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Choosing the Right Materials, Raising Maidens of Virtue, Schooling with Seven

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, February 26, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 16 February 26, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Guest Article
-- Choosing the Right Materials
Helpful Tips
-- Bug Identification
Resource Review
-- Raising Maidens of Virtue
Reader Question
-- Schooling with Seven
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Choosing The Right Homeschooling Teaching Material
By David Dunlap


Choosing your homeschooling teaching materials can be an
overwhelming decision because there are so many excellent
resources and products available. In addition, it seems that each
one claims to be superior to all of the others. However, if you talk
to many veteran homeschooling parents, they would probably
suggest that you stick to a traditional curriculum for the first year
or so until you get more familiar with the whole process.

When making the decision to home school, it does take some
time and experience to determine which materials are best suited
to your teaching style and your children's needs. However, there
are plenty of resources available that can help lead concerned
parents to the appropriate teaching materials and methods that
work best for their family. In this article, eight suggestions and/or
rules concerning choosing the right curriculum will be presented.
Use these to guide you in your homeschooling endeavor.

Rule #1: First, you need to consider your situation and budget
when it comes to choosing your teaching materials. For example,
a farming family in the Midwest will have many opportunities for
a hands-on-approach to learning in the areas of science and
economics, while a city family may have better access to museums,
libraries, cultural events, and more support group activities. You can
make the most of the real life learning opportunities that are available
to you; perhaps even replacing textbook material in certain subject

Rule #2: Choose the teaching materials that complement both you
as the teacher and your child as the learner. Textbooks that are
developed for traditional classrooms tend to be teacher directed and
chalkboard oriented. Seldom do they take into account different
teaching approaches and styles. Nor do they account for different
ways that children perceive and process information.

Each student has a style in which he/she learns the best. The
perceptive parent will notice this and take it into account when
choosing the right teaching materials. Think of what your child is
interested in and learn from that.

Rule #3: If you don't like the material that you have initially chosen,
you will ultimately end up resisting using it no matter how good it
may be. Unfortunately, it seems that all teaching materials have a
certain bias built into them, both in the subject matter content and
in the way the subject matter is presented. Every teaching parent,
whether he/she recognizes it or not, has an educational philosophy
of their own or some set of values and beliefs about what and how
children should be taught. You should be true to those beliefs.

Rule #4: If possible, avoid programs that require a great deal of
teacher preparation. Unless you are a high-energy person or really
enjoy researching, you will be extremely irritated by these types
of programs. They are often filled with detailed teacher's manuals
that you need to wade through, supplemental books or seminars
that are necessary to fully utilize the program, or lots of activities
to prepare beforehand. This ultimately can slow you down and result
in both a frustrated parent and child.

Rule #5: You need to be aware that there are various schools of
thought when it comes to the teaching of a specific subject. For
example, when teaching children to read, there are programs that
focus on different learning styles. These often include programs
that teach learning phonics before learning to read, programs that
focus on learning the rules of grammar and punctuation while you
are learning to read, and programs that focus on just learning to
read and letting the rules come later. Each school of thought has
produced excellent results. However, what this means is that you
can teach to the style and ability that works best for you and your

Rule #6: You need to realize that people's needs change. What
worked one year may not necessarily work the next. Your family's
needs and interests will always continue to change and you need
to learn to go with the flow. Buy materials that meet your present
needs and mold the curriculum to the child's abilities, not the
child to the curriculum.

Rule #7: Remember that you were given your children because
there is something in you that God wants you to impart to them.
Teaching materials are only meant to be used as tools to help you
in this role. With faith and some work on your part, you can trust
that you will find those materials that will be best suited to your
family. To that end, trust your instincts when it comes to

Rule #8: You will want to remember that teaching materials are
often the least important elements of your home school situation.
Books are easy to get rid of if they don't work for you, but attitudes
and destructive family dynamics are not. The entire family must
be committed to the success of your homeschooling endeavors.
If not, the entire process including choosing the right materials
will suffer.

As you can see, choosing your homeschooling learning material
does require some thought and work on your part, but it doesn't
have to be harder than it needs to. If you realize that your own
instincts and abilities are your best assets, you will then know
that you can find what will work best in your particular situation.


David Dunlap is the founder of The Homeschooling Report, a daily
blog designed to provide informative and relevant information for
prospective and veteran homeschoolers alike. For more information
visit http:www.homeschoolinginfoforyou.com/blog/


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Bug Identification

As backyard bug-finding season approaches, arm yourselves
ahead of time by bookmarking two great online resources!

This first one is a website where you can email a picture and/or
description of your bug for personal help in identifying it.


The second site helps you do your own bug-identity by choosing
characteristics and narrowing down the possibilities.



Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald
For more info or to order: www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

What is true feminine beauty? How can a young woman in today's
world glorify God through her pure, chaste, and lovely behavior,
without appearing "holier than thou"? Speaking from the depths of a
mother's heart, Stacy McDonald addresses these and other questions
in her book, Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study in Feminine Loveliness
for Mothers and Daughters.

There are so many messages bombarding young women today --
almost all of them presenting a view of womanhood that runs counter
to the biblical view of young maidens who are daughters of the King.
It is a challenge for women, both young and old, to embrace biblical,
feminine womanhood, especially when many of us don't really know
what it is supposed to look like. Centuries of looking outside the
boundaries of God's plan and yearning for what the world has to offer
have caused us to have a warped view of feminine beauty, just like the
"Fence Dwellers" in chapter 1 of Raising Maidens of Virtue.

Designed for mothers and their teenage daughters to study together,
Raising Maidens of Virtue is not a dry, textbook-style study, but rather
one that is best enjoyed snuggled together with a cup of tea.

Mrs. McDonald has done a superb job of using creative stories,
illustrations, and gentle conversations to guide her readers as they
consider such topics as guarding the tongue, modesty, purity,
honoring parents, idleness, contentment, cleanliness, family
relationships, and true biblical femininity and beauty. Scripture
references and discussion questions at the end of each chapter are
designed to ensure understanding and encourage application. Also
included in the book are ideas for making this study even more
memorable through the use of journals and scrapbooks. Raising
Maidens of Virtue is as pleasant to look at as the message is
refreshing to read. Charming watercolor illustrations by Johannah
Bluedorn complement the text beautifully.

Reading Raising Maidens of Virtue warmed my heart and challenged
my own views of femininity. I did not always agree with Mrs. McDonald,
but I did find myself wishing I had had this information during my own
maiden years. I was particularly touched as I read about the McDonald
girls presenting small heart charms, representing their hearts, to
their father for safekeeping. The book also includes the poems each
daughter lovingly penned for her father to read as he received her
"heart". Through this and other poignant illustrations, Mrs. McDonald
casts before us a vision for biblical beauty and godly character.
Mothers and daughters will find their relationship stronger as they
embrace this vision together.

One might expect a book which holds to such an "old-fashioned" or
"conservative" view of biblical womanhood to be filled with a legalistic
list of "shalts" and "shalt nots." Instead, Mrs. McDonald wisely and
lovingly points her readers to God's Word, shares her own thoughts,
and leaves her readers to apply the material as God speaks to each
woman's heart. Tackling issues such as taming the tongue and
contentment reminds us that true feminine loveliness begins on the

In writing Raising Maidens of Virtue, Mrs. McDonald has provided
families with a wonderful tool to encourage their daughters to
cultivate, celebrate, and cherish God's design for true feminine beauty.

Last Issue's Reader Question

"One year ago I had my 7th child, and I haven't gotten back
organized with school like it was a few years ago. If you have any
ideas for me to get back on track I'll be very thankful. Sometimes
we have class -- no problem -- then BAM! -- we miss a week.
Please help with any advice. I've been homeschooling for 7 years
now. Thank you." -- Tracy

Our Readers' Responses

"I don't know the ages of your children, or your age, but I'm
guessing two things: First, that you are a wee bit older than you
were a few years ago, and thus have a little less energy; and
second, that you have some children who are old enough to carry
some of the load.

I also don't know why you're missing a week of lessons here and
there, but sometimes the best learning comes about during times
of 'interruption'. The baby can be a learning experience; so can
other kinks in your plans.

I would make a few suggestions for you:

Consider all your tasks -- laundry, cleaning, cooking, teaching,
bookkeeping, gardening, child care -- and ask which is the youngest
(yes, youngest!) child who can perform those tasks. Take the time
to teach the child to do it, and then let that child 'own' the job,
meaning it is totally his responsibility, not only to do the job, but to
take the initiative to see that it gets done. He can then begin training
the next younger sibling to do it, and as soon as that sibling can
handle it, the older child 'graduates' to something else. And so on.
You will only have to train for each job one time; after that you will
only have to inspect and supervise. A brief guideline: by the age of
eight, a child should be contributing enough work to the household to
offset the amount of work he creates; by the age of twelve he should
be able to manage the household in your absence.

Approach this as if you are just beginning to homeschool, and ease
gradually into the homeschooling lifestyle. Teach three days a week
for an hour, teaching what you consider the most important subject.
After a couple of weeks add another day a week, then another hour
a day, another subject, and so on until you have reached your
saturation point. You will know at what point you can't take on any
more. As your children grow and mature, you will be able to add
more teaching time, but be realistic about what you're expecting of
yourself." -- Mary Beth A.


"Wow! Can I relate to you. I, too, had my 7th last year. This is our
12th year of schooling at home. Two graduates, the third this spring;
plus 5th, 2nd, and 1st grades. Every year has been different for us
as we have added 4 babies along the way. There is no going back,
so look forward.

My advice is relax. You are doing what is best for your children. The
best gift you can give them is yourself, even in small doses. You love
them best and know them and their needs better than anyone else.
So if all you do is sit them all down and read a chapter from a good
book you can call that a productive day. Some days will be more
productive, some less. God bless you on your journey!" -- Lesa


"First, I consider you an amazing woman for having 7 children. As
for school, we have school 3 weeks on, 1 week off. Sometimes that
week off is entirely no school, sometimes it is educational movies
and nature walks. Other days, on the way to errands we discuss
secret codes on signs -- the colors (orange is construction, brown
historical) and letters (a big H).

Then the big D word -- delegate. Get the older to help with the
younger, even in school. Most of all, I bet your house is so much
fun with lots of learning going on that you don't even realize!"
-- Michelle L.

"I just had my seventh baby a year ago too! One thing I have noticed
is ebb and flow of motivation that naturally comes with pregnancy,
childbirth and caring for a newborn. There are seasons when not as
much can be accomplished, followed by seasons when you can't
stand it anymore and you just want to get stuff done. My advice is to
ride this wave of motivation as long and far as you can. I dubbed this
school year, 'The Year of Get-Ahead' back in September and I am
amazed at at how a simple name has transformed my thinking. I
keep telling myself: this is the year to get stuff done-because I can!
We are pushing through our curriculum and I am getting all of us
booked with appointments for doctors and dentists. I am even
planning to paint my boys' bedroom next month -- something I've
never tried before.

Being discontent with the way things are going for you now is a great
first step. Feed your mind with things that will motivate you to become
more organized, like www.Flylady.net or www.Largefamilylogistics.net .
This really helped me get out of my slump.

The last part is the key element: disciplining ourselves to do what we
know we should do at the time it should be done, rather than what we
feel like, when we feel like it. If I am self indulgent, how can I
fault my children for being the same? Make a schedule for yourself and
for your children. Set your alarms and get up earlier. Go to bed on
time. Do school whether you feel like it or not. Cook dinner every
night. Do laundry every day. Organize that cupboard that drives you
nuts. Throw a lot of junk away. Just do it. You'll be surprised how much
you can get done, and you will feel great. Good luck, and may this be a
year of Get-Ahead for you, too!" -- S.C.

Answer our NEW Question

"We are currently in our 3rd year of homeschooling. Our schedule
is 9 months on and 3 months off during the summer months. Lately
though I have been considering year-round schooling. Can anyone
share their schedules with me? We choose to go with assessments
for our children, which is always been done in the summer, so do I
just present what they've accomplished thus far? Also, do the
children go on to the next grade in September or January? What
else do I need to know about year-round schooling that I may not
know? I would appreciate anyone's help on this subject." -- Tracy


Wow -- another Tracy! Do you have some answers for this mom?

Please send your email to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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Tags: homeschooling teaching materials, choosing the best curriculum, learning styles, teaching styles, real life learning opportunities, raising maidens of virtue, delegating chores, homeschooling lifestyle, large families homeschooling, homeschool tips, chat

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