved in much of the study together.

November 28, 2000 - Ancient Greek Photos

Regarding the nudity in the library books on Ancient Greece . . . it is
disturbing isn't it? I must say that the comments I have seen within the
group have been very "healthy" in my opinion. By that I mean, that I think
you are all trying to keep a good perspective on the whole thing. (The
same thing is going to happen when we study some of the paintings of the
Renaissance period, by the way . . . ) If we want our children to learn
about other cultures, sometimes we have to expose them (hopefully, gently)
to some things that we would not choose to otherwise. I think you DO have
to select your books very carefully for this unit, and then try to always
look at them WITH your children - then you can monitor and edit certain
parts by just reading aloud to them on those questionable pages without
having them look at the pictures.

I love your ideas on discussing how God made our bodies wonderfully and
beautifully - that we should not be "ashamed" of them. This IS an
excellent time to discuss what the Bible says about the whole thing and to
delve into issues of modesty. What is appropriate and what is not - what
does the Bible say about how we should dress, behave, etc. The Greek unit
is probably the toughest, because we get hit twice - once with exposing our
children to other gods, and then again with the nudity issue. We can
completely ignore both - and/or never study this period at all, but it is
in learning about the way they lived that helps us understand the Greeks
better, and as Christian parents we always must turn things around and use
them to our advantage! (Remember Joseph's story . . . God meant it for
good!) Just as we try to use the exposure to the Greek gods to learn more
about our own Heavenly Father, to appreciate our own faith more, and to
understand that ALL people do not believe in God - that we need to share
God's love and plan with them! So, too, should we try to use anything that
might be (even inadvertantly) seen so that we can help our children form
healthy opinions of their own bodies. By choosing books carefully, not
dwelling on the questionable photos, and/or reading aloud (without showing
them the pictures) you should be able to avoid much of the problem.

Perhaps some of you will want to share with the rest which books (if any)
did NOT contain these types of pictures - those that your children could
read without supervision. If the more offensive books were strictly read
aloud by mom and pictures were only shown according to mom's discretion
(just like you would when reading a fiction book - stopping when you came
to a picture, then showing the kids) you could still get the information
across without all the rest of the stuff you didn't want your children to see.

In a group this size there will always be MANY different opinions. Some of
you follow the more structured classical approach and others follow the
more flexible Charlotte Mason approach, still others adhere to a special
philosophy of your very own (often a mix of a lot of different methods),
but you ALL manage to follow along in A World of Adventure with your own
unique modifications! Each of you will also have to decide how to handle
other issues that might present themselves in our adventure together this
year. It is so much fun to hear the ideas and opinions of the others!
Just remember, that what you decide to do in the end should be what feels
right for you and your family - not necessarily what worked for someone else.

You guys are GREAT!


December 2, 2000 - Keywording Paragraphs

Keywording paragraphs (from any section - or any book) is a GREAT idea.
But all the paragraphs in the social studies, science, and fine arts
sections are simply paraphrases (my version) of notes I had taken on the
different subjects. You could just as easily choose one paragraph from any
of the books on ancient Rome or volcanoes, for example, and accomplish the
same thing. There is sometimes a really good introductory paragraph at the
beginning of each chapter - or a concluding one at the end - you might
check to see if some of these would work for your purposes. My paragraphs
don't get shorter until the Explorers unit - and even then they aren't that
short, so if you want to continue keywording, I guess you'll need to use
the books, instead.

The reason I include these informational passages is just to pull the
knowledge you have all been reading about together a little. With everyone
choosing different books and reading about slightly different things, I
wanted to get us all on the "same page" as much as I could as we move
through each unit together. There are a couple of reasons these passages
get lengthier as the units progress. The Roman Republic and Empire lasted
for SUCH a long time, and that leaves so many events and personalities to
cover. It also seems that as history marches on, there is more information
available about each of the personalities and events in each period. The
passages are merely meant to be read aloud to your children, either as an
introduction to each day's reading time in that subject, or as a review
after you have finished reading in that subject. Some parents are letting
their children read independently in social studies and science books, so
this is also a great way to pull that knowledge together for the parent who
hasn't been doing the reading with their children. It updates the parent
so that they can be more involved in the topic. (I explain more about this
in the introduction of A World of Adventure.)

Keywording - or any kind of note-taking procedure would just be a WONDERFUL
supplement to the passages, but not necessary for learning to take place.
The same goes for any vocabulary words metioned in those passages. You can
easily pull them out (they are often bolded or italicized) and have your
children add them to any notebooks they are compiling. Not everyone will
choose to do these things, but - as I have said before and will continue to
say . . . the more you put into this unit study, the more you will get out
of it!

Thanks for sharing the keywording idea!


December 6, 2000 - Amount of time on LA units

If your children are spending more than about 45 minutes a day on the
writing assignments alone, they are spending too much time on them. If
your boys are reluctant writers, you might need to ease them into the
writing assignments little by little. Adjust some of them at first to meet
the realistic abilities of your boys. Instead of writing all the events of
the story for that day, just have them choose two or three of the most
important events, for example. You can also try having them narrate the
assignment to you and then have each of them write only the parts you
choose to assign them (maybe a few highlights of the story, for example).
When I assign a paragraph, try having them do only a few sentences instead
- at first. Another way to help them write is to have them first narrate
to you verbally what they would say and then have them copy my example for
that day for the actual writing part. You can also stretch the assignments
out over two days - or more, and then skip any new assignments that would
normally be given for the days on which you are stretching a writing
assignment. The most important thing to remember is that at ages ten and
eleven, your boys really do need to be writing SOMETHING every day and they
need to be challenged. But if they are OVERWHELMED, they won't make much
progress in the long run because they will mainly learn to HATE writing!
If you read the archives of this e-group, you will find that you are not
alone in this. Writing is a difficult thing for most kids - and most kids
don't really like it that much. By not making them write anything, we
aren't moving them forward, but by giving them too much, they end up giving
up too easily or becoming frustrated. By the way, if you are teaching your
boys to type (they can work on this independently) they will be much
"happier writers" in the end - as they will be able to edit their writing
so easily on the computer. Some of what boys hate about writing is the
small motor part - and all kids hate to write things over and over again in
order to make corrections.

In a classroom at school, each of the children in the class will turn in
the same writing assignment with VERY different results. It is the same
with LA - each of the children doing the LA writing assignments will also
experience differing levels of success and frustration. There are over 400
families now using LA - that means WELL over 400 children working on those
same writing assignments. Each mom needs to adjust those lessons according
to the abilities and talents of her own kids - especially at first. You
are the experts in knowing how your kids learn - you know their abilities
and frustrations much better than I do.

If you are feeling "crunched," you can assign your boys library books to be
read independently for social studies and science - or have them reading
orally to each other for some of that time. Some parents have their kids
working completely on their own for these two subjects - others do about
half the reading with them and have them working on their own the rest of
the time. You will need to make sure you are comfortable with the content
of what you assign them independently if you choose this plan.

Also, you should have your boys folding the laundry while they listen to
you read The Golden Goblet (or whatever you are reading in literature)
aloud. Folding laundry does not require much "thought" and they should
easily be able to do that while listening at the same time. We have done
this at our house for such a long time that I rarely do laundry myself and
when Ryan listens to me read, he PREFERS to be folding laundry or doing
something that keeps his hands busy. If they can't handle this job during
reading time because they are too easily distracted, then have them fold
laundry after school. So many moms, exhausted after a day of teaching,
then head for those mounds of laundry while their kids scampler off to
play. Nothing against kids playing, but . . . when does mom get to "play?"
If the whole family pitches in, each person in the family will more likely
have some free time of his/her own each day.

You certainly may stretch out the daily lessons to more than a day if you
wish, but don't be afraid to simply adjust them each day to what works best
for you (and them). LA should not take you ALL day to finish. You will
find, as you get into the year that the days vary, as well. Some WILL be
longer than others, and we do start out rather aggressively - especially in
the writing. So, give it some time, and try "tweaking" things a little
here and there to find a comfortable and realistic pace for your family -
one that does not include frustration and tears. You can still do this
without taking away the challenges and high standards that you have for
your children academically if you keep everything in the proper

Don't be too discouraged - try making a few adjustments and see how it
goes. Let me know how things progress for you.


December 12, 2000 - Poor Handwriting????

If I were you, I would get him into TYPING - today - (yesterday)! Here's
the thing . . . everyone needs to be able to print and write legibly, but
for those who struggle with this it is literally like climbing a mountain
each day. As much as I hate to say this - especially as a teacher - you
really don't have to write legibly to be successful in the modern world -
especially with the availability of computers! In fact, some of THE MOST
successful people I have known in my life have HORRIBLE penmanship! Every
doctor I have ever known, and many upper level management people I have
known have proven this theory. OK, now that I have defended your son a
little, Kelly, I need to clarify a few things . . . that doesn't mean we
shouldn't teach our kids neatness and accuracy in their
printing/cursive/italic or whatever penmanship method we use. Since he is
10, it is not that he doesn't KNOW HOW to do it correctly, it is simply a
neatness issue, right? So we basically need to just reinforce that what he
does write, MUST be neat. I know that is what you are already trying to
do, but he may look at that task as insurmountable, and it is only causing
friction between the two of you - and every mom who has this problem knows
exactly what I mean. Then, where do we draw the line between trying to
understand the unique problems and needs of our kids and maintaining high
standards for them that will benefit them in the long run?

Until he learns typing well enough to use it in all or most of his work,
you will have to find a common ground that will make both of you happy.
But once he has mastered typing, I would have him type everything he can.
IN ADDITION - every single day, I would require him to print one or two
sentences and write one or two in cursive - copied from the scripture, or
sentences from a library book on topic. Those sentences must be PERFECTLY
written, though - and I mean perfect, so that he will really be giving his
ALL to them. It shouldn't frustrate him too much because it would only be
a couple of sentences each, but it would train him to realize that he
absolutely MUST learn to write neatly. Another idea would be to have him
print the spelling words once and then again in cursive each day - with
excellence. Here you would be hitting two birds with one stone. If he
hasn't started typing yet at all, he will go through a rough period during
the time in which he is not yet good at typing and he still has horrible
penmanship. But, trust me, it will be worth it when he gains the
confidence in typing. Ryan HATED handwriting - he still does! Although
his was never a neatness issue, the mechanics of it drove him crazy (being
a lefy) and typing was so freeing for him! It took about a year for him to
get good enough at typing to use it all the time, but when that time
finally came there were SOOO many benefits. If you use a book like TYPE
IT, it is so simple (not expensive) and just takes practice. I know that
you must be thinking - "A YEAR!!!!! I can't wait that long!!!" In the
meantime, you might have him dictate some things to you some of the time so
that the frustration level doesn't run too high during his learning typing
period. This was my rule: if I didn't see the point of writing something,
I didn't make Ryan write it - he would answer verbally instead. But when
writing WAS required, I required neat work. I think your son will
appreciate that you understand how frustrating it is for him and that you
really are trying to help him through it. That doesn't mean you are
"lowering your standards of neatness" for him - IF the writing you make him
do maintains the highest of standards. Take a look at what he writes each
day and see where you could make a few changes to verbal work during the
short term. Meanwhile, require absolute neatness in what he does write and
make sure that he understands he must be very dedicated to his typing so
that he can work towards typing most of his own work. I can't really think
of anything in LA that could not be done through typing - in fact the
booklets and projects, would make much better presentations that way. I
cringe when I think of how much time I lost rewriting school assignments to
correct errors, and for neatness - and I had neat handwriting! Don't wait
until high school to start something that will help so much in the present.
I know parents who still type reports for their public school high
schoolers because they can do it so much faster than their kids. The
confidence gained in learning to type is a really big thing for kids - I
think it might help in your situation. Sometimes a struggle in handwriting
is really the underlying factor in kids not wanting to do writing
assignments, as well. If we correct the mechanical problem - and provide
the alternative of typing, it MAY eventually help in making our children
more open-minded about writing itself.

By reducing the amount of actual handwriting each day, in favor of verbal
assignments, where possible, you may actually see some results in what he
does have to write - even before he learns to type. Do what makes sense to
you and what seems fair, but make sure that he is held accountable in what
he IS required to write. I hope that some of these suggestions will be
useful to you, and that - even if you don't follow them exactly as I have
described, you will be able to adapt them to your own situation. Let me
know how it goes . . .


December 19, 2000 - Conventions

Dorian, Ryan and I attended seven state conventions during the Spring and
Summer of 2000. Dorian was invited to speak at several of them. The tapes
that we sell on our web site are the same talks that she gave at the

We met some great people at the conventions. Several of them are on this
egroup today. But, all in all, we were disappointed. Conventions are very
expensive and consume a vast amount of time. This is time that Dorian can
much better spend researching and writing!

I'll give you some examples, we traveled to the Louisville convention and
sold ONE book during the two day convention. I can't tell you how
deflating it is to travel that far, put in that many hours, and work that
hard to sell one book. (Promise Keepers was in Louisville the same
weekend, and attendance was way down.)

We traveled to the West Virginia convention and sold three books. Not
pleasant! We knew we had a good product, but when this happens, you tend
to lose confidence. Fortunately, we approached each convention as an
adventure. We enjoy traveling together, meeting people, and spending time
with each other, so we made it fun. If we hadn't, it would have been
really depressing. We did better at the Lansing, Indianapolis,
Chattanooga, and Milwaukee conventions. Columbus, Ohio, a big convention,
was one of our biggest disappointments. All in all, we lost money during
the convention season and, more importantly, lost time.

Furthermore, I am still employed full time. Each convention required me to
take vacation time. Time that we could better spend with family.

All that to say that we will not be attending any conventions in 2001. We
feel we can serve our customers better by answering our mail, and email.
We will expand our advertising budget to compensate for the loss of
convention exposure. Also, Ryan has drivers training and soccer in the
Spring. We will only have him with us for 2-1/2 more years. We want to
make the best of this time with him! We are just a family, just like you
all. We are a family first, a business second.

People who go to conventions usually have their mind made up as to what
they are looking for. They come with blinders on, looking for the textbook
company tables. It's very hard to convince them to change their entire
educational philosophy as they walk past your table. We've done it. But
it's difficult. With this thought in mind, it's amazing that we did as
well as we did. Too many people are afraid to try something new, even if
it's better. And we are new, and unconventional. It's better for them to
come to us.

We are still trying to decide how best to advertise. We have an ad in the
current issue of The Teaching Home, but they are in such bad shape now,
with only two issues in the year 2000, that I don't feel I can go back to
them. I've paid for an ad in Homeschooling Today, but I don't think it has
come out yet.

January 4, 2001 - High School Tips

I use a mix of the counting hours / textbook plan. If you complete a
textbook that is meant to be completed in a year - such as Apologia Biology
- then you can count that for one whole credit - no matter how long it
takes you to finish it. Ryan actually finished his Apologia Biology in
less than a year of class time (we love Jay Wile's books - and he is a
really good speaker, too if you ever get a chance to hear him tell about
how he got started writing them). Anyway, Ryan then had one less "class"
to do each day after he had finished the book early. We also do lots of
"hour-counting" (like you described) for other subjects - like history and
literature - since we use mainly library books for these subjects. I think
you are right on track in terms of how you broke everything down between
the traditional subjects. Don't forget that you can also count Bible as a
literature course - we are doing one credit of Biblical Literature this
year - a survey of the Bible with special emphasis in the book of Luke
(which Ryan's teen quizzing group is studying this year). Ryan is in his
second year of Spanish and he counts hours for that. He does work out of a
traditional foreign language program and is also working on translating the
book of Luke from a Spanish paperback New Testament that I got used at a
convention this summer. You really can link a lot of subjects together if
you start thinking about it. I will be glad when he has more electives
next year so we can concentrate on more literature and history (his
strengths) - but there is so much I want to cover with him and I only have
two and a half years left with him before he goes off to college!!!! (So
MANY books . . . so LITTLE time!! - The story of my life!)

If I had lots of children, I would try to do exactly what you are doing. I
know it doesn't always work out to keep everyone together - some subjects
really have to be done separately - and the older they get the more this is
the case. But, even if you can stay together on a few subjects - I think
it is wonderful.

Keep up the good work!


January 4, 2001 - Reading out loud

I pronounced the main characters like this: GEE-boo (with a hard "g" like
in Golden), RAN-u-fer, HEK-et.

I doubt if your children will never know, though - if your mother is
pronouncing them wrong - as long as she is consistent throughout the story.
It is hard with names - just wait till you get to the Greece unit!!! You
are in for a real treat - or should I say - your mother is in for a treat!
Actually, that is one reason I chose CLASSIC MYTHS TO READ ALOUD - because
the author gives the pronunciations before each selection. How nice of
your mom to tape the story for your girls! I am sure that she will do a
good job - especially if she is already concerned about how to pronounce
some of the names.

That brings me to a really good story about read-alouds. Last year, Ryan
and I read GONE WITH THE WIND to coincide with our Civil War study. I
always have a different unique voice for each character - and I mean I
really get into it! I had each of these southern characters down pat.
Well, we often watch the video of what we just read - after we have
finished the book (I like Ryan to see that the book is ALWAYS better!) I
get a hoot out of the fact that Ryan says the movie version's characters
never have the "right" voices. The icing on the cake was when - after
hearing Mammy speak for the first time - he said, "Hey - she doesn't sound
like that! You do it much better, mom!"

Okay, so now you all know my hidden talent . . . doing "voices."



January 5, 2001 - Younger than 4th grade

In response to your questions, your son is too young for LA. Wait until he
is in fourth grade and he will be perfect for it. Our curriculum is
written for grades four - eight and it would be WAY over his head right
now. You would have to cut out so many more things than you could do! He
would be lost and you would be frustrated! People use this for younger
children only when they have an older child as well. They cut out lots
LOTS of stuff for their younger ones and replace with phonics, etc.

We do suggest that you read books aloud to your children - but the content
of the stories is challenging even for some fourth graders - it is meant
for intermediate children. We use the Bible a LOT - it is woven into the
very fiber of the program. However, though we do cover a few Bible stories
chronologically in the beginning of the book, we do NOT start with creation
and we do not continue chronologically in the bible. We move along
chronologically throughout history and work the bible in where it applies
and fits into the theme.

I think the Weaver uses the Bible chronologically - (I may be wrong on
this) and I think they are written for all ages. Also - Five in a Row is a
really good unit study (literature-based) for younger children.

Come back and join us when he is older and can truly enjoy all of the
benefits that A World of Adventure has to offer. We will look forward to
hearing from you again someday - and we hope that you find the curriculum
you are looking for right now - one that works perfectly for your family!



If you are finishing Book 1 at the end of this school year and are using it
with a fourth grader, you will move on to Book 2 after that. If you have a
younger student joining in on Book 2, he will simply join the adventure at
that point. You would not start over for him, because that would either
mean that the older child would have to repeat the same year over again -
or that you would be doing two separate studies for each of your children.
That defeats the whole purpose of the unit study approach. While we
strongly advocate the chronological approach to history (starting at the
beginning) - if you have more than one child at different levels and want
to use a unit study approach, it simply is not possible to ALWAYS do it
(start at the VERY beginning) this way. However, you will still be moving
chronologically - no matter where you start in history - if you follow the
books in the series' order. You will add children to the study as they are
ready and follow along together until the end. Then you will all repeat
the series and those who have finished it completely already will
supplement at higher levels (or move on to a different course of study -
perhaps a little more condensed this time around so they will have a good
thorough review. They should have already gotten a SOLID foundation
through the LA series and will be familiar with much of what is
reviewed/and covered the second time around.) The younger ones will now go
through the series as written, this time picking up what they were too
young for the last time around. They can either follow the series all the
way through again, or branch off and do some supplementing of their own
when they feel they have already covered a period thoroughly in LA.

I know it seems a little confusing - especially if you have lots of
children. But, think of it this way - you will start in the beginning with
Book one and go on through Book five, then start over again. Whichever one
of your kids enters or exits the study (or adds or subtracts from it)
depends on readiness and family preference. The cycle will continue so
that you can cover the span of history thoroughly, but also in enough time
to allow for a thorough review of it later, as well.

My experience has been this: if you go too fast and cover the entire span
of history every year or two, you will never really do get anything out of
it because you will have covered too much - too fast, and you will not have
had time to catch any of the details. If you go too slowly and only cover
one civilization or so per year (I believe) you will not get finished in
time to do a thorough review. I can say this with credibility because it
is happening to us right now! Ryan and I started too slowly - that's why I
wrote the Adventure book(s) differently. I favor the five-year approach so
that you can dig into each period without burning out on it, but you will
be finished in time to get that good review.

Hope this helps and clarifies some things!