And that’s just what Debbie Strayer did. Ruth Beechick has been a teacher since 1977 when she finished her master’s degree in special education, and a homeschooler since 1988 when her son became a kindergartner. She is a highly respected author and speaker in the world of homeschooling and I obtained a book-long interview in where she answered some amazing homeschooling questions. Her specialty is reading, writing, and basically language arts all around.
This is especially exciting to me because I have boys and they love science , math, history and art, and everything else, but they do not like, nor do they feel confident in their writing. My oldest struggles to find meaning in writing and just writes to satisfy the lesson, yet he fills notebooks upstairs with scribbles and scratches of stories, while my youngest is quickly finding his vice in learning to write neatly and clearly in his penmanship notebook. I have gained some real gems of wisdom and would like to share them here. (All of the advice given here is directly from Ruth Beechick, in her own words)
Some of the questions are inspired by conversations with friends on a particular topic and some are areas that interested me…
~Are children missing socializing when they are homeschooled?
Do we agree with society that it’s natural to grow up spending many hours per waking day with thirty age-mates? Is it best, is it biblical, or is this an artificial life that our part of the world has adopted in fairly recent history? Your children are only missing out on some things you should be happy they miss.
~How do I determine what grade level my child is reading at?
From the commonsense viewpoint you don’t have to be concerned with grade levels. Grades gradually came into being in the 1800’s in order to handle increased attendance in schools. This artificial way of thinking is so entrenched now that we find it difficult to rid ourselves of it. If you need to know, you can get a rough estimate by simply reading from a graded reading textbook. Christian textbook publishers are more difficult. That is, a fifth grade level is published as a fourth grade level, and so on.
~What is your opinion of the method called the writing process? (My children hate to edit and rewrite papers)
With all it’s formulaic systems, there is a limit to what it can accomplish. This system is not the whole of writing, nor the way all writers work. In the early days of word processing educators who specialized in writing developed software to use for teaching students how to write. It was widely advertised and made a splash at first, but is now defunct. So much for educators teaching you how to write. I own this software and never use it. A lawyer uses it for organizing evidence for his cases. The thing is, some novelists outline their stories in detail; others start with their characters and don’t know what will happen in a book. So, I think each system you try will add something to your children’s writing skills. But nowhere can you find the formula for writing. (I am going to add my own experience here… if you are very inexperienced in teaching writing, using a writing process is an excellent place to begin. It helped us tremendously to begin here and then slowly move on to a more individual tailor-made plan)
~ What advice do you have for a child who is not reading by the end of first grade?
Dr, Raymond Moore’s book Better Late Than Early documents the dangers of pushing for too early a start. I often speak of an optimum starting time, which is the time in a child’s life when he is able to catch on to some reading skills. So on one hand, you need not delay a child who is eager to read, and on the other, you should not push a child who doesn’t seem ready. We push and pull our children up the steps as early as possible, but this is a mistake. It’s far better to richly experience each step before moving on. There is much research to show that a good average age for boys to start reading is 7 1/2. (Whew, my middle child, with slight special needs, is 6 and not reading. I was beginning to chalk it up to his autism. I am now hopeful he’ll be reading soon.)
~What curriculum do you recommend to use for teaching Bible to my children?
In Bible, no full curriculum could do it justice. The Bible itself is the best core curriculum to use. Homeschoolers are certainly obeying the command to teach God’s words diligently, to talk of them when they sit in the house, and walk by the way and rise up. Help your child to memorize Scripture by categories, do this as a family. The beautiful language and literary character of the Bible will increase their writing and speaking skills. The truth in the Bible will increase their logic and thinking skills. And the discipline of memorizing will help in all other learning. (While I wholeheartedly agree with Ruth Beechick, I say loosen up a little when it comes to learning Scripture, but do not ignore it. Let them see you valuing your relationship with the indwelling Lord, but that’s just my opinion-Jackie)
That’s all for now… I hope you liked the questions I chose out of about a hundred. If you would like to know about anything else, just ask and I’ll see if Ruth addresses your specific problem area. I didn’t include anything on math, my kids are strong mathematically so I skipped it, but she answers a lot of math questions. The book is Dr. Beechick’s Homeschool Answer Book selected and edited by Debbie Strayer (the first editor of Homeschooling Today Magazine)
Thanks for reading and have a great week!