Curriculum Recommendation for Real Life

June 2, 2015

mom and son“Hi, my name is Melissa and my son just completed 4th grade. I’m really concerned because he is really struggling with Reading Comprehension & Writing. I know the VLA program starts with 9th graders, but what program/programs would you recommend for 5th graders and middle schoolers? I appreciate your feedback, thank you!”

This is an actual email I received a couple days ago, and it is a sampling of what fills my Facebook messages and personal email inbox.

I most certainly understand and applaud parents who are searching for the very best stuff out there for their children in terms of curriculum. What I want to highlight is the fact that it AIN’T about curriculum!

Curriculum is just a tool in the hands of a student. A good student can use any curriculum and learn. It is the MINDSET of the STUDENT that will yield his results.

Self-Propelled students have a “yes, I can!” mindset from doing their own problem solving day in and day out, regardless of curriculum. Students who are dependent on their teachers do not necessarily possess this positive approach to learning. (I write extensively about this positive mindset in my book The Self-Propelled Advantage.)

Students who have a “no, I probably cant” mindset are going to struggle with any curriculum. It is all about getting to the bottom of this attitude and understanding what causes it which will be of most benefit to the student, not trial and error with this curriculum or that curriculum, although that is what happens most often. Home-educating parents tend to doubt the worth of a curriculum before they look at what is REALLY going on in the heart of their student.

Why?

It is easiest to blame curriculum. It is pretty darn simple to curriculum-hop, but isn’t it painfully expensive and time consuming? In 23 years of schooling eight kiddos, I’ve never changed a curriculum. What I purchased 23 years ago for my first child, my last child is using today.

What did I say to the sweet mom who wrote me? I’ll cut and paste my answer in case anyone is interested. Hopefully it will highlight what parents can do right now, this summer, to grow children who are on the road to becoming truly educated.

Hi Melissa,

Thank you kindly for your email! If you don’t mind, may I just say one word?

RELAX! 🙂

Writing skills develop over time, and that is why I don’t offer any courses for kids below high school.

I have five high school graduates. All totaled, they’ve written me ZERO papers in their 13 years of schooling other than for the composition class and research paper classes they took in high school for a total of two semesters. When they did VirtualLanguageAlive, they didn’t write essays for ME, they wrote them for themselves to utilize their vocabulary, to learn their vocabulary words.

What I did require and what I recommend you do is to go to the library and let him check out books. Set a minimum time of one hour of reading per day even (and ESPECIALLY) through the summer. Allow your kiddos to get ALONE with their reading material. Take away distractions of the technological kind, and make reading the only option, but give children choice in selecting their own reading materials.

Have technology-free days or technology-free times of day, at least. Take away those distractions and temptations FOR your children.

Encourage your child to read by giving your child ruminating time: time to think with no distractions. Charlotte Mason said, “Children must be left alone to ruminate,” and as a child, I was given that time as well. We didn’t have close neighbors or a public swimming pool, or etc. My mom took me to the library every two weeks or so, and my brothers and I would leave there with at least a dozen books. Happiness meant reading away in the coolness of an air-conditioned house. Or in the car. Or on the porch swing.

If I had had all of the distractions that today’s kids have, I would never have developed an appreciation for being ALONE with a book. I would not have honed my reading skills when there was no pressure to do so because I was reading for pleasure, not for school.

Today’s kids need to be left alone with their thoughts to ruminate. We are not being “mean” by just saying NO to screen time of all varieties!

This is the biggest challenge parents face in the 21st century: fostering reading in an age of electronics.

Just my two cents. Bahahahaha! I really got going there, Melissa. I apologize for being lengthy. I didn’t intend to be. READING is the key to lifelong learning. Comprehension will come and it grows over time, so simply allow a child to have his own relationship with any book he reads this summer. Eventually, from whatever curriculum he is given, he will be able to grow and learn.

Hugs,
joanne calderwood

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reading girlOne last tip for today:

Head out to your local bookstore, and let your kids look around for the latest and greatest stuff. Don’t purchase the books from the bookstore! Go to Amazon.com or to your favorite online book seller and order them at a discounted price. Waiting for the books to come in the mail adds EXCITEMENT! Don’t you love getting stuff in the mail? So do your kids! Set them up for additional excitement this way.

Okay, buy them one book at the bookstore. And grab yourself one while you are at it. If your kids see you enjoying a book in your spare time, they will get the message that reading is a worthwhile pursuit.

 

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“But how can I teach writing to my students?”

October 2, 2014

Business concepts in crossword,  featured words are: innovation,If there is one question I get asked the most, it is this question:

How do you teach writing, especially to high school students?

What is interesting to me about this question is that there is more to being fluent in English than simply being able to write, yet we as home educators worry about writing more than just about any skill our children will develop. Just a random thought there.

I’ve finally come out of the closet, and I’m sharing my unusual approach to teaching English skills to my high schoolers, who happen to be self-teaching. My five high school graduates to date have achieved extraordinary scores on their SATs and ACTs as a result of the way they have approached their English study. I know what works and what doesn’t work. I hate busywork personally, and I never give busywork to my kids.

Sooooooo, I could post my process here, or I can simply let you know that on my Website I now have a page chronicling the manner in which I’ve tackled teaching English FLUENCY through the years. Fluency means ability to read, write, and speak/think well. I don’t just want my students to write well. There is so much more to being fluent in English!

The answer to how I’ve taught writing to my middle school and high school students is found here, on this page:  The Fluency Trilogy.

I should warn you that the method is SIMPLE, and there is a MINDSET that goes along with the methodology.

If you wonder what is the best way to teach writing and language skills to students across the board, I don’t have an answer for you. I would never say I have found the absolute BEST way.

What I can tell you is what I’ve done with my students that has OVER prepared them for college and for real life. The answer may surprise you.  And hopefully it will RELAX you as well. 🙂

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her best-selling book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence in any educational setting.

 


7 Signs You May Be Micromanaging Your Teens

May 31, 2014

happy familyFor most parents, raising children well is a high priority. We long to be the best parents possible, and we want to make the very best decisions regarding the particular children the Lord has entrusted to us. There is no one-size-fits-all way to parent, but is it possible to do too much for our children once they are old enough to do for themselves?

What used to be called helicopter parenting, the constant hovering of parents over their child, obsessing over both small and large details of the child’s daily life, is now called overparenting. Since doing my own research on parenting over the past eight years, I’ve come to use the term micromanaging to best describe what it is that we parents often end up doing, especially home-educating parents, when we do things for our teens that may be best left for them to work through on their own.

Often we fear that if we don’t do everything just right, if we don’t hover and observe our teenagers diligently, if we don’t ensure that they have multiple activities, the best curriculum, the best books, and the best of everything that money can buy, we are not doing enough, and we risk failing them.

If we insist on being meticulously involved in every aspect of our teens’ lives, we may actually be demotivating our kids and inadvertently causing them to be dependent on us when they should be flexing their muscles and growing more and more independent.

Don’t we want to raise strong and courageous young adults who shine their lights boldly?

Strength comes from personal exercise, courage from taking calculated risks, knowing God goes before AND walks alongside. Independence doesn’t come overnight; it is a process of letting go. For most of us moms, letting go doesn’t come naturally.

Have you ever been in a job where you were micromanaged? I worked in a customer service environment for several years, and even though my fellow employees and I proved to be intelligent and competent at our jobs, we still were monitored minute by minute by a little box on our desks. Lunch and break times, number of calls taken per hour, actual product sales, potty breaks, average daily handle time of calls—all of these things and many more were tracked and recorded. Middle management dictated how our conversations with customers should flow, down to the minutest of details.

The result of such micromanagement was a revolving door of quality employees because they were not trusted to use the skills and abilities for which they were hired to meet the needs of the customers who were calling in with problems. Employees were not given credit for being trustworthy without being overseen every second of their work day. The result was unnecessary stress, burnout, and high turnover.

Simply put, micromanagement kills motivation. Micromanagement eventually kills the motivation of even the most motivated! If you’ve ever been micromanaged as an adult, you know this well.

In the home education realm, micromanagement leads to burnout for both parents and students. Perhaps it’s time to become underwhelmed again! The first step is to realize there is a problem.

In the event that you think you may be a micromanager, here are 7 signs to look for:

1. You have to repeat yourself over and over. Teens will rise to meet our expectations. We are the parents; we get to set the expectations. I expect my teens to help keep the house clean and in order. I expect that we will talk kindly to each other. I expect that they will do their work—be it school work or work around the house—with excellence, and I expect them to do it without me telling them over and over.

These expectations were set when they were young children, but if you haven’t set standards in the past, you still have the right AND the authority to do so now. The catch is that we as parents have to model the behavior that we expect our children to exhibit. Yeah, I know. That is the hard part.

Oftentimes parents unconsciously set low expectations because they are afraid they will stress their children, or they are afraid that their children may not be capable of performing at a higher level. Sadly, some parents do not respect their position as parents and don’t feel they may rightfully expect their children to do what they are asked to do with a cheerful attitude.

Respectfully submit the expectations to your kids via a family meeting, preferably with Dad laying out the rules, emphasizing that you expect them to follow through without repeated reminders. Ask them what they think should happen if the expectations aren’t met. Get the kids’ input on setting consequences. Make sure the consequences are as clear as the expectations, and be sure to follow through with them. When the expectations are met, follow through with a sincere word of thanks! It may take a little bit of reminding at first, but gently ease back on those reminders. Eventually, no reminders should be necessary.

2. You help your teen without being asked. While it is always nice to do things for our teens, be careful of overdoing things for them. “Oh, Mom will do it if I don’t,” is the outcome of overdoing. Teens are growing into adulthood; they won’t wake up one day and suddenly be responsible adults. Having definite responsibilities in the home with the expectation of excellence is preparing them for responsible independence down the road. Helping with your student with her biology project by going out and finding leaves for her collection is a general no-no.

3. You step in before your teen makes a mistake. When a young child is ready for the training wheels to come off his bike, chances are good he doesn’t think he is going to fall. Chances are good he will take a tumble or two as he learns to balance on two wheels. Allowing our children to make mistakes or take a tumble is necessary in order for them to learn how to strike a balance in their own lives. Natural consequences are sometimes the best teachers.

Of course we wouldn’t let our young child ride out into traffic, so use your judgment when making the decision of when to step in and when to allow natural consequences to teach your teen. Often we don’t want our teen to look bad or be embarrassed because we may look bad or be embarrassed, so we make sure a crisis is averted which means the behavior that caused the crisis is apt to be repeated.

4. You make excuses for your teen. When a young child doesn’t get a nap, he is likely to be grumpy, right? However, when a teenager is grumpy from not getting enough sleep, he has to learn what acceptable behavior is when one is grumpy, because in the real world, lack of sleep is going to be an issue from time to time.

“Well, James didn’t get enough rest, y’all,” is not the proper response from Mom when James has just been ugly to his siblings. If you have a tendency to make excuses for your young adult, he will be in for a rude awakening when out in the real world. Being honest with our teens about their crummy attitudes or behaviors is often easier than being honest with ourselves about our teen’s shortcomings. It’s our job to assist them in overcoming their weaknesses while at home, and making excuses just prolongs and feeds the behavior.

5. You run your teen’s daily schedule of activities. This is often fueled by a parent’s need for control. No surprise there. A 17 year old should be able to set his own schedule and order his day so that he accomplishes what needs to be accomplished; a 13 year old may need a little help to get started. School work is one of those things that teens should be able to accomplish independently. While some assistance may be needed from time to time, relying on Mom to tell him when to do what subject, or needing Mom to make him get his work done is an indicator of immaturity.

What happens when parents continue to schedule their teens’ lives for them is they inadvertently prohibit them from developing the skill sets necessary to foster problem-solving and self-confidence down the road. If a student is college bound, knowing how to prioritize study time and free time is an important skill!

Many students drop out of college due to the inability to function without someone telling them what to do. Home-schooled students should be experts in this area due to the practice they had at home organizing themselves on a daily basis during the high school years.

6. Your teen has no privacy. A teenager deserves some privacy. Respecting our teens’ privacy is imperative to a healthy relationship with our young adults. If we have a suspicion regarding something that may be happening that should not be happening, then asking questions and delving deeper is warranted, but enabling our teens to earn privacy as they demonstrate responsible behavior is part of growing up.

Once they are out on their own, they will have complete privacy whether we like it or not. As we observe them developing godly morals and values when they are young, we can trust them to carry those values over into their personal lives bit by bit without our direct supervision.

7. Your teen is afraid to make a decision without you. The key word here is afraid. Of course a healthy relationship with our young adults includes them seeking out our opinions before making some types of decisions. However, by the time a student is in high school, he is capable of making daily decisions especially where school work is concerned.

My high schoolers all know my expectations for their school work—to master each day’s material—and I give them as much control over it as I possibly can. My job is simply to monitor their progress on a semi-regular basis. They have a formula they use that dictates what they should be doing each day, and if they want to work ahead, I am cool with that.

If something comes up and they don’t complete something as planned, I don’t have to stress because the onus is on them to ultimately finish their work. They know they are working for themselves, not for me. I don’t need another high school diploma, so I’m not doing their work with them or for them. I’m there if needed, but they are calling the shots within the parameters of excellence.

The best way to demotivate our children educationally is to micromanage them.

I could write a book on this topic. Wait. I did. It’s called The Self-Propelled Advantage, and if you need some direction in the area of raising motivated kiddos who work independently in all areas of life, especially academics, you’ll find practical how-to’s within its pages.

Attitude truly is everything, and when we are willing to let go and allow our teens freedom to succeed and yes—to occasionally fail—we give them the gift of a yes-I-can attitude. We help them develop confidence and independence. We raise young adults who are strong and courageous.

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her best-selling book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.

 


Real Parents Don’t Beg

January 30, 2013

spoiled boyRecently on Facebook, I asked folks what is up with the shootings in schools. Why do shootings happen so frequently? Here in our local school district, teachers may soon be licensed to pack heat in the classroom!

Then there is the whole national conversation we’re having about bullying. It’s an epidemic among school children today.

What happened to the apparently-bygone era of students getting spanked by the principal for hard core stuff like passing notes during class or running in the halls?

I remember in third grade being sent out to stand in the hallway facing the wall because I was laughing during music class. (I’ll never forget Mrs. Smith, the Autoharp-Playing Wonder, God rest her soul. She didn’t like happiness.)

I mean, kids used to be much better behaved, with all due respect to Gen X, Y, and Z.

Ah, but perhaps the problem is the PARENTS of said Gen X, Y, an Z.

Today on The Underwhelmed Mom Show I began a six-part series of episodes examining the first element of the Self-Propelled Advantage ~ Self-Mastery. Yep, six episodes totaling three hours of discussion, laying out how and why parents can teach self-mastery to their children. Self control and self-discipline are mandatory for success in life. So is learning how to respect family and friends. So is respecting authority.

But when and how is a parent to begin instilling morals and values into a young child? Here is the direct link to listen to the replay of the first episode on self-mastery, if you are interested: Episode 14: Self-Mastery.

From the CircleofMoms.com website comes some really, really interesting stuff. I recommend subscribing to their updates for interesting, informative, but often humanistic analysis of kids, parenting, and what ~ in general ~ makes children tick. Or sick. Or etc.

Think about this age of bullying, the age of “feel-good” parenting, and the lack of respect in both kids and grown-ups these days, as I list for you 10 Signs Your Child Could Be SPOILED, per CircleofMoms.com.

Here we go.

1. She throws tantrums, often. Both in public and at home.

2. She isn’t ever satisfied with what she has. She wants what she sees someone else has.

3. He isn’t helpful.

4. He tries to control adults.

5. He frequently embarrasses you in public.

6. She won’t share.

7. You have to beg him to do what he’s asked to do.

8. He ignores you.

9. She won’t play alone.

10. You have to bribe him.

Okay. I’m going to go out on a parental limb here and say that if any of these behaviors are exhibited regularly by one of my children, my child is not SPOILED. Spoiled is way too pleasant of a word for any of the behaviors listed above with the possible exception of #2 and #6. Spoiled kids don’t share and are never satisfied.

The rest of the behaviors listed do not fall into the spoiled category. They fall into the disobedient and disrespectful category. What parent BEGS a child to do what’s asked of him? That isn’t parenting!

I’m sounding as though I’ve got my feet firmly planted on a soapbox here.

Teaching self-mastery means giving our children specific expectations for behavior and then reinforcing their behavior positively, or perhaps ~ gasp! ~with a bit of old-fashioned discipline when behavior purposely doesn’t meet standards and it IS A GOOD THING.

It is our responsibility as parents to be the ones in control, to set standards, and to enforce those standards on a daily basis until these behaviors become good habits formed in our children.

Real parents don’t beg.

Real parents model proper behavior themselves, and they expect their children to do the same.

_____________________________

About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her best-selling book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


Now This is a Graduation Speech!

January 12, 2013

female graduation portraitStressed for Success?

By David Brooks

(Joanne’s note: This high school graduation speech was NOT given to home-educated students, but I have kept this as encouragement, and I’ve put in bold those aspects of Mr. Brooks’ speech that speak to the beauty of home education.)

“Many of you high school seniors are in a panic at this time of year, coping with your college acceptance or rejection letters. Since the
admissions process has gone totally insane, it’s worth reminding yourself that this is not a particularly important moment in your life.

You are being judged according to criteria that you would never use to judge another person and which will never again be applied to you
once you leave higher ed.

For example, colleges are taking a hard look at your SAT scores. But if at any moment in your later life you so much as mention your SAT
scores in conversation, you will be considered a total jerk. If at age 40 you are still proud of your scores, you may want to contemplate a major
life makeover.

More than anything else, colleges are taking a hard look at your grades. To achieve that marvelous G.P.A., you will have had to demonstrate excellence across a broad range of subjects: math, science, English, languages etc.

This will never be necessary again. Once you reach adulthood, the key to success will not be demonstrating teacher-pleasing competence
across fields; it will be finding a few things you love, and then committing yourself passionately to them.

The traits you used getting good grades might actually hold you back. To get those high marks, while doing all the extracurricular activities colleges are also looking for, you were encouraged to develop a prudential attitude toward learning.

You had to calculate which reading was essential and which was not. You could not allow yourself to be obsessed by one subject because if you did, your marks in the other subjects would suffer. You could not take outrageous risks because you might fail.

You learned to study subjects that are intrinsically boring to you; slowly, you may have stopped thinking about which subjects are boring and which exciting. You just knew that each class was a hoop you must jump through on your way to a first-class university. You learned to thrive in adult-supervised settings.

If you have done all these things and you are still an interesting person, congratulations, because the system has been trying to whittle you down into a bland, complacent achievement machine.

But in adulthood, you’ll find that a talent for regurgitating what superiors want to hear will take you only halfway up the ladder, and then you’ll stop there. The people who succeed most spectacularly, on the other hand, often had low grades. They are not prudential. They venture out and thrive where there is no supervision, where there are no preset requirements.

Those admissions officers may know what office you held in school government, but they can make only the vaguest surmises about what
matters, even to your worldly success: your perseverance, imagination, and trustworthiness. Odds are you don’t even know these things
about yourself yet, and you are around you a lot more.

Even if the admissions criteria are dubious, isn’t it still really important to get into a top school? I wonder. I spend a lot of time meeting with students on college campuses. If you put me in a room with 15 students from any of the top 100 schools in this country and asked me at the end of an hour whether these were Harvard kids or Penn State kids, I would not be able to tell you.

There are a lot of smart, lively young people in this country, and you will find them at whatever school you go to. The students at the really elite schools may have more social confidence, but students at less prestigious schools may learn not to let their lives be guided by other people’s status rules – a lesson that is worth the tuition all by itself.

As for the quality of education, that’s a matter of your actually wanting to learn and being fortunate enough to meet a professor who electrifies your interest in a subject. That can happen at any school because good teachers are spread around, too.

So remember, the letters you get over the next few weeks don’t determine anything. Picking a college is like picking a spouse. You don’t pick the “top ranked” one, because that has no meaning. You pick the one with the personality and character that complements your own.

You may have been preparing for these letters half your life. All I can say is welcome to adulthood, land of the anticlimaxes.”


25 MORE Fabulous Parenting & Education Quotes!

January 5, 2013

Family and dogA couple days ago, I gave you a list of my absolute favorite quotes in the areas of parenting and education. To me, parenting and education naturally go hand in hand. One begets the other. But I digress.

Here are the next 25 on my list of fabulous quotes. I hope you might be inspired by one or two or more of ’em.

26. Education is Man’s going forward from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty.  ~ Kenneth G. Johnson

27. Education is [A process] which makes one rogue cleverer than another. ~ Oscar Wilde (1856-1900) British poet and dramatist.

 28. Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent.  ~ Josiah Stamp

29. Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.  ~ Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer.

30. Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.  ~ George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English statesman and author.

31. Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance. ~ Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian.

32. The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught. ~ Henry Brooks Adams (1828-1918) U.S. historian and writer: The Education of Henry Adams.

33. Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality. ~ Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist.

34. Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. ~ G. M. Trevelyan (1876-1962) British historian.

35. They say that we are better educated than our parents’ generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. They are not the same thing. ~ Douglas Yates

36. Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education. ~ Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English philosopher, mathematician and writer.

37. It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not already completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. I believe that one could even deprive a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness if one could force it with a whip to eat continuously whether it were hungry or not.  ~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955) U.S. physicist.

38. The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.  ~ Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American author, editor and printer.

39. I’m sure the reason such young nitwits are produced in our schools is because they have no contact with anything of any use in everyday life. ~ Petronius (d. circa 66 AD) The Satyricon.

40. True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius. ~ Felix E. Schelling (1858-1945) American educator.

41. He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on. ~ Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, author, scientist, inventor and philosopher.

42. A college degree does not lessen the length of your ears; it only conceals it. ~ Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American author, editor and printer.

43. I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. (Sound familiar?) ~ Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer.

44. The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one’s mind a pleasant place in which to spend one’s time. ~ Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) American journalist.

45. Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire. ~ William B. Yeats, poet

46. You can lade a man up to th’ university, but ye can’t make him think. ~ Finley Peter Dunne

47. Education: Being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It’s knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it’s knowing how to use the information once you get it. ~ William Feather

48. An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person, and entertain himself. ~ Sydney Wood

…And, for all us homeschool moms who never learned all the classical composers and great artists and a gazillion other things, but knew enough to instill a love of them in our children, there’s this one:

49. Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master. ~ Leonardo da Vinci.

50. You are what you teach, and you teach what you are. ~ Joanne Calderwood

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


25 Fabulous Education & Parenting Quotes

December 30, 2012

Little girl with alphabetDon’t you just love a great quote? Over the years I’ve compiled my own list of quotes that have inspired me as a parent and as an educator. I thought I would share a few of them with you. Perhaps one or two may hit you wherever you are right now.

1.   He is educated who knows how to find out what he doesn’t know.  ~ George Simmel, German Philosopher

2.   I think this wise; the greatest service we can do to education is to teach fewer subjects.   No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life. ~ C. S. Lewis

3.   Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goes out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.  ~ Cicero

4.   Learning how to learn by learning how to think makes a well-educated person. Learning how to learn not only expands the mind. It also gives you a lifelong asset. Once you have it, it stays with you for the rest of your life.  ~ T. Kaori Kitao (1999)

5.   The greatest maxim of all is that children should be brought up as simply and in as domestic a way as possible, and that (not interfering with their lessons) they should be as much as possible with their parents, and learn to place the greatest confidence in them in all things. ~ Queen Victoria

6.   Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with diluted talk from the lips of their teacher. The less the parents ‘talk-in’ and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to the children they are educating, the better for the children…Children must be allowed to ruminate, must be left alone with their own thoughts. ~ Charlotte Mason

7.   Look on education as something between the child’s soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child’s brain and the standardized test. ~ Charlotte Mason

8.   Education is a matter of the spirit. No wiser word has been said on the subject, and yet we persist in applying education from without.  No one knoweth the things of the man except the spirit of man which is in him; therefore, there is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education, he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind stuff. Both quantity and quality are essential. ~ Charlotte Mason

9.   He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them. ~ Aristotle

10. The life of Abraham Lincoln is by most accounts an amazing study in character formation. Yet he was notoriously disorganized; he even had a file in his law office labeled “If you can’t find it anywhere else, try looking here. ~ John Ortberg

11. When I was a newly-wed and didn’t know how to cook, I asked my grandmother for her chili recipe.

“Well, first you cook your beans.”

”What kind of beans?”

“Any kind you want.”

How many?”

“As many as you need.”

”Okay, then what?”

“You brown your meat.”

How much meat?”

“Depends on how many beans you cooked.”

”Okay, supposing I make it that far, then what?”

“Well, you just season it till it tastes right, and that’s all there is to it!”

I think homeschooling is much like that: different grades, different children, and different life circumstances keep us from having one constant “recipe.” We often play it by ear, “taste” it and adjust accordingly. ~ Jenny Calvin, a very wise homeschooling Mom

12. I believe that education is all about being excited about something! Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message. ~ Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter

13. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. ~ Aristotle

14. Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry. ~ Madison Sarratt, Professor of Mathematics 1916-1978, Vanderbilt University

15. Excellence never goes out of style. ~ Seen on a billboard

16. The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

17. If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time insight into and understanding of many things. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

18. Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person. ~ Albert Einstein

19. If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all. ~ Michelangelo

20. I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.  ~ Anne Sullivan

21. Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes. ~ Norman Douglas

22. Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine. ~ Professor Irwin Edman

23. Education is one of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get. ~William Lowe Bryan

24. Education is hanging around until you’ve caught on. ~ Robert Frost

25. Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.

~ Bertrand A. Russell (1872-1970) English philosopher, mathematician, and writer

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About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of URtheMOM.com, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


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