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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
Fax: 503-253-7345
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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"Space Education from Florida Space Research Institute"
is the subject line of the e-mail accompanying this newsletter.
     You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

     The Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #36
     Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

     May 16, 2003
     Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

Table of Contents

  • 15-Part Basic Skills Series: Writing, Part 1
  •      Personal Benefits of Writing
  •      Our Mission
  •      Pre-Writing Skills
  •      Becoming a Writing Instructor
  • What To Do If Your School Year Is Almost Done, but . . .
  • Recommended Resources
  •      Taubl Family Music
  •      Vertical 7 Bike Rack
  •      Structured Writing: Writing Formulas
  •      Lion & Lamb Mini-Masters Curriculum
  •      Teaching Home Back Issues
  • Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote


         Opportunities abound to articulate God's love and truth amid the chaotic clamor of this world. We can teach our children to influence others for God through excellent writing skills and practices.
         To the degree we are serious about extending our Christian influence and reflecting well on our Lord, to that degree we will be serious about perfecting all of our communication skills.

         May the Lord richly bless your family for His glory!

    Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
    The Teaching Home is a 22-year-old, home-school family business.

         Fill Your Home with Worshipful and Uplifting Music
              The Taubl Family shares the joy of the Lord through
         family vocals, strings, and harp. John and Carol join
         their seven children, ages 7-18, who were trained at
         Juilliard, and are award-winning musicians and
         performers. CDs, audio cassettes, and video. Hear
         samples at

    15-Part Series on Basic Skills
    by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

         Our 15-part series is written to help you evaluate your children's skill levels and help them improve in those areas.
         Topics are listed with the newsletter number in parenthesis.

    These can be viewed in our Newsletter Archives at

         1. Listening (#18)
         2. Word Analysis/Phonics (#19)
         3. Vocabulary (#21)
         4. Reading Comprehension: Knowledge (#23)
         5. Reading Comprehension (#25 & #26)
         6. Reading Comprehension: Analysis & Synthesis (#28)
         7. Reading Comprehension: Application (#29)
         8. Reading Comprehension: Evaluation (#30)
         9. Spelling (#32)
         10. Grammar (#34)
         11. Penmanship (#35)
         12. Writing, Part 1 (This Issue)
         13. Writing, Part 2
         14. Math, Part 1
         15. Math, Part 2

         Writing, like speaking, is communication; but writing has the potential for a far longer life and broader audience. It is the lasting and visible expression of our thinking.
         The teaching of writing skills may be the most neglected of the three Rs in both public and home schools. We trust that the practical suggestions in this issue and the next will encourage and help you to teach your children to write.
         In classical education, writing is part of the "Rhetoric Stage" in which principles derived from observation and logical reasoning are expressed in an articulate and effective manner. In other words, having something worthwhile to say and saying it well!

    Personal Benefits of Writing

         Writing down our thoughts, struggles, prayers, and emotions along with applicable Scripture verses is a valuable tool to help us understand who we are, where God is in our lives, what our spiritual and other needs are, what God's will is for us, and how to interact with others.

         Practice summarizing, paraphrasing, note-taking, and critiquing what you hear and read. Study and comment on Bible passages, literature, articles, and videos. This will help you understand, remember, and apply what you learn.

         Employers look for people who can communicate clearly, concisely, and respectfully.

         Get Ready for Summer Biking with a Vertical 7 Bike Rack!
              Finally, a bike rack for larger families and
         groups. Vertical 7 and Vertical 5 Bike Racks safely
         suspend up to 7 or 5 bikes respectively. Protects
         bikes and vehicle. Strong, durable, and economical
         (half the cost of comparable systems).

    Our Mission

         Writing that is done well can be a valuable tool, or even at times a weapon, in the hands of a dedicated Christian. ("The pen is mightier than the sword.") It is a means of expressing a Christian perspective and witness to unbelievers or edifying fellow believers.
         The Lord has given us several mandates that can be partly or largely fulfilled by effective writing in the following ways.

    Spread the Gospel
         We can write the testimony of our own salvation and the truth of God's gracious offer to all through gospel tracts, stories, or letters.

    Encourage Others
         It takes just a little thoughtfulness and effort to write letters, cards, and notes of thanks or appreciation to friends or relatives. Point them to the Lord and include some Scripture as well.

    Edify Others
         We can write articles on topics we have studied or experienced to give others instruction, inspiration, or warning. Our book, movie, and music reviews can give valuable guidance to others.

    Glorify God
         Through family or personal journals, family newsletters, or life memoirs we can share the victories, struggles, events, and answered prayers of our lives to pass on to our children, grandchildren, and others.

    Represent God as His Ambassadors
         We can make God's truth relevant and applicable by writing to government representatives or to editors in a clear, concise, effective, and gracious manner.

         We must teach our children the skills to develop a lifestyle of purposeful, helpful, and God-honoring writing.
         This gives us a nobler reason to learn proper grammar and word usage. If our writing is careless and unrefined, we reflect poorly upon our Lord and upon His truth.

         New Writing Method. Color-Coded Formulas. Outstanding Results.
              "Structured Writing: Writing Formulas for Private
         Schools" is a color-coded, step-by-step, proven
         curriculum for teaching academic writing to grades
         6-12. Structured Writing was developed by a homeschool
         mom while teaching homeschool students.

    Pre-Writing Skills

         There are many things that you can do to prepare your children to be excellent writers. Spend as much time as necessary at each of these levels.

         Your child should first experience and respond to the writing of others and learn to use spoken words expressively.
         As your child reads (or hears) fine literature with worthy content and excellent style, he will pick up these standards for his own expression.

    __ Read aloud lots of good literature that is above your child's current reading level so that he hears words used well.

    __ See "Selection of Reading Material" in The Teaching Home Newsletter #23

    Observation and Description
         Teach your child to observe and describe various scenes and events from his own experience. This will lead to colorful writing.

    __ Teach your child to use strong, vivid verbs and precise nouns.

    __ Use a thesaurus and play games such as:
    * Find as many specific verbs as possible for general verbs and
         nouns such as "walk" and "tree."
    * Give your children sentences with blanks and have them fill in
         the blanks with strong, precise nouns and verbs.

    Oral Exercises
         Practice oral composition before using pencil and paper. If your child's verbal communication is poor, he may find writing painful and counter-productive.

    __ Recall of facts. After reading aloud, ask your child what his favorite part was and have him narrate it back to you. His oral retelling of the story is great practice in the use of words.

    __ Order. Ask questions to aid correct sequencing such as, "What happened next?"

    __ Descriptive Language. Suggest a noun and have your child add different adjectives to describe it.

    __ Have your child expand a sentence by answering questions you ask about the subject.

    __ Ask questions designed to evoke sensory detail: What color was it? How did it feel? What did it sound, taste, or smell like?

    __ Oral Reports. Subjects of personal interest and enthusiasm help your child's words flow.

    __ Refer to 100+ Book Report Ideas in previous newsletter. See "100+ Creative Book Reports / Unit Study Activities" in The Teaching Home Newsletter #26 and select some for pre-writing activities.

    Daily Writing
         write well, your children need to write often. There is something about just doing it that takes away writer's block and makes writing a normal part of life. Start with a few sentences every day, such as the following:

    __ Copy Work. Just as beginning artists copy the masters to learn their style, have your children copy material you select to model great thoughts and good writing.

    __ Journals. Various kinds of journals can be kept, including:
    * Personal Journal. Daily experiences and activities as well as
         personal thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
    * Devotional Journal. Sermon notes, Bible study, and prayer
    * Nature Journal. Drawn and/or written descriptions of things
         observed in nature, plus facts obtained from research and copied
         or original poems.
    * Correspondence Journal. Record of written communication
         between you and your child.
    * Reading Response Journal: Notes, reactions, and evaluations
         of reading materials.

    __ Buy hardbound books in which your child can write both his
    copywork and journal entries to make special keepsakes.

    Frequent Discussions
         Teach and model how to apply biblical principles to real-life issues and help your children develop their logical thinking and communication skills.
         Family discussions can take the form of comparisons and contrasts, explanation of a position on an issue, or persuasion to adopt another position.
         A news broadcast often provides a topic for discussion on our Christian position and relevant Scripture in relation to appropriate news stories.

         Lion & Lamb Mini-Masters Curriculum
         * Provides structure, while allowing for choices.
         * Hands-on activities.
         * Mini-Masters Language Curriculum (Preschool-1st).
              Initial steps of reading and writing.
              Easy, adaptable lesson plans.
         * Also: Language Manipulatives.
              Mini-Masters Art Appreciation and Postcards.
         * Save 10% on any order over $50!

    Becoming a Writing Instructor

    Model Writing
    __ Let your children see you write and talk to them about what you are doing, such as:
    * A grocery or to-do list
    * A note to your husband.
    * Letters or a journal

    __ Writing notes to your children can motivate them to write too.

    Prepare To Teach Writing
    __ Conquer any fear or insecurity you might have by praying for guidance, courage, and wisdom to teach writing to your children.

    __ Be patient. Writing is not a skill that can be gained solely by memorizing the rules. Writing is both a skill and an art, and learning it well is a process that takes an extended period of time.

    __ Make a commitment to teach your children to write for the Lord's glory and the good of themselves and others.

    Educate Yourself
    __ Review and use a Christian writing text or program.

    __ Obtain as a reference book an upper-level Christian text on composition. See recommendations at:

    __ Build your own home-school library and include an English handbook, a thesaurus, a book on basic composition, and a book on style such as Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style."

    __ Read Writing, Part 2 in our next Newsletter.

         Buy Teaching Home Back Issues Online

  • Find Information, Inspiration & Encouragement
  • Select from 51 Never-Out-of-Date Back Issues
  • Search for Topics You Need
  • Each Issue Is Pictured and All Articles Are Listed
  • Practical How-Tos & Teaching Tips


    What To Do If Your School Year Is Almost Done --
    But Your Studies Are Not!

         If you are like many home-school families, you are nearing the end of your school year.
         If you are like many home-school families (and public school teachers!), you are not near enough to the end of your books to reasonably finish them in time.

    What Not To Do
    1. Do not panic.
    2. Do not feel guilty.
    3. Do not envy those who are on schedule.

    What To Do
         1. Talk to the Lord and your husband. Lay out the situation and possible solutions, then listen to their advice.
          Relax, take a deep breath, and try some of the following suggestions. We offer you several that might work for you, or they might suggest even better solutions for your unique situation.

    1. Concentrate on the Basics.
         The three Rs, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, are basic skills. They are building block skills used in all other subjects. These are also the skills that are usually tested on standardized tests at the end of the year.
         Other subjects are also important, even essential in the long run, but they can be postponed for the short term in the interest of solidifying basic skills.
         Check the almost-complete 15-part Basic Skills series we have been presenting in this newsletter for ideas and resources.

    2. Determine Level of Competence Needed.
         __ Some information needs to be memorized (math facts, phonics, spelling rules, and grammar rules); drill and "overlearn" these.
         __ Some information needs to be presented and understood (the overall timeline of history, principles of science, structures of literature, etc.). This is your second priority.
         __ Some information your children need only to be acquainted with as needed. It can be reviewed, restudied in depth, or looked up later. When time is at a premium, spend more of it on what must be learned most thoroughly now.

    3. Save Some for Summer.
         If you choose to concentrate on the basic subjects and skills, you may want to save some other subjects to finish during the summer.
         For instance, you might take one or more days a week during June to read and discuss history in a leisurely fashion. Do the same during July for science, and August for music and art.
         Summer would also be a good time to add unit studies, field trips, supplemental reading, and software to enhance these subjects.
         We will present our Summer Opportunities series in June and July (and feature articles for Back-to-School in August).

         Please Thank & Support Sponsoring Advertisers!
              These free newsletters are made possible financially
         by the fine suppliers who advertise in them.
              Please remember those that have advertised in our
         last issue (below) as well as the ones in this issue.

         Good News Publishers / Crossway Books
         NorthStar Academy: Christian Online Education
         Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series K-6
         Character-Building Word Family Stories for All Ages.
         Teach Reading & Spelling Skills AS You Teach Handwriting

    Sunny Side Up: Logical Error
         Recently while Dad was cutting our 6-year-old's hair, he had a perfect opportunity to see what Mark was learning in home school.
         Dad and Mark began discussing that week's science lesson. Mark had learned that mammals are vertebrates and that they have hair.
         "If you shave off all my hair, I'll be an invertebrate!" he concluded.
         Sent by Nanette S., Washington
         You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

    God Loves You.
         Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
         "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" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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         E-Mail Newsletter Reprint Policy. This newsletter is copyright 2003 by The Teaching Home. Permission is given to forward or to print and distribute this e-mail in its entirety. Individual articles from this E-Mail Newsletter may be reprinted unedited in their entirety.
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