Never Say These Four Words to Your Child

Never Say These Four Words to Your Child

There are four words that you never want to say to your children because they detract from their experience rather than enhance it, and these four words may backfire later.

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Why 21st Century Children Are Never Satisfied

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Parents are frustrated, not to mention exhausted, and they're little darlings are turning into big ingrates.

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Are Homeschooled Boys More Successful?

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What is the first thing we teach boys when they go to school?

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Increase Your Child's Intelligence by Doing This One Thing

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The more your child actively uses his mind when he's young, and the more he continues to use his mind as he matures, the smarter he'll become.

We know that the brain is an ever-changing organ. It can weaken from misuse or neglect, and it can also become stronger from the right kind of use.

You want your children to stay into the habit of using their minds as they enter the school years. One of the ways you can help your child strengthen his mind is by providing him with good literature to read when he's older.

John Taylor Gatto had his sixth-grade class read and discuss Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Parents say things like, "Well, he only reads comic books, but at least he's reading!"

As John Taylor Gatto once said, "Teach your children to grow up to be readers of more than the daily newspaper."

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Comic books are fine for comic relief on occasion. Maybe you're on a road trip or flying cross-country; this might be a time to let your child read a comic book or two or three.

It’s probably prudent not to let comic books work their way into your home though.

Comic books will make his mind lazy because the dialogues are simple and they're full of pictures which help tell the story. When it becomes time to read challenging literature, he won't be able to tackle the vocabulary or follow the longer and more complicated sentence patterns.

He'll complain to you that the book is "boring."

It's not boring; he just hasn't learned to read well. Please do not let him blame the book!

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Great books expand the mind and help us to understand the complexities of life and ourselves. If we replaced the department of psychology with a department of Shakespeare, we'd be off to a good start in improving our colleges and universities.

The inner workings of the mind and heart are there in his plays.

Once you get used to the language, Shakespeare is no more difficult to read than authors such as Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.

The ability to read great literature is what you want for your children. You want them to be exposed to the great ideas of Western thought that take us all the way back to Ancient Greece.

John Taylor Gatto was very in support of reading great books. It's where he got the seeds for many of his ideas.

I said there was one thing you need to do to increase your child's intelligence, but as I was writing this, another occurred to me, so there are now two things.

The two things are homeschool your children and expose them to great literature. I say homeschool because, sadly, your children won't get the kind of education they need in public school.

And with a lousy education system comes a dumbed-down people.

Let me share one last thing with you; it’s a poem by Emily Dickinson:

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There is no frigate like a book

To take us lands away,

Nor any coursers like a page

Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of toll;

How frugal is the chariot

That bears a human soul!

Have your children memorize Emily Dickinson's poem, and supply them with the kind of books that let them travel lands away!

You can join the Smart Homeschooler Academy waiting list to be notified when enrollment opens again for its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home.

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, “Love and Leadership” parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.

A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college. 

Should You Grade Your Child's School Work?

Should You Grade Your Child's School Work?

Charlotte Mason said that if we should not grade our children, but if we had to give them a grade, then it should be for conduct not cleverness.

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Some Things You Lose and Some Things You Gain by Homeschooling

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The actual "homeschooling" is easy, but some things that come with homeschooling may not be.

First, let's look at some of the things you give up, and then we'll look at some of the things you gain by homeschooling.

The Losses

1) The first thing you lose is having a tidy house ready to receive a last-minute guest. It's not that your home has to become dirty and disorganized, but your home is now doubling-up as a school. While many parents dedicate one room in the house as the schoolroom, as a homeschooler, learning is not always confined to one room.

Some days you might study fractions by baking a cake, other days you might conduct science experiments in the kitchen. Maybe you decide to do some artwork in the family room or read together in the living room.

Whatever you decide, yours will not be the home where the pillows are always fluffed up, and everything is in its place. Yours is the home that is well-lived in and fully occupied by children.

2) The second thing you will give up may be one of two things: if you are a working mother, you will give up your job and the extra income that comes with it. If you are a stay-at-home mother, you will give up a lot of free time, because you now have a job.

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With the former, while you're used to working, you aren't used to working for free. The loss of income in today's economy can be coupled with a loss of dreams, too, such as fancy vacations, new cars, expensive wardrobes, and bigger houses.

You may have also spent a lot of years in school studying to earn a prestigious degree, and to a large extent, your self-esteem and self-image may be tied up in your career. Maybe you absolutely love your work, and the thought of leaving it makes your heart sink. It can be challenging for a woman to give her career up to stay home with her children.

If, on the other hand, you've been a stay-at-home mother all this time, you now have to give up your life of leisure and get to work! Doing with less leisure means your social lunches, your long visits to the gym, and maybe even some recreational activities or other pursuits you enjoy doing during the weekdays may not always be possible. It's not that you have no time to yourself when you homeschool, but your free-time does take a major hit.

There is definitely some sacrifice that comes with homeschooling, and sometimes a lot of sacrifice depending upon how your life was before.

The Gains

But let's look at the gains now. I mean, after all, you had children because you love your spouse and you dream of having a happy family with him; and you dream of raising children together who grow up to become successful adults, right?

First, there are many ways to raise and educate a child, so understand that the gains I'm suggesting here are based on the way I teach parents to raise and educate their children

1) Your children will be more intelligent by being homeschooled than by going to public school. We live in a dumbed-down society. We all know this, so I don't need to argue this point.

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When you homeschool, you will raise your children in an environment that will nurture and develop their intellects.

Studies show that homeschooled children who are taught outside the charter and virtual programs (for the record, the charter/virtual school children are categorized as public-school students and not included in the studies on homeschooling) generally score significantly higher on all the standardized tests.

They're better students because they enjoy learning, they’re inspired to learn, and they know how to learn. They are anything but dumbed-down. Ask any college professor; college professors love homeschooled children. As a teacher, I can tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than a student who is not interested in learning, yet, this is your average college student today.

They are there for the degree, and the degree they'll get. But an education, not.

Because your homeschooler is a good student, he'll have a better chance of doing well in college because that's what the studies show. If he does well in a good college, he'll have a better chance of getting a better job and so forth. We all know how this works.

And if he opts-out of college, then he'll know how to make himself successful whatever he decides this means to him.

Maybe he wants to become a successful businessman, or perhaps he wants to live in a cabin by a lake and write novels, or maybe he wants to help the lower the poverty level; he'll know how to find the thing he was meant to do, and the thing(s) he loves to do.

He'll be able to figure it out because he's been figuring things out his whole life. Homeschoolers generally learn how to spend their time on worthwhile pursuits and make things happen.

2) Your homeschooled child is not going to be perfect, but he'll have a better chance of developing good character if he's homeschooled and has better influences around him.

Do I need to tell you how the public-school environment has become base and decadent not to mention dangerous?

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In today's day and age, we have a serious societal problem, too, with the lack of respect towards parents and authority. You cannot have a civil society without regard for parents and authority; instead, you get anarchy. And anarchy is the state of many homes today.

Disrespectful children and desperate parents; a truly tragic situation where everyone is the loser.

But this is much less likely to happen when you know how to create the kind of environment in your home that will support something higher.

What about the toll this modern lifestyle takes on a marriage? We won't even go there.

When you look back, after the years, what will you wish for? Will you wish that you had a bigger house, fancier vacations, more clothes, more time to yourself?

That's not what old people in their last years think about. They think about the people they love. Many of them worry about their aging children they seldom see and wish they had spent more time building a happy family and less time on things that, in the end, didn't really matter.

While you may temporarily give up a career or your leisure time when you homeschool, what you get in its place money can never buy.

Please join the Smart Homeschooler Academy waiting list to be notified when enrollment opens again for its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home.

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, “Love and Leadership” parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.

A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college. 


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Is Preschool the Best Option for Your Child?

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Is preschool the best place for your children?

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Introducing a Homeschool Science Curriculum That Is Rising to the Top

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5 Lessons Your Child Will Learn from Making His Bed Every Day

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By making his bed every day a child will learn five character-building lessons that will stay with him for life.

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How Much Attention Does Your Child Need?

If you find yourself daydreaming about a vacation away from your child, then you may be giving him more attention than he needs.

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3 Things Your Child Should Do Even if It Makes You Panic

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It's a confusing time to be a parent! Many parents let their children do things that aren’t good for their development like play video games, but they don't let their children do things that are good for their development like take risks and get dirty.

Here are three things that you must let your children do no matter how much it makes you panic:

1) Climb a Tree

Children have a natural sense of what they can do and what they can't do. Serious accidents are uncommon, but in the helicopter parenting world today, parents are afraid (moms especially) to let their children do things because they "might" get hurt.

Let them get hurt! A few bumps and scrapes won't kill them. They even survive broken bones.

We grew up in Northern California amongst the redwood trees, the most towering trees in the world. I don’t think we climbed Redwoods, but whatever it was that we did climb, they were tall. We would climb until we got tired of climbing or too scared to climb any higher, which was usually about 30 feet up those trees (an educated guess looking back many years!).

Yes, it was scary, but it was also a thrill.

We felt like conquerors, not of land but of our fear. We felt a sense of accomplishment to climb so high, and it gave us a sense of confidence, excitement, and adventure.

Not everyone has such tall trees available to them, but I have since witnessed mothers who were afraid to let their four-year-olds climb a thick tree branch that was two feet off the ground.

If a parent says things like, "Stop, that's too dangerous!" you interfere with your child’s developmental process.

If something is too dangerous–as in death could result–you probably want to intervene, but beyond that let them soar.

2) Make Mud Pies

Children love to play in the mud. They don't think in constructs of "clean" and "dirty" like we do. They think in constructs of fun, exciting, and worth doing–at least to them. And playing in mud has all three of these. So indulge them.

We had a backyard with a large section of dirt in it. My children spent hours in that section covering themselves in mud to their heart's content. Mud was matted in their hair, dripping from their ears, and embedded in their clothes by the time they finished. I had a huge mess to clean up, but it was always more amusing to me than anything else.

They made mud pies and had make-believe meals, they examined the mud as they closed their fists around it and watched it squish through their fingers, and they had lots of mud fights.

Mud is a perfect medium for developing your children’s senses, imagination, and motor skills - it's a great natural resource that will keep them occupied for hours.

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Eat Mud

I know this might be over the top for many of you, but unless you live in an area where they spray pesticides or you live in a high traffic zone, then let your children eat mud. They won't eat much, but they do like to taste it. I remember eating mud when I was young. It tasted like clay, but I don't think I did more than just taste it. The point is that there was no one hovering over me telling me to stop.

And if an adult was nearby, they weren't worried about it either. Tasting mud was a part of childhood - all children try it at some point. Who doesn't want to know what a little bit of mud tastes like?!

According to modern science, immersing themselves in mud boosters their immune systems. We even have an International Mud Day on June 29th now. This holiday is in retaliation to the hyper-sterile environment that children are growing up in. According to the "Hygiene Hypothesis," the sterile environment is putting children at risk for allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases as they get older.

Why? Because the immune system develops by exposure to bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and in the modernly-sterile environment children's immune systems are not being exposed to these things enough, and therefore, they’re immune systems aren't developing as well as they should be.

This makes sense, doesn't it?

3) Roll Down Hills

We used to climb to the top of a small hill and then see who could roll down the fastest. Do children even climb hills today?! They will get dirty, and they may even get grass stains, but that’s all right.

Children need clothes they can get dirty in. While it's fine to have an outfit or two for when the occasion calls, the day-to-day dress of children should not be designer clothes but rough and tumble clothes.

I'm much happier seeing a child with patched knees than a child dressed for a party. Come to think of it; I never see children with patched knees anymore!

And one last thing, remember that a few bumps, and bruises never killed anyone. Children take pride in their bumps and bruises especially the ones that require some cleaning and bandaging.

They're a sign of the battles they fight on the playground of life.

For our upcoming course, Raise Your Child Well: Correct Preparation for a Satisfying, Successful and Happy Adulthood, please join the waiting list to be notified first when enrollment opens again in August, 2019.

Don’t miss our free download, 10 Signs Your Parenting Strategies May Need Tweaking.

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.

A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college. 

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How to Tackle Knowledge Gaps When Homeschooling

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Put the Book Down, Kid!

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As a believer of doing everything within your power to raise a good reader, you may be surprised to hear me say that there are times when it is wrong for a child to read.

That’s right; there are times when it is wrong for a child to read. There is an etiquette to reading just like there is an etiquette to everything in life: a time to read and a time not to read.

Children should learn that good manners don't end when you read a book.

Fortunately, unlike table manners, there are only two rules they need to know regarding when it is not acceptable to read.  

I'll list them for you here with brief explanations of why each rule is utterly essential for the budding civilized human being to follow.

1. Books should never come to the dinner table or any other table where food is present. When you eat, you eat; when you read, you read. Out of respect for books, children (nor adults) should ever eat while reading.

You don't want to soil the books with food, which is inevitable, but also because it is just plain rude to read a book at the dinner table.

Children should never be allowed to indulge themselves this way.

2. Another ill-mannered situation I see about as often as I find a child who likes to read is an undiscerning parent who allows their child to bring his books to social gatherings.  The child then conveniently plops himself in a central position to the other guests as if to holler, "Look, I have something better to do than to talk to all of you!"

Somehow the accomplishment of raising a good reader–which a parent deserves to feel proud of– justifies antisocial behavior.

I witnessed such an event the other night. In this particular case, the mother,–being a friend of mine–did know better, but she let the "no-book-at-parties" rule slide that night for a specific reason being unaware of my “never indulge a child” rule.

Nevertheless, I told her it nudged my memory to write about this problem because while she knew better, most parents didn't. At least this has been my observation.

Many a party have I been to when I've tried to engage a child in conversation only to receive the distinct impression that returning the greeting was an unfortunate inconvenience that neither he nor his book had time for.

Said conversations go something like this:

"Hi, sweety, how are you?"

“Fine." (Head goes back in book.)

"What are you reading?"

"A book."

Gee, really?

While it's fabulous, marvelous and awesome that he is reading, his manners leave a lot to be desired.

This sort of behavior is a red flag that the parents are failing to teach this child right from wrong in matters of lasting significance. After all, rudeness is offensive and may have consequences that are unpleasant and sometimes even fatal.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that manners are important for the preservation of life. Many a man has been shot and killed for having wounded someone’s honor.

I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.
— J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Books, under no conditions whatsoever, are never more important than a living, breathing human being, and the reading of them should never give license to uncivil behavior.

It's not that a child can't ever take a book with him to someplace away from home. He can. He can bring a book on an airplane, on a long drive, to a doctor's office or to any other place where he might have to sit quietly for a long time, but never to a party!

Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Not only is it rude, but children need to develop their social skills. We all appreciate a scholarly mind, but the man or woman who is a scholar and displays excellent social skills, we enjoy even more.

Engaging in social activities can be uncomfortable and awkward for young children, especially if they're shy. Hiding their face in a book while receiving praise from undiscerning adults about the object in their hands is one way to avoid the awkwardness.

But it's not the right way because it lacks consideration for others.

A better way would be to face the shyness and conquer it by developing a few social skills.

If your child is destined to live a scholarly life, and he may well be, he probably isn't going to become a social butterfly, but he should at least learn how to engage in general conversation when the occasion demands it of him.

Set some boundaries around reading and help your child develop the social skills he'll need to get along in the world, the first of which is a consideration for others which means that you don't plop yourself in the center of a party and begin to read a book.

As Daniel Goleman demonstrates in his ground-breaking book, Emotional Intelligence, good social skills–which are predicated upon good manners–are the basis for just about everything in life that will make a person happy: a successful marriage, good relationships with one's children, long-term friendships, and a successful career.

And Goleman's research proves that there are even times when a child should not read a book.


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My Country 'Tis of Thee


My Country 'Tis of Thee

I’m always struck by how often so many authors, prior to the late 20th century, mention a Supreme Creator.

The great minds in our history, in fact, always referred to a “first cause” (God) including Aristotle, Shakespeare, Dante, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and Fyodor Dostoevsky to name a very few.

This isn’t about religious fanaticism, either, as none of the aforementioned were fanatics. It’s about a drastic change in the discourse that’s altered the mood of our country. Not for the better, if you ask me.

Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint...
— Thomas Jefferson

Suddenly, almost overnight, God has been dropped from the conversation. I’ve watched this change take place during my little more than half a century of existence.

Why? How did we change from a country whose normative belief acknowledge a Supreme Rule in its national discourse to the secular-minded, thinking people we've become today?

Times have changed, yes, but I’m talking about a worldview paradigm that existed since forever, and in a matter of years it's been quickly replaced with a new paradigm that's diametrically opposed to it!

Our national discourse is secular. Our schools are secular. Our literature is secular. Our government is secular. 

As the Supreme Ruler of the Universe has seen fit to bestow upon us this glorious opportunity, let us decide upon it–appealing to him for the rectitude of our intentions–and in humble confidence that he will yet continue to bless and save our country. John Hancock
— John Hancock

What happened?

In a country that honors religious freedom, I can understand why we don't have a national religion, nor do I think we should, but to remove God altogether and in such a short time? 

It doesn't make any sense.

When I was young, we began our school days by singing one of America's national anthems:

My country, 'tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims' pride,

From ev'ry mountainside

Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees

Sweet freedom's song;

Let mortal tongues awake;

Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

Our fathers' God to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing.

Long may our land be bright,

With freedom's holy light,

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God our King!

Did you notice who was mentioned throughout?

We've moved into the era of the progressive almighty individual with disastrous results. Let it all hang out has been the country's motto since the 1960's.

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And look where we are now! 

  • Broken families

  • Massive debt (once considered a sin deserving of “debtor’s prison”)

  • Mental illnesses on the rise, even in our young

  • Addiction to alcohol and recreational drug use

  • Declining literacy

  • A dumbed-down public discourse that’s crude and vulgar

And the list goes on. But we can do things differently, do them in a way that’s in harmony with the natural order. We can raise our children to think and behave in more wholesome ways.

By homeschooling our children, we have a better chance of teaching them manners, teaching them right from wrong; and teaching them that this road does end and the life they have is the road.

I think Thomas Jefferson would agree.

I'll defer my last point to the great educator, Charlotte Mason who expressed it better than anyone else:

The wonder that Almighty God can endure so far to leave the making of an immortal being in the hands of human parents is only matched by the wonder that human parents can accept this divine trust with hardly a thought of its significance.
— Charlotte Mason

The Smart Homeschooler Academy offers its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home. Join the waiting list for the next course launch in late fall, 2019.

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.

A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.