AUGUST 16,2012

A  friend sent this to my email and I wanted to post it one this page just for fun. Try it and then pass it along!

Another school year is upon us and this year will  be so very different compared to any other year. I have one child who finished home school this year. So I will be teaching 3 kids instead of 4. Also, my 2 oldest girls have jobs so that is also different. For years people would harass me with this question: ” How are your kids ever going to get a job without a high school diploma or a GED?” Well I always knew I was preparing them for the REAL world and I would tell my critics that when the time came I have enough confidence in my kids and the way I taught them so that they will find their path  like all of us do. These lovely critics would just look at me as if I had completely  flipped my wig. Now that my girls have jobs, which by the way neither of them has a high school diploma or a GED, that right there dispels the big myth that you need a diploma /GED to find gainful employment. HURRAH!! I love it when God silences the wagging tongues of my critics. To ALL home schooling parents out there who have often time wondered the same thing I leave you with this:  Your kids are smart! Trust in your ability to teach them and trust their learning abilities and see what happens because really, the sky  IS the limit!

1895 8th grade final exam

Take this  test and pass it on to your friends.

What it  took to get an 8th grade education in  1895…

Remember  when grandparents and great-grandparents stated  that they only had an 8th grade education? Well,  check this out. Could any of us have passed the  8th grade in 1895?

This is  the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina  , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original  document on file at the Smokey Valley  Genealogical Society
and  Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina  Journal.

8th Grade  Final Exam: Salina , KS –  1895

Grammar  (Time, one hour)
1. Give  nine rules for the use of capital  letters.
2. Name  the parts of speech and define those that have  no modifications.
3. Define  verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What  are the principal parts of a verb? Give  principal parts of ‘lie,”play,’ and ‘run.’
5. Define  case; illustrate each case.
6 What is  punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of  punctuation.
7 – 10.  Write a composition of about 150 words and show  therein that you understand the practical use of  the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic  (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name  and define the Fundamental Rules of  Arithmetic.
2. A wagon  box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide.  How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a  load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it  worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For  tare?
4.  District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What  is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven  months at $50 per month, and have $104 for  incidentals?
5. Find  the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per  ton.
6. Find  the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days  at 7 percent.
7. What is  the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft..  Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find  bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at  10 percent.
9. What is  the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the  distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write  a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S.  History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give  the epochs into which U.S. History is  divided
2. Give an  account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate  the causes and results of the Revolutionary  War.
4. Show  the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell  what you can of the history of Kansas
6.  Describe three of the most prominent battles of  the Rebellion.
7. Who  were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton ,  Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name  events connected with the following dates: 1607,  1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography  (Time, one hour)
[Do we  even know what this is??]
1. What is  meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic,  orthography, etymology,  syllabication
2. What  are elementary sounds? How  classified?
3. What  are the following, and give examples of each:  trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters,  linguals
4. Give  four substitutes for caret ‘u.’  (HUH?)
5. Give  two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’  Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give  two uses of silent letters in spelling.  Illustrate each.
7. Define  the following prefixes and use in connection  with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non,  inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark  diacritically and divide into syllables the  following, and name the sign that indicates the  sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise,  blood, fare, last.
9. Use the  following correctly in sentences: cite, site,  sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein,  raze, raise, rays.
10. Write  10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate  pronunciation by use of diacritical marks
and by  syllabication.

Geography  (Time, one hour)
1 What is  climate? Upon what does climate  depend?
2. How do  you account for the extremes of climate in  Kansas ?
3. Of what  use are rivers? Of what use is the  ocean?
4.  Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name  and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa ,  Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena,  Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name  and locate the principal trade centers of the  U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each..
8. Why is  the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in  the same latitude?
9.  Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of  rivers.
10.  Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice  that the exam took FIVE HOURS to  complete.

Gives the  saying ‘he only had an 8th grade education’ a  whole new meaning, doesn’t it?!

No wonder  they dropped out after 8th grade. They already  knew more than they needed to  know!

No, I  don’t have the answers! And I don’t think  I   ever did!  

Have fun  with this…pass it on!!!

March 19,2012

I’m paraphrasing Einstein’s word when he said that unless you can explain something to a little kid, then you don’t understand it yourself. I am a homeschooling parent who believes that my children can teach me and I can learn from them. Yesterday their dad installed a ballet bar for my youngest daughter so she can practice at home what she learns in her dance class. I took ballet classes when I was in middle school and I think it’s one of the best exercise forms to help keep you lean and toned as well as flexible. I asked my daughter to teach me and so this morning we had our first class.

In the past I ‘ve allowed my kids to teach certain subjects because I believe that when you can be a student teacher, it help to reinforce what you have learned. My oldest girl taught her younger siblings Spanish a while back and then my second daughetr taught her siblings geography on several occasions as well. My son is teaching his dad how to play slide guitar lately. 

This morning in class, my daughter was becoming frustrated with me because I couldn’t do some of the moves that come so easily to her. She’s been dancing since she was  6 years old and she’s quite advanced. So to see me fumbling around trying to do something I couldn’t even do when I was in ballet class as a kid took her aback for a few minutes. I told her that I wasn’t interested in becoming the next Brincat ballerina; I just want to do ballet for the exercise. Then she relaxed and  apologized even, for being too hard on me. I assured her I was fine and we finished our one hour class.

It takes  humility as an adult to ask your child to be your teacher. However, to see your kid(s) put to practice what they know as you let them guide you, it both builds and encourages growth for both parent and child. Try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at how letting your child be your teacher makes for a stronger bond in your relationship.

March 5,2012

In many homes the brunt of homeschooling falls on mom’s shoulders. I found this list in a book titled Homeschooling Step-by-Step and the authors are LauraMaery Gold & Joan M. Zielinski. They came up with a list:

What Homeschool Moms Would Like Their Husbands to do:

1) Take more time to be involved.

2) Help with math.

3) Take over a subject or enrichment project.

4) Help to find goals for homeschool.

5) Help teach them to work.

6) Take time away from business.

7) Teach obedience.

8) Call to talk with kids on phone,check on them, let them call in.

9) Give instructive feedback.

10) Go with the family on field trips.

11) Ask the kids questions and mostly listen.

12) Listen to and talk to children about their day.

13) Study curricular choices together.

14) Teach child to listen/concentrate

15) Teach nurturing traits.

16) Come home for lunch.

17) Give examples and stories of his life.

18) Inspect child’s work.

19) Jump into an ungoing activity.

20) Take over some of the subjects mom is weak in.

21) Take time to train each child in specific chores.

22) Visit dad’s place of work.

23) Read child’s work.

24) Support and praise children consistently.

25) Teach boys to be men.; daughters what to look for in a man by being a good example of what a man should be. Remember guys, moms can’t teach your sons how to be men.


Dear Readers,

From time to time I will share on this page, some of my student’s work. I let my two oldest girls blog as part of their work in their English class. I believe it is a great way for them to put to use what they’ve learned. I hope you enjoy their writings 🙂

I’m A Teenager and I Cook

Part of my chores is cooking dinner. Why is it that a lot of parents just don’t let their kids cook? I think it is something necessary. Kids need to learn how to cook. It is fun, and actually messy sometimes. But as an adult you shouldn’t freak out on a kid JUST for spilling the milk.

I remember one time I was around 4. My mom was teaching  my older sister and I how to make pancakes. We cracked the eggs and put a lot of shells in the batter but my mom was patient with us; she told us that we did a good job and took out the shells herself.

When I was 13, I had my first babysitting job. I babysat a couple of kids who were 4 and 5. While one was watching TV I decided to bake banana bread, a personal favorite of mine; and Jonathan, one of the kids came up to me and wanted to help me. We had fun that afternoon making banana bread. He mashed the bananas  while I measured the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. He had so much fun just dumping the contents into the mixture.

Another time he helped me flip pancakes, and even though he messed up, I never yelled at him. I just told him to try again and when he succeeded he was happy all day.

A friend of mine came over for a sleepover, the next morning we were trying to figure out what to cook for breakfast. We saw eggs and potatoes in the fridge and decided to make that for breakfast. So while I was cooking the eggs and she chopped potatoes, she told me how much she loved cooking but barely did it because her mom did all the cooking.

Maybe parents need to trust their kids and give them a chance at cooking…

Here is how I make lentils. A delicious Middle Eastern dish that will warm you up inside on these cold February days.


1 bag of dry lentils

8-10 potatoes (chopped into squares)

sausage (optional; can also be hamburger meat)

1 tablespoon of chili powder

bay leaves

1 tablespoon of Goya

1/2 an onion

1 stalk of celery

3 cloves of garlic

Chop onion, garlic, and celery until it is really small. Or put it in a food processor  and dice it that way.

Rinse beans out in medium-large pot.

Fill up 3/4 of the way with water

Put seasonings in and diced onion, garlic, and celery.

Cook at high until it boils. Turn down to medium and cover it.

Halfway through throw in potatoes and meat.

If the lentils start to dry out add 3/4 cups of chicken broth.

Usually the lentils are done when the potatoes are.The lentils should be soft and easy to eat.

I hope you like it! Try it out, cook it with your kids. :)

Rantings of A Homeschooled High School Girl

The dreaded word. *Drums in the background* Religion!

I know I have spoken about this topic before, but this time it’s not about my beliefs. It is about other people’s beliefs. Personally, I believe in God. But that doesn’t mean I am  a judgemental bigot and judge what you believe in.

I know people who don’t believe in God, who are atheists, Agnostics, and Wiccans and I don’t push my beliefs on them.

So why do they push their religion on me? And they don’t have to do it out in the open. Most of them do it in a sly way. I don’t want anything to do with their religion.  That doesn’t mean I am going to stop talking to them, just means that I don’t want to believe in what they believe.

If you tell me you don’t believe in God, I am not going to give you the Preacher stare, put my hand on your shoulder, look you in the eye and say, “I am going to pray for you.” That is just wrong because it can be perceived  a guilt trip all the way.

So please, if you don’t believe in God RESPECT my beliefs. Don’t make any jokes about Him because I do believe in Him. You don’t see me cracking any jokes concerning YOUR beliefs do you?. Hmmm… Just goes to showswho’s the bigger one doesn’t it?


Dear Diary,

Another year draws to conclusion and I am looking back at what we have accomplished here in this home school. I can’t help to focus on the fact that my 17 year old daughter is finishing her studies at home in 2012. My, how she’s blossomed into a wonderful young woman who already has clear goals she wants to pursue.

I’ve always prayed this simple petition: God please open up doors for all of our kids that we can’t open for them. 

Today I want to share the following passage with you, my dear readers whom I appreciate so very much. Thank you for visiting my blog and I will continue to post for your benefit and enjoyment. This passage is from Mcguffy’s 5th Ecelctic Reader. My 2nd daughter Esther, read it to me yesterday and it moved me deeply. Afterwards I read it to all of my kids and I had them write their own views on it. I hope this inspires you as well as you go  into a new year!


From all of us here at The Brincat Home School


1. A railroad train was rushing along at almost lightning speed. A curve was just ahead, beyond which was a station where two trains usually met. The conductor was late,—so late that the period during which the up train was to wait had nearly elapsed; but he hoped yet to pass the curve safely. Suddenly a locomotive dashed into sight right ahead. In an instant there was a collision. A shriek, a shock, and fifty souls were in eternity; and all because an engineer had been behind time.

2. A great battle was going on. Column after column had been precipitated for eight hours on the enemy posted along the ridge of a hill. The summer sun was sinking in the west; reenforcements for the obstinate defenders were already in sight; it was necessary to carry the position with one final charge, or everything would be lost.

3. A powerful corps had been summoned from across the country, and if it came up in season all would yet be well. The great conqueror, confident in its arrival, formed his reserve into an attacking column, and ordered them to charge the enemy. The whole world knows the result. Grouchy failed to appear; the imperial guard was beaten back; and Waterloo was lost. Napoleon died a prisoner at St. Helena because one of his marshals was behind time.

4. A leading firm in commercial circles had long struggled against bankruptcy. As it had large sums of money in California, it expected remittances by a certain day, and if they arrived, its credit, its honor, and its future prosperity would be preserved. But week after week elapsed without bringing the gold. At last came the fatal day on which the firm had bills maturing to large amounts. The steamer was telegraphed at daybreak; but it was found, on inquiry, that she brought no funds, and the house failed. The next arrival brought nearly half a million to the insolvents, but it was too late; they were ruined because their agent, in remitting, had been behind time.

5. A condemned man was led, out for execution. He had taken human life, but under circumstances of the greatest provocation, and public sympathy was active in his behalf. Thousands had signed petitions for a reprieve; a favorable answer had been expected the night before, and though it had not come, even the sheriff felt confident that it would yet arrive. Thus the morning passed without the appearance of the messenger.

6. The last moment was up. The prisoner took his place, the cap was drawn over his eyes, the bolt was drawn, and a lifeless body swung revolving in the wind. Just at that moment a horseman came into sight, galloping down hill, his steed covered with foam. He carried a packet in his right hand, which he waved frantically to the crowd. He was the express rider with the reprieve; but he came too late. A comparatively innocent man had died an ignominious death because a watch had been five minutes too late, making its bearer arrive behind time.

7. It is continually so in life. The best laid plans, the most important affairs, the fortunes of individuals, the weal of nations, honor, happiness, life itself, are daily sacrificed, because somebody is “behind time.” There are men who always fail in whatever they undertake, simply because they are “behind time.” There are others who put off reformation year after year, till death seizes them, and they perish unrepentant, because forever “behind time.”

DEFINITIONS.—1. Col-li’sion, the act of striking together violently. 2. Pre-cip’i-tat-ed, urged on violently. Re-en-force’ments, additional troops. 3. Corps (pro. kor), a body of troops. Re-serve’, a select body of troops held back in case of special need for their services. 4. Bank’rupt-cy. inability to pay all debts, insolvency. Re-mit’tanc-es, mouey, drafts, etc., sent from a distance. Ma-tur’ing, approaching the time fixed for payment. 5. Prov-o-ca’tion, that which causes anger. 6. Ig-no-min’i-ous, infamous. 7. Weal, prosperity, happiness.

NOTES.—3. Emmanuel Grouchy was one of Napoleon’s marshals at the battle of Waterloo, fought in 1815 between the French under Napoleon, and the English, Dutch, and German troops under Wellington.

Napoleon Bonaparte (b. 1769, d. 1821) was born on the island of Corsica. At school he was “studious, well-behaved, and distinguished in mathematical studies.” In 1785 he was commissioned as a sublieutenant in the army. From this obscure position he raised himself to the head of the army, and in 1804 was elected emperor of the French. He is almost universally acknowledged to have been the greatest general the world has known.


Dear Diary,

It’s Thanksgiving Day eve and once again I’m thankful for so many things. One of them is the freedom I have to educate my kids at home. This journey has been amazing and I continue to learn new things right along with my kids. Home schooling parents are teachers, life coaches and students at times too. I wanted to post here some in depth information on  the method I use to home school my students. I discovered this method a while back as I was reading AMERICA‘S PROVIDENTIAL HISTORY by Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell. This is a fascinating, easy to understand book on America’s history, the TRUE history that has been swept under the rug by the system. I chose The Principle Approach to education because it is a no nonesens approach that  instills character in the students. I have always told my kids that my main focus in educating them at home was to turn them out into the world being able to think for themselves. So I was lead to this approach for educating them and so far it is proving very effective.

What is Education?
According to Noah Webster in his 1928 dictionary: “Education comprehends all that series of instruction  and discipline which is intended to 1) enlighten the understanding, 2) correct the temper, 3) form the habits and manners of youth and 4) fit them for usefulness in their future stations…”
The Principle Approach:
Methods of education are not neutral. Colonial America had a Biblical method of education. Noah Webster (1758-1834) helped to establish the Principle Approach as the standard method of education in the new Republic of America.
One thing The Principle Approach IS NOT, is another program. It is not a pre- packaged daily lesson plan that a teacher follows in instructing her students, where each step is given each day for each class. Briefly stated , the Principle Approach to education inculcates in individuals the ability to reason from the Bible to every aspect of life.
A Wholistic Method
The Principle Approach is also a wholistic method of education that is, it is instruction from the whole to the part. A Principle Approach to education reveals that the source and origin and purpose of knowledge revolves around God and His plan for man.
If we desire to have a  Principle Approach to  education we must restore the 4 R’s to teaching and learning:
1) First R- Research
2) Second R- Reason
3) Third R- Relate
4) Fourth R- Record
This process process of researching, reasoning,relating and recording  is the best way to implant truth within our hearts- the best method by which to learn and be educated.
In most schools today students are seldom required to research, reason, relate or record in their pursuit of being educated. This is true in the every day study of subjects as well as the tests on the subjects. Most tests are fill-in-the blank, matching or True-False. ( These types of tests were not used in our schools until the 1920’s; before that, essays were the primary method of testing.) Students can take and pass these tests for years and years without truly learning how to reason and think and be prepared for life after completion of school. Consequently, Americans today do not know how to reason or think.
Practical Ways to Implement the 4 R’s
1) Essays: Writing essays is an excellent way to implant within the student the ability to research, reason, relate and record. Writing essays enables students to truly express themselves- to comminicate what they really know and believe. As one writes his ideas in complete sentences, he is forced to reason and think for himself. This personal expression brings liberty to the individual. He will not be dependent upon the media, teachers or anyone else for his ideas, for he will have learned how to search out the truth for himself.
2)Notebooks: The compilation of notebooks by students on various subjects and topics is an excellent means of inculcating truth within them. Instead of being handed a text book at the beginning of the year and memorizing pages of facts and information, in order to receive good grades, the student developes his own textbook by taking notes from the teacher and doing his own research and writing from various resources (which can include a textbook).
The notebook method not only assures that the student acquires knowledge, but it also builds the character within the student ( which is the primary purpose of education).
America’s founding fathers were educated by the notebook method. Many Of George Washington’s early notebooks are still preserved in the Library of Congress. His lifetime habit of orderliness, neatness and consistency are readily seen within the pages of his manuscripts. His father required this of him from his first years of being educated.
In a letter to his father on June 2, 1777 at age 10, John Quincy Adams wrote:
” P.S. _ Sir, If you will be so good as to favor me with a blank-book I will transcribe the most remarkable occurences I meet within my reading, which will serve to fix them upon my mind.”

America’s providential history: including Biblical principles of education, government, politics, economics, and family life [Book] by Mark A. Beliles, Stephen K. McDowell in Books



Dear Diary,                                 

I just read a fascinating article on Homeschooling. For starters the title caught my attention: THE REVOLUTION WILL BE HOMESCHOOLED. The author talks about some eye opening education statistics regarding the State of Nevada. Did you know that: Nevada’s  high school graduation rate is 50th in our nation. In Clark County ( which is our school district) 10 of 100 high school freshmen will earn a university degree. Approximately 14% of Nevada’s students in grades 9-12  have been involved in school violence. Because of grim facts such as these , seriously who would want to send their kids to a war zone to try to learn anything of value.

Now I’d like to report on some promising stats regarding homeschooling: in 2007 the NCES ( Nation Center of Education Statistics) estimates that 1.5 million American children are home taught. This estimate DOES NOT include the 10 states where homeschoolers don’t have to register. This number grows at a rate of 2% -8% per year. In Nevada, the NCES estimates that roughly 4,000 kids or 1% of school age kids were homeschooled, and that was for the 2006-2007 school year. The NCES also reported that homeschoolers predominantly come from white, well-educated  2 parent households with middle class incomes of ($25,000-$75,000 in 2007).

This is where I say wait a cotton pickin’ minute! I beg to differ on the WHITE, WELL-EDUCATED stats. My kids associate with a number of homeschoolers and guess what? These folks may or may not take offence with the implication that only white , well educated folks homeschool. I have news for NCES: That number is rapidly changing, it’s just that NCES can’t keep up with the rapidly evolving face of homeschoolers! Amongst African Americans, the numbers are increasing as well as in other minority groups. I know this is fact because of the different ethnicities that make up the back grounds of my kid’s friends.

MYTH BUSTER: Many people are convinced that kids have had better education in other eras. These people actually think that kids learned more back then, than now. According to Steven Cohen ( He has taught In the Department of Education at Tufts University since 1995), ” The Golden Age of American Education along with the fictional school from LITTLE HOUSE on the PRAIRIE, has many people convinced we had it better in every era but this one. That is some very beautiful romanticism about a past that never was. Fifty percent of kids in the U.S. DID NOT have high school diplomas as late as 1950. Therefore, anyone who is talking about the golden age before then is out of their mind…and if THAT was the golden age, I’m quitting.” 

I would also like to mention that I have a friend who is 94 years old, her name is Toni. One day we were talking about the era she grew up in and she further proved that what Mr. Cohen says is true. I asked Toni if things were better when she went to school ( she was a student in the 20’s and 30’s) and she laughed saying,” I wished my mother had raised me the way you are raising your kids. I’m old now and I never learned anything worthwhile in school.”

I shall leave you  now with this brilliant quote from a local homeschooling veteran: ” I tell people all the time, I’m NOT anti- public school. I’m pro-my child.” – Elissa Wahl


Dear Diary,

Today I received an email, it was a letter of rejection telling me I had been withdrawn from a competition I had entered in the hopes of winning some money to help my writing career along. I sat there pondering it and then I just clicked delete and trashed the email. My thoughts then turned to my 10 year old daughter who had received the same kind of news a few days ago when she wasn’t chosen for a very promising modeling job. The day I found out, I was hesitating having to tell her because she had been on pins and needles ever since the audition which we had been told went very well and that she had a 90% chance of landing the job. That morning I pulled her aside and I told her the agency had chosen a younger kid for the job. She took what I said in stride; she frowned a little and then in an instant she said,” The best thing about this is that my name is getting out there and more people will know about me.” WOW!! Folks I tell you her response helped me in dealing with  my disappointing email and I realized something; our kids will model what we teach them. When something like this happens, I always here God tell me.” Why are you so surprised? They are only following what you’ve taught them.” That’s pretty humbling to say the least.

James 3:1 Not many of you should aspire to be teachers…since you know that we will be judged more severely. That’s right, I take this calling seriously because I answer  not to the NEA but to God.

This society we live in coddles children way too much. Have people ever stopped to consider how strong children really are?   Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength. When my kids go through their own trials and tribulations this verse reminds me not to baby them so much and to leave them in the care of God who will carry them through just as he does me. Lastly, being a home educator has taught me humility; you have to humble yourself  to the point where you know you aren’t always the one teaching. Sometimes God will use your own kids to teach you a thing or two . Enjoy your day!


Dear Diary,

Today I was listening to my 17 year old daughter who is in her last year of home schooling read to me. She reads passages from Mcguffy’s 5th Reader as well as from her English Literature book by A Beka. I have had my students read to me  aloud since they were able to read on their own. You may ask, isn’t a 17 year old beyond reading to you? Hasn’t she more important things to do?

Did you know that back in the times of the one room school house the  3 main subject that were taught were the 3 R’s? Reading, writing and arithmetic. I believe they were taught in that same order for a reason. Let’s face it if one can’t read, one cannot write and if one cannot write then can how can one do math? At the core of all learning, the students must grasp reading first. Why is it that most young people I meet today hate to read? Could it be they were not taught the basics properly?  

No, having my 17 year old read to me aloud on a daily basis is not beneath her. Here is what’s going on as she reads to me. I am giving her my whole undivided attention. As she reads I correct any words she may not be familiar with. If she runs a cross a new word, I have her look it up and write it in her own personal dictionary that all of my students have to keep up with. I daily assign them a new word to look up define and learn to use in their vocabulary. Some of those words usually come from the passages they read to me. The best thing that takes place when they read to me aloud and the most rewarding for both teacher and student, is that we get to discuss the passage as the student comes up with unique and interesting questions all on their own; sometimes their questions or their own views on a poem or story they are reading have blown me away.This shows me they are thinking for themselves and I have done my job as their teacher. For all the years that I’ve been home teaching I have told my students: ” If  you can leave Brincat Academy  and be able to think for yourself, express yourself well in both verbal and written communications as well as be a well read individual, then I have succeeded as your teacher.”  

My mentor Natalie Goldberg  said this in her book WRITING DOWN THE BONES:  “The terrible thing about public schools is that they take  children who are natural poets and story writers and have them read literature and then step away and talk “about” it”.

By not allowing a child’s natural curiosity to read, explore, question and experience a piece of literature on their own; and instead requiring them to answer a set of preset questions some group of school book writers came up with,  I believe is what kills the joy of reading and learning for a lot of students.  So if you want to make life long learners out of your kids, help them to form the good habit of reading; by reading to them and when they get older, let them read to you.


Dear Diary,

Whew! These past few days have been an absolute whirlwind of activity around our home. It’s the end of the summer so naturally us desert dwellers come out of hibernation as we venture into days of gorgeous weather. Which means seemingly endless engagements.

For starters, my two oldest girls are techies for the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company. This means we get to watch Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM, performed live at the park. What a wonderful thing it is when I can count their volunteer work as school work and not to mention the fact that this looks great on their resumes.

Last Sunday in church my youngest daughter did a dance that blessed everyone and  I think if her ballet teacher at her dance studio had seen her up on that stage, she would have been so proud . A couple of weeks ago she also went to her first audition to do some modeling and that looks quite promising as well.

I like  this page because this is the only place where I can brag on my kids a little and get by with it. 😉

Lastly, I had a very interesting conversation with my son this morning where I told him this: Grudges and revenge are WMD’s (Weapons of MY Destruction); they blow up in your face and you end up destroyed by them. He said he would have to think about that one for a while.

Chao for now!!

Dear Diary,    9/12/11

Another school day is done. Esther was reading to me today about an account from her American Literature book; the story was written by William Bradford, a passenger on The Mayflower. What touched me was how it moved my daughter who was reading it out loud to me. She was amazed at the fact that some one from the past took the time to record the events of the birthing of our nation so that we in the year 2011, could read and learn about our history in a more detailed and personal way. We were both awed by the fact that the story she read took place on September 6, 1620. Esther then noted that just 6 days ago 391 years before, our country was just beginning and yesterday we commemorated one of the worst events in our history. I wonder what William Bradford would say about that?

I require my kids to read out loud to me. As they read they give me feed back; I never prompt them with a list of my own questions because I want them to tell me what their views are; I want them to think for themselves instead of having them answer questions at the end of the story. I want them to come up with their own questions.  And interestingly enough, as the student reads, there are times when I’m as intrigued as they are with the material.  True learning takes place when you are allowed to think for yourself .

Dear Diary,                                                                                                            9-9-11

Today I went to the dentist and I read a very interesting article from The Smithsonian Institute Magazine while I waited.  The article said that right now Finland’s education system ranks among the top in the world. As I perused the article I learned some fascinating things about how kids are taught in Finland.

To begin with, teachers in Finland’s schools value creativity in their students, so they nurture it. Children there, spend more time at play than do their counterparts in America’s public school. And by play I mean, playing outside and using their imaginations, NOT playing video and computer games. In Finland their philosophy regarding education is one I have always embraced here in my home school, to prepare kids for life everyday.

Something else that teachers do in Finland that is also part of my teaching style is to have an attitude of whatever it takes.  Many schools in Finland are small enough so that the teacher knows the student very well. When one method of teaching isn’t working out, teachers consult with their colleagues to see what to do next. That happens a lot in my own home schooling experience as well.

Did you know that in Finland they spend 30% less on education per child,  than what is spent here in the US? I have always said that it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money to properly educate a child; I am living proof of it and apparently it’s true in Finland as well. Kids in Finland are taught to love reading; they are allowed to choose what they want to read, just as I have done with my kids here at home. I tell you, give kids freedom to pick what they want to read and they will embrace reading for life!

I have been asked by many people how many hours per day my kids spend in school. I never know how to answer that question because I don’t keep track of that too much. What a relief it was for me to read:Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

Read more:

So I am glad to say that I may be “out of step” with the American public school system, which is a very good thing; and my kids and I would be right at home in Finland! 🙂

Dear Diary,                                                                         9/6-11

Thank God for Sal Khan, the director and teacher of Khan! He is brilliant.  I keep asking myself where was this guy when I was in school trying to grasp difficult math concepts. My kids say he was in school just like I was :).

I have made Khan Academy the place to go to when I have to teach subjects I’m weak in such as science and math. I first discovered Sal Khan on a Charlie Rose program late at night on PBS. Sal caught my attention because just by hearing him talk, you’re already engaged with his easy going personality. This man really does make learning interesting and fun. I mentioned this to my kids this past summer when I discovered him and they said, ” Mom we already have a teacher like that, so what’s the big deal” I chuckled when I heard that. Well, what is the big deal then?

I appreciate Sal because he can take anything and teach it to where anyone can understand it without the student being dumbed down. The beauty of home schooling is that when I teach other subjects such a History, Geography and others, I don’t break it down by grade level. I make the material interesting and even fun at times and I trust my kid’s brains ARE doing the process of breaking things down for each student. In other words, I trust each of my own children’s thinking and learn capabilities to assimilate the material for them.

For example today we watched Mr. Khan on a video explaining DNA. We discussed it as we went along; I have never learned so much about DNA. In fact I learned a lot more than in my biology class in the 9th grade. At the end of the 30 minute lesson, I asked my students questions to see what they grasped from this lesson and I was blown away by some of their answers. let me mention that the video we watched was at the first year of college  and even my 10 year old came away with a simple and clear idea of what DNA is. No need to dumb the kids down by assigning them grade levels.

Dear Diary,

Our first week of school is over and I’m pleased with the growth I’ve seen in my kids since last year. I also noted some changes in myself as their teacher. For starters, I feel more confident doing this than I have in a long time. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that my 2 oldest girls are venturing out into the world and  as they begin to spread their wings little by little, I can see some of the seeds I planted and watered over the years are sprouting  up.

To be more specific, my girls have been volunteering their time as part of a tech crew and helping  in local theater productions. I have received so many compliments on what a great job I have done with them; and I view this as my teacher’s evaluation. They have been recruited to continue with a tech crew at one of the main venues here in town and they were both thrilled. I must mention the fact that they are still volunteers and these are not paying jobs yet.

However my girls were thrilled at the prospect because they see that their volunteer work is already giving them work experiences for their resumes. I once heard 2 young men who used to come over to my house, say that they would never volunteer to work for free because they wanted to work for money. I found that sad and limiting because  all they cared about was making money; and they over looked the fact that  a lot of life’s work you aren’t compensated for monetarily.

I’m glad I chose this way of  life for my family because I continue to grow with my kids each year. No paying job that I have held in the past could ever give me the fulfillment and satisfaction that I experience here on my home front. The best rewards in life seldom have anything to do with cold hard cash.

Dear Diary,

School began today and even though we got off to a rocky start we managed to make it through. Every year at the start of a new school year, I’m always amazed out how children grow so quickly over the summer. The way I see it, summer is when they dig their roots down deeper and when fall comes, they are ready to grasp more because they’ve matured some during their season of rest and play.

So we  began the day by writing about our summer experiences. Back in the day, children were taught The 3 R’s in the one room school house: Reading, Writing and Arithmatic. I believe they were taught precisely in that order because with out those basics in place, you have no foundation for learning. That’s why we began the year with a simple writing exercise; to clear the palate if you will, for further learning to take place.

Here is a very interesting note I must make before I leave here today; when I went to school I remember the first few days of school were all about organizing yourself and settling in for the year. That takes time away. Here at home, we jump right in to where we left off the previous year. There is no need for taking a lot of time to get organized and settled in. Today was a productive day and no one’s time was wasted . I feel great about that!

“Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?” –Ronald Reagan

Dear Parents,

Please listen to what I have to say. If you are considering home schooling your kid(s), don’t worry over whether you’re qualified to teach your children. You may wonder; do I have what it takes?  Do I have the skills needed to educate them? How can I teach my kids when I’m not even a professional teacher? I’m sure I can’t cover all of your insecurities here but I think I may have covered the major ones.

Consider this, some of our nation’s Founding Forefathers began their education at home. Do you think Washington’s mother ever pondered if she had what it takes to educate young George? It seems to me that back in that day people did what they had to do without much fretting over it. Maybe it was because they didn’t have an educational system in place yet that would dictate to parents that maybe they weren’t fit to educate their own children. I don’t think the pioneers ever got wind of such powerful media suggestions like: “Leave the educating of your young ‘uns to the “pro’s”. 

I had my best friend from my high school years tell me,” I would hire you to work in my school district in a heart beat, only thing is the system would ruin you as they do all great teachers.” This woman happens to be working on her Masters in teaching and I was blown away when she paid me such a huge compliment. So you see, just like there is a lot of untapped talent out there waiting to be discovered. There are just as many of us out here teaching our kids at home quietly, day to day, with out much fan fare and knowing we are shaping our nation’s future leaders.

 Oprah once did a show where her entire audience was made up of public school teachers. She was giving away everything from home make overs to cars and get away vacations. One of my daughters pointed out that she would love to see Oprah honor home schooling teachers in that manner. My reply was,” I love that you would think of doing that for me, but quite frankly the reason you don’t see any home schooling teachers being honored  is  because we’re all way to busy educating our kids to worry about receiving some award. My daughter went ahead and looked into contacting Oprah with the idea for doing a show to honor home schooling teachers. Just a few days after emailing The Oprah Show with her idea, she received a not so surprising reply: The Oprah Winfrey show was not interested in doing such a show at the time but try again later. I was right after all; we don’t have time for Oprah and she hasn’t time for us 🙂

Allow me to encourage you with this thought; God gave you your kids and you know them better than any teacher in a public school ever could. So wouldn’t that make you more than qualified to educate them?

Where did the summer go?! We are less than a week from hitting the books again. Although there was no big family vacation this summer, we did some things that were pretty cool.

This is my oldest daughter last year of home schooling. She is a vibrant young woman and she is already making plans to further her education by becoming a massage therapist. We went to a massage therapy school orientation and as we spoke with the administrations dean, I was amazed  by my daughter’s clarity and focus regarding her future. And, I thought,’ Pat yourself on the back, you helped get her to this place.’

So here is my petition God, as I prepare for the 2011-2012 school year: Guide me in Your way everlasting. Teach me so I can teach these precious souls you entrusted to me. Your Word says that, apart from you we can do nothing; so I’m asking that You help me put together a curriculum that will enhance each child’s educational goals. I look forward to a new year filled with opportunities for my kids. Open doors for them  that I could never open for them. Thank you for hearing me!


33 thoughts on “Home Schooling Diary: Step by Step,Line by Line

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