How to Tackle Knowledge Gaps When Homeschooling

How to Tackle Knowledge Gaps When Homeschooling

Part of your job as a homeschooling parent includes making sure your children do not have glaring gaps in the general knowledge that's required of them to be able to graduate from high school and continue their education in college.

Read More

Will the Sounds of Nature Make Your Children Happier?

Will the Sounds of Nature Make Your Children Happier?

Noise has become omnipresent in Western culture, and it's not only affecting our well-being, but it's affecting our children's well-being too.

Read More

My Country 'Tis of Thee

filip-bunkens-193890-unsplash.jpg

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.

a punk with tatoos.jpg

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. 

How to Homeschool on a Budget (and make some money too)

How to Homeschool on a Budget (and make some money too)

Thinking of homeschooling but not sure you can afford it? Here’s a few ways you can save money and earn money while homeschooling.

Read More

Teaching Children Poetry Makes Them Smarter

poetry book.jpg

Poetry memorization imprints beautiful language into the hearts of children. Once a prominent subject in every language arts program, it’s a wonder why poetry is no longer taught in the public schools.

Yet, some of the most literate people I’ve known, both in their vast knowledge of the English language and in their colorful expression of thought, have been poets.

Whether schools offer lessons in  poetry or not, it’s something you should be teaching your children at home if you want to improve their language skills, enrich their minds; and even, on a more mundane level–not at all fitting for a discussion of poetry– improve their chances of getting into a better college.

In short, it makes them smarter.

What exactly do children gain from studying poetry, you might ask?

• extensive vocabulary building

• increase in general knowledge

• stimulation of the imagination

• learn creative syntax

• understand simile and metaphor

• versatility with language

As you can see, they gain a lot and all that they gain develops their minds. Let’s examine each benefit one by one.

Vocabulary

Looking down the road, and getting the mundane out of the way first, entry into colleges today is highly competitive. If you plan on your children entering a four-year university then good SAT or ACT scores are vital to the process, and part of what the children will be tested on is vocabulary.

Possessing a good vocabulary could give your child the edge he needs to score high.

Exposing children to an extensive vocabulary by reading poetry, especially words they may not learn anywhere else, and memorizing poetry will automatically build their vocabularies.

A larger vocabulary is also associated with higher intelligence, therefore, people who have larger vocabularies are perceived as being more intelligent than others.

Whether they are or not is another matter, but the larger vocabulary they possess at least shows that they are using their minds more which would improve their intelligence according to modern research.

mauricio-santos-476020-unsplash.jpg

General Knowledge

Poets not only have an extensive working vocabulary, but they are well-read and much of their general knowledge about the world is found in their poetry. Hence, reading poetry increases a child’s general knowledge too.

Poetry is truer than history.
— Aristotle

Imagination

Poetry stimulates the imagination and evokes feelings we can’t always put into words, at least, not to the same effect. Memorizing poetry stirs the workings of the child’s heart.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Syntax

Poets know how to play with words, and they become masters of the figures of speech like no other.  It’s the ability to arrange words in original and powerful ways that makes some writers stand out above the rest. When children memorize poetry, they are memorizing the skilled writing of master poets.

Poetry is beautiful language distinguished by unusual and unforgettable words.
— David J. Hanson

The language of the poet stays in the children’s hearts and later emerges to influence their own use of language both written and spoken. Just the other day I was writing something and I automatically used the phrase “and above all else.” Why? Because long ago I had memorized a line of poetry that contained the same phrase.

Children who memorize and study poetry will be better speakers and writers having been influenced for life by the great poets both past and present.

Simile and Metaphor

As they get older, children will learn about the adornments of language through poetry: simile and metaphor;  both powerful tools in good writing and persuasive speech.

Versatility

Learning how to play with words to create original expressions of thought is the hallmark of the poet. I had a dear friend who has since left this world, Daniel Moore, and he was a great writer though mostly unrecognized during his time.

I seldom laughed as much with anyone as I did with him, because he was funny, but he also had such an enormous vocabulary and he knew how to play with words. Some of the things he used to say would not only have me in stitches, but I’d be silently marveling at his tremendous understanding of the English language.

He knew a lot of words, he knew their meanings, and he knew how to use them.

This is just some of what your children will get from studying and memorizing poetry.

When children memorize poetry, they are not only storing it in their minds, but also in their hearts. It becomes a part of them, and it shapes who they become.

In Gwynne’s Grammar, Mr. Gwynne begins his chapter on verse-writing by saying this:

Time was when even the most ordinary education included training in competence at writing verse.”

He uses this chapter to define and explain the rules of poetry according to the classical understanding. I’m going to uphold his position here and encourage you to choose good poetry for your children, not the free verse modern stuff that is mistakenly taken for poetry today.

I’ll leave you with a poem my father used to love by his favorite poet after Shakespeare.

The Road Not Taken 

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The Smart Homeschooler Academy will launch soon with its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home. Join the waiting list!

Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting, 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. 




Is “Critical Thinking” Just Another Buzzword?

Is “Critical Thinking” Just Another Buzzword?

Do workbooks and critical thinking classes teach children to think critically?

Read More

Some People Will Never Understand Why You Homeschool and That's Okay

Some People Will Never Understand Why You Homeschool and That's Okay

The disapproving glances. The unsolicited advice. The warning by unhappy family members and friends that you're going to ruin your child if you homeschool.

Read More

How Do You Teach Your Children to Love Learning?

How Do You Teach Your Children to Love Learning?

It’s not difficult to knock the curiosity out of a child.

Read More

Rote Learning Is a Bad Word!

Rote Learning Is a Bad Word!

A common practice of any serious scholar since time immemorial, rote learning has received an undeservingly bad rap in the postmodern Western world.

Read More

Should You Let Your Children Read Abridged Books?

Should You Let Your Children Read Abridged Books?

Should you let your children read abridged books? It’s a question worth asking.

Read More

The Comparison Trap: a Homeschooler’s #1 Enemy

The Comparison Trap: a Homeschooler’s #1 Enemy

My kids are behind!” Tell me honestly, as a homeschooler, have you not had the same thought at least once?!

Read More

The Homeschooling Morning Ritual

The Homeschooling Morning Ritual

The morning can swallow your time if you don't have a ritual in place especially when you’re homeschooling.

Read More

How to Put Dinner on the Table Every Night Without Fail

How to Put Dinner on the Table Every Night Without Fail

A home without family meals is missing a vital ingredient. That’s why I’ve put together 9 easy steps to mealtime planning to guarantee your dinnertime success.

Read More

The Perfect Parenting Crime

The Perfect Parenting Crime

I witnessed the perfect parenting crime the other night.

Read More

7 Secrets Every Smart Homeschooler Knows

7 Secrets Every Smart Homeschooler Knows

Here are a few maxims that successful homeschoolers understand.

Read More

When Children Hear the Sound of a Rifle, They Miss the Song of the Bird

When Children Hear the Sound of a Rifle, They Miss the Song of the Bird

Time in nature is not leisure time. It’s an essential investment in our children’s health.

Read More

To Read or Not to Read Shakespeare with Your Children

To Read or Not to Read Shakespeare with Your Children

While some parents are exposing their children to Shakespeare at early ages, it might not be the wisest thing to do.

Read More

5 Reasons Why You Are Too Blessed to Be Stressed When Homeschooling

5 Reasons Why You Are Too Blessed to Be Stressed When Homeschooling

You can look at homeschooling in one of two ways: homeschooling is too stressful or homeschooling is a privilege.

Read More

A Three Season Recipe for Raising Happier Children

A Three Season Recipe for Raising Happier Children

"Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state."  

Read More

Why Every Parent Can and Should Teach Their Children Latin

Why Every Parent Can and Should Teach Their Children Latin

If you are homeschooling, or you have a child in school somewhere, you really should consider teaching your child Latin. It isn’t difficult to teach the beginning years, and I know from teaching children Latin that they thoroughly enjoy it.

Read More