Blog of the Week

momlaughingAs a home educating  mom, my day to day activities consist of overseeing our “little home school in the woods” in addition to the daily domestic duties needed to keep our home up and running. Over the past seventeen years, I have learned that a sense of humor is an essential tool needed in my home educating tool box.
As the old saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and with this I certainly agree. Which is why I’m posting the link to the blog article You Might Be a Homeschooling Mom If… by Amy Dingmann.
Grab a cup of coffee, sit back,  relax and enjoy!

Kathy Alphs


Resource of the Week: If I Could Do It Over Again by Jessie Wise

backtoschool3A few years ago, while perusing The Well Trained Mind website, I discovered a speaking presentation recording given by Jessie Wise. The title of her presentation was If I Could Do It Over Again. The title intrigued me, so I added the MP3 download to my cart.
In her presentation, If I Could Do It Over Again, Jessie candidly shares with the listener her experience of homeschooling her three children, Bob, Brenda and Susan in the early 1970’s. Jessie shares with the listener what did work, what didn’t work and what she would do differently if she were homeschooling her children in the 21st Century.
Each year, before our school year begins, I grab a cup of tea, put on my headphones and listen to Jessie’s inspiring talk. It’s a great way to begin your back to school week!

Kathy Alphs

Quote of the Day

homesweethome“But my parents understood that the world that they made within the walls of our house was what constituted home. So I grew up in spaces framed by art and color, filled with candlelight, marked by beauty. I grew up within a rhythm of time made sacred by family devotions in the morning and long conversations in the evening. I grew up with the sense of our daily life as a feast and delight; a soup-and-bread dinner by the fire, Celtic music lilting in the shadows, and the laughter of my siblings gave me a sense of the blessedness of love, of God’s life made tangible in the food and touch and air of our home.

It was a fight for my parents, I know. Every day was a battle to bring order to mess, peace to stressful situations, beauty to the chaos wrought by four young children. But that’s the reality of incarnation as it invades a fallen world….What my parents-bless them-knew…is that to make a home right in the midst of the fallen world is to craft out a space of human flesh and existence in which eternity rises up in time, in which the kingdom comes, in which we may taste and see the goodness of God.”

Sally Clarkson “The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming”

Language Arts through Literature: The Yellow Book

Learning Language Arts through Literature is based on the educational philosophy of Dr. Ruth Beechick and her natural learning method as outlined in her books, “The Three R’,” “Language and Thinking for Young Children,” and “You Can Teach Your Child Successfully.” The curriculum is authored by the late Debbie Strayer, a homeschooling mother, teacher, author and public speaker.

llatlyellowLearning Language Arts through Literature Yellow Book is a comprehensive language arts curriculum which teaches phonics, spelling, reading, grammar, composition, research and study skills, higher order thinking skills, creative expression, games, and penmanship. The author has chosen “real books” which are the back bone for the curriculum’s lessons. “Real Book” selections include: “Madeline,” “The Courage of Sarah Noble,” “Meet George Washington,” and “The While Stallion.”

Literature passages from “real books” such as “The Other Kitten,” “The Tale of Jeremy Vole,” and “Bible Stories to Read” are utilized for copy work and dictation. Learning Language Arts through Literature incorporates choral reading, drama, illustrating, oral presentation, pantomime, poetry, puzzles, and riddles into the daily lesson plans.

The instructors guide is comprised of easy to use lesson plans spanning a period of 36 weeks. Each lesson is made up of the following components: New Skills Taught, Materials Needed, Scripted Lesson Plan, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Answers, Examples, Diagrams and References to the student activity book. The Skills Index is an easy to use reference for the teaching parent. Assessments allow the teacher to evaluate the student’s progress. Review activities follow the lessons to provide the student with additional skills practice. Placement tests are available online at the Common Sense Press website.

As a homeschooler, I have perused several language arts curricula. I cannot praise this curriculum enough! Learning Language Arts Through Literature receives an A+ from this homeschooling parent!

Kathy Alphs

Little Saints: A Catholic Preschool With Classical Disciplines

littlesaintspreschoolLittle Saints:A Catholic Preschool Program with Classical Disciplines is a Catholic, 36 week, thematic curriculum which explores forty themes such as “I Belong to God, My Five Senses, Good Health Friends, Fall Is Here, Children Around the World, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Loving My Neighbor, Easter etc…”

In the first portion of the book homeschooling mother/author Cynthia Blum provides you with the frame work of the curriculum: Introduction, The Program, Getting It All Together,Putting It Into Action, Religious Education for the Preschool Age Child, An Early Phonics Foundation, Handwriting, Nursery Rhymes, Art and Music Appreciation. The curriculum is divided into months beginning with the month of August and ending with the month of May. Each month contains several themes for lesson time. Each lesson is broken down into the following: Theme Introduction: Concepts, Skills, Music Appreciation and Books. The weekly lessons are divided up into three days. Each day is broken down into the following: Preparing Learning Games, Art Projects, Lesson Emphasis, Listen to the Word of God, Can You Guess?, Storytime, FingerPlay, Songs/Circle Games, Art Project, and Learning Games. Included with the curriculum are a set of “masters” for the art/craft projects which you will need to photocopy for student use. In the appendix there are listed resources and recommended reading for the following: Songs/Circle Games, Alphabet Bit by Bit, Children’s Stories, Book Lists-Preschool and Beyond, Parenting and Character Formation, Family Education at Home-Catalogs and Publishers, Family Education at Home-Guides, Family Education at Home-Schools With Packaged Curriculum, Videos and Music and General.

This gentle curriculum lends itself nicely to the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason/Classical Education. The curriculum is affordable and it can be utilized as a Kindergarten program or early elementary resource. The curriculum maybe purchased through the author’s website

Kathy Alphs

Quote of the Day

little-boy-studying-in-the-libraryIn those days a boy on the classical side officially did almost nothing but classics. I think this was wise; the greatest service we can to education today is to teach few 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

Leadership Education for the 21st Century


While facilitating a parent’s homeschool support group, one of the members asked me if I had read Oliver DeMille’s “A Thomas Jefferson Education.” I admitted I hadn’t, but that it was on my “reading list.” Piqued by their question, I decided to purchase a copy of the book to read.

“Lay down true principles, and adhere to then inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender…” Thomas Jefferson.
Homeschooling father Oliver DeMille gives the reader insight as to how Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson was educated and how to implement the principles of “leadership education” in the home, public and private school settings. DeMille begins by addressing our present educational crisis: “Teaching not education, should be our focus, because great teaching inspires students to educate themselves.” The reader is guided through the three major types of schooling: Conveyor Belt Education, Professional Education and Leadership Education. Next, DeMille breaks down “leadership education” into the “phases of learning” which consist of: Core Phase, Love of Learning Phase, Scholar Phase and Depth Phase. “The basic tenets of a Thomas Jefferson Education are classics and mentors, depth and breadth, quality and application,” which are covered in the remaining chapters of the book. There is an appendix which includes: 100 Classics, Classics for Children and Youth, Sample Discussion Questions, Where to Find the Classics, Recommended Readings, and Putting Thomas Jefferson Education to Work and Notes.
“A Thomas Jefferson Education” can be used as the primary philosophy of education or it can be combined with another.

leadership3Overall, “A Thomas Jefferson Education” is an excellent resource to prepare the children of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Kathy Alphs