Spring Formal Time

The girls attended their first-ever spring formal last night.

Our homeschool association has been sponsoring this dance for about 15 years, and the girls have been looking forward to it since they first heard about it. We splurged a bit on fancy hairstyles and wrist corsages, though we'd been able to get beautiful, modest dresses from a friend who was selling her older daughters' gowns for a very modest price. It was fun to revisit the girls' childhood love of playing dress-up in a new way.
About 50 teens attended, including several of the girls' friends and acquaintances. In fact, we went down to our city's river deck to take pre-dance pictures with a couple of their best friends.
And then they enjoyed dancing and talking with everyone else in a wholesome, safe environment late into the night.
I still find it hard to believe that "my babies" are old enough for formal dances; as mindful as I aimed to be throughout their childhoods, the time really has raced by. But I continue to try enjoying each day and season of life with them as it comes, and I'm so incredibly thankful for the privilege God has given my husband and me in raising them for Him.


May It Ever Be So

My husband and daughters had a "date" at the local waterfowl preserve on Saturday. I could have gone along, but I like to facilitate daddy-daughter time...and I've been rather feverishly working on the super-deluxe upgrade to my resource website so staying back with a few windows open and my cats for companionship was a good call.

Among the photos he snapped was this one - which just melts my heart and instantly became my brand new (current) favorite.

This picture honestly does speak to the girls' relationship with each other. They have different interests, talents, and opinions - in fact, they delight in debating each other (sometimes all.day.long!) while mutually assuring me that their discussions really are good-natured banter and not argument - and they have other good friends. But throughout their lives and to this day, each instantly names the other when asked to identify her best friend.

That is not by accident...and it's not really of my doing so I'm not bragging. Their friendship is honestly and truly a big, fat "yes" from God to my earnest, daily prayers from before either was ever born. Yes, I prayed. And I've done what I can to facilitate their bond. But the work is ultimately His. So my expression of joy over their relationship is simply that...and a nod to 1 Corinthians 1.31:

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

And to that end, I will continue to pray as David did - so that these precious girls of mine will always and forever have in each other a very best friend their whole lives long:

"...[W]ith Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever."
(2 Samuel 7.29b)


Dad's "Bible Class"

My husband is a blessing. Of course, his hard work supports us financially so I can stay home and focus my time and energy on our daughters - and so they can take music and dance lessons and participate in musical productions and choirs and other activities of interest. And - despite working at his full-time job as a corporate trainer, running his own missions ministry on the side, and regularly sharing his time and insight within our church and the community at large - he has been an incredibly involved dad from the very beginning...in too many ways to delineate.

I've never expected him to be involved in the girls' formal academic studies; I've always happily taken that on as part of my role on our family "team." But because he's a lifelong learner himself and loves the girls so much, he's wanted to participate in their educational endeavors. When they were first learning to read, he patiently listened each evening as one or the other read him a story from the day's lesson. And when they gained fluency and started doing readers' workshop, he actively participated in discussions about the projects they shared. He also taught art on a regular basis for quite some time and wants to join us for the weekly chemistry lessons we'll soon start. In addition, he has read aloud to them each evening nearly every night of their lives; even now, though they are teens, he still does it because we both know how incredibly valuable reading aloud is at all ages, both relationally and cognitively.

Yet because he's usually too hard on himself, he's always felt that what he does "isn't enough." And especially since he stopped teaching art, he's wanted to do "something" in terms of direct instruction. I've continued to remind him that it's not necessary, but the other day we were all talking about this and mutually decided that - in addition to the informal discipling he does daily by virtue of his relationship with them - he will now take on the material the girls will use to earn one or more credits in "Bible."

Tonight was their first official "Bible lesson" toward that end - using UnveilingGLORY's Year 1: Cat and Dog Theology material. They'll aim to work on this twice a week, and I know it's going to be a wonderful fit. Honestly, the girls adore their dad, so they simply enjoy spending time with him regardless of the activity. But he is such a gifted teacher - he instinctively knows how to engage a learner - that he'll undoubtedly "hook" them with the material, too. In fact, he was told that a class he teaches at work on the history of cheese-making (!) was "the most interesting" class one woman had taken in 15 years at the company! And he's regularly asked where he went to seminary, though he "only" has a bachelor's degree...and from a secular college at that.

I could join in, of course. But - as with the art lessons and read-aloud time - I've decided to let it be his special time with his girls. And I just feel incredibly blessed because my husband is right there with me when it comes to what has always been my bottom-line heart's desire for my children - what I want for them at root regardless of any other particulars in their lives. Namely, that each of them will "love the Lord [her] God with all [her] heart and with all [her] soul and with all [her] strength and with all [her] mind." (Luke 10.27)


A Live-Action Civics Lesson

Today was, of course, Inauguration Day for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And I read social media posts from some home educators saying they were "taking off" for it.

The girls accomplished a bit of bookwork early in the morning before the ceremony. But then - as we set aside our typical routine when the then-president-elect arrived at the Capitol - I never considered that we were "stopping school." Instead, we simply changed gears and spent the rest of the morning watching civics in action.

We didn't watch it eight and four years ago - for personal reasons on my part but mostly because at six and seven in 2009 and 10 and 11 in 2013, the girls were probably too young then to appreciate its significance. But four years from now, each will be old enough to vote so I've helped them to follow this whole campaign season more closely, and I knew that watching the swearing-in ceremony was really important.

I didn't make a whole "unit study" of it. Perhaps I would have if the girls were younger, but maybe not, as I've become more and more inclined toward what can be called "life learning." Thus, we simply watched together and talked about it as it unfolded. I pointed out interesting tidbits and answered their questions as we went. I know they were engaged in the process because we were engaged together; I don't need a test or worksheets to prove that we watched or that they "got something out of it."

I did ask each to journal a short summary or reaction. And true to each one's typical writing style, one chose the former, the other the latter:
On January 20th, 2017, Donald John Trump was elected 45th president of the United States of America. At about 8:45AM, Donald and his wife Melania arrived at the White House for tea with President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. At 10:00AM, they arrived at the Capitol building where a few short speeches were followed by the swearing in of Mike Pence as the vice president. Then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang and Donald J. Trump took the oath of office. Jackie Evancho then sang the National Anthem and Barack and Michelle Obama departed on a plane, where he then gave a farewell speech at 12:10PM. Trump then signed an executive order that extended security to his family.
For civics today we watched the swearing in of president-elect, now president, Donald Trump. I have never watched a swearing in before, but I'm glad I watched it. The whole race for president was very brutal and it was a slug-fest the whole way, but now that Trump is sworn in, everything has calmed down. The swearing in began with the welcoming and seating of all the Washington diplomats, such as Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and all the Congress and senators. Then one by one the Trumps were escorted and cheered on as they walked through the double doors to be present at this monumental occasion. Donald Trump was walked in under fanfare and cheering from the huge crowd before he proceeded to shake the hands of Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama. Many people gave speeches and read prayers before all rose to witness the swearing in of President Donald Trump. Trump then gave a speech. There were many words, all of which were great, but the words that stand out and I hope Mr. Trump will live by are, "When America is united, America is unstoppable." The sun now dawns on a new day, a new president, and a new America. God bless!
I remember rather clearly that I was the girls' age when I first started to pay any amount of attention to politics and "government." It took another 15 years before I began to more fully appreciate the amazing nature of our country, and my engagement became much deeper after I became a mom and then again eight years ago. And the girls may travel a similar path, though one is a bit more interested than the other just now. But I anticipate that this election and inauguration - as the first they'll truly remember - will serve as an important marker in their lives. Thus, it was without a doubt time well-spent - a real lesson and not just something we "took off" for. 


A New Venture

I've started a new blog!

Actually, one of my dearest homeschool friends and I have started it together.

Nikki and I met online in a large national homeschool group back in early 2009, and we quickly realized we have far more than our "Irish Twin" kids in common. We're both passionate about homeschooling - about educating our own kids well, advocating for complete freedom for all private, independent homeschoolers, and encouraging others who are on the home education journey with us - and we see eye-to-eye about many other social/political issues as well. In fact, we've often found ourselves "dittoing" each other as we offer advice to fellow moms in the group we co-admin along with a handful of wonderful helpers, and I find great comfort in having such a kindred spirit just a few keystrokes away. So we've decided to take things a step further by collaborating on Ditto, She Wrote, where we plan to share ideas and insight from our combined 30+ years of parenting/home learning experience.

I'll still continue to blog here at Being Made New as well. In fact, I feel reinvigorated to begin posting more regularly. But I'll get back to using this space for personal reflection and save the more "instructive" material - the how-to's and whys about home education - for Ditto. As such, I'm in the process of migrating a few dozen previous posts over to Ditto, where I'm re-sharing them - often in slightly edited form - in hopes of encouraging more home educators. Nikki and I are alternating days as we populate Ditto, and we'll aim to write quite regularly going forward.

I hope you'll continue following me here and also join Nikki and me over there!


Trust and Relax - Even with High School

Today I saw yet again that "alternative" resources - along with trusting one's child, choosing to relax, and prayer - work...even for high school!

My very smart but "science-hating" 14-year old asked several months ago if she could take a hiatus from science. She is not a rebel, and - starting when she was just four years old - she has repeatedly demonstrated that she "knows" herself as a learner. She had thoroughly thought through her position and articulated it very clearly. So despite some trepidation on the part of my still-somewhat-school-indoctrinated brain - mostly because I wondered what others (even other homeschoolers) would think of me for daring (gasp!) to honor my child's wishes in terms of her education - I chose to listen and trust her, not knowing (gulp!) if or when she'd ever do more formal science.

And I started praying. Not asking God to change her mind and not from a place of anxiety - in fact, any time I felt anxiety rearing its very ugly head, I prayed for strength to smash it down! - but, rather, simply seeking guidance and direction about how best to proceed.

I have not been frantically searching for science curriculum; God has been doing such good work with me in terms of freeing me from institutional-style thinking that I really did have peace about just trusting my girl. But a couple weeks ago, a member of the Facebook group I moderate mentioned the science resources from Queen Homeschool Supplies. I'd used and enjoyed Queen in the past - for gentle language arts when the girls were young - but hadn't really considered it for anything else. Yet after looking through sample pages online, I felt led to order Every Herb Bearing Seed, a "course focusing on natural...medicine and anatomy."

Despite thinking it would be an enjoyable book, I actually thought my daughter would politely decline on principle - and I would have been okay with that. But, much to my surprise, her reaction was just the opposite. The book's emphasis on natural health piqued her interest, and then when she looked inside and saw the story-based lessons and research-oriented approach, her face actually lit up, and she said she'd be more than happy to give it a shot.

I still thought she might not like it much once she started. But she did the first lesson today and was actually excited to tell me about it. She also looked with interest at the other high school books on the site, quite open to considering them.

My purpose in sharing is not to promote Queen - though I have appreciated the company since we first used it for language arts. Rather, I was struck yet again by the beauty of giving my children choice and trusting each one's ability to know herself as a learner. I could have insisted my daughter do traditional science "like everyone else," dismissing her request for an indefinite hiatus as rebelliousness or the foolishness of youth. In fact, I could have forced both the girls to follow (sad) suit with so many other homeschoolers and insist we set aside the engaging, creative, holistic approach we'd employed when they were young in favor of mimicking the factory-style, "traditional" high school experience.

But I've learned that the girls deserve better than me forcing them to slog through boring textbooks just to say they've "covered" certain material (regardless of true interest or real learning) - even at the high school level. In fact, God expects me to continue honoring how He has uniquely designed each of them according to His purposes, and to listen to them and to His leading instead of going with the cultural default. If that had meant never using a "science curriculum" again - if, instead, she would have had "only" her previously-completed General Science course and then whatever (if anything) I might have compiled towards an additional credit or two from informal/"unschooling"-based activities - that would quite literally have been just fine. My responsibility is to my girls and to God - not to status quo - and I have to trust that listening to them and to Him will bear fruit. In fact, it already has.


Symbols of a Father's Love

Four or five years ago, the girls began mentioning wanting dollhouses - real dollhouses, not the plastic Barbie or generic particleboard variety. The kind of dollhouse that would require real construction and real interior decoration. Heirlooms.

Three years ago - when the girls were 11 and 12 - Jeff and I decided to make the financial investment, buying the dollhouse kits for Christmas. The girls were outgrowing toys by that point, but that's why we knew they'd truly care for the houses - that they were mature enough to treat the houses as treasured "art projects."

Of course, purchasing the kits was merely the beginning. Jeff got right to work, simultaneously building both in our basement and endeavoring to make sure he didn't finish one before the other. And he worked patiently and diligently - sanding, painting each individual piece, sanding again, painting again, carefully cutting, gluing, staining - all in between faithfully supporting my ability to be home and home-educating via his full-time job (which this past fall included a rigorous interview process for a promotion to a position as a corporate trainer within his company), running MissionGuides, leading several missions trips, volunteering at church, diving into on-going maintenance projects for one thing or another in our beloved-but-aging-home, and purposing all along to be present with the girls and me first and foremost. He never gave up; doing so never even crossed his mind.

So now this Christmas - after three years of devoted perseverance - he presented the girls with their houses. They had, of course, seen his progress over time. And they knew he was close to finishing even though he purposely avoided telling them how close so that the final unveiling would be somewhat of a surprise. Yet they were still duly amazed this morning when they found these beautiful masterpieces waiting for them.

And now their fun - which I will, of course, "count" in some way as part of our homeschooling - begins. They had saved their own money and asked for gift cards to Hobby Lobby as birthday and Christmas presents in order to purchase people and furniture, all of which has been kept in careful storage while they waited. So now - once we get the houses situated in their rooms - each will decide on the interior design for her house and get to work on wall colors (paint and/or wallpaper), flooring, and accessories so the doll families can "move in." Once they're done, the artwork on the inside will match what Jeff has given them externally.

I know lots of men passionately love their wives and children - and that each demonstrates his love in different ways. And, of course, Jeff's love for the girls and me has been evident in so many different ways all through the years; he certainly didn't need to build the houses to prove it. But he did choose to build them - he poured hundreds and hundreds of hours into them and prepared and positioned each tiny piece as an act of love - and they stand as beautiful, concrete testaments to his devotion. Devotion to his precious daughters and devotion even to me as the mother of his girls. We are so blessed to have him!


The (Very Simple) Five-Finger Rule

I very regularly address questions from home-educating moms wondering about tools for determining the "reading level" of books they're considering for their children. Now in truth, my thoughts about "reading level" are similar to my views about the overall notion of "grade level" - i.e., "reading level" labels on books are largely arbitrary and irrelevant, and we should devote our energy to finding great (non-twaddle) books for our kids rather than worrying about their "level" as determined by some educrat who has never met our children. However, since our overall goal is (should be) to grow bibliophiles who seek to be lifelong learners, we want to appropriately challenge our kids without overwhelming them; thus, finding a method for determining the appropriateness of a particular book at a specific period of time in a child's life does have value...not so we can document what "level" a child is reading, but simply to properly respect and value each child's individual learning process.

We do not, however, need complicated algorithms, expensive materials, or even the latest app for that endeavor. In fact, we each carry with us every day a most effective tool - the five fingers on one hand - which can be used at any moment to employ the Five-Finger Rule for Text Readability. When a child chooses a book, just follow this procedure:
  1. Direct the child to read (aloud) the first full page of the book's text; 
  2. As he reads, subtly (so as not to intimidate him) keep note with one finger each time he cannot decode a word at all or struggles quite a bit to get it.
You'll know the suitability of the overall book based on how many fingers you use by the time the child reaches the bottom of the page:
  • 0-1 Finger: The child's reading ability is above the level of the book. That doesn't mean he shouldn't read it - there is intellectual and emotional value in reading even "easy" books - but it won't stretch his abilities;
  • 2-3 Fingers: The book is at the child's "instructional level." In other words, this book will be an appropriate challenge without being overwhelming; 
  • 4-5 Fingers: The child is not ready to read this book independently, as it is above his current reading ability. You might save it for a later time, or if the child is really interested, simply use it as a parent-led read-aloud or (perhaps) try tackling it in "buddy reading" format with the parent.
And that's all there is to it - a "diagnostic test" accomplished in a matter of minutes in a very low-key manner using something you always have with you!


Guided Self-Directed High School: Learning Logs

Though we will undoubtedly do quite a few informal yet "documentable" learning activities over the next few weeks, the girls and I have officially begun our winter/Christmas hiatus from formal bookwork, which also marks the end of their "first year of high school." I put that in quotes because we aim to view learning and education in as holistic a way as my school-indoctrinated brain can muster - I will likely be deschooling myself for the rest of my life! - so, other than thinking in terms of when we expect the girls to "graduate," we try to avoid paying too much attention to starts and finishes. We've simply been doing our best to be diligent with multi-faceted learning throughout the year, and we're taking our long, year-end break now; in January, we'll just continue where we've left off.

Of course, we've got our own "eclectic" way of doing things - it's what I described this past February as a "'guided, delight-directed' approach" - and I've been keeping track of everything the girls have been doing all year with an eye toward arranging an "official" record-keeping system once I had a year's worth of "data." So designing forms that work for us - and compiling them in a way that makes sense - is one of my tasks over the next few weeks. And I'll refer to the girls' Learning Logs - six each for the year, counting the Logs for our "trial run" during the Fall of 2015 - in that process.

I devised the Logs - using LibreOffice (though Microsoft Word would work just as well) - to help me keep track of what the girls do, but also as a means of helping them monitor their own daily progress, and I've tweaked them through the year as we've seen what does and doesn't work for us. So what I've designed is very specific to our approach - not something another family could necessarily adopt wholesale as its own. But I've nevertheless been asked to share what we've done, and I'm happy to oblige.

We've figured out that a rough 6/1, 7/1, or 8/1 schedule works well for us right now - i.e., we divide up the year into "units" of approximately six, seven, or eight weeks each (give or take, depending on our overall family calendar) and then take about a week off in between each "unit." We also take a "long" summer break (roughly four weeks) in July and a "long" winter break (three to four weeks) at this time of year, so our schedule allows for about 185 formal "academic" days per year. Of course, we consider ourselves to be learning on weekends and "days off," too - in fact, I explained my real position on "required hours" here - and we actively "count" activities we do during our days and weeks "off." But in regards to the girls' Logs, each one is set up to cover one 30- to 40-day "unit" during our times of formal bookwork.

Each Log has three main sections: Goals, an Action Plan, and a Record of Daily Learning. And a Log for each unit is individualized to each of the girls, keeping in mind each one's learning needs and her progress from the previous unit. I simply print out the pages I want from among those I've designed, along with a colored cover sheet for each section; collate them; and take them to my local FedEx Office for binding. I prefer a coil binding with a colored plastic back cover and a clear plastic front cover, and binding one book costs about $6.00. Just for fun, the girls custom illustrate the paper cover at the start of each unit.

Goals section is usually about two pages long. It's where I delineate what I've determined each girl should work on during that unit. Of course, I've previously collaborated with each of them to determine what they'll be studying at any given time, and they have a great deal of input about the resources they use - for example, one of the girls uses Notgrass materials for Civics while the other has chosen the In the Constitution series. Thus, the Goals pages are simply my way of helping them to break down each area into manageable "chunks" for each unit (keeping in mind that we don't necessarily aim to finish a book or "subject" in a school-style length of time). Of course, not every goal is completed as suggested - but as long as the girls work diligently during our learning times (and they both do), we simply adjust any unfinished goals when we start a new unit.

An Action Plan is two or three pages long. It consists of a series of check-off boxes for each area included in the Goals section; it's a place where the girls can quickly mark off what they accomplish each day and visualize their progress. Some tasks - Reader's Workshop and music practice - are daily assignments, and a couple - math and Work with Mom (specific language arts instruction) - are assigned four days a week. But for other areas, each of the girls has the freedom to determine for herself what to do each day. Because they are diligent and can clearly see the goals before them, I trust them to determine their own daily plans.

The bulk of a Log - a little more than 100 sheets of paper - is made up of the Record of Daily Learning sheets, one set for each day of the unit. Each day's section starts with a one-page table that the girls fill in with details of what they accomplish in the various areas - i.e., which math lesson is completed, what literature chapter is read, etc. When they don't work on a subject, they leave the space for it blank.

The daily table is followed by four to five pages of blank lines for journaling, with designated space for each subject area. I ask the girls to journal in certain areas - Bible, World History, American History, Civics, science - and they know they should aim to fill most of the lines (roughly half a page) any time they write. Again, not every journaling section is filled every day - that depends on which lessons each girl chooses to do each day - but I include the same pages every day (in the same order) so I can see at a glance what each has done. I copy the daily table and journaling pages back-to-back to save paper so each day's Record of Daily Learning consists of three to four pieces of paper. I just move a small post-it flag forward each day after I check the journals.

As an aside, I embrace journaling as an authentic means of documenting and monitoring a child's learning - and I reject school-style assessments ("comprehension" questions, tests) even when a resource we use offers them. I know from my time as a classroom teacher that school-style methods of evaluation serve the record-keeping needs of teachers - i.e., so they can document everything in numerical form in order to rank and categorize students against each other. But real learning - as opposed to performance for the benefit of teachers - comes from reflecting upon, talking, and writing about what a person has read and/or watched or listened to. I saw that when I secretly but happily played the rebel in my classroom teaching days by utilizing journals instead of school-style evaluations - so, of course, I promote such real learning now at home.

For some subjects now - history in particular - the girls actually use their journal entries as rough-draft summaries which they revise and edit to create history scrapbooks; thus, their journaling kills two birds with one stone by becoming meaningful composition practice, too. But rough-draft journaling is enough in other areas - I simply have the girls summarize and evaluate what they've learned, knowing that taking the time to write will cause the important information to "stick" - without requiring any sort of final project. And in still other areas - especially literature - they don't journal at all because doing so would be too much of a distraction from the main task; instead with their literature, they're currently keeping a book review blog and will later practice other responsive writing forms and genres.

The point is that journaling - which could be accomplished using Dragon software for a child who struggles with written composition - is the main method I use to document my children's learning. And organizing our year into "units," each with its own Learning Log customized to each child, has been a great way for my girls to enjoy and benefit from their first year of guided self-directed high school.


Not-Back-to-School Photos

A local friend and fellow homeschool mom who also happens to be a professional photographer offered to do Not-Back-to-School pictures, so we took some time away from the books one morning last week to meet her at the local wildlife sanctuary. She took dozens of photos, and they all turned out beautifully. Here's just a glimpse:


It’s Time for a Cease-Fire

I wrote the following piece for today's issue of the Celebrate Kids' email newsletter...and I mean every word. 
Education is a hot-button issue.
In fact, it’s exceedingly rare to find a person who doesn’t have an opinion about what’s “best” in terms of kids’ learning. Some insist that public school offers the best opportunities and should be mandatory for all, and others maintain that homeschooling is the only way to go. Still others assert that private school provides the best of both worlds. And when we add the voices supporting each of the vast, almost infinite, variety of options within “the big three” – charter, virtual, voucher, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, classical, unschooling, Christian, Montessori, alternative…just to name a few – we find ourselves surrounded by an ear-splitting cacophony of aggressive activism.
That said, opinions in and of themselves are not bad. And children’s education is so important that the existence of strong opinions is understandable. In fact, anyone who knows me personally is familiar with my background as a classroom teacher in “at-risk” schools, the pride I now take in being a homeschool mom, and my particular, deeply held convictions about educational theory and practice. 
 But it’s time to poke our heads up out of the trenches and get some perspective.  
First, we must each realize that we don't have a right to an opinion about what's best for anyone else's child. My husband and I fully considered every educational option, have taken into account the ramifications of each, and have come to a conclusion about what's best for our children. We cannot be swayed...and we shouldn't have to endure unsolicited lectures - or "helpful suggestions" - from proponents of other options. But neither do we have a right to push our views onto parents who have chosen differently. In fact, unless we’re asked, we have no standing from which to state an opinion. Out of respect for parental authority, we must assume that all parents have fully researched the matter for their own children and have come to their conclusions in good faith. We might not agree, but it's simply not our place to butt in.
Conversely, we must also decide to stop being offended by others’ choices. My friend’s decision to enroll her children in the local private school is not an indictment of my homeschooling. My meme celebrating homeschooling is not an attack on a fellow church member’s decision to send her children to the public school down the street. And my relative’s announcement that his daughter made all-state for the public school’s volleyball team is not a jab at schooling options that offer different benefits. It’s possible that a rude, immature person might actually intend to offend in such a way, but why do we let ourselves assume the worst? 
The “school wars” have grown tiresome. And no one will ever win if we insist on continuing to usurp others’ parental authority over their own children. But if we can choose to agree that the widest possible variety of options should always be available and that each child’s parents have the right to decide for their own kids, we can reach d├ętente. It's time for a cease-fire.

Some people will have a hard time believing I mean these words because I am such an unflinching apologist for home education. In fact, I am fully convinced that any diligent parent - regardless of educational background or current circumstances - really can successfully homeschool, and I am profoundly and deeply troubled by much of what occurs within institutional schools of any stripe. And if I'm being completely transparent, I'll admit that I wish every school - public or private - would close tomorrow because every parent had withdrawn every child in favor of parent-led, home-based education. Of course, I don't go around saying that (despite admitting it here in this post!), but my strong advocacy in favor of home education is certainly not a secret. So I can understand why some would assume I don't really believe in parental choice.

And, though I cannot now recall specific circumstances, I'm quite sure I've crossed the line and "pushed" in regards to homeschooling. I'll probably do it again at some point...because I'm human. I'm not making excuses - when I've disrespected a parent's authority over her own children in the past and if I do it again - I have been - and will be - wrong. Without question. I should endeavor to prevent it from happening again...because I'm serious about what I say in the article about parental authority.

That doesn't mean I'll stop celebrating the joys of homeschooling. It's a wonderful endeavor - even in its unavoidable travails and struggles - and I feel the need to defend it because it is too often vilified by ill-informed blowhards who jump to conclusions and make ridiculous overgeneralizations. Because it's not at all mainstream - despite its long, successful history in the U.S. and around the world - it needs vocal support, and I'm happy to speak up for it. But, as I suggest in the article, my advocacy for home education should be seen as just that - support in favor of one particular thing in which I believe. And even when I write or talk about concerns with the system of institutional schooling - which I do on a limited basis and only with a matter of especially grave concern - I absolutely do not do so with a hidden agenda of seeking to shame parents who've chosen to use such schools. I cannot speak for anyone else who promotes homeschooling, and you'll have to choose to take me at my word, but that is the God's honest truth. 

At root, I stand deeply and profoundly in favor of home education and just as deeply and profoundly for parental authority. One does not trump the other...which means - from the bottom of my heart - that as much as I beg you to honor the decision of parents who home-educate - please stop trying to convince us that we're wrong! - I do fully and completely respect your choice to choose another option. I would not choose it, but your kids are not my kids and I know my place.

Bottom line: I desperately wish we could all agree on that cease-fire, and I hope I live to see it.


Great Family Trip Locations

One of our family mottos is: All of Life is for Learning. In that vein, we understand that education happens during all of a child's waking hours and in the community and beyond at least as much as it does at home.

Practical realities - my husband's job and typical financial constraints - mean we can't continuously travel the world. However, we've taken local/regional "field trips" on a regular basis and plan for bigger trips as often as possible. And since the girls were toddlers, I've kept an informal tally, which I finally decided to compile in a running list here. As of June 2016, we've been to each of these places at least once as a family and can generally recommend them all to others. I'll continue to add to the list over time.

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago IL

Laura Ingalls Site, Burr Oak IA

Creation Museum, Petersburg KY

DeYoung Family Zoo, Wallace MI

Laura Ingalls Sites, Walnut Grove MN
Niagara Cave, Harmony MN
SPAM Museum, Austin MN

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Columbus OH

Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg PA

Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet SD
Laura Ingalls Memorial Society, DeSmet SD

Dallas World Aquarium
Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Fort Worth Stockyards
Fort Worth Water Gardens
Fort Worth Zoo
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose TX
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth TX
National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, Fort Worth TX
Western Currency Facility, Fort Worth TX

Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg VA
Jamestown Settlement, Williamsburg VA
Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon VA

Above & Beyond Children's Museum, Sheboygan WI
Apple Valley Orchard, DePere WI
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay WI
Big Event for Little Kids, Green Bay WI
Bookworm Gardens, Sheboygan WI
Building for Kids Children's Museum, Appleton WI
Children's Museum of Green Bay
Discovery World, Milwaukee WI
Einstein Project Science Expo, Green Bay WI
Green Bay Botanical Garden
Heritage Hill State Park, Green Bay WI
Lake Lundgren Bible Camp, Pembine WI
Lambeau Field & Packers Hall of Fame, Green Bay WI
Laura Ingalls Sites, Pepin WI
Lincoln Park Zoo, Manitowoc WI
Madison Children's Museum
Milwaukee County Zoo
Milwaukee Public Museum
Mulberry Lane Farm, Sherwood WI
National Railroad Museum, Green Bay WI
Neville Public Museum, Green Bay WI
NEW Zoo, Green Bay WI
Old World Wisconsin, Eagle WI
Oneida Nation Museum, DePere WI
Paine Art Center and Gardens, Oshkosh WI
Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek WI
THE Farm in Door County, Sturgeon Bay WI
Timm House, New Holstein WI
Washington Island, Door County WI
Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison WI


Required Hours? Relax!

Home-educating moms often express anxiety about how to meet a homeschool law's "required hours" rule. There's much I could say on the whole topic of state-mandated requirements of any sort, but I recently had some particular thoughts about this "required hours" issue that I believe warrant serious reflection. The numbers will vary but the principle is constant.

The state-mandated number of "required hours" for homeschoolers where I live is the same as is required of kids in the government school system (and in private schools) - as it should be if hours are to be dictated at all, since homeschoolers should not face a more draconian rule than any other child in the state. But in the system the hours are based on children's attendance in buildings - whether their bodies are present or not - not actual "instructional hours."  Kids typically spend six-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half hours a day in their school buildings, but the hours-mandate here comes out to a little less than five hours a day. That indicates that the rule doesn't account for lunch time and recess. And I can attest - from having taught here in a public high school for four years - that the number of hours is based on high school kids' presence in six classes a day (with each class being about 50 minutes long). Then that same number is just applied to middle school and elementary and comes out to 4.86 hours a day - in whatever manner each school arranges the time.

Obviously, that doesn't mean kids are actually engaged in learning for that whole time. In fact, even in an organized high school class, one can eliminate from instructional time at least five minutes after a bell rings for getting settled, and another five to 10 at the end. Additionally, we all know how much wasted time and/or kid zone-out time happens in the middle of lectures and in a typical elementary classroom, too.

But the system says if the kids are there, the hours count. So...by that same standard, if our homeschooled kids are with us (or with someone designated by us according to the homeschool law's parameters), their hours are counting. Thus, if we assume a child is awake for 14 hours a day on average and that our learning year is legitimately 365 days, not just 180, even if we're not always doing bookwork (because the rule is based on when our kids are present in the "school," same as with the system), that means we have 5,110 "school hours" in a year. And even if we remove three hours a day for meals (since the system appears to not count "lunch hour"), that's 4,015 hours. Of course, we homeschoolers can legitimately count our kids' "recess" time (as physical education/health/fitness), but even if we eliminate that, it's clear that we really have plenty of time by the system's standard of measure - i.e., that hours count if the child's body is present.

So...the lesson of the day in terms of time for us - in any state with "mandated hours" or even "mandated days" - is simple: Don't fret about it for even a minute. The fact is that homeschool hour- or day-mandates use the system's rules and stick them onto homeschoolers. We get freaked out by that when we shouldn't, because we can and should take the bureaucrats' rule and make it work for us. If they're going to say they have a right to mandate anything to us - which is, again, the topic for another discussion - then we can use their definitions to our benefit. They define attendance as the presence of the children's bodies, so we can too. Fair is fair!

So relax and enjoy your freedom. You've got the hours covered without even thinking about it...probably at least three to four times over.


Mission Accomplished!

Since the summer of 2013, I've been on a mission.

As I wrote in a September post that year:

[I've become] deeply convicted that I am no longer to sell anything of value in terms of children's education - not curriculum, not other educational resources, and not even children's literature. Instead, I'm going to save and store everything I have worth keeping. ...I'm also working to find room in our budget to re-purchase copies of good material I've sold in the past, all of which I'll pack up into totes [for the girls to use with their children in due time]... I may end up with rows of totes stacked floor-to-ceiling, but I don't care.

Ultimately, I agree with Carole Joy Seid, who teaches that any parent can successfully homeschool with just a Bible, a library card, and a math book. But, since I've used curriculum of various sorts over the years and am able to hold onto it if I'd like, I've been on a mission to keep rather than resell the good resources we have; to regain solid material I'd previously sold; and to fill in with a few things I've learned of since launching The Homeschool Resource Roadmap. My goal has been to provide my girls with quality material to use with their children no matter what happens to educational resources over the next couple of decades. I obviously can't purchase multiple copies of most things, so they'll have to share. And they may each find some good resources to supplement what I've been able to collect; in fact, I'll be continuing to add more literature and a few other high school-level resources over the next few years. But my hope has been to gather a basic but complete "homeschooling trousseau" for all ages - a means of blessing my daughters and their husbands as they will undertake the task of educating their own children - so they won't need to add a thing if they don't want to.

And today I am thrilled to report that I have (almost entirely) accomplished what I set out to do! Yes, other than a few more high school-level resources - which I'll add during the girls' high school years - the trousseau is now complete!

In the coming months, I'll write some "planning" posts about each content area - i.e., sharing how I used and/or would recommend using these materials. And I'll continu to add to this list as I get new resources. For now, though, I'll simply share my inventory list:


66 Books, One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible - Reynolds, Paul
100 Most Important Events in Christian History, The - Curtis, A, Kenneth, et. al
131 Christians Everyone Should Know - Galli, Mark
Answers Books for Kids, Volumes 1-4
Bible Knowledge Commentary, The: New Testament - Walvoord, John F. & Roy B. Zuck
Bible Knowledge Commentary, The: Old Testament - Walvoord, John F. & Roy B. Zuck
Cat and Dog Theology: Year 1 - UnveilinGLORY
Child’s Story Bible, The - Vos, Catherine (2 copies)
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book - Egermeier, Elsie (2 copies)
How Should We Then Live? - Schaeffer, Dr. Francis
How Should We Then Live? DVD Series - Schaeffer, Dr. Francis
Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings - Schoolland, Marian M.
New Answers Book Set, Volumes 1-4
New Answers, DVD Series, Volumes 1-3
New Inductive Study Series, The - Arthur, Kay *
One Year Christian History, The - Rusten, E. Michael & Sharon O. Rusten
On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories... - Morgan, Robert J.
Picture-Smart Bible, The: New Testament - Peters, Dan & Juanene
Picture-Smart Bible, The: Old Testament - Peters, Dan & Juanene
This Day in Christian History: 366 Compelling Events... - Curtis, A. Kenneth & Daniel Graves
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions... - Meade, Starr


City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Addition Book for Kids *
City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Addition Clue Cards *
City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Subtraction Cards *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Times Book for Kids *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Division Cards *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Times Clue Cards *
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: 7,000 Multiplication Problems Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: 10,000 Addition Problems Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: 10,000 Subtraction Problems Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Addition Facts Practice Book
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Algebra Essentials Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Decimals Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Division Facts Practice Book
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Fractions Decimals & Percents Math Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Factions Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Master Long Division Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Master Long Division with Remainders Practice Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Mixed Fraction Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Multiplication Facts Practice Book
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Negative Numbers Workbook
Improve Your Math Fluency Series: Subtraction Facts Practice Book
Key to... Series: Algebra
Key to... Series: Geometry
Life of Fred: Statistics
Math Facts for Copywork - Queen Homeschool


Phonics/Skill Development & Practice
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds, Book 1 (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds, Book 2  (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Before We Read Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Before We Read Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: First Steps Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Days Go By Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More Days Go By Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Busy Times Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More Busy Times Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Climbing Higher Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Reader  (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Workbook (2 copies)

Literature/Literary Analysis
BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS! - all levels, all twaddle-free *
All Through the Ages - Miller, Christine
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 1 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 2 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 3 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 4 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 5 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Honey for a Child’s Heart - Hunt, Gladys
Honey for a Teen’s Heart - Hunt, Gladys
Invitation to the Classics - Guinness, Os & Louise Cowan
Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books - Reinke, Tony
Movies as Literature - Stout, Kathryn L.
Reader’s Odyssey, The - Luchsinger, Dena M.


Brave Writer: Help for High School
Brave Writer: The Writer’s Jungle
Cover Story Writing
Essay Styles for High School - Train Up a Child Publishing
Grading with a Purple Crayon - Luchsinger, Dena
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW): Student Writing Intensive A
Out of the Holding Tank - Luchsinger, Dena
Steps for Writing a Research Paper, The - Train Up a Child Publishing

Jeub's Guide to Speech & Debate, 5th Edition - Jeub, Chris

Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Truss, Lynne
King Alfred’s English - White, Laurie J.
Winston Grammar: Advanced Level
Winston Grammar: Basic Level

Inspirational Quotes: Inspiring Quotes for all Seasons - Stebbing, Barry
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 1, Book 1 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 1, Book 2 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 2 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 3 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 4 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 5 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 6 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 7 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 8 (2 copies)

All About Spelling: Basic Spelling Interactive Kit
All About Spelling: Level 1
All About Spelling: Level 2
All About Spelling: Level 3
All About Spelling: Level 4
All About Spelling: Level 5
All About Spelling: Level 6
All About Spelling: Level 7
Natural Speller

Study Skills
Victus Study Skills

Marie's Words
Professor Charles Says...Learn English! - Sutherland, Charles W.
Rummy Roots Games: Vocabulary Building Games
Word Power Made Easy - Lewis, Norman


Answers in Genesis: God's Design for Life Complete Series
Berean Builders: Science in the Ancient World 
Berean Builders: Science in the Scientific Revolution
Berean Builders: Science in the Age of Reason
Berean Builders: Science in the Industrial Age
Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects - VanCleave, Janice
Body of Evidence DVD Series
Creation Illustrated Magazine *
Discovering Nature Series: Every Herb Bearing Seed - Queen Homeschool
Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition
Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition Lapbook Journal
Friendly Chemistry
Go Science DVD Series, Volumes 1-6
Life of Fred: Chemistry
MEL Science *
Moody Science Classics Complete DVD Series


American History
1620: Year of the Pilgrims - Foster, Genevieve
Abraham Lincoln's World - Foster, Genevieve
All American History Volume 1 Student Reader
All American History Volume 2 Student Reader
America’s Pioneers and Patriots - Emerson Caroline D.
Andrew Jackson: An Initial Biography - Foster, Genevieve
Child’s First Book of American History, A - Schenck Miers, Earl
Child’s Story of America, A - Christian Liberty Press
Finding a New Land - Christian Liberty Press
From Sea to Shining Sea - Marshall, Peter & David Manuel
George Washington's World - Foster, Genevieve
Getting to Know the U.S. Presidents Series - Venezia, Mike *
Guides to History Plus
 - Stout, Kathryn
History2U DVD Series (The American Testimony, etc.)
History of the American People, A - Johnson, Paul
History Stories for Children, 2nd Edition - Wayland, Dr. John
Light and the Glory, The - Marshall, Peter & David Manuel
Noble Rose Press His Story Paper Doll Collections
Our Presidents Rock - Turner, Juliette *
Patriot's History of the United States, A - Schweikart, Larry & Michael Allen
Patriot's Reader, The: Essential Documents for Every American - Schweikart, Larry
Sounding Forth the Trumpet - Marshall, Peter & David Manuel
State History from a Christian Perspective - Wisconsin
Stories of the Pilgrims - Pumphrey, Margaret B.
Story of the Thirteen Colonies, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Great Republic, The - Guerber, H.A.
TruthQuest History: American History for Young Students II (1800-1865)
TruthQuest History: American History for Young Students III (1865-2000)
Turning Back the Pages of Time - Keller, Kathy
World of Capt. John Smith - Foster, Genevieve
World of William Penn - Foster, Genevieve
Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801 - Foster, Genevieve

Civitas: The Government Card Game
Constitution Quest Game, The
Exploring Government
In the Constitution DVD Series
Our Constitution Rocks - Turner, Juliette *
We the People Fight Tyranny Game
WORLD Magazine *

Eat Your Way Around the World - Aramini, Jamie
Eat Your Way Through the USA - Pettit, Loree
Geography of the 50 States
How to Study the World - Prahl, Stephanie

World History
Annals of the World, The - Ussher, James
Augustus Caesar's World - Foster, Genevieve
Christians, The - 12 Volume Series
Mystery of History, The: Volume 1 - Creation to Resurrection
Mystery of History, The: Volume 2 - The Early Church and the Middle Ages
Mystery of History, The: Volume 3 - The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations
Mystery of History, The: Volume 4 - Wars of Independence to Modern Times
Noble Rose Press His Story Paper Doll Collections
Patriot's History of the Modern World, A: Vol. 1 - Schweikart, Larry
Patriot's History of the Modern World, A: Vol. 2 - Schweikart, Larry
Story of the Ancient World, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Greeks, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Romans, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Middle Ages, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Renaissance and Reformation, The - Guerber, H.A.
TruthQuest History: Beginnings - Creation/Old Testament/Ancients/Egypt
TruthQuest History: Ancient Greece
TruthQuest History: Ancient Rome
TruthQuest History: Middle Ages
TruthQuest History: Renaissance, Reformation & Exploration
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution I (America/Europe, 1600-1800)
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution II (America/Europe, 1800-1865)
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution III (America/Europe, 1865-2000)
World of Columbus and Sons - Foster, Genevieve


Artisan and Business Center Homeschool Art Program *
Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 1
Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 2
Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 3
Artistic Pursuits: Elementary Book 1
Artistic Pursuits: Elementary Book 2
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists Series - Venezia, Mike *
Masterpiece: The World's Greatest Paintings Art Collection *


Bridges Guitar Repertoire and Etudes Preparatory Level
Hal Leonard Guitar Method - Book 1
Hal Leonard Guitar Method - Book 2
Hal Leonard Guitar Method Easy Pop Melodies
Hal Leonard Guitar Method Easy Pop Rhythms
Hal Leonard Guitar Method More Easy Pop Melodies
You're in the Band for Rhythm Guitar - Book 1 - Clo, Dave

4Him Songbook - Vocal/Piano
Ada Richter Piano Course, The - Book IV
Alfred's Piano Fun Book - Level 1A
Alfred's Piano Lesson Book - Level 1A
Alfred's Piano Fun Book - Level 1B
Alfred's Piano Lesson Book - Level 1B
Alfred's Piano Technic Book - Level 1B
Alfred's Piano Duet Book - Level 2
Alfred's Piano Lesson Book - Level 2
Alfred's Piano Solo Book - Level 2
Alfred's Piano Technic Book - Level 2
Alfred's Piano Theory Book - Level 2
Alfred's Piano Lesson Book - Level 6
Alfred's Piano Recital Book - Level 6
Bastien Duets for Fun - Book One
Bastien Piano Basics Performance Book - Level 2
Bastien Popular Christmas Songs - Level 2
Bastien Popular Christmas Songs - Level 3
Bastien Popular Christmas Songs - Level 4
Best of Melody Bober, The: Book 1
Broadway Favorites - Kotwitz, Kenny
Colonial Keyboard Tunes - Darling, J.S.
David Car Glover An Adventure in Jazz - Book 1
David Car Glover An Adventure in Jazz - Book 2
David Car Glover Jazz [etc.] On 88 - Level Three
David Carr Glover Piano Student - Level 3
David Carr Glover Piano Repertoire - Level 3
David Carr Glover Piano Student - Level 4
Easy Piano: The Best Praise & Worship Songs Ever
Faber FunTime Piano Christmas - Level 3A-3B
Faber FunTime Piano Christmas - Level 4
Faber Piano Adventures Lesson Book - Level 3A
Faber Piano Adventures Performance Book - Level 3A
Faber Piano Adventures Theory Book - Level 3A
Faber Piano Adventures Lesson Book - Level 3B
Faber Piano Adventures Performance Book - Level 3B
Faber Piano Adventures Lesson Book - Level 4
Faber Piano Adventures Performance Book - Level 4
Faber Piano Adventures Theory Book - Level 4
Golden Era of Ragtime, The - Esposito, Tony
Hal Leonard Best Praise & Worship Songs Ever, The
Hal Leonard Big Book of Praise & Worship, The
Hal Leonard Movie Favorites
Hal Leonard Piano Recital Showcase Ragtime!
John Brimwell's Teaching Fingers How to Play Pops - Issue 1
John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano - Teaching Little Fingers to Play
John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano - The Fourth Grade Book
Leila Fletcher Piano Course, The - Book 2
Little Keyboard Book, A - Darling, J.S.
Michael Aaron Piano Primer for the Early-Age Beginner
Nutcracker for Easy Piano, The
Selections from Disney's Princess Collection Vol. 2
Steve & Annie Chapman Songbook
Technic is Fun: Preparatory Elementary B - Hirschberg, David

America's 200 Favorite Praise Choruses & Hymns - Kee, Ed & Sarah Huffman
Geography of the Voice - Obert, Kerrie B. & Steven R. Chicurel
Great Songs from Musicals for Teens: Young Women's Edition
Oliver! Sing-Along Vocal Selections
Teen's Musical Theatre Collection, The: Young Women's Edition - Lerch, Louise

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers Series - Venezia, Mike *
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 1
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 2
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 3
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 4
Stories of the Great Composers - Montgomery, June & Maurice Hinson

Fireside Book of Children's Songs, The - Winn, Marie
Fireside Book of Fun and Game Songs, The - Winn, Marie
Heart of the Artist, The - Noland, Rory
Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Volume 1 - Wolgemuth, Bobbie & Joni Eareckson Tada
Kids Hymnal, The: 80 Songs & Hymns - Elkins, Stephen
Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart - Wolgemuth, Bobbie & Joni Eareckson Tada
Usborne First Book of the Recorder, The *


Mango Languages *


Abeka Keyboarding and Document Processing
Basic Economics - Cleveland, Paul & Clarence Carson
Early Childhood Education - 7 Sisters


Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care
Girl's Guide to Home Skills, A (2 copies)
Lessons in Responsibility for Girls: Level One *
Little Keepers at Home Handbook (2 copies) 
Nanny Textbook, The: The Professional Nanny Guide to Child Care (2003) - Merchant, A.M.
Polly's Birth Book: Obstetrics for the Home - Block, Polly


Theoretical Framework/Philosophy of Education
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education - Moore, Raymond S.
Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool - DeBeus, Karen
Christian Unschooling - Brown, Teri J.
Complete College without Compromise, The - Wightman, Scott & Kris
Chucking College - Ellison, Melanie
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling - Gatto, John Taylor
Education: Does God Have an Opinion? - Wayne, Israel
For the Children's Sake - Macualay, Susan Schaeffer
Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education... - Llewellyn, Grace
Homeschool: An American History - Gaither, M. 
Homeschooled Teens - Patterson, Sue
Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement - Murphy, Joseph F.
Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity - Gunn, Colin, ed.
Joy of Relationship Homeschooling, The - Campbell, Karen
Love the Journey: Homeschooling Principles and Practices - Somerville, Marcia
Passion-Driven Education - Boyack, Connor
School Is Where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents - Mellott, Anita 
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace - Mackenzie, Sarah
Think Outside the Classroom - Crawford, Kelly
Underground History of American Education, The - Gatto, John Taylor
Unhurried Homeschooler, The - Durenda Wilson
Unschooling Rules - Aldrich, Clark
Weapons of Mass Instruction - Gatto, John Taylor
When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling - Sproul Jr., R.C.

Practical Helps
Blessed Is the Man - Coats. Lynda
Brain Integration Therapy Manual - Craft, Dianne
Checklist, The: A Homeschool Curriculum Guide - Downes, Cindy *
Far Above Rubies: Volume One - Coats. Lynda
Far Above Rubies: Volume Two - Coats. Lynda
Luke's Life List - Herzog, Joyce
Luke's School List - Herzog, Joyce
Record of the Learning Lifestyle, A - Notgrass
Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La - Shelton, Barbara
Sue Patrick's Workbox System

Biology of Behavior, The Craft, Dianne
Children of Caesar, The: The State of America's Education DVD - Baucham, Dr. Voddie
Class Dismissed
Homeschool Made Simple - Seid, Carole Joy
Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity
Teaching the Right Brain Child - Craft, Dianne


8 Great Smarts - Koch, Dr. Kathy
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens - Tripp, Paul David
Blessing of a Skinned Knee, The - Mogel, Wendy
Element, The: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything - Robinson, Ken
Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service - Schwartz, Andrea
No More Perfect Kids - Savage, Jill & Dr. Kathy Koch
No More Perfect Moms - Savage, Jill
Parenting Teens With Love and Logic - Cline, Foster and Jim Fay
Parenting With Love and Logic - Cline, Foster and Jim Fay
Raising Godly Tomatoes - Krueger, L. Elizabeth


Some resource listings are marked with an asterisk (* or *) because they require a bit of explanation:

  • BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS!: I've always leaned toward the use of living books, so I've collected crates and crates of literature - everything from picture books for toddlers to unabridged, high-level classics - all stored for the girls to use. I'll also be buying several dozen more books over the next few years to add to the collection;
  • Answers Magazine and Creation Illustrated Magazine: We've been subscribing to each of these magazines for a number of years. They do not contain time-sensitive content so I can save and pass on what we collect for as long as we subscribe;
  • Artisan and Business Center Homeschool Art Program: The girls took various classes - including Mixed Media Art, Wheel Throwing Clay, Mosaic Art, and Collograph Printing - through a program offered in partnership with the local technical college. Obviously, this was contingent upon the availability of the program;
  • Mango Languages: This is a monthly online subscription program. The girls will have to purchase it on their own if it still exists when they need foreign language resources;
  • Masterpiece: The World's Greatest Paintings Art Collection: This is a collection of over 350 high-quality reproductions of various paintings, along with detailed notes about each artist and work. It was formerly published by International Masters Publishers (IMP) - given to us as a monthly gift subscription by my in-laws - but it now appears to be out of print;
  • MEL Science: This is a monthly subscription program. The girls will have to purchase it on their own if it still exists when they need chemistry resources;
  • New Inductive Study Series, The: Kay Arthur has written 31 New Inductive study guides, covering every book of the Bible. I have four so far, which I've been using in my personal Bible study, and will continue to add to the collection until I have them all;
  • WORLD Magazine: WORLD is also a magazine subscription, but its content is time-sensitive, so saving old issues wouldn't be helpful. If the magazine is still being published when the girls have families, I'll encourage them to subscribe; alternately, perhaps I'll purchase annual gift subscriptions for each family.


  • Book Projects to Send HomeThese books are published by a subsidiary of Carson-Dellosa, which is actively aligning its resources to the CCS. I do not recommend purchasing any post-2009 Carson-Dellosa affiliated products, but these books were written in 2004, have not been updated since (and, thus, cannot contain CCS content), and appear to be available only on the used book market, if at all;
  • City Creek PressThe Usborne First Book of the Recorder and The Checklist: I purchased these resources several years ago, and I found them quite useful so I want to keep them for the girls. However, in recent years, all three publishers have chosen to correlate their materials to the common core standards (CCS). Because I cannot in good conscience promote anything with a connection to the CCS, I can no longer recommend them to others and suggest attempting to find something similar from non-CCS vendors and/or to purchase them on the used book market;
  • Getting to Know Series: Mike Venezia's books are published by Scholastic, which is actively aligning many of its products to the CCS. The company has not currently altered or correlated Mr. Venezia's books to common core and has no plans to do so, but it may be best to seek out pre-2010 editions on the used book market;
  • Our Presidents Rock, Our Constitution Rocks, and Lessons in Responsibility for Girls: Level One: I have attempted to learn each author's stance on the CCS. However, they have not replied to my queries so I cannot guarantee that these resources currently remain independent of the initiative. 
I still can't really believe the task is done! While I'm certainly not in a hurry for my girls to leave the nest, I know I can't stop their growing-up process. So before I know it, there will be weddings to help plan and babies to celebrate. And I'm really glad I can offer this homeschooling trousseau as my gift to the girls and their families.
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