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Teaching/mothering tips

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

Parenting agonies may be more important than we know

Friday, 21. July 2017 by Renee Ellison

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When pondering Christ’s statement on the cross—”Father, why have You abandoned me?”—apparently God had not told Christ ahead of time that such a moment would be INCLUDED in His Son’s cosmic comprehensive work of redemption. Perhaps, at least from our limited human perspective, it may have frightened Christ to experience it, having never been separated from His Father from eternity past—not for one moment.

Note that Christ didn’t say, “I HURT; I am in physical agony.” Apparently this moment of emotional abandonment was so searing it trumped His physical pain, which was considerable. Yet his next sentence was: “Into THY hands I commend My spirit.” This was like Job, who declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” The Lord didn’t go in search of a different god, a different answer. Thus He further proved, in His final moment there, His own unwavering faith—a final perfection of the expression of His infinitely holy character. ‘Tis an amazing juxtaposition of two sentences. ‘Tis an amazing appendage to an already huge work.

We can deduce from this that our personal emotional agonies are of great importance to God. Parental churnings are no exception. When we suffer the outer edges of parental agony in prayer over attempting to establish the kingdom of God in our children, we do, in microcosm, what God Himself does. “God, do you even hear my prayers?” may be THE very treasure that He is garnering from our adult lives. Note that we ask such a question at the foot of HIS throne, not somewhere else.

Parent, your agonies are heavenly luggage—heavy for now, but, do not be surprised if they are resplendent upon your arrival.

Free book of Teaching Tips!

Wednesday, 21. June 2017 by Renee Ellison

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If you, as an adult, were being taught something brand new to you (think Latin or calculus), would you want a skilled tutor or a clueless upstart to be teaching you? No doubt the clueless upstart would routinely waste your time, complicating and confusing something that could be made simple by a far more able teacher.

The hallmark of an outstanding tutor is his or her ability to deliver academic clarity in all cases.

Learning is often needlessly difficult, not because of a student’s supposed limited capacity but because of the teacher’s/tutor’s incompetency. Gaining a few well-targeted teaching/ tutoring principles, strategic organizations and eye-opening tips can bring blue sky to an otherwise muddled pedagogy.

Skillful tutoring can now be yours! It is delivered to you in large pictures and the simplest of print. Get your copy of Razor Sharp Teaching Tips and you’ll soon be teaching with skill you never dreamed you could have.

By reading this “get-it-right-the first-time” road map to home school excellence, you’ll have those razor-sharp effective tools at your fingertips in no time. You’ll know what you are doing—and why you are doing it—from the get-go.

This book collects Renee Ellison’s exceptional educational strategies, which she has taught for decades at homeschool conventions, into an easily understood parental primer. These are mature, seasoned principles, procedures and practices, honed in the trenches of actually being there in schools, with hundreds of children, as well as gathered from her work with scores of families throughout the homeschooling process.

This “big-picture-overview” quick training will eliminate parental brain fog for you, netting you remarkable results. Grab this easy book and you’ll find it the friend you’ve been looking for: a take-home TEACHER of your very own, to TEACH you how to TEACH.

On Sale Now:
retails for $9.95—but now 1/2 off for a limited launch-time only. Only $4.95.

OR, spend at least $20 at homeschoolhowtos.com and receive this book free. While supplies last. (Don’t worry: the charge will show when you include the Razor Tips book in your cart and place your order, but we remove the charge when fulfilling your order.)

The best schooling is local and the better schooling is in the home

Friday, 10. February 2017 by Renee Ellison

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If you have felt that something is DRASTICALLY the matter with the public schools in America, you are right.

To know WHY you are right, check out these two insightful, enraging books: Crimes of the Educators by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld and The Cult of Common Core (an insider’s view) by Steve McQueen.

The upshot of both books is that we need to return EVERYTHING pertaining to education back to the local level. There is no NEED for a federal department of education at ALL. It began under President Carter, against the wishes of Republicans.

Washington, D.C. now has three buildings filled with education administrators. Maybe you saw a collection of them the other day during the first speech of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education. I thought, how could they POSSIBLY understand, let alone solve LOCAL problems of curriculum choices, violence issues, dispensation of money, etc. You need feet on the ground to wisely and effective respond to such challenges. These self-appointed individuals gladly rushed in to fill the vacuum left by ousting God, setting themselves up in effect as the new gods over the minds of other people’s children. They knew better about everything.

The subtle reason they WANT such bureaucracy is to usurp parental preferences with a BETTER agenda, held in the hands of a few elites, to steer the country in the directions THEY dictate for THEIR purposes. We have no control over the ideologies of who the THEY are. But one thing is certain: they are after rearranging social issues, not cognitive ones. Sex education, drug education, multiculturalism, gender issues are all marks of it. Sensitivity training, group think, values clarification are all substitutes for the values that once came from the Bible, but now must be redefined without God.

CONTROL over curriculum (i.e., shaping the minds of the population) from one central place leads straight to socialist/collectivist ends. In China those in control “persuaded” the people that the collective mind is better than the independent mind. That ALWAYS leads straight to the use of FORCE, and oppression to accomplish it. A quarter of a million people were slaughtered during the last century to bring in such utopias, all over the world, unfettered. WHO controls our children is everything. And yes—the best schooling is local and the bettER schooling occurs inside the local HOME.

Don’t train an escape artist

Monday, 05. December 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Psychologists talk about how all humans are involved in endless two-choice dilemmas. Life is full of either/or decisions, and all normal maturing adults (and children in godly homes who are being shaped for adulthood) work through picking one or the other, all through life, as they go—with big decisions and little. Each of us makes hundreds of choices every day. Now here is the profound thing: as we choose, we actualize who we are. That is where we must be involved, as homeschool parents, because the patterns are being formed in childhood. The choices are the warp and woof of how the fabric of life is set up, and we live within it. It cannot ultimately be escaped; it can only temporarily be escaped.

Thus, when one encounters a person (often, a member of one’s immediate family) who refuses to decide a two-choice dilemma concerning himself/herself, regarding a given matter, but instead chooses a third way (one that is not a valid option), one is then dealing with a person who is involved in an escape of some sort. This escapism can manifest as an addiction, rebellion, or a behavioral defect of some sort. Any opting out of reality (kicking the can down the road, ignoring it, constantly switching horses, running, serial relationships, drinking, drugs, misdemeanors, crimes, etc.) is an untenable attempt to solve life’s problems by avoiding the two-choice dilemma.

Given such facts about how life works, one should be aware if one is involved in dealing with a person with a dysfunctional response pattern. Seeing this, one can respond rationally, saying things like: “You may either do this or you may do that.”

The disoriented person is only entertaining third options. He or she wants “all /and” choices, which don’t really exist. Therefore, he can’t resolve his issues or himself. In that case, coasting may look like a good option, and/or appearing to obey while not really obeying the household rules and the family values. For such a one, irresponsibility starts looking better and better. What they are really deciding is to ditch any relational responsibilities, ignore the family legacy, disdain the upholding of family honor, disregard any implications of making poor choices, just ditch. It takes root when the troubled individual digs in his heels and avoids two-choice dilemmas like the plague.

So, what can you a homeschooling parent do if you have a child who seems to be veering in this direction? There are responses we can make that can have great affect in shaping the child’s behavior for life. One is to recognize the two-choice dilemma, to require the child to choose one of the two allowed options—don’t allow third choice escapes. Creative third choices that you both agree upon are fine, and to make sure that the child fully experiences the fall-out of his/her choice.

Teach reading faster

Sunday, 27. November 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Some who are teaching young children how to read find it tedious—or, even, a nightmare. As I continue to cogitate on this problem, it strikes me that although the child who is about to learn how to read arrives there with five years of massive auditory phonemic imprinting, we spend the bulk of our formal teaching of beginning-reading-time going over that same territory.

Conversely, the pre-reading child reaches that stage with virtually no tactile/visual discrimination of letter symbols when they are separated from hearing them. If this is true, then, it would seem that we would do well to focus our teaching efforts on catching up the “touching and eye-balling” part, rather than majoring on the auditory part (which the child already has confidently tackled).

The parent who voices the same trigger word and isolated sound over and over again while the child traces huge letter symbols, gets the job done. This method builds confidence, as the parent is basically showing the child that “this letter does not say several things, it says the same thing every time I see it.” The successful parent/teacher is not drawing the child’s attention to multiple examples of the sound in different settings (mother, munchies, Monday, moon, etc.)—which the child already knows in spades.

The child who is just learning to read needs the visual keys, not more hearing. This shift in emphasis builds confidence, because the child learns that this letter does not say several things, it says the same thing every time. This approach allows the vast auditory part to then assist the newly acquired tactile part, steadied by only one auditory example, far more subtly—something that happens even subconsciously.

Therefore, perhaps we as instructors of beginning readers need to switch gears and think that we are teaching drawing classes instead of reading classes!

This deliberate shift in our thinking could make a huge difference in our outcomes. It seems we might need to park here for a while, at the outset. The objective? to get the child to know those symbols in his or her hand, via copious tracing of very large letters, calling them only by their phonetic sound, not by the alphabet letter’s name, before ever embarking upon the second step of putting letters together to make words.

Then—amazingly—the two already acquired sub-skills come together in a beautiful synergism and the child finds reading a dream. The subsequent step is only a small hop, to glue letters together in a line to make words. Far too many children do not learn to read in this way, and as a result they trip and stumble over the reading process for far too many years. Perhaps we have had the emPHAsis on the wrong syLAble!

Note: this system is not applicable to learning a foreign language, nor is it suitable for the child who is already steeped in Spanish or Hebrew as a second language, for example, where the auditory part has to be built up from scratch, too! It would only apply to a child who is learning to read in his own native tongue.

For more information and to order, see the product page for the new Fast Phonics course.

Boys and girls and sex

Thursday, 02. June 2016 by Renee Ellison

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.