Saturday 31 August 2013

Organising your life!-blog hop

Next week, I'm hoping to take part in a five day blog hop about organising life.

Now to be honest, I need plenty of advice in this area so I'm looking forward to the other posts as well as planning to share a few things that have helped me. 

The topics that we are planning to cover are 

Organising spiritual life. This comes first as it is the most important topic of all. 

Organising laundry is, of course, a far lesser topic but when this isn't organised chaos ensues! 

On Wednesday the subject is about chores. I just need to learn in this area but will be sharing some of my struggles in this area.

Meals are obviously important so there is a day devoted to this. We've changed our diet recently which has been a challenge.

Finally, we look at organisation applied to home education-a large subject on its own.

This blog hop has been arranged by Caroline of the Joyful Keeper. Caroline has worked on all the behind the scenes administration, the banner and much else and of course, will be posting each day.
TheJoyfulKeeper The other people taking part are
Heidi St John of the Busy Mom.


Lisa at the newly relaunched Tales of a Homeschool Family.

These ladies plan to blog for the whole week.

On Monday, Thursday and Friday, Amy of Raising Arrows will be joining the hop.

Heather, of Raising Mighty Arrows, hopes to join us on Wednesday and Friday.


I'm hoping to blog for the whole week.
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Please join us. There will be opportunities to comment and to link up your blog posts around organising life.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Homeschool Spanish Academy

Modern languages are an area where I need help, with teaching so I was pleased when we had an opportunity to review Homeschool Spanish Academy.

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Homeschool Spanish Academy provides lessons via the internet from native Spanish speakers in Central America. It is based in Guatemala. The Academy teaches children from five as well as adults, using four different options:

Younger Daughter, aged six, had Spanish lessons from a lovely teacher called Elsa. Younger Daughter had had no previous Spanish lessons and her only Spanish word prior to the classes was "Hola". Not surprisingly, we chose to use the Early Language option.

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The Academy provides a planner where it is possible to select a teacher and time. The teacher profiles give a picture and information about them including the number of years that they have been teaching. The process of booking a slot is quite simple but YouTube videos are provided to guide through this.

The lessons are via Skype and of course, it is necessary to have a Skype account, the internet, a microphone and ideally, a webcam. Just before the first lesson, a Homeschool Spanish Academy technician called us to check our internet speed and that we could see and hear her.

Elsa called us promptly at the time of the class. She started the first lesson talking to my daughter in English but quickly started to use Spanish expressions. During the first lesson, she went over the Spanish vowels and a few nouns. After the lessons, home work is sent via a private part of the Academy website. This has, so far, been learning vocabulary from colourful sheets.

This is an example of  part of a vocabulary sheet.

Subsequent lessons, covered the alphabet, more nouns, a few verbs and some common expressions.

The Early Language Program lessons last 25 minutes whereas those in the other stages are 50 minutes.

What we liked about the programme
  • This is a great way to learn Spanish with a native speaker with none of the inconvenience and loss of time travelling to classes.
  • In addition, classes are generally one to one although it is possible to have paired classes if the students are not more than three grades (years) apart.
  • Elsa was friendly and encouraging, asking about the weather and our cats, in order to put Younger Daughter at ease.
  • The programme is good value for money. It would be unusual to find classes for this price.
What could be improved?
Very little.  
One suggestion for improvement would be to have audio files with the homework. I found it quite challenging to remember how to pronounce the alphabet.

Overall, this is a programme that I would recommend as an efficient and cost effective of learning a language with a first language speaker.

The cost varies with stage, whether a semester (15 weeks) or half-semester (7 weeks) is booked and number of lessons per week. A semester of the Early Language Program with one lesson per weeks costs $99.99 (about £64.17 which is £4.28 a lesson).  A semester of the Early Language Program with two lessons per week costs $174.99 (about £112.30).


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Tuesday 27 August 2013

Summer reading

This has been a summer of reading aloud. My younger two children love to have books read to them but the Wisdom House reading scheme really seemed to galvanise Younger Daughter to try to beat her brother's list of books. So Youngest Son had his usual large dose of picture books, over 140 so far, this summer not including repeats and longer, partially read books.

Younger Daughter decided that the best way to achieve a high number was to go for mainly picture books, with a few longer books for variety and a few that she read aloud. She hasn't quite managed her brother's score but is over 100.

It sounds impressive but I'm sure that books and the park have been a lazy mother's way of keeping them happy!

In between, I've managed a bit of reading; not as much as I would like but some. A couple of books to see whether they were suitable to read aloud to the children:

Pat's new life by Dorothy Marsh is a book about a young girl in her new job and the challenges she faces. This will be fine to read to the children but is probably slightly over the head of a six year old.

Homecoming by Michael Morpurgo passes the read aloud test. Younger Daughter enjoys Michael Morpurgo's books but some are, in my opinion, too dark for a six year old. Homecoming is about an unsuccessful battle against a power station. It is sad but would be fine. I'm less sure about the book that I've glanced over recently, again by Michael Morpurgo, Running Wild , in which the hero's father dies in Iraq and he and his mother get caught up in a tsunami which claims his mother's life. Younger Daughter will probably enjoy this in a year or so.

There have been a couple of review books:

Compassionate Jesus

Homegrown preschooler: teaching your kids in the places where they live

A home education book: The well trained mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

This was long, over 600 pages but definitely worth reading for a rigorous treatment of a classical approach to education with curriculum suggestions.

The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the reformation of the church by Crawford Gribben was a gift from some friends. This book is a fascinating history of the Reformation in Ireland and beyond. It filled in so many gaps in my knowledge about the religious, and secular history of Ireland. Definitely recommended!

I'm currently reading another book about Ireland, from the same friends: The Ulster Awakening: an account of the  1859 revival in Ireland by John Weir and a book that I have had on the go for ages, The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent.

Not much, I would have liked to have read more but struggle to find time to read. Still, I'm open to suggestions for more books to read and very tempted to go for a quick dose of Miss Read or O Douglas before term starts!

Monday 26 August 2013

Bank holiday harvest

We've been blackberrying. This year's harvest is rich-lovely, big, juicy blackberries.

My freezer now has several pots of blackberries. We use them on porridge and with apple. 

This year, we seem to have a reasonable apple harvest. Something for which we are thankful after last year's poor harvest but, perhaps, not quite as big as the bumper harvest of a few years ago.

In case, anyone else has a fair few apples, here are the links to my compendium of apple recipes:

Breakfasts, soups, main courses and vegetables


Apple turnover

Blackberry jelly

While the earth remaineth  seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. 
Genesis 8 v22

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Beauty in the heart

The subject of true beauty is something that is relevant to all women so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review Beauty in the heart: a study of godly beauty for young women 

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published by Doorposts.

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The Bible Study is by Pam Forster and is recommended for girls aged 10-12 and older although it is said that it could be used by younger girls with the help of a parent. Alternative questions are provided for boys using the book.  My 17 year old daughter and I both studied beauty using this study.

Beauty in the heart looks at what the Bible has to say about true beauty and the attitudes of heart that characterise a woman who is beautiful in God's sight. It covers different types of Bible study and different Bible passages. The book is set out in chapters divided into days. There is sufficient material to use the book for 86 days doing one study per day. The book has spaces to fill in the answers to questions and links to on-line Bible study resources as well as boxes with interesting details such as how Matthew Henry's commentary on the Bible came to be written. 

The types of Bible study include book, chapter and verse studies, a character studies and a word and topical study. Passages studied include the books for Ruth and Esther, the account of Abigail and passages from 1 Peter, 1 Timothy and Proverbs.

My daughter has written about this study: 
It was encouraging to have a topic, that can potentially be so consuming in a negative sense to girls, dealt with in a godly way and it was good to be guided to the passages which deal with this topic so that a clear view of what the Bible says about beauty can be built up.
I love that it really slows down Bible reading so that you gain a full understanding of the context, aim and meaning of the text.
I enjoyed that it introduced you to devotional aids such a commentaries, which then gives you the confidence to take them and use them in your own Bible readings to gain fuller understanding.

What we liked about this book.
We both found the book useful. I liked the way that it introduced various types of Bible study in a systematic and logical way. Having to fill in answers helps prevent skim reading. 
Pointing out on-line resources is important in a study for younger people. I was pleased to see the way in which valued resources such as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and Matthew Henry's commentary are introduced.

What could be improved
These are relatively minor issues but some more application could be useful, possibly at least a point a day, or some question raised by the passage that can be taken away and thought about during the day. E.g in Day 1 of Study 1 there is quite a bit of reading, and then a few simple questions about the passage, but none that can be taken as a challenge for the day, or point of encouragement. I wonder if people would be tempted to do all the reading, answer the questions and not think any deeper that day.
Some of the studies were quite short and both my daughter and I managed more than one study a day. It might be worth noting that older readers may manage the study at a faster pace.

We had the book as an e-book. We made the choice not to print out 128 pages but to write pdf notes. We both felt that this is a book that would be better as a physical book rather than as an e-book.

This is a book that I recommend for girls aged 10-12 and over. It can also be usefully used by older women. Do try to buy the physical book, if possible.

Beauty in the heart is available from Doorposts for $14 as a paperback and for $10 as an e-book. The paperback is on preorder and will ship by 29th August. There is currently a special offer so that if the code "beautyshop" is used, then an instant free copy of the e-book is received when the paperback is ordered. This offer is valid until 31st August 2013.

My fellow crew members have been reviewing Beauty in the heart and Because you are strong, a Bible study for young men.

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Tuesday 20 August 2013

Schoolhouse Expo has started!

I've just listened to Heidi St John's talk So you are a new homeschooler: navigating the first three years.

Amazingly, we are now into year five but this was helpful, especially, as we are soon to begin the next school year. It was useful to be reminded to think about why we homeschool, that education is discipleship and that our relationships with our children are so important. Well, yes, I knew already but it is easy to forget and be that stressed mama. Yes, and children of stressed mothers don't learn. So easy to say in August: harder to act on in February when the spellings don't seem to have gone in and the sky is grey.

Anyway, there is plenty more to hear over the next four days. If, like me, you miss talks because the children have to be put to bed then there will be recordings available.

The Schoolhouse Expo site has details of the speakers and their talks.

The Schoolhouse Expo is an on-line home education conference and runs from 19th to 23rd August from 1pm to 8pm Eastern Time (6pm to 1am in the UK). The ticket also includes recordings of the sessions. To book a ticket go to the Schoolhouse Expo Ticket page.

Disclaimer: This is a promotional post for which I will receive a ticket to the Expo.

Monday 19 August 2013

Understanding Child brain development-a review

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 The Family Hope Center have produced a DVD about child brain development: Understanding Child brain development.

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This DVD is of a seminar given by Matthew and Carol Newell of the Family Hope Center and introduced by Andrew Padewa from Institute of Excellence in Writing. The seminar is aimed both at parents of children with special needs but also at parents in general. At the start of the DVD, Matthew Newell expresses the thought that children are on a continum from normal brain function to very abnormal function leading to disability.

Mr Newell goes through the functions of the medulla, pons, midbrain and cortex; introduces the work of the Family Hope Center and gives pointers as to how parents can help their children. The seminar lasts just over two hours but reference is made to a longer three day course run by the Center.

The Center itself works with children with special needs and learning difficulties and their families. 

What was particularly helpful

  • The talk was illustrated by brain and skull models as well as a toy to show compressibility.
  • There was an emphasis on working with families. In particular, families are said to be "part of the team."
  • The point about time needed for therapy seemed sensible and realistic.
What was less helpful
  • No evidence was produced for assertions such that as creeping practice can help an older child with reading difficulties. I'm no neurodevelopmentalist but I would like to know the evidence before subjecting a child to two hours a day crawling rather than practice with reading and play. Similarly, before parents clear all devices from their home which use electromagnetic fields, they should know the evidence for their causing learning delay.
  • There were a fair few assertions which may or may not have been correct. A typical example was about his daughter "She needed to crawl at eight years as she was so hurt by a vaccine shot." The needing to crawl wasn't that the child was only able to do this but was being given crawling as therapy.
  • Again, I'm not a paediatrician or neurologist but I was surprised to be taught that an up going plantar reflex, beyond early childhood,was an indication of a lesion in the medulla. As far as I'm aware, and this fitted with my past experience in medicine, a withdrawal or upgoing plantar reflex is indicative of any upper motor neurone lesion, that is, in the spinal cord or brain including the medulla. It is not a localising sign, that is, it doesn't point to a problem in a specific place.
  • I wasn't able to read the powerpoint slides, partly, because they were unclear and partly because, on occasion, the whole screen wasn't shown.
The DVD Understanding Child brain development is available at $19 (about £12.14 today) either by phoning 610-397-1737 (add 001 to the beginning of the number if calling from the UK) or from Institute of Excellence in Writing.

To read further reviews of this DVD, please visit the Schoolhouse Crew Review blog.

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Additional disclaimer: Whilst I am a qualified physician and practised for over twenty years, I no longer hold a licence to practice, having voluntarily given this up in order to devote more time to my family. I have never practised as a paediatrician or as a neurologist.

Friday 16 August 2013

August Inspiration

Summer is flying past. One visit, on the wish list, was to the British Museum and we managed to go, this week.

When my older children were young, I didn't like going to the British Museum as it really didn't seem set up for children but times have changed and they welcome children with some rather well put together activities. We used the Greek backpack. The activities were very suitable for my six year old but Youngest Son, aged four, joined in -putting magnetic pieces on a board went down particularly well.
In the process of looking into this trip, I discovered that the British Museum has pages full of activities for children. 

Youngest Daughter wanted to stay longer. Mosaics were a particularly hit. 

A place that I have never visited is Orkney but this post and the one following, from Playing by the Book, piqued my interest. 

Over a year ago, we discovered that some of the passengers on the Titanic had lived in London and we managed to find their house so Younger Daughter and I were interested to see this post about the Titanic Museum. It even has a replica of the grand staircase and water to feel at the temperature of the Atlantic when the Titanic went down.

Danika Cooley had reviewed a book that we have been enjoying this holiday: Good news for little people: 365 Bible stories.

Finally, the time to start the new academic year is almost here. I'm going through books and putting new exercise books into the drawers so I enjoyed seeing pictures of another family's space for home education especially as it is in their kitchen, not a dedicated "school room."

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Healthy living on a budget

As a family, we have recently been working on eating a more healthy diet. This has many benefits but we have found that it can lead to higher food bills: 50% higher in the first month. OK, we also went away that month but some of this was buying more vegetables, chicken breasts and fish.

I was brought up on the maxim that feeding dessert saves money and this is true. It is cheap to make an apple crumble from apples from our tree and that means that the main course is less expensive. Of course, often dessert was fruit but changing to having dessert as mainly uncooked fruit costs more. Yes, we can plant more fruit bushes and plan to do this but they won't produce instantly.

It also seems that the cheaper main courses are stuffed full of saturated fat: quiche, home made pizza, lentil bake and homity pie. They all contain either pastry, cheese or both! 

So what have we done?
  • Planted more. Younger daughter wanted to help with the Family Diet so she has planted salad.
    There is more growing in the kitchen. We've also planted spinach and Christmas potatoes, in bags,
    so that there will be new potatoes as an alternative to roast. Plans are afoot to plant more currant bushes.
  • Frozen vegetables are often much cheaper than fresh. We are keeping more bags of frozen veg in the freezer.
  • Tried to sort out some new meals. I've not found any suitable veggie recipes that will be generally acceptable. Please let me know if you have any frugal veggie meals that are not high in fat. 
  • Added pulses to meat. We did this anyway but it means that it is necessary to use far less meat.
  • Using fruit from the garden. Our blueberries only gave us a few berries as they are young plants but enough to enliven porridge and blackcurrants which were more plentiful have been used in the same way.
  • Wild blackberries are now taking the place of the, almost ended, blueberries and blackberries.
Has anyone else done this sort of dietary transformation? Do you have any recipes that you recommend?

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Frugal Family 2013

Compassionate Jesus

Compassionate Jesus: Rethinking the Christian's approach to modern medicine, by Christopher Bogosh, takes a look at modern medicine from a Christian point of view.

Having worked as a doctor for over twenty one years and as a consultant in medicine for older people for nine of these, before my "retirement", two and a half years ago, this book was something that I had wanted to see before. Whilst I was working there were many ethical issues yet there seemed to be nothing that dealt with the issues that I met, day to day, from a Christian point of view. Yes, there are books about abortion and euthanasia but there didn't seem to be anything that dealt with the complex day to day issues.

For example, Mrs X is bed bound and doesn't speak from her advanced Alzheimer's Disease. She has had two chest infections in the last six weeks, both were treated with oral antibiotics. She has now come into hospital with a third chest infection which hasn't responded to oral antibiotics. In addition, she has stopped swallowing. Mrs X looks dry, has low oxygen levels and has signs of a chest infection. What do you do? Let's assume that she was given oxygen, intravenous antibiotics and fluids. Her chest improves but she still doesn't take anything by mouth. What do you do?

Mrs X isn't a real patient but typical of many that I saw over my time in medicine. Is she dying? Would another course of antibiotics make any difference? Should she have a feeding tube? Would that make any difference? Is she not eating because she is dying or dying because she is not eating?

This new book doesn't answer all these questions but does start to provide a framework for thinking about this. It seems to be written for American Christian lay people.

The basic tenets of the book are
  • that the modern medical worldview is naturalistic, humanistic, agnostic and evolutionary. The Christian views a person as body and soul but medicine assumes that we are beings with only a body.
  • we should seek God's will rather than a blind desire to prolong life
  • life ends when the heart stops rather than when the EEG is flat.
Taking these points
-Much of modern medicine is humanistic and agnostic. However, we can see common grace in much of medicine as well as the influence of an earlier Christianised society. It would have been useful to have quoted the principles of medical ethics and examined these Biblically. The much quoted principles are said to be
  • beneficence-doing good
  • non-maleficence-not doing harm
  • autonomy
  • justice
-We should seek God's will rather than a blind desire to prolong life. Yes, of course. I suspect that some of the extreme methods of trying to prolong life are more common in the US than here. Mr Bogosh comes from  a palliative care background and seems, in my opinion, rather negative about cancer treatments. Yes, of course they don't always work and they do have side effects but often they do work although they have side effects. It might have been worth saying something about the use of numbers in making decisions. If a condition has a 75% cure rate then it doesn't mean that an individual will be cured but this information is a useful factor in making a prayerful decision.

-life ends when the heart stops. Mr Bogosh argues against the unBiblical thought that the brain is the mind and argues for dualism i.e. we have bodies and souls. He therefore argues against lack of brain activity meaning that life has left and argues for cessation of the heart as the sign of death. This means, that he describes a patient whose heart has been restarted as having "died". The Bible texts that he quotes to support this talk about life do not seem to prove the point. Surely, the soul leaving the body is the moment of death and both cessation of brain activity and the heart beat stopping are merely symptoms of this. 

What I liked about this book
It is really helpful to have a look at modern medicine from a Biblical standpoint and I am grateful that Mr Bogosh has done this. I hope that this book will lead to more Christians examining the issues and particularly, those which face Christian medical professionals in their day to day work.

The first chapter looks at healing and makes some helpful points about the temporary nature of healing, in this life, and the dangers of idolising health and unconsciously imbibing the belief system of modern medicine.

Chapter Four on the book of Job which lists ways to pray when facing illness and death.

The emphasis on God's will being paramount.

Points to note
  • Some of the legal issues are different in the UK. For example, in the wording for a living will it is suggested that this includes asking for a feeding tube in certain circumstances. In the UK, only negative requests in a living will are binding, for example, "I would not want to be ventilated if...".  Similarly, in the UK, the only adult who can make health decisions on behalf of another adult is someone who has been appointed by a Lasting Power of Attorney (health and welfare).
  • This book is directed towards Christian lay people and not doctors. It doesn't give clear guidance for doctors thinking through these difficult issues.
Whilst I think these caveats are important, I recommend this book. It is helpful for those Christians who are employed in healthcare to have some basis on which to start to think about these issues and, subject to the  differences in the UK, it would be a useful starter for others wanting to think through modern medicine from a Biblical worldview.

Compassionate Jesus is available from Reformation Heritage Books both as a paperback and as an e-book and in the UK, from the Christian Bookshop Ossett as a paperback and Amazon as an e-book for Kindle.

Disclaimer 1: I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for this review. The opinions are all my own.

Disclaimer 2: Whilst I am a qualified physician and practised for over twenty years, I no longer hold a licence to practice, having voluntarily given this up in order to devote more time to my family.

Monday 12 August 2013

Reading Kingdom: a review

I was keen to make sure that my six year old didn't completely miss reading practice through the summer so the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom was opportune.

Reading Kingdom logo photo readingkingdomlogo_zps9012735a.jpg Reading Kingdom is an on-line reading programme created by Marion Blank who is Director of the Light on Learning programme at Columbia University. Dr Blank's programme is not a phonics programme or a whole language programme but incorporates work on sequencing, motor skills, sounds, meaning, grammar and comprehension.

The programme starts with a skills survey, mainly based around key board skills. I made a mistake with this as I thought it might be easier for Younger Daughter to use a keyboard on the screen. This was a silly mistake as she has never used an on screen keyboard but is used to using the laptop keyboard. She managed to go through the first part of the assessment: seeing sequences
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 but was placed on Letterland.

Letterland is not about learning the letters but keyboarding skills. Once Younger Daughter started this, it became obvious that this was rather easy for her, especially. when she used a physical keyboard.

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Once I e-mailed Reading Kingdom, she was moved onto the reading skills survey. After the skills survey, the child moves onto the appropriate Reading and Writing level.

In the Reading and Writing secton there are five levels. In the earlier sections which we used, the child learns words such as here and bird. There seem to be four ways to re-enforce each word including writing it, selecting which letters and spaces could be used to make the word and picking out the word in a paragraph.

 Once a child completes a word correctly there is the sound of clapping and the child receives points to open a passport. When the words are learnt, the child has a lesson with a reading book using these words.

Each session takes up to 20 minutes but often less. My daughter frequently did two sessions per day. Reading Kingdom is intended to be used for four sessions a week. It has five reading levels and states that a child who completes level 5 would be able to read at the level of a third grader (year 4). Under the log-in screen is a section which shows a child's progress and performance at that level.

Reading Kingdom is designed for children from age 4 to 10. There is a helpful readiness guide for younger children.

What we liked about the programme:
  • the repetition has been helpful for this particular child. Some of my other children would have found this frustrating.
  • work on irregular words as well as the more usual work on regular phonetic words. There often seems to be a complete lesson around one word which has been very helpful with tricky words.
  • clear graphics
What we didn't like:
  • This is an American programme and the language isn't quite the same. For example, my daughter was confused when she was asked to write "uh" for "a" which we pronouce as "ay". Similarly, punctuating with a "period" was confusing; we use the term "full stop". The keyboard is also slightly different to one set up for the UK. 
  • There didn't seem to be any opportunity to correct mistakes such as accidentally hitting an incorrect key. The programme customises according to mistakes and then includes extra repetition. My daughter was frustrated when she was unable to correct mistakes and then had extra practice.
  • My most major concern is around lack of phonics. Whilst the programme supposedly uses some phonics; this didn't seem obvious. Words were taught individually and not as group members so "bird" was taught as "bird" not as a member of the group of words containing "ir" such as fir, birth and stir. Similarly, "eat" was taught as an individual word not as one of a group of words containing "ea". This added unnecessary steps for a child who has found reading difficult. 
Reading Kingdom is available for $19.99 (£12.90) per month or $199.99 (£129.01) for an annual subscription.  Extra readers can be added at about half price; $9.99 per month and $99.99 per year. Reading Kingdom also offers a 30 day free trial. 

Do pop over to the Schoolhouse Crew blog for more reviews of Reading Kingdom.

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Saturday 10 August 2013

Learning more about learning

I wrote a little about this on-line conference, last week, but wanted to tell you a bit more about the speakers.

Schoolhouse Expo

Just recently, after loads of research and thought, we brought a Student Writing Intensive programme for Middle Son, for next year, from Institute of Excellence in Writing. I'm enjoying previewing the lessons so was delighted to find out that Andrew Pudewa of the Institute of Excellence in Writing is going to speak on Teaching boys and other children who would rather make forts all day. This really describes my youngest who becomes school age in September so this is definitely something that I'm hoping to hear.

Textbooks usually  always have some mistakes and often myths. I noticed one, recently, in my son's biology textbook.This myth was around when I was in school and had, I thought, been put to rest but it appears to be live and circulating. So I'm looking forward to Diana Waring and Jay Wile talk about the myths in history and science textbooks.

Jessica Hulcy is speaking about multi-level teaching. My younger two are two years apart so this is definitely another talk that I would like to hear.

Do look at the Schoolhouse Expo site so see more of what is on offer including from the many other speakers.

The Schoolhouse Expo is an on-line home education conference and runs from 19th to 23rd August from 1pm to 8pm Eastern Time (6pm to 1am in the UK). The ticket also includes recordings of the sessions. To book a ticket go to the Schoolhouse Expo Ticket page.

Disclaimer: This is a promotional post for which I will receive a ticket to the Expo.

Friday 9 August 2013

Reference books for use in home education

Welcome back to the last day of Five days of Booklists.

This is a short list of books that are useful to have around whilst home educating. 

  • The Bible. We use the Authorised (King James) version in a family Bible size plus copies of the Psalms and Gospel of Matthew as large print versions. I'm not sure that the Authorised Version translation Gospel of Matthew is still available as a large print version but the Gospel of John can be obtained with large print. Realistically, a tablet could be used for children who need a large print Bible.
  • Dictionary. I'm going to be a heretic and say that using is more useful that buying a large dictionary. We do use a junior dictionary (Oxford Junior Dictionary) to practise dictionary use and alphabetical order.
  • Atlas-I don't find on-line versions of maps as useful as a proper, up to date atlas. An atlas is not something to buy second hand as countries alter. We have a large atlas (Collin's World atlas) and a children's atlas (DK Children's world atlas). It is invaluable to have a world map on the wall. My younger children enjoy the Usborne Jigsaw World atlas although, I'm afraid that this is slightly dated and appears to be out of print.
The three books above are the real essentials but also useful are
  • a poetry anthology. We use the Macmillan treasury of poetry for children edited by Susie Gibbs and 100 best poems for children edited by Roger McGough. The Macmillan treasury appears to be out of print but is available second hand at a reasonable price.
  • a reference book about classical music. We like the Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine.
  • a reference book about the history of art. In this house, our favourite for little people is the Usborne book of Famous Artists but we also supplement this with the Usborne cards of Famous Paintings.
  • a historical atlas-our choice is Muir's historical atlas.
  • a hymn book. We use our church hymn book so that the children can become familiar with some of the hymns.
In many ways, it is useful to have access to many books and I often raid our bookshelves for information books.

 One thing that has changed since my childhood is the loss of the encyclopaedia. My Mother would tell us to look something up in the encyclopaedia: I tell the children to use Google. Of course, the encyclopaedia was sometimes wrong or out of date and similarly the internet can prove wrong or misleading information. It is part of learning to be aware of this.

Do you have any other recommended reference books for learning at home?

Summer Blog Hop

Thursday 8 August 2013

Books about home education

Today is day four of the Five Days of Booklists.

These books are a small selection of those available on the subject of home education. There are many more available which I haven't included either because I don't know about them or I haven't read them or they just aren't my favourites.

 I don't think that I would agree with everything in most, if not all, of these books. These books are for thought rather than coming with my whole hearted agreement but are well worth reading for stimulating thought and improving quality of home education.

  • When you rise up by JC Sproul Jr deals with Christian home education. This is a challenging book and a must read.

  • Making the right impression is published by the UK Christian organisation Home Service. It has vignettes of 21 UK Christian home educating families of very different style. Each family explains why they home educate and how they go about education at home.

  • Educating the wholehearted child by Clay and Sally Clarkson is about a Biblical model for education at home. It explains different home education styles and much more besides. 

  • Teaching the Trivium: Christian homeschooling in a classical style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. This is a thick book, over 600 pages. The Bluedorn's do have quite strong opinions on a variety of subjects which in some ways spoils the book. They are well known for advocating delaying formal maths until age 10 which seems challenging for anyone who doesn't see maths in everything. 

  • The well trained mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. This is another 600 page tome on classical education. This book describes a rigorous education and is full of helpful suggestions around curriculum. In my opinion, it is the more useful Classical education book.

  • A Charlotte Mason companion: personal reflections on the gentle art of learning by Karen Andreola. This book condenses and explains Charlotte Mason's teaching with modern practical suggestions.

  • The six volume series of Charlotte Mason writings is provided, free,  at Ambleside Online.

  • Managers of their homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell is a step by step guide to scheduling. It is pedantic: I couldn't bear to have a buzzer going off every half an hour but the book has some helpful ideas particularly from the people who tested the book. 
Do visit some of the other people who are writing in this blog hop. 
Summer Blog Hop