Should You Grade Your Child's School Work?

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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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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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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. 

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Teaching Children Poetry Makes Them Smarter

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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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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. 

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