Search by keywords:

Advanced Search

Latest Products

Teach Phonics Faster (course e-book) Teach Phonics Faster (course e-book):

Want to teach phonics in a way that gets your child reading faster?  Want to make teaching… more >>

Teach Phonics Faster (course) Teach Phonics Faster (course):

Want to teach phonics in a way that gets your child reading faster?  Want to make teaching… more >>

Solar energy generation made simple‏ (E-Book) Solar energy generation made simple‏ (E-Book):

A three-page fact sheet describing how a family can generate and use solar power with no hassles… more >>




Teaching/mothering tips

Renee Ellison's tools for effective teaching, and inspirational thoughts about being a nurturing mother.

Boys and girls and sex

Thursday, 02. June 2016 by Renee Ellison

Image

It is no wonder that we are now placing our young girls in combat in the military, as they have been “fighting” our own young men for years now.  Where?  In sex.  Our culture’s young girls (younger, and younger, by the way) have been let loose amidst a pack of lusty, physically uncontrollable boys, with no protection from their fathers and no moral restraints from their boyfriends.

Our society’s abandoned daughters want to belong; they want to have a boyfriend who “loves” only them; they want to be approved, since, for the great majority of them, it didn’t happen at home, so they swiftly learn that they gain it all by giving in to a boy’s coercion.  One seldom hears of a girl pressuring a guy for sex.  Initially, unmarried girls largely have sex against their will in order to “belong”. They may try to raise feeble, confused objections but are overwhelmed by the steady aggressions of a guy.

Let’s face it: many men today, whether young and old, are not on the side of guiding, protecting and honoring our females, sexually.  Yet we blame our girls for getting into “fixes” or embarrassingly showing up at school pregnant.  They are “bad girls” but the boys acquire no corresponding stigma.  No restraint was expected.  They used any means and any narrative possible to coerce and to accomplish date rape.

In today’s world, all restraints are off from our boys; they are simply not the gentlemen adolescent boys used to be.  Instead of logging in years of skill development and accomplishments in their young emerging years (corralling that physical urge into productive ends) today’s boys have used their youth to feed upon lust in their bedrooms via video games and pornography.

Our girls are not blameless, but they do tend to be brainwashed.  At the same time our girls have been feeding upon magazines (their editors hell-bent on brainwashing our frail young girls to let go), packed with ways to make themselves physically alluring.  Young girls emerge from these browsings, thoroughly exposed in how to deck themselves out with the clothing of prostitutes, believing it to be the norm.

Just like we used to protect our unborn babies (now we sell their body parts), we used to protect our girls, too, not only from romance novels but from non-domestic geography.  The entire Victorian Era was set up to protect its young (all of them in every age, immature), girls.  Boys met them in the parlor of their father’s home and conducted their discourse there.

Currently, on the other hand, teenage sex takes place outside of a home that has parents in it.  Both parents are working.  Gone.  Not only is there no parlor, the young are strolling the school parking lots, the streets and malls and alleys, and there is no protective father anywhere within sight.  (Traditionally, fathers have understood the wiring of their sons and have taught them how to bridle it in heroic work—and fathers have understood the wiring of their daughters, that they needed fatherly protection until marriage).  Now, however, girls are there for the grabbing, after school, in parks, in the backseats of cars, at parties where parents AREN’T—and most of all in co-ed dorms where there is 24/7 availability and anonymity.

Without a father’s protection, young girls are thrown into confusion, and are in danger of coercion by sexually aggressive boys. Why?  Because their anatomy was built that way.  Forgetting this, we charge our young girls with pregnancy and guilt.  It is all your fault that you got in trouble—while the boy rushes out and lays the next girl.  The boys drop off the girls they have laid, at the abortion clinics, too, and speed off to go watch football while she has it “done”.

What is the difficulty here? Why the suggestion that we lay more charge at the feet of our culture’s males, both fathers and boyfriends, young and old?  Because our girls’ anatomy and psyche were not designed for combat, or to resist.  Consider how in marriage, a young woman was created to respond to her husband’s sexual initiations and desires, by yielding to them.  This is how the human race propagates itself through the creation of families.  When she is hugged, her control goes out the window, on purpose.  She was designed by God (even in her anatomy) to be a responder.  To let go.  So when you put that psyche and that anatomy amidst a herd of unbridled boys you are going to have skyrocketing fornication statistics.  The numbers are currently appalling.  Decades ago, high school fornication was at 25%, then it grew to 50%, now it revs at 85% (with no apparent difference between Christians and non-Christian youth).  The governor is OFF—there is no restraint going on here.  The damage (in STD’s and in children born out of wedlock into lifelong poverty and shame for the start of the next generation) in every direction is incalculable.

Fathers, come weep at this.  Come home.  Wake up.  Sparta, Athens and Rome were initially all built up by controlled, directed men.  They correspondingly all later fell when the men became obsessed with self-indulgence.  We are there again—like dogs without leashes.

Trouble changing a defeating habit?

Friday, 15. April 2016 by Renee Ellison

Image

To change a habit, you’ll want to tackle it from both directions—both positively and negatively. This is called the pincer strategy.  Here is how it works.  You design the worst possible consequence you could think of, relative to that habit as your unpleasant deterrent/punishment, if you sink back into it, and, on the other side, you also allure yourself with the best possible incentive if you go the new direction, by a better choice.

Examples:
Let’s say that you want to stop eating greasy salted chips.  If you cave in and eat one, your “self crafted” punishment/deterrent might be that you follow that action of past habit NOW with a 1/4 tsp horseradish!  Conversely, if you succeed in going a full day without chips, you give yourself a positive “chip” (i.e. perhaps smaller in size, like a quarter, in an envelope for that day), giving yourself an even larger prize at the end of the week of one used book of your choice on Amazon or Abebooks.

Directions:
List the habit(s) you want changed.  Write it down.  Then, design your pincer strategy.  If you can’t think of a bad consequence, enlist your family’s help.  They’ll have NO trouble designing hair-raising consequences that are the perfect fit for you!  If you listen to them, OR your better self, you’ll be jettisoning bad habits right and left smile

The false promises of Unschooling

Sunday, 28. February 2016 by Renee Ellison

Image

In some circles, un-schooling is all the rage.  It offers supposed academic emancipation: just let the child follow after his own curiosities.  What its proponents may not be aware of, however, is that unschooling is an experiment that has already been tried, with dismal results.  It has been around since the 1960’s.

Unschooling is great for appropriate chapters in life. It is, in fact, what any set of parents does with their toddler up to age five.  They run around after the child, giving parental oohs and aahs and affirmations galore.  At some hour, though, the application of cognitive discipline is advantageous for a developing human.  Just ask any Olympic coach, or a violin virtuoso who has been training since the age of three, or a trainer of Lipizzaner horses.  You can be sure that those horses aren’t allowed to change out of their pajamas any time they feel like it, or that they are born knowing how to proceed to dance on their hind legs to classical music at some future hour.  They are led by bit and bridle into magnificence.  Coaches hover over beginning details, just like misers counting their diamonds.  They know, down in their very gizzards, that victory is in every highly disciplined detail.

Another chapter where Unschooling might be a preferred choice, even an advantage, to some, would be college.  When a student reaches that age, he has acquired enough skills to be able to chase around after his curiosities, with some real progress, given a gifted mentor or two.  (This is not true for some disciplines, such as engineering and mathematics, but surely is true for the humanities.)  Apprenticeships, outside of a classroom, are also very expanding at that age.  For the in-between years, however—i.e. all of elementary, jr. high and high school—there is a sink-hole in this theory of un-schooling.  Students, so trained by the hundreds in the homeschooling movement, or by only “experience-based-novelty” private schools, are now embarrassed at all that they don’t know.

Unschooling lulls its followers into a false dichotomy.  It baits its proponents with the misguided idea that if one actually schools a child, that child will not get to chase around after his own curiosities.  Huh?  How many hours do we have in a day?  Does it follow that if we sequentially and progressively train our children in competent cognitive development for 3 or 4 hours a morning, in vital areas like phonics decoding skills, mathematics, and essay writing, that they, then do not have the remainder of the day to chase after anything they would like, be that the biology of butterflies or youthful “brilliant” military strategies?  Since when does one limit the other?

Unschooling presupposes that the bulk of Western Civilization training is mostly worthless—that the body of knowledge that has been built up over the centuries and has been meticulously passed down from generation to generation, by conscientious tutoring (even down to basic first penmanship strokes, multiplication facts and historical dates), is superfluous.  The root of the one type of education is humanism; the root of the other is revelation.  We either start from ourselves and fashion the world as we want it, or receive with humility from God himself the vast unmovable principles of his universe.  There is a body of knowledge outside of ourselves that is worth setting our hearts to acquire with discipline. 

Is it not arrogant to think that we don’t need to progressively learn geography or real history, even in the hours when we don’t want to learn them?  Is it not good for a child to have to put his own immediate will under, to gain a larger long-term self-capacity and objective understanding of the world in which he lives?

Go talk with coaches and see how much of their training is undisciplined and wandering.  It will be an eye-opener for some, but wholesomely obvious for others who have been trained by progressively tougher and tougher cognitive disciplines all of their lives.  Educated adults are glad they didn’t wind up like their peers who can’t spell, can’t locate China on a map, can’t subtract in their checkbooks, or measure their lumber to cut it accurately.

The sooner you can jettison the unschooling theory and get busy educating your child, incrementally and progressively, the better.

Resolving the conflict between two different theories for how to teach a young child

Wednesday, 24. February 2016 by Renee Ellison

Image

Today’s topic: resolving the conflict between two different theories for how to teach a young child.

Two vastly different teaching theories are floating around in debates regarding how best to teach our young ones: (1) let the child wander around and discover life or (2) teach meticulously by drill.  Here is a resolution of these highly contrasting teaching theories; in this, we can all find common ground.  Once and for all, let’s nail this teaching dilemma.

Teaching a child a SKILL is vastly different from teaching a child an academic CONCEPT.  The confusion re: theories is cleared up by looking at the definitions first.

A skill:
A skill is the acquisition of a ready, artful, swift TOOL to do REPETITIVE tasks.  (Phonics can be labeled a skill, then, under this construct.)

A concept:
An academic CONCEPT is an introduction to, and growth in awareness of, the complexities of realities, systems, emotions, etc. that touch our humanness (i.e., growth in the study of science, history, government, social studies, literature, and all of the arts).

Views, like that espoused by Common Core (which is one more avenue toward the death of our nation) is that they wrongly view teaching the decoding SKILL of reading as an “academic” process (thus the mistaken idea that the way to get at the CORE of what is needed is to just teach that one topic of “reading” in the first year or two).  The problem with this view is that there is NO RELIEF from the “skill-drill” of beginning reading.  The child is nowhere furnished (at OTHER parts of the day) with answers to the spiritual and intellectual ongoing needs and appetites of a child (who was made in the immense and deep image of God) from the get-go.  These parts of a human being don’t WAIT to be developed only LATER!

Reading decoding (i.e. phonics) is a SKILL—to be taught just like piano, cello, tennis strokes, typing, dance steps, tailoring, electrical engineering, cooking, and mathematical times tables.  These are all acquired through highly repetitious EXPERIENCES of the same demand, all while under the hovering eyes of a meticulous tutor who is there to require the SAME step by step procedure (with a growing speed and accuracy) each and every time the student encounters that challenge.

Academic CONCEPTS, on the other hand, are taught by FEELING the consequences of a mini-session on capitalism vs. socialism for example, or by broad exposure to the trials and tribulations of a wide variety of world pioneers and explorers.  Concepts are taught by providing a WASH of ideas (to continually irrigate the intellect), from which we retrieve meaningful conclusions for ourselves.

Homeschooling when you also have preschool children in your home

Thursday, 22. October 2015 by Renee Ellison

Image

Do you wonder what to do with wiggle worms while you’re schooling the others?  Here’s the overall principle: busy children are happy children!

This means you have to stay ahead of your little guy with projects—even if those projects are only just busy work.  For much more on this topic, read our booklet/e-book/Kindle book, Training Terrific Tots: 50 ideas to use with a little one who can’t read!  It is loaded with ideas. 

Meanwhile, here are two possible approaches to homeschooling children while you also have a child who is too young to do academics.  One approach moms use is to let the little guys “hang from the chandeliers” and just concentrate on the academics with the older children—you’ll get to those younger guys later.  The other method is to corral all of your youngsters into your school area: no one can go out beyond this line during school time—here is YOUR part of the table to work on—or, you must work on this large beach towel on the floor with your puzzle, trucks, or whatever.

The secret for the mom is to stay ahead of the little guy with attention-focusing activities that he can do with little or no input from you.  Toward that end, here are some ideas:

Athletics of various sorts:  three laps around the living room; ten reps with an unopened can of soup in each can; four push-ups in each corner of the school room—etc.

Chores: dream up endless little jobs to do that really don’t matter but that will occupy him.  For example, he can use a washrag to wipe all of the door handles throughout the whole house, or sort books or papers by size.  He can empty all the trash cans, sort the silverware drawer, wipe down the front of all of the cupboards and the lower realms of the walls near the floor, wipe the bathroom floor with a damp paper towel, wipe out the bathroom sink, wipe down the inside of the front window, sweep the front steps, shake rugs, dust the window sills, etc.—whatever he or she is physically up to.  You get the idea.  If you don’t use soap for any of these projects there is no danger that they will do anything wrong or make your life more miserable.

Creative activities in place:
• you draw large squares on a piece of paper, and then the little guy colors each square with a different color
• he plays with ice cubes on a tray
• he plays with a tubful of water on the kitchen floor, using measuring cups and funnels on a towel on the floor right here at your feet

The overall accomplishment goal for the mother is to focus on just one child at a time, deeply—shifting your focus from child to child until you have covered them ALL and then you get back at it with the first ones again, no matter what you are doing during the day—laundry, fixing a meal, etc.  You get one child fully into that activity with you, so that you are double-whamming your time—building relationship, character qualities, bonding, securing obedience, laughter, enjoyment, letting them know that you cherishing them,  etc.

Focus, but then shift your focus—that’s the name of the game.  Cycle through your children over and over and over and over.  Smile warmly at the other three—while going deep with the one.

Why classical music is important

Thursday, 27. August 2015 by Melanie Ellison

Image

I (Renee’s 24 yr. old daughter) recently had two friends separately ask me why classical music is so important to me, so I decided to take the time to write a thorough response. I thought you might like to read what I wrote, so here it is with a lot of links to peruse if they catch your interest…

I was raised on classical music. It started in utero, and then as a baby, my folks moved my arms and legs in ballet positions in time to classical music. By age three, I was playing the piano (video at that link). In my high school years, I was blessed to be able to solo on cello with two youth orchestras (these moments were some of the highlights of my life), playing Kol Nidrei and Prayer. Then in my one year of college (before leaving and writing the book Chucking College: Achieving Success Without Corruption) I pursued a music major, practicing 3–5 hours every day and studying under a teacher who had attended Julliard. My parents didn’t accidentally raise me to love classical music. It was a deliberate move.

As believers, we cannot in good conscience let our mere preferences be the only guide in choosing the music to which we listen. Lucifer was the music director in Heaven (this assumption is based on Ezekiel 28:13, where the words that are translated “settings and sockets” mean “timbrels and flutes” in the Hebrew). This tells us two things: 1) the field of the arts can be a slippery one morally, and 2) if Lucifer had his hand in music before the angels rebelled and fell, there’s substantive reason to think he still inspires some composers and wields some types of music for his purposes.

As an example, look at Rock ‘n’ Roll. The very term is a sexual one (no further explanation necessary, I hope). Some believers will claim that there can be a Christianized form of rock music, but regardless of the lyrics, the beat appeals to the flesh (how does your body want to move when you are “worshipping” to such music?). Conversely, classical music invigorates the brain. It is very mathematical and ordered. The strong beats on 1 and 3 align with the human heart beat: ONE two THREE four; whereas in rock music, the strong beats are emphasized on the off beats 2 and 4: one TWO three FOUR (causing chaos within the body’s natural rhythm).

Not only does classical music appeal more to the brain than the flesh, it also requires extensive mental effort to play. Researchers say that it is only after 10,000 hours that a musician reaches the level of expert fluency on a classical instrument. The mental rigor required to play or understand classical music is a large part of what appeals to me about it. It’s not so much just the music but the culture of discipline that permeates the whole life of one associated with such music. There is an understanding that it might take years to master a piece of music, and that disciplined application toward goals carries over into other areas of life as well.

Homeschool convention speaker Andrew Pudewa has an excellent talk on The Profound Effects of Music on Life (I highly recommend it). As one of his points, he talks about a music study that was done on mice. The study was conducted with three groups of mice. One group listened to rock music for 24 hours, another group listened to Mozart for 24 hours, and the control group had silence. At the end of the 24 hours, each group was sent through a maze and timed. The rock group stumbled into the walls and retraced their steps confusedly; the classical group made it to the end of the maze in record time; and the control group was mediocre. This proves that music actually has an effect on ordering or disordering the brain. And also, it is to be noted, listening to classical music is even better than not listening to anything at all.

Choice of music carries over into worship as well. Hymns are much deeper in content and musicality than much modern praise music. It has been said that the repetition of some modern praise songs is the equivalent of singing “Mary, the cows are in the corn. Mary, Mary, Mary, the brown cows, the brown dairy cows are in the corn. They are in the tall, tall corn. And I feel good about the cows. I just want to go lay my head on the cow…” (Otherwise described in the classic and hilarious Youtube video: How to Write a Worship Song in 5 Minutes or Less—946,000 views). Compare that to the theological progression of depth in a four-verse hymn. Also, in hymns, if the words are serious about our Messiah on the cross, for instance, the music will deliver the same message and not be flippant. Admittedly, there are a few wonderful modern praise songs (including this one that I recorded merged with a hymn), but in general, hymns are preferable.

In composer Ben Botkin’s talk The Power and Importance of Music, he asks the pointed question: “What kind of music do you want to be the sound track for your life?” It may take a choice of the will to start listening to a different type of music, but soon you will grow to love it. It is especially helpful to attend a concert in person where you can watch the choreographed dance of the orchestra and the intrigue of each person’s unique approach to the whole. One tip is to find out when the dress rehearsal is for your city’s symphony and attend that for free. It can be very engaging to watch the process of how a concert is put together. There is less pressure on families with small children to be absolutely still and quiet during a rehearsal (I have fond memories of growing up dancing down the aisles and writing letters to penpals during symphony rehearsals).

I highly recommend watching this presentation by master conductor Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music.

As far as composers that I recommend listening to, Bach is at the top of the list. Since he was a believer, at the beginning of each composition he wrote at the top of the page J.J. (for “Jesu Juva”—Latin for “Jesus help me”), and when he had finished, he marked the music S.D.G. (“Soli Deo Gloria”—to God alone be the glory). Renowned musicians say they can practice his music all their lives and still discover something new (not true of more modern composers). Mozart and Beethoven are also excellent choices.  We have an engaging CD of the biography of Bach available.

in case you want a listening list to go through during meals or housecleaning, here are some of my all-time favorites (many of which I have personal connections to—either having played them or known someone who did),

Theme from Schlinder’s List by the great violinist Itzhak Perlman
Dvorak, Silent Woods, Yo-Yo Ma on cello
Bach Harpsichord Concerto in D Major
Bach Violin Partita in E Major
Chopin Nocturne transcribed for cello
Bach French Suite No 5 for piano
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Mendelssohn Octet
CPE Bach Cello Concerto
Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy
Handel’s Messiah (all 2 hours)
Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Fun videos for the children:
Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (Beethoven) flashmob!
The William Tell Overture (with movements!!!)
Flight of the Bumblebee performed on piano by an amazing boy
3 year old Jonathan conducting
Victor Borge Classical comedian: Hungarian Rhapsody
              The Minute Waltz for two pianos
Blue Danube Waltz by the Vienna Philharmonic, with stunning ballet
Almost Angels — a 1962 movie about the Vienna Choir Boys

And this is just the start! Each of these videos will link you to many other good ones.

The grown daughter/aging mother dynamic

Friday, 21. August 2015 by Renee Ellison

Image

Having taken back spiritual territory from the culture, many Christian grown daughters, who haven’t married yet, are currently living in their birth home, under their parents.  In previous generations, this was not the case.  Generally, the grown daughter got married and was gone, or she moved out while still single, and was gone.  In both cases, she was gone.  But recently, as a result of our shift in thinking as believers, we now have a very different dynamic to deal with, as aging homeschooling mothers.  We solved the problem of how to protect our daughter from severe temptations during her tender years (scores of temptations that could have ruin the remainder of her life), but now we have a very different kind of challenge to deal with.  Now we have two matured women, capable of running households apart from each other—the mother AND the daughter, presently reigning over ONE domestic domain.  Because of the strong nesting instinct in both women and the territorial preferences of each one, there can be friction.

Because of our wide exposure to hundreds and hundreds of homeschooling families through state convention work, we have seen examples of this older mother/daughter duo that work out well and conversely, examples of this duo that are relational disasters—and everything in between.  Here is some clarity about why this dynamic may not work out well sometimes, and how to fix it.

In every case, where the grown daughter/aging mother relationship is under severe stress it is due to unspoken engulfing expectations, each of the other.  Because it is a living situation and not a job situation, there is no way to get away from the chronic pain 24/7 of unspoken, brooding expectations on both parts, taking place in one of the closest relationships on earth—with one’s own mother or one’s own daughter, who have hardly taken a breath apart from each other for 18 long years.  Because women are feelers and have social antenna out 100 yards from themselves, there can be deep anguish going on that is never spoken about, and a feeling on both parts of being trapped.

So let’s get up and out of the morass and clarify some issues that are true in every case of this duo.  There is blue sky up ahead, if we’ll understand these issues and talk about them. The sooner we do it, the better.

Re: the daughter:
If one plays this chapter right, not only the spiritual advantages, but the fiscal advantages of continuing to live at home can be real and can be very significant, particularly if one doesn’t go to college.  (For more on that, read Chucking College to see inside the college loan debt nightmare.)  Never again will a grown daughter have a chance to earn money to build a nest egg for her future, at this exponential speed.  By not having to pay rent and in some cases food and gas bills, as well, the daughter can contribute to building up her own future home, whether she remains single or marries.  Just because she may marry, doesn’t mean these short-lived, rare, fiscal opportunities are to be squandered.  Who doesn’t need more money, while building a young family or when one’s parents age and/or die?  The young man, if he is smart, will be using his early years to save up for these eventualities, as well.  Just because he will bear the lion’s share of this job, doesn’t mean the young woman can’t contribute to doubly bless their lives together.  Every stable future individual fiscal mini-empire is built with a nest egg as the starter rung on the ladder.  Without a nest egg, there is nothing to lay as a foundation that is strong enough to stabilize growing fiscal pressures.  Such a chance to build sure future fiscal growth for the future, by aggressive savings now, doesn’t come around again in one’s lifetime.

Now, here’s the rub.  In exchange for this chance to partake in rapid savings, mothers, often without verbalizing it, expect a return of shared domestic output to run the home.  The problem is that in many cases, the expectation becomes infinite.  This greatly frustrates the grown daughter.  She eventually, comes to desperately realize that no time is her own.  She is always “on duty”—always “on call”—because she knows that her parents are due an infinite debt of gratitude for this fiscal arrangement.

Re: the mother:
If the mother sees that the daughter is not using her hours for either domestic output or to earn a living, this gnaws on the mother and is taken out upon the daughter through disparaging looks, withholding affirmation, smoldering silences, etc.  This becomes torture for the daughter who is oblivious to the problem she is creating by her laziness.

To compound the problem, both mother and daughter define laziness/free-time differently—everyone does, even after young gals marry and run their own households.  Many a mother-in-law and/or mother look upon even their married daughters with what they think is bull’s eye accuracy, which manifests in condescension, and withholding affirmation for anything else that is going on that is good in the emerging daughter’s life.

Thus, in this mother/daughter duo there often exists this crisis of expectations that must be talked through.  At first, we may shrink back, thinking this is far too fragile a dynamic to openly talk about—that “mother-love”, or “daughter-love” wouldn’t do it.  But if the duo don’t talk about it, and it exists, it may ruin the relationship for the rest of their lives.  Any way you slice it, this is a long-term, life-time relationship that one must work upon to get it right.  One can’t take back the feelings and impressions this chapter of “tight” living situation produces, if it is deteriorating in the hearts of one or both women.  Either talk about it, or watch it crash and burn, to your own, far deeper sorrow, than merely that the dishes didn’t get washed today.

So, here is what you talk about:
Since the mother and the daughter both have both domestic burdens and fiscal burdens they need to talk about the boundaries of these individual challenges and pursuits

—have the daughter clearly estimate how much money she will make in a month and how she will make it—given the gift of this free living situation.

—have the mother clearly define what must be done domestically in the home, and who is ideally responsible for what

—thirdly, talk about space issues—what space belongs to the mother and what space may belong totally to the daughter (to either be fastidiously neat in, or looser than her mother organizationally—depending upon her individual wiring).  If this space separation is not achievable in the home, then consider an addition of an RV in the driveway or backyard.  This accommodation must be made for mature people; every adult has a large private life going on inside her head.  There is to be no uninvited reading of each other’s mail, email, diaries, etc.  Privacy is an adult right of passage.  The mother must treat the single daughter psychologically the same as she would regard her grown married daughter, as if she has already moved out and now has her own life to express and live.  Micro-managing must cease.

Because both women are mature, their work/domestic preferences will be pronounced and strong and will, in most cases, be different.  As the daughter becomes more and more developed and differentiated, she will express herself in both of these domains differently from the mother, so achieving mutuality in these spheres of work is a delusion.  Both the fiscal pursuits and the domestic pursuits must be given space to be individually pursued in one’s own way—i.e., give each other space to do jobs differently without the invasion of the opinions of the other.   The more work fusion, the more emotional confusion there will be.  This may even require that the other adult woman gives the kitchen over to the other one—does not interfere with suggestions, opinions, etc.—and is nowhere around as the other one is working.  Defer and be polite, here. 

—if there is tension over any of these issues, stop and reach agreement on paper about them.  Talk about it some more, until there is mutual consensus about expectations coming from both directions.

then talk about taking domestic “turns of duty”, and what that looks like—so that the mother is fully “on cooking duty” for one day and the daughter is fully “on cooking duty” for the next day—alternating back and forth (or if you prefer you can alternative weeks)—both a mother and a daughter need to be fully off duty to maintain sanity and longevity in the midst of this ongoing living arrangement.  Otherwise, chronic long-term grey areas will produce emotional fog and heaviness and stressful private mental gymnastics and escapisms.

—and mothers, be sure that you don’t view your grown daughters as “go-fers”—as personal appendages to yourself to get things done for you.  Live your life as if your daughter is not in your home; find your own solutions.  Your married children are free of you, and so it must be in your mind regarding your at-home grown child.  If your daughter volunteers to help you, or if you pay her, that is acceptable, but no adult can have a private butler/maid on call for any instance or time without compensation.  If such a dynamic exists it will boomerang on you.  The adult child will flee away from you— if not physically, she will run away mentally.  This is a stiff loss, reaping deep sorrow, for lack of a mother’s wisdom in this area.

View yourself as coming up under your daughter to enlarge and serve and strengthen her future life—which will all too soon, in the majority of cases, not be under your domain anymore.  The only thing that will live on are the memories of that grown time with you—so see to it that they are good ones.

If your at-home daughter is not earning money, or doing domestic work that amounts to the same (figured by tabulating her hours and duties on paper and valuing that work commensurate with sustaining her life as a single person, living alone); if she is, in fact, freeloading, then you must go back to the drawing board and point out that this existence is not possible in the real world and that if the income or domestic output doesn’t increase, she must leave.  By the way, this is an absolute must for any emerging son in your home; where there isn’t the domestic compensations complication in tabulating what exists.  Don’t allow your son to freeload for one day.  It could ruin his manhood.

Teaching our children how to wisely relate to peers

Wednesday, 12. August 2015 by Renee Ellison

Image

One of the great pressures of peer relationships often takes the form of “wowing” each other with trivia.  In the world we see it with body tattoos, hair dyed green, sharing some shocking DVD, movie, or byte from a CD, and wowing our friends with tricks and crude jokes.  It can further descend into DARING one’s peers…yes, all the way to gang activity and murder as an initiation rite.  Not only does the fear of men give rise to temptations to fit in with them, at any cost just to please them, but to have this edge of wowing them.  For Christians, of course, these peer temptations are far more subtle, but they still exist. 

Friends who seek to “serve” their friends, relatives, elders, guests instead of to “wow” them wind up endearing themselves to those people at a very deep level. Such a friend’s focus is upon meeting the other person’s needs, not satisfying his own need to be applauded or revered.  It is a choice between a temporary high (receiving the transient praise of men, quickly now) and gaining a friend who would die for them, the love runs so deep.

Carrying heavy luggage, serving a meal, washing a visitor’s car, mowing someone’s lawn unexpectedly, privately fixing something, etc.—these are the kinds of things that are the weightier jaw-droppers in feeding a friendship.

Wowing, on the other hand, rather than serving, has a deep downside.  I once knew a ballet/modern dancer who was addicted to having people praise her.  She said it was awful; the praise was never enough.  When some activity has the potential for invoking praise, it can be engulfing.  As another example, a young man in our town was quarterback on the football team in high school.  Every time he “breathed” he was written up as “something” in the local newspaper.  When he was suddenly finally taken off the field in an ambulance due to a football injury, never to play again, his purpose in life vanished and he sank into a deep depression for years; he just couldn’t get going in a normal world.

As parents (or grandparents, for that matter), we can be sensitively training children in this primary attribute of friendship: death to self. God’s will for us, as completed, mature believers is a totally flexible, supple will.  The Heavenly Father even required it of the Messiah.  “Not my will but Thine” was His Son’s evidence of a hard won personal maturity.  The ability to self-soothe, to subdue one’s own will, IS what maturity IS.  The ability to say “down boy” to our weaker, darker side at every turn is evidence of a refined personal self-management.  The possibility of such a state is assumed in the creation of a final judgement: men ARE ultimately accountable for their own wills.

So, the focus of our parenting/grandparenting needs to be upon training a totally flexible, supple will in our offspring.  That means crossing self-indulgence at every turn.  “Anything is fine with me for the good of others”... is the goal.  As it incrementally grows, via good parenting, it will beget the offspring’s ultimate happiest state.  Sin is spelled with an “i” in the middle.  Hell is endless “me”.

The main thing in home education

Wednesday, 01. July 2015 by Renee Ellison

Image

The key ingredient in all education is personal investment—i.e. one-on-one time—man-power—attentiveness.  A child can really be educated using any materials, even old encyclopedias, or just the Bible, if the attentiveness factor from another adult is maximized.

If your student is little, any book you buy, no matter how expensive or wonderful, will fall flat unless you (or some other adult) are personally sitting next to your child through the process.  Children learn internal discipline by many experiences of external discipline with someone.  If you can’t afford to hire additional help, then rotate through your children with undivided attention from you and/or your husband for each subject, for each session—and you will find that both you and your children will be far less frustrated and will accomplish more.  Give it all you’ve got.  Table other outside involvements for several years, until you have conquered the academic basics solidly.  Also, do any of your media/email/i-Phone stuff after you have superintended your children’s schooling for the day.  Otherwise, those other activities will eat up your day and you will observe, sadly, that you have given the prime time of your day to relationships that have far less depth for you.  Your children and your husband are it for depth smile.

Investing in your children is your most rewarding and glorious investment; all others pale in comparison.  One day you will hear the Lord will tell you: “Well done, good and faithful servant” when it is all done.

The reason I focus so much upon getting as much of it up and running with the A.C.E. curriculum is to eventually free the mother from having to carry, personally, so many academic details for each of her children for 12 long years.  The more she carries, the more potential for “mama-burnout.”  Feel free to use all of your current homeschooling materials, if you like, but as you may already realize, the sheer quantity and varying types of them will bog down your day.

The key idea is to eventually get schooling functioning without you—so that you can maintain the discipline, dinner, and desire for your hubby smile—and dive into a good book for yourself, now and then.  Eventually, when it is all running smoothly, you can still personally teach your offspring the academic topics that you are personally passionate about—but only when you want to—not have to.

Two academic principles

Tuesday, 23. June 2015 by Renee Ellison

Image

Two general academic principles:

One:
Always reduce emotional resistance by doing everything FOR the child, initially, and as long as he needs it—i.e. all he has to do it repeat orally or copy (writing).  Just going through the process IS education.  (In later years, that may even occasionally mean seeing the answer first, to provide the “aha” and then working backwards from it.)

The mere fact that the child is interfacing with materials produces education, at least on some level.  It always must begin with familiarity, as in,“I’ve done this before, step by step with an adult, and now I’m confident enough to do it myself.”  A child learns internal discipline by many experiences of external discipline provided by the tutor.

Two:
Always reduce the visual field—the amount that you are directly working with, by covering up the rest of the page.  This way, the child doesn’t subliminally carry the whole larger task, and is able to have many little mini-successes continually. Providing bite-sized-tasks is the name of the game throughout all of childhood, in every area.