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Copyright 2014
The Teaching Home
Box 20578
Portland OR 97294
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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Since 1980 The Teaching Home has provided families information,
inspiration, and encouragement from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Co-Editors: Veteran Homeschool Sisters, Sue Welch and Cindy Short

Upcoming Issues:
Christian Homeschool Foundations Series

The Teaching Home's (updated) Christian Homeschool Foundations Series will include:
 1.  Your Decision To Homeschool
 2.  Setting Goals
 3.  Choosing & Using Curriculum
 4.  Ready Your Home for School
 5.  Managing Your Time
 6.  Orientation Week
 7.  Establishing Spiritual Priorities

Selected Recent Issues
Archived Online

Newsletter #400
The Use of Our Summer Time.  General uses of your time, plus options for your summer schedule. Includes an Anti-Boredom Checklist!

Newsletter #401
Family Day Trips.  Day trips can do much to build family relationships and memories – plus provide enriching educational opportunities. Includes Creation Science Resources and Travel Freebies & Info.

Summer Learning

Keep a Nature Journal

 •  Keeping a Nature Journal. Instructions and tips for older students.

 •  Create a Nature Journal. Instructions and tips for younger students.

 •  Online Field Journal. Suggestions for keeping a nature journal, plus printable pages to record information and make drawings.

 •  Handbook of Nature Study. Buy on or read online free 968-page ebook (keep scrolling down; there are several blank pages at the beginning and throughout).

 •  Nature Journal. $3.50 (digital) from Living Books Curriculum.

Learn To Share the Gospel
in Stick Figures

Sharing the Gospel is a free 10-page eLesson from Grapevine Studies.

Your children (age 7 and up) can learn how to effectively share the Gospel in stick figures! Unique and simple for enough for children to understand.

Furnish Lots of Good Books To Read

To help your children enjoy reading and to benefit their character and education, select their reading materials carefully.

Identify Moral Elements

A standard that can be applied to selecting literature is found in Philippians 4:8:

 •  True.  Story is based on truth and reality.

 •  Honorable.  Christian character is reinforced.

 •  Just.  Appropriate consequences are meted out.

 •  Pure.  Characters and story are pure. Sin is not described, admired, laughed at, or rewarded. Language is clean.

 •  Lovely.  Beauty is portrayed (in illustrations as well).

 •  Of Good Repute.  Emphasizes what is good about things.

 •  Excellent or of Virtue.  The material is moral and edifying as well as of high quality.

 •  Praiseworthy.  We can praise God for what we are reading.

Read more about negative moral elements and options in Newsletter #23 and an article, "A Biblical Approach to Objectionable Elements" on the BJU Press website.

Consider Variety and Other Criteria

 •  Select or read to your child books that meet his needs and interests and also stretch his horizons.

 •  Select a variety of literature:
·  Historical fiction
·  Biography (including missionaries and great Christians)
·  Nonfiction (even textbooks)
·  Poetry
·  Drama
·  Books set in different time periods and geographic

 •  Look for books in a series.

 •  Unabridged books are usually best.

Watch your child grow by reading good books this summer!

Globe, Map, or Time-Line Study

Keep a globe, map, and time-line in a central location and do one of these activities.

 •  Have a 5- or 10-minute map search and check off a list of objectives (continents, oceans, countries, major cities, rivers, lakes, mountains; see Newsletter #146 or one of your textbooks).

 •  Locate times and places that you encounter in your reading, in the news, in missionary prayer letters, etc. or methodically work through a list of geographical or historical items from one of your school books.

 •  Do the above activity with a time-line and list of events or people.

Family Fun

Go on a Scavenger Hunt Together

 •  Divide into teams or partners.

 •  Provide a list of items to find.
Items can be randomly chosen or based on a theme, such as the following printable lists suggest (cross off items you don't want or add others):

    ·  Nature; another Nature; Sounds (tape record)
·  ABC Items (good for younger children)
·  Jigsaw Puzzle (find pieces and put them together)

 •  See more hunts and suggestions.

 •  Set a time limit. The team that finds the most items by the end of the time limit, or that finds all of the items first, wins!

Suggested Rules

 •  For safety, children should not leave your own property unless with an adult (e.g., in the neighborhood or at a park).

 •  Don't follow the frequent scavenger-hunt practice of taking or borrowing items from others.

 •  Don't pick vegetation on public, or others' private, property.


 •  Include some chores in a family scavenger hunt.

 •  Include items you have lost and need to find.

 •  Instead of collecting items, photograph, tape record, or draw them.

Take Daily Walks Together

Take a daily walk as a family for health and exercise, as well as a time to visit with each other away from the distractions of home.

 •  Schedule your walks at the same time each day or stop what you're doing and go when there is a break in inclement weather. (Add rain gear and a stroller if necessary.)

 •  You might save topics or upcoming events to discuss or just ask questions to draw out your children's thinking.

Make and Blow Bubbles Together

Buy extra large containers of bubble solution or make your own.

Bubble Solution Recipe
2 quarts distilled water
Slowly stir in:
6 oz. non-ultra Dawn, original scent (or 4.5 oz. ultra dish detergent)
1.5 tablespoons glycerin (use 3 tablespoons if using ultra detergent)
You can cut this recipe in half or double it.

See more recipes, instructions, and explanations.

You can blow bubbles through a wand or use various things to make bubbles.

Learn all about the science of bubbles, e.g., bubbles do best when humidity is 30% or greater.

Harvest the Bounty Together

If possible, go to fields together for you-pick produce (or shop a local farmers' market or fruit stand); then freeze, make jam, or dry.

 •  Freeze whole berries by spreading on trays in your freezer. Transfer to airtight freezer bags when frozen and remove air before closing. (Placing the bag in water just below the top of the bag, squeezes out air.)

Frozen berries are perfect to add in a blender smoothie (1 cup milk or yogurt plus one serving of frozen fruit) all year long!

 •  Make freezer jam (our family's favorite). Try the low-sugar or honey recipes.

 •  Dry berries or fruit to use in cereal, trail mix, or scones.

Don't forget to savor plenty of these delicious gifts from God, fresh, while they last!

Save $20
on Your HSLDA Membership

Home School Legal Defense Association offers homeschooling families a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense that gives them the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone.

Use this link and discount group number 299142 for $20 off your membership fee.  (Be sure to enter the discount group number 299142 in the "Discount Group Code" area, not the "Coupon Code" area.)

Sunnyside Up

Job Description

Our 5-five-old daughter Esther and I got to talking about occupations.

"What are you going to be when you grow up, Mommy?"

"I'm already grown up, and my job is a wife and mommy," I replied. I wanted Esther to understand the importance of a homemaker's role.

After a few minutes of chatting, I asked, "What is my job, Estie?" I expected her to say a wife and mommy, but she surprised and elated me by answering, "Your job is loving."

Submitted by Jeanette L., California.

Send your humorous anecdote to

Peace with God

1.  God loves you.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

2.  Man is separated from God by sin.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23)  For the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)

3.  The death of Jesus Christ in our place is God's only provision for man's sin.

He (Jesus Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

4.  We must personally receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph. 2:8, 9)

God's Word

Immerse your family in God's truth through systematic reading and study of God's Word.

The Teaching Home's
Unique Bible Reading Schedule

Features include:
•  Start any month.
•  Read 6 days a week
   (allows for church on Sunday).
•  Read 4 weeks per month
   (24 days per month).
Online at

Listen to the Bible Online.  Choose from six English versions (plus Spanish and other languages) at


"Go into all the world and preach the gospel . . ." Mark 16:15

Revolutionize your vision and methods of evangelism by listening to, watching, or reading "Hell's Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort of Living Waters.


 •  Basic & Intermediate Training Courses by Living Waters.

 •  The School of Biblical Evangelism (online). "Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort have created a biblically sound course." Josh McDowell

 •  Free Evangelism Boot Camp and A Pocket Guide to Evangelism from Pocket Testament League.


 •  Unusual and popular tracts from Living Waters.

 •  Gospels of John in 8 languages (attractive covers) with plan of salvation from Pocket Testament League.

 •  Witnessing Tools (tracts, booklets, etc.) from Answers in Genesis.

 •  200+ gospel tracts (including seasonal) from Good News Tracts.

Christian Music Online 24-7

Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to these online stations:

 •  Abiding Radio.  Choose from four stations: vocal, instrumental, kids, and seasonal (Christmas). Information for listening on many different devices.

 •  Old Christian Radio

Free Reprints

We encourage you to share our free email newsletters:

 •  Forward entire newsletter to your friends and support group.

 •  Reprint articles in an email or print publication.

 •  Post articles on the Internet with an active link to our website:

Copyright Policies

 •  Reprint articles unedited and in their entirety.

 •  Include "by Cindy Short and Sue Welch," unless another author is listed.

 •  Add: "Copyright 2014 (or year published) by Reprinted by permission."

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Copyright 2014 The Teaching Home

   Christian Homeschool
   Foundations Series

    Part 3

          “Homeschooling is a way of life in which the home is the center of life and learning.

          “Through home education, parents can experience in a unique way their responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Invite a Friend!  Encourage your friends and support group to sign up to receive these free newsletters.

 Christian Homeschool Foundations, Part 3 


7 Steps to Choosing and Using
Your Homeschool Curriculum

by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, co-editors

Step 1.  Start with Prayer, Your Family Mission Statement,
          and Goals

Step 2.  Assess Each Child

Step 3.  Learn about Different Methods and Materials

Step 4.  Consider Combining Methods and Materials

Step 5.  Decide Which of Your Children You Will Teach
          Together for Which Subjects

Step 6.  Look for Specific Materials with Features
          That Will Meet Your Needs

Step 7.  Choose and Obtain Your Curriculum


   •  Summer Learning (includes Freebies): Nature Journals, The Gospel in Stick Figures, Good Books, Globe, Map, or Time-Line Study

   •  Family Fun: Scavenger Hunts, Daily Walks, Bubbles, Harvest

 Recommended Resources 

   •  Common Sense Press: Great Science Adventures
   •  Easy Grammar Systems with Daily Grams & New Grades 8-12


 There truly is not just one right way to home school, or one best curriculum for everyone. 

One of the advantages of home education is its great flexibility.

Each family is free to choose from among many excellent options, the educational philosophies, methods, materials, and schedules that best suit their needs and preferences.

 How you use your curriculum can be at least as important as which curriculum you choose. 

A wonderful curriculum that stays on your shelf will do your family no good.

On the other hand, a simple, basic curriculum used conscientiously along with reading, enriching experiences, and normal daily living can produce an excellent education.

Whatever your situation, there are multiple solutions that can make home schooling a blessing to your family.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a homeschool, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

Great Science Adventures
This Series Will Change Your Science Teaching Forever!

"This arts-and-crafts approach to science is totally different from anything else I have seen."  – Cathy Duffy, 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

Bring excitement and creativity to learning, including reproducible pages for lots of science books that students create.

Each of these 10 books includes:
  •  Content & activities for grades K-8; great for multilevel teaching!
  •  24 lessons, with 2-3 lessons completed each week
  •  Detailed explanation of activities – teacher can start right away.
  •  Reproducible activities and graphics for student use

Great Earth Science Studies
•  Discovering Earth's Landforms and Surface Features
•  Discovering the Ocean
•  The World of Space

Great Life Science Studies
•  Discovering the Human Body and Senses
•  The World of Insects and Arachnids
•  The World of Plants
•  The World of Vertebrates

Great Physical Science Studies
•  Discovering Atoms, Molecules, and Matter
•  The World of Light and Sound
• The World of Tools & Technology


Step 1 

Start with Prayer, Your Family
Mission Statement, and Goals

Taking time to think and pray about what you want to accomplish will give direction to your efforts and help ensure that your children will achieve excellence in education and character.

In Newsletter #403, Part 2 of our Christian Homeschool Foundations Series, we discussed how to write a family mission statement and set long- and short-term goals that will help you accomplish your mission.

This process is an important first step in preparation for choosing and using curriculum to its best advantage for your family.

Step 2 

Assess Each Child

Take an inventory of each child's knowledge, skills, aptitudes, interests, learning style, and character in light of your goals for him.


You can do this in several ways, as discusses in our last newsletter, such as:

 •  Informal, everyday observations

 •  Testing (PASS Test, BJU Press, CLASS)

 •  Using a scope and sequence chart and check off the skills or knowledge that your child has already attained (A Beka Books, BJU Press)

Learning Styles

Your children, as well as yourself, have preferred learning styles – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (touching and doing) that should be noticeable to observant parents.

As children grow and mature, their learning style(s) may change.

Natural strengths in learning styles may be fully utilized and weaknesses corrected by the choice of methods inherent in specific approaches or curricula.

You may want to use your child's favorite learning style to encourage him in his least favorite subjects.

You can also expand his skills in his less-preferred learning style by incorporating its methods into the study of his favorite subject, so that eventually all your children become comfortable with all three means of getting information.

Read more in Newsletter #256.

Easy Grammar® is:  Easy to Teach
Easy to Learn  &  Easy to Remember!

The Easy Grammar system uses the prepositional approach combined with effective strategies that help students understand grammar, a tool for speaking and writing properly.

Each Grade 2-7: Teaching Text, Student Workbook, Test Booklet, and Daily GRAMSĀ® which provide a 5-10 minute, daily review promoting mastery learning.

NEW! Ultimate Series for Grades 8-12: 180 Daily Teaching Lessons, plus Student Workbook.

One of Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks.
Learn more, view videos, see sample pages,
and order at

Easy Grammar Systems
Box 25970, Scottsdale AZ 85255  |  1-800-641-6015

Step 3 

Examine Different Educational
Methods and Materials

Fine Christian educational materials are available to home educators.

The major educational methods and materials used by Christian homeschool families are described below with links to websites for more detailed information.

 Unless otherwise noted, the publishers listed below offer: 

 •  A distinctively Christian worldview throughout all subject areas.

 •  No pronounced denominational viewpoints

 •  All subjects for all grades, plus electives

 •  Free print and/or online catalog.

 Most of these publishers also offer: 

 •  Accredited or nonaccredited correspondence programs

 •  Supplemental teaching materials.

Traditional Christian Textbooks

The traditional approach to education involves teacher-directed study and the use of textbooks.  Written assignments, workbooks, or other projects are also used.

Textbooks cover subjects thoroughly and usually include study questions, enrichment activities, and projects.  These excellent books are rich in colorful illustrations, photographs, diagrams, charts, and maps.  Teaching materials such as workbooks, tests, answer keys, and daily lesson plans are available.

 •  A Beka Book (textbooks; streaming video)

 •  BJU Press (textbooks; streaming video)

 •  Christian Liberty Academy (a variety of publishers)

Christian Worktexts

A worktext is a combination of a workbook and a textbook.  It contains lessons, questions, projects, and exercises in each consumable workbook, based on the principle of mastery learning.

These curriculum materials have similar content to traditional textbooks.  However, they are usually less extensive, could require less time to complete, and require no teacher preparation.

Diagnostic tests show where a child should start in each subject; this can be useful for children coming out of a school setting.

 •  Accelerated Christian Education from Basic Christian Education

 •  Alpha Omega Publications available in three formats:
LIFEPAC, print based
Switched-On Schoolhouse, computer based
Monarch, Internet based

Christian Unit Studies

Unit studies present knowledge from several subject areas (such as history, science, literature, and Bible) centered around a common theme for each unit.

Language arts and math can be related to the unit, but basic skills in phonics, grammar, and math are taught separately and systematically using an additional curriculum.

Unit study curriculum varies in the amount of teacher preparation required.  Usually many library books are used, but Christian textbooks, home resources and/or the Internet can also be used for reference and information.

 •  KONOS (Complete packages and mentor program also available)

 •  The Weaver Curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications

 •  Cadron Creek Christian Curriculum

The Principle Approach

Curriculum using the Principle Approach is available or may be developed by parents.

For each subject, teachers and students keep notebooks containing biblical perspectives and principles, factual information on the subject acquired from various sources, and personal applications.

 •  Foundation for American Christian Education

 •  Judah Bible Curriculum (Bible only)

Classical Approach

Children progress from memorization of facts and development of learning skills to advanced logical reasoning and expressive use of language, giving them the ability to discuss their knowledge and beliefs.

 •  Order the September/October 1997 Teaching Home back issue.

 •  Read Dorothy Sayers' essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning,"  in which she argues that we presently teach our children everything but how to learn and proposes that we adopt a modified version of the medieval scholastic curriculum for methodological reasons.

Books & Life Experiences

Other than basic teaching in the three Rs, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction.  Normal everyday activities supplement study and give it perspective.

 •  See Charlotte Mason Curriculum (K-8) from Living Books

Media Options

A variety of media can add interest and motivation for all your children.  A variety will also enhance each child's learning according to his preferred learning style.

Include books, printed materials, videos and DVDs, supervised Internet studies, computer software, educational games, tools and manipulatives, such as:

 •  Audio/Video (Sing 'n Learn)

 •  Video Instruction (A Beka Books, Alpha Omega Switched-On Schoolhouse, Alpha Omega Monarch, BJU Press, Keyboard Enterprises, Systematic Mathematics)

 •  Manipulatives (Cornerstone Curriculum, Math-U-See)

 •  Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is a multisensory, phonics-based program.

Step 4 

Consider Combining Methods and Materials

The various methods and materials used by home educators overlap in philosophy, methods, and content.

 You can select and combine elements of several of these, adapting and blending them to serve their family's changing needs. 

You can use a complete curriculum package from a publisher or put together your own components.  Neither option will make you a "better" homeschooler.

Whichever curriculum or method you choose, you can incorporate other methods into it.  Some examples:

 1.  You may use a unit study curriculum supplemented with traditional science and history texts as reference books, and add library books for reading.

 2.  You might use worktexts for math and language and have your children keep "principle approach" notebooks for science, history, and Bible.

 3.  You may emphasize the appropriate phase of the classical approach for each child in his individual assignments.

 4.  You can rearrange the order of the units in your curriculum to conform to the seasons or your children's current interests.

 5.  Reading aloud and discussing subject texts and/or a variety of informative or enriching literature can complete or supplement any curriculum.

 6.  Textbooks or workbooks can be supplemented with unit studies, or vice versa.

 7.  Games, projects, computer programs, etc. can be added to any curriculum to help cover all your objectives.

There are other possible combinations of methods and materials. You are the best qualified to choose a mix that will be right for you and your children.

Step 5 

Decide Which of Your Children
You Will Teach Together for Which Subjects

 You may be able to teach several of your children the same material at the same time for the most efficient use of your time and effort. 

There are many possible variations and combinations of multilevel teaching techniques that can work for any homeschool family.

Separate Classes

Basic Skills.  Skills such as reading, handwriting, and math depend on mastery of some skills before others can be understood or learned.  Those skills need to be taught separately.

However, there is enough review and repetition in textbooks from grade to grade that a 5th-grade math text, for instance, could be studied by both a 9- and 12-year-old children, depending on their abilities.

Individual Instruction.  When one student needs individual attention, have a list of ways that the other children can use their time constructively by working independently, reading, doing chores, playing an educational game, watching an enriching video, etc.

Older Students.  Some students can do much of their work independently while younger ones receive necessary tutoring in basic skills.

Combined Classes

Subjects like geography, history, science, literature, and Bible, which do not depend on prerequisite skills for understanding, can be taught to several grade levels of children or the whole family together – even parents enjoy learning (or reviewing) with their children.

Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations that enable all children to understand.

For example, you might teach all of your children, ages 5-18, a course in botany.  High schoolers could use a detailed textbook while younger children read or hear about parallel topics from texts or library books on their own levels.  Discussions and projects can include the whole family, and assignments fitted to each grade level.

Step 6 

Look for Specific Materials with Features
To Meet Your Needs

Evaluate curriculum materials according to how they match your needs and preferences in various areas, such as the following:

The Materials

   Thoroughness or depth of coverage of the subject

   Enough practice and review

   Enrichment features such as mini-biographies, stories, story problems

   Attractiveness of the material, such as type size, layout, color, visuals such as photos, art, diagrams, timelines, maps, etc.

   Media format: print, computer or Internet based, audio, etc.

   Activities such as projects and experiments

   Answer Keys.

These might be included or separate, and might be needed or not essential, depending on the grade level, your own knowledge and/or involvement in the study.

   Your knowledge, experience, and confidence in teaching a particular subject or method.

Teacher's manuals or curriculum guides can give beginning or hesitant teachers the words to say (e.g., Valerie Bendt's Reading Made Easy), activities to introduce, and the pages to assign.

Teachers of higher-level subjects will find a wealth of background information and projects that can add substantially to the coverage of the subject (e.g., the high-school teacher's editions of world history texts from A Beka and BJU Press.)

Your Needs

Consider the following factors for your family – they may change from year to year as your children grow.

   Your preferences in teaching.

   Each child's learning styles, developmental levels, strengths, and weaknesses.

   The number of children in your family.

   Adaptability to combining classes.

   The amount of time and energy you would need to expend in preparation, teaching, and/or correcting.

   Your family's budget.

   The legal requirements in your state for home education.

See your state's homeschool requirements at

Step 7 

Choose and Obtain Your Curriculum

After you have spent a reasonable amount of time on the step-by-step process of considering curriculum, place your trust in God, agree with your spouse on the main points, then go with your best judgment.

Don't worry about making a "huge mistake."  You can give your children a good education with practically any curriculum, and you will learn what works by experience.

 •  Choose and list the methods and materials that you will use to meet your objectives for each child this year.

 •  In a notebook, make three columns per page for each student.

     1. Under each subject list the objectives to be met.

     2. List material chosen for each objective.

     3. Record the cost of all materials.

 •  Note who will share materials and whether you need more than one copy.

 •  Include any supplemental teaching materials.

 •  Add up all the prices and make adjustments if necessary.

 •  Gather ordering information.

Obtain Your Curriculum

Buy, borrow, or trade any materials needed in addition to what you already have.

A complete curriculum or components that you put together yourself can be obtained in the following ways:

Buy Direct or Used.  You can buy new or used materials directly from publishers, mail-order companies, Christian bookstores, thrift stores, or online.

Look for used homeschool curriculum at VegSource (see "Items for Sale" in middle/green column), Home School Books for Less, and Homeschool Classifieds.

With a Program.  Correspondence courses can provide teaching materials and various levels of accountability, testing, record keeping, and counseling.

Borrow.  You might be able to borrow or trade nonconsumable materials with a friend whose children are different ages than yours.  Also, check to see if your support group has a lending library or what you can find in your local public or church library.

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