Vintage Textbooks for Homeschool High School

I’m a “Keep-it-Simple” type of homeschool mom, and the curriculum choices I’ve made reflect such a practice. My nostalgic side fancied the idea of the kids using textbooks once used by students in the 1948 on thru to 1968. In my thinking, the information contained in these tag-sale treasures has remained unchanged since the historical events occurred. If it was good enough for a high school student to learn from in 1948; then, it was good enough for my student.

My intuitive method of homeschooling spoke loudly to me. The scholarly information contained between the covers of these vintage books could play an invaluable role in my children’s education. Weaving the texts into their education would be different from what is currently offered in curriculum catalogs. No bells and whistles, just plain ole’ wholesome learning.  I viewed it as being new to us, for our own time, today. It spoke of our own originality as a homeschool family.

Curiosity drew me to compare the newly obtained vintage textbook with a modern version sitting on my homeschool shelf. A recently published textbook’s colorful graphics leap from the page, are clearer, and attention grabbing. Students gain understanding from both the graphics and the written text.

A book published in 1948 has few black and white photographs, with a haze like quality, speaking of the era from which it came, enhancing the history lesson. The student relied entirely on learning the subject from what was written.

The questions at the end of the chapters in the vintage texts demanded more thought from the student. There were no multiple choice or true/false type of questions. The following two questions are from a 1950 History textbook; “Could we have had an Agricultural Revolution without first having an Industrial Revolution?” or “Why has the period from 1865 to 1877 been called ‘the tragic era’? Is this an accurate description of this period? Explain.”

Discussion questions from a 1931 American Literature text; “Note how admirably the first sentence states the case and at the same time arouses our curiosity.” Or “What do you think of the title? Find a line in the second paragraph on page 420 that explains it.” Or Is the picture presented in the story ideal, sentimental, or real? Does it seem overdrawn or natural?”

The textbooks were written expecting the student to deduct logical conclusions to the material that was presented. Unbeknownst to the student, problem solving and critical thinking skills were being gained in the process. Both of which are essential for taking either the SAT or ACT exams for college entrance.

It is unlikely an answer key will be found in the textbook.  Don’t let this dissuade you. This is an opportunity to grade creatively. Instead of writing out every answer, have your child respond verbally. Have a relaxed conversation. I suggest reading the chapter summary and couple it with your own general knowledge of the subject. Your child’s response to the questions will give you an inkling of how well he understood the concepts. The topic of grading high school subjects will be discussed in a future post.

There is little difference between giving your child assignments out of a vintage textbook or a modern one. The reading grade-level is higher in vintage textbooks than current textbook standards, which may prompt your high school student to seek out a dictionary. A dictionary of the same era will match the vocabulary used and provided accurate definition.

The use of dated or vintage textbooks could be used to compliment a modern textbook. Whichever route you choose, always remember: Home, Where Wholesome School Begins.

Homeschool Lesson Plan – A Unique & Intuitive Approach – Elementary Years

When I was a school girl and I returned home in the afternoon, my mom had the house tidied up, a plan for dinner and sometimes laundry was still drying in the Yakima, Washington sunshine. I envisioned something similar to occur with my own family. Then it dawned on me, my mom had eight uninterrupted hours to take care for the family and home while someone else educated me and my brothers. My tidy house – well educated children quickly began to fade. Now what I wondered?

I wasn’t sure at the time, but I did know, I just needed to start homeschooling my five-year-old. I began with one subject. Reading. Phonics. Letter games. Things like that. We’d begin school after breakfast was more-or-less cleaned. And we were dressed and pressed, as Mary Poppins would say. And yet, if the seagulls were calling, we’d disembark off of our boat (we were bonified live-a-boards back then) and go for a walk. Sometimes we’d end up at the Marine Life Touch Tank, or out on the spit.

Once I had that subject down, I added another one. Math, she needed to be able to count, add and subtract, and measure out the correct amount of flour for baking bread. We played numerous math related games, too many to count (pun intended). Math always followed reading. I don’t know why, it just happened to turn out that way.

Combined, these two subjects took up roughly an hour and a half of our day. That left me with plenty of time to tidy up, plan dinner, and hang laundry on the boat railing (unless the Bellingham, Washington drizzle was visiting). Mind you, my five-year-old had a three-year-old sibling. And I discovered, a three-year-old can cause a wide variety of unplanned interruptions, especially if her one-year-old sibling was awake from a nap. Our hour and a half of school ended up not being ten-minutes here, twenty-minutes there and seven-minutes somewhere. But we got it done.

Over time our homeschool operated three-days-a-week. Never or rarely on a Monday or Friday. Each day lasted three to five hours in duration. Five hours being the exception, not the rule. New subjects were added only when the previous subjects were well in hand, i.e., how the curriculum worked was figured out. There were years when only four subjects were being taught.

This approach that blended well with our family’s natural rhythm. Our homeschool week was unhurried with many Margins built in (Margins is discussed in another blog article). I discovered I became burnt out when our family’s natural rhythm was encroached upon. This usually happened after reading a homeschool book, and the family in the book seemed to have it all together and I wanted to have the same achievement for my family.

So, a good way to create a successful daily homeschooling schedule is one subject at a time. Add a new subject after the other subjects are well established. And when your family’s natural rhythm goes jank or wonkie, remove a subject or slow it down.

Because we all know, Home is Where Wholesome School Begins

Begin Plans for Homeschool High School in the 4th-Grade

One day in the “Mom’s Room” at Homeschool Co-op, the topic of high school came up. A couple of the women had children who’d reached that educational plateau.  Honestly, since my children were in the elementary level, I hardly gave the topic a second thought. I had other pressing things to think about … like what to fix for dinner.

On the way home from co-op I realized the truth, one day, my children would be entering high school. I began to think about it. I tried to imagine what it would be like. The mere thought of teaching those more challenging subjects, where grades mattered, was intimidating.

Intuitively, I knew it would be wise to plan ahead. To wait until their 8th-grade year had the potential to be disastrous and stressful. The challenges my “Mom’s Room” friends shared began circling in my thoughts. From them I gleaned …

… Parents are more an advisor, and less of a teacher.  A high schooler should be able to read a chapter in a text and follow through with the assigned work. Rarely did they (the mom) spend time sitting next her child while they worked on their studies.

… Students are responsible for making and keeping their own schedule.

… Students can correct their own math problems. That sounded good to me.

…  High schooler’s should be allowed to choose their course of study. Parental guidance is needed to help her understand established graduation requirements, whether set by the parents or the state.

… Dates for completing assignments should be assigned and graded accordingly if turned in late or incomplete.

… Keep good records of their work even if you believe college is not in their future.  The truth is, it is their life to live, and one day they may decide to pursue a degree.  At the end of the school year store their work in a sturdy box. When they leave home, they get to take the box with them.

… Begin looking for curriculum materials a year or more before the start of high school.

… A fancy piece of paper with the word High School Diploma on it, is important to your child. It is a formal way to acknowledge their accomplishment. And for them to honestly answer, yes, to the question on an employment form asking if they have a high school diploma.

More was probably shared, but that was enough to get me thinking, or at least stewing on the back burner of my mind. In the process, I began making observations of our school day, especially my interaction with my children; how I taught.

I discovered I hovered. I was always by their side, or so it seemed. Intuitively I knew I needed to begin weaning them of this habit. If my children could spend hours playing away from my side, they were capable of completing a reading or math assignment without me sitting next to them the entire time.

The very next day I began the weaning project. Once I finished explaining a math concept, I asked my child to repeat the assignment back to me. I lingered for a moment while she hunkered down to the business of “doing” her math for the day. As I stood up, she said, “Hey, where are you going? Aren’t you going to watch me?” Ahhh, she confirmed that I am inclined to hover!

Over the course of a month, I spent less and less time next to my older (fourth-grade and up) children as they worked on their individual assignments; all “on-their-own”. I suddenly had a moment pop a load of laundry in the washer. Or take a brisk twenty-minute walk. I’d check to see if there were any questions or if it was time to move on to something else.

I noticed she began to change in regarding her attitude toward school. She started owning her work, like it actually mattered. This attitude change was not present all of the time, but it was beginning to bud.

By my child’s 8th-grade year she was able to work independently on most of her school subjects. I was still close, still helping her stay on track. With the start of her high school year looming, we both had an inkling of the challenge that lay ahead, but we were ready because …

Home, is Where Wholesome Schooling Begins

Making A Learning-to-Read Homeschool Board Game

When my children were in the early stages of learning-to-read, I observed, they had an amazing memory. They were able to “read” from their early reader book, perfectly. Actually, they were reading the picture that accompanied the text.  I soon caught on and asked them to read the same word in an unfamiliar story, their brow would furrow, followed with “I don’t know.” What amazing actors they were! They just wanted to get through the lesson review quickly because they had more important matters to attend to, like finish digging the hole in the backyard.

Intuitively, I knew another tool must be found to aide them in their pursuit of learning to read. They needed more reading practice outside of their reader. Once I identified the problem, finding a solution came next. I kept my teacher eyes and ears open for an idea to come my way.

Thus, the Word-Game Board was born. I’d like to take credit for this idea, but I can’t. Another homeschooling mom shared this idea in the “Mom’s Room” at Homeschool Co-op. I wasn’t the only one whose children were clever, and in need of a fun tricky way to test their knowledge.

This game is enjoyable to make. Depending on how fancy and creative you are, it should take about thirty minutes to put together. More if you have helpers.

You’ll need cardstock like material, a file folder works. A cereal box opened up is a good option. Markers, stickers, object for game pieces, dice and a list of words or letter sounds your little cherub is attempting to master.

The accompanying picture is the best instruction guide for this learning-to-read board game.   I suggest using a pencil to draw the path, lay out the words and stickers. If you like how it looks then take the marker to it.  Throw in a square or two of move back 2 spaces, or stand-up and turn around 3 times, then roll again. Something odd or unexpected just to keep things interesting and attentive.

The best part is getting to play the game with your child. Don’t let him win. Have him earn it. These little, yet significant, bits of learning-fun is what makes …

Home, where Wholesome Schooling Begins

Teach Your Child How to Read – A Simple Lesson Idea

You can begin to teach your child how to read … right now … perhaps while you’re awaiting the arrival of curriculum. Or perhaps you, like what would occur with me, are tired of the curriculum you’re using and simply need a brief break. So, why not teach your child how to read using something different and close at hand?

Most families have a home library. If your bookshelves are like mine, there are numerous picture books on it. On my shelf is a book by Margaret Wise Brown – Big Red Barn, a rather engaging story. This book is chock-full of three- and four- letter words. Any of which could be used for teaching a new word for a reading lesson.

Before I begin, I need to set up my go-to writing slate, a baking sheet covered with a film of flour or cornmeal. Not to heavy, yet not to skimpy since you’ll need to “erase ” what your child writes by gently giggling or tapping the baking sheet on a firm surface, like a kitchen table. I like this writing slate because it has no lines that a beginning writer needs to conform to. And their finger is the pencil, a natural writing instrument, easy to hold.

Now begin the reading lesson by choosing a word or a letter you are wanting to teach to your child. Since I’m using the book, Big Red Barn, the word BIG will be used during the teaching time.

Tell him about the new word or letter that he’ll be learning. Have him explain the meaning. You may want to use a child’s dictionary and read the definition aloud to him. Pronounce each letter sound in the word, Have him repeat it. Do this as many times as you feel necessary. Until he firmly knows it, more or less. Inevitably, my children would seem to forget the sounds, that’s okay just keep at it. He’ll get it.

Show him the book and read it aloud to him. Use your finger to follow along under the text. Pause at every BIG word. Sound out each letter, blend the sounds, form the word. Have him copy.

As you read make it a game, the hunt for BIG. See how many he can find. Race to see who can find the word first. Kind of like “I spy”. Of course, you mom, will act like you missed one or two and praise him for finding the word before you did.

After finishing the story, show him the flour writing slate. Use your pencil finger to show him how to write the letters in the word. Both upper and lower case. You, his teacher, will know if he is able to write the entire word or one letter at a time. Have him write to his little heart’s content. Leave the writing slate out for him to use as he wants during the remainder of the school day.

My children are long past the learning to read stage of homeschool. I recall how they enjoyed these little learning side-roads that lasted for a day or an entire week. I needed it and they did too.

Remember, keep-it-simple, go easy on yourself and …

Home is where Wholesome School Begins.

Homeschool Lesson Planning & Spring Planting

I Garden the Way I Homeschool & I Homeschool the Way I Garden

Parallels between homeschooling and gardening

Twenty-three years of experience has taught me to look ahead and write the homeschool lesson plan for the coming year in the spring.  I realize it is the time of year when the current lesson plan goals are beening met. More or less. At the same time, this is the season to begin planning my garden. Over the years I have unearthed parallels between homeschooling and gardening.

Gardening first

Why do I want a garden, is the first of several questions I answer before drawing a plan? Then I go to the pantry to determine what needs replenishing?  Which leads to, what do I need to grow? Notes left in my gardening journal tell me which plants thrived and those that did poorly. But why? I also wonder if I should attempt a new gardening technique or idea that works for another gardener? The big question? How can I lighten the work load with-out compromising production? Finally, since I enjoy the simple quiet beauty of the garden, I scan seed catalogs searching for the perfect plant to visually enliven individual rows. Once my questions have satisfactory answers, it is time to prayerfully plan my garden for spring planting.

A look at homeschooling

Before I begin, I remind myself why we homeschool our children? More questions follow.  I compare where we are in our current plan, with the calendar date, to see how much we have achieved and determine a realistic stopping point for this year. Should John pick up where he leaves off come fall? Or start with something fresh and more challenging? Is he thriving or bored and lacking ambition? Should I try a different curriculum or homeschool teaching method? I scan curriculum catalogs searching for the perfect book, unit study or kit which will brighten his studies and the simple quiet beauty of learning at home. The big question? How can I lighten my family’s schedule with-out compromising each child’s love of learning, curiosity or imagination? I take the answers, and prayerfully plan the homeschooling lesson plan for next year.

Why plan so early

Where I live, in the Inland Northwest, our growing season tends to be short. Therefore, if I wait until the last danger of frost passes, before starting seeds, the plants don’t reach their full potential. Oh, I’ll get some produce. Perhaps ten to fifteen tomatoes per plant instead of thirty of more. The same is true for planning the coming homeschool year.  We all feel rushed, discombobulated and grasping for anything academic to fill the day if I attempt to begin the school year without a lesson plan to follow. The children and myself just aren’t productive. Controlled panic topped with frustration is an accurate description.

Prayer comes first … then the plan

I believe with all my heart and soul that God has my best interests in mind. Therefore, I pray.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6,7)     Homeschooling definitely falls under the everything category. The presence of peace while I teach the children, indicates to me that we are on the right track. I confess, my heart and mind need protection, guarded, from my own anxieties. And this is not through my own strength, but Jesus’.  Prayer coupled with thanksgiving makes a happy and joy filled heart, which is passed on to those around me. I encourage you to make your requests known to God.

Give yourself a break … An easy way to plan

In order to avoid self-imposed panic, I begin planning in the spring. Homeschooling is not intended to be complicated. If it becomes complicated, it is because I made it complicated. I began thinking about next year’s lesson plan when John, a sixth grader, announced he completed his science book at the end of February.

With a sharpened black Ticonderoga pencil, John’s name is written at the top of a piece of notebook paper. School year and grade underneath. Dropping down a few lines, I list all of the possible subjects he could study as a seventh grader. Science is at the top. Scanning our book shelves, two possibilities are found. John chooses the one that interests him.  I add the book’s title under the science heading along with another book that complements the topic.

Include subjects that are carrying over to the next school year. Write it under the appropriate heading with the book title and page number.

A reading list completes the plan. Often this makes up the bulk of the lesson plan.

At the bottom of the page, a reminder is written in bold ink reminding me to order annual test materials.

Approximately forty-five minutes later, depending on the number of interruptions, the lesson plan is finished.  As my husband would say, “Good enough, you’re not building a piano.”

Drawer time

When the plan is complete, I ask John what he would like to include. This gives him part ownership in his education and it gives me insight into his interests. Homeschooling becomes something he wants to do, rather than another one of his Mom’s ideas. Then I leave the plan in a drawer. During the busyness of summer, I may add or delete subjects as reality sets in and I adjust my expectations.

You got this

I know you are tired, so am I, so before you put away the broken crayons, books, binders full of completed school work, look ahead, take inventory so you can peacefully and calmly with confidence begin another school year. And remember your   …

… Home is Where Wholesome Schooling Begins

The Intuitive Homeschool Method

Intuitive best describes the type of homeschooling method I use. Albeit, in the beginning I wouldn’t have used that particular discriptive word. Rather, I was deliberate and fairly consistent. Our style of homeschooling reflects our family’s lifestyle. Purposeful, slow paced, God centered and flexibly fun. I prefer not to rush learning.

Our lifestyle suggested pacing out our school work over 3 – 4 days a week. Mostly three. Math and reading were taught nearly every school day. Whereas, the other subjects; art, science, grammar, history, writing … were taught once a week.

Unbeknownst to me, one of the methods I was following was the Charlotte Mason principle of education, more or less. (www.simplycharlottemason.com). We would easily become absorbed in a project or book. I caught on that an interruption to move onto the next subject would have spoiled their focus thereby nipping what was being learned. I respected my child and what was occurring in their life at that moment. We read from rich, living literature, rather than what Charlotte referred to in the late 1800’s as “Dumbed -down twaddle”. Books in which the story comes alive and the reader is taken away into the authors world.

Intuitively, I was following another method. Classical education, more or less. (www.classicalacademicpress.com) I didn’t realize I was teaching the grammar stage when math facts, spelling rules and be nice and don’t poke your sibling were learned. I knew these facts were simply the beginning and would be helpful as they progressed. Eventually, they sorted those facts into useful knowledge, which is the second stage, dialectic or logic. The day came when I realized my children could speak and reason well. The time when we dove into learning Latin. It has a name, the rhetoric stage.

There were days when not one book of the educational type was opened. The children had time to freely roam and explore; creating childhood memories in the process. Unschooling or child-led learning is what I was told we were practicing on those days. (www.educationcorner.com) Intuitively, I believed everyone needed a break. Looking back, I realize more was learned when we did less.

Over the years, our family dynamics have changed. The school day is different from what it was in the beginning. The babies and toddlers have grown up so certain distractions are no longer a factor. No more Hookham babies to upset the peaceful school setting by crawling across the table before he could be apprehended.

Dear Reader, intuitively follow your heart regarding the homeschooling method that best suits your family’s lifestyle. If your educational method gives you peace than that may be an indicator you are on the right homeschool adventure. After all, Home, is where Wholesome School Begins.

Photo by jbcurio

… Home is Where Wholesome Schooling Begins

Why Homeschool?

The obvious question needing to be answered is why choose homeschooling? It wasn’t a decision my husband, Dan, and I took lightly. We came to the understanding, that we are the ones responsible for our children’s education, no matter what path we chose.

After much soul searching, it dawned on us, me in particular, that our children would be absent during the best hours of the day. It was that simple. The public school schedule just didn’t fit our family’s lifestyle.

Dan and I were bent upon being a family who walked through life together; the ups and downs. We wanted to be the pace setters for the family. In order to experience all of God’s creation, we understood the importance for our children to have time to explore the world around them. We desired to allow their imaginations to soar.

Once the decision was made, the how-to-go-about homeschooling gradually fell into place. I read our State’s homeschool law, enrolled in a Homeschool Qualifying course, and read many books.

Over the years, as our family grew, Dan and I knew we had made the best and right choice. The evidences are many. I discovered each of our children’s unique learning styles. The opportunity to talk about God’s beauty, love and truth came while exploring a beach, baking a cake, listening to music, building projects, helping others …

Learning came in the natural flow of the day. Imaginations soared. Afternoons were free for playing, whether in the woods, riding bikes, being mother’s to dolls and digging holes (for no apparent reason that I could tell). And it all happened right before my eyes.

My children showed me the undeniable truth of Home, is where Wholesome School Begins.

Photo by nick.amoscato