Renee Ellison's tools for effective teaching, and inspirational thoughts about being a nurturing mother.
Tuesday, 18. February 2014 by Renee Ellison
Third: Dangle the carrot of inspiration
In part one we talked about how good parenting hovers over beginnings; part two was about teaching self-denial. The final part of this series is that the outstanding parent stays out ahead of the child, dangling the carrot of inspiration.
You know where you are headed with your child. The child does not. He is clueless. All he feels is the immediate cantankerous day in front of him and all the spots where he is required to do something his flesh isn’t interested in. Therefore, you must dangle stories of wonderful outcomes in front of him. Use missionary and historical biographies to do it.
Get the horizon bigger—the landscape bigger—the awareness bigger. Go big in exposures to excellent personages, excellent accomplishments, and heroic endeavors. You are raising royal seed. Get the reading material big enough, and turn off the media until fourth grade. NO TV; NO movies. NONE. (To expose your children to alternate fantasy realities in preference for time spent with the real-deal will saturate your child with false expectations and untruths forever. It is no gift.)
Through thick and thin overlay this input with inspiration from the Bible by training a thorough knowledge of it. How you go about this part is critical. If you drone on with the King James Version and long adult devotions with your four-year-old, you’ll kill his interest, sure as shootin’. Instead, create emotional bonding with the Bible by carefully making it his favorite book. How? Begin reading easy versions of the Bible (with gorgeous large real-life old paintings, not modern impressionistic pictures). By reading him the Bible you’ll whet his appetite for something besides a life that is only interested in “what’s for dinner.”
Progressively and incrementally, work up to more difficult versions—but keep your Bible versions as picture versions for about the first ten years. For the first several years, read the Bible to him, over and over, cover to cover, to show him a life larger than his own.
Start and end with the Bible. There is a reason it is the highest selling book of all time and will still be standing when heaven and earth roll up like a scroll. We’ll wake up to the Bible and its author. Careful. Tiptoe through the tulips. Using progressively more challenging versions, start by reading at first in your own happy voice, with lots of whistling, whew’s and wows over a split second deliverance or a miracle or two, while tucked closely under your wing will do it.
Vigilantly do this. We live in a post-Christian era. What you take for granted in your life of faith, is no more. The entire culture was raised into the late 1800s on the Bible and the solid values of the McGuffey readers—but no more. The vast majority of people on the streets today are unfamiliar with even basic key Bible figures and stories. Clueless. If we’re not careful here, we’ll rob our children of their God-given hub—their ultimate core. They’ll have nothing with which to tackle all the vicissitudes of life. We will have taught them the how of life but forgotten the why. Might as well stay in bed. No, you get up and tend to this matter.
Blessings on the use then of these three tools in all your parenting. In review, they are:
1…Hover over beginnings,
2…train your progeny in self-denial,
3…and ever inspire them—stay out in front of them with an ever bigger picture of what life is really all about and what they are growing towards.
Resources note/ ideal beginning versions of the Bible:
Proceed in the following order and you’ll create lovers of the Bible:
• The full Bible (preferably, in large print) (recommended version New American Standard)
Tuesday, 11. February 2014 by Renee Ellison
Part Two: Teach the process of self-denial
In part one we talked about how good parenting hovers over beginnings. Today we talk about teaching self-denial.
Teaching your child to deny himself starts with giving him an appetite for Almighty God over an engulfing appetite for self. This is a tall job for a parent. Nevertheless, we are given it. The supreme achievement of the mature adult soul is that it finally learns to have a yielded will to God over all issues. (It is, in fact, the last lesson we learn conclusively. God alone tells us when the book closes upon our lives. We cannot pick the exact hour of our birth, nor of our death. We are not allowed to pick it—if we are obedient.) We learn that the soul has a Maker and that we were born into a context. Amen. So be it. The final realization of the refined soul is that God does the best job of “us.” If we, ourselves, were given prescriptive powers over the parameters of our lives, we would mangle it badly. Should I be born in Ohio or Tasmania? Who would want the job? The place of wonderful repose is to cultivate a sweet contentment with our lot and to tend to our immediate duties with love and charity. Therein lies our joy.
Thus, the job of parenting is to patiently work at subduing the furtive, insistent, immature lustful will of the child whenever it manifests itself—to prepare the child for ultimately doing this with God. Sometimes it is our duty to be a brick wall against the child’s unseasoned and unruly impulses. We are to teach the process—what it feels like to give up, to let go of the clenched fist and teeth and to occupy oneself differently—over and over and over again. To help surrender the will (of the child) to the benevolent will of another (the parent) is our supreme coaching job. The flesh squirms terribly under this training—yet loves its end results.
We love ourselves when we are full of self-denial, self-sacrifice and self-giving, but we despise ourselves when our vocabularies have been reduced to I, me, and mine. It has been said that hell is full of the all absorbing disgruntlement of self.
The wisely administered combination of parental love and firmness delivers a child from his own worst nightmare. He just doesn’t know it yet. So, cross your child’s will. Get a supple will living in your child—that is happy and content with all outcomes. Then lavish the child with surprise luxuries—on your terms and on your turf. The child will get it—that this is real love. Isn’t that the way of God with us? His ultimate yeses are often cloaked in His benevolent nos. We are for the child. The child’s best self was never in our doubt, as a parent. Get it done. Go after that ugly self-will with a “broom” that will have a clean house. Be vigilant. Your child’s happiness depends upon it—both now and in the future.
Next: the last post in this three-part series is the carrot of inspiration.
Saturday, 08. February 2014 by Renee Ellison
In this three-part series we will look at three keys to great parenting:
To hover over beginnings.
To teach the process of self-denial.
To dangle the carrot of inspiration.
Part One: Hover over beginnings
All of life has velocity. Therefore, the direction of the beginnings is profound in its implications. Homeschoolers all have a vague notion of this, or we wouldn’t be homeschooling. We’ve essentially said to ourselves: “I’m not going to farm out the raising of my child during his most formative years to a complete stranger (or a parade of strangers through the years) of just any ideological and moral persuasion. I’m simply not going to do it.” The various “creatures/ teachers” who could wind up teaching our children, if we just happen to be in their path, especially in these days, can be downright frightening. As a principal I fired a few of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing”—and that was a few decades ago (before cultural norms had sunk as far as they have today). If you knew their private lives you’d have been stunned.
Even when we have our children at home, however, there are mountains of details of significant importance that we can miss. Our success lies in our waking up! We shan’t be asleep at the wheel. A diligent hovering over all beginnings, as many of them as we can get to, just as thoroughly as we can, gives us at least a fighting chance of impacting our progeny. Olympic coaches know this “in spades,” as do the parents of concert pianists—they both start their trainings in utero, if at all possible!
From the first tangle of shoelaces, to the first attempt at teeth-brushing, to the first penmanship strokes, to the first bad movie we turn off, to the proper handling of their first lie (from our little darlings?), we plot a lifetime trajectory. Be there—up close and personal. If, for example, we resolutely land on the first lie and make the “fur fly” and “nail it” with a gripping story or two of a fellow in a penitentiary who was once a child their age, we significantly diffuse the chance of there ever being a second one. Beginnings are everything in embryo. So, be deliberate. Be causative, not casual. Outstanding parenting does not despise the day of small beginnings, it grips the day of small beginnings—eyes peeled in every corner, ever focused on keeping the end in view.
Self-denial is the next post in this three-part series.
Sunday, 02. February 2014 by Renee Ellison
Have you wondered why teachers put such an emphasis on young children learning to play the piano? It’s because it works both hemispheres of the brain and grows mental muscle for attacking all mental disciplines in all subjects. Piano-playing does this superbly well by involving both hands in different tasks. I make it a “have-to” subject, just like math, for all of the elementary school years, just until the basics are conquered. Sure, not every child will become a musician, just like every child won’t become a mathematician—but all children benefit from the fundamental training just the same. The same goes for speed-typing. It grows the brain via a tactile grasp of spelling—thus it becomes a positive double-whammy.
To conquer these two keyboarding skills without leaving your home, order Quick Piano and Zoom-Type.
Friday, 03. January 2014 by Renee Ellison
Children who are abandoned, constantly farmed out, delayed, put-off, down the list for years on end, sloppily educated, unskilled, chronically babysat by the screen, etc., become less and less likable, and more and more of a discipline problem. Let us be very clear: it is simply counter-productive to parents themselves, for parents to abandon their children, either incrementally or wholesale.
Conversely, children who are invested in, carefully groomed to be “royalty” of every sort, become more and more likable, irresistible, legendary. Children delighted in and hovered over become less and less of a discipline problem. The potential irritation surrounding them goes away poof….gone…because they are launched with marvelous social skills, strong goals and vision and live with meaning and purpose, i.e. they aren’t just hanging out somewhere in the universe wondering what color to die their hair or where to put their next tattoo…loitering. Instead, they are influencing the universe. They live contented lives as settled well-defined people—little repositories of the reflection of the glory of God.
Parenting is a hundred yard dash across time. No parent who clearly understands the eventual outcomes wants to pass through this chapter forever preoccupied. Parents won’t like their children if they don’t train them. Parents love their children if they train them and attend to them vigilantly as they develop. Good parenting is like becoming a gleeful miser who gets to finger his gold after he has collected it. You’ll enjoy your investment more , not just tomorrow, but for the rest of your life.
Friday, 27. December 2013 by Renee Ellison
Brain development is a scary, fragile process. If you, as a parent, load it up with disapproval, anger or impatience, your child’s brain may well misfire or shut down. At that point, you’ll have to start all over again. Academic pressure and stress will have dive-bombed any mental advancement you were hoping to gain. Negative emotions over academics can raise an impenetrable wall of resistance in your child that can seem like a concrete blockade that is never coming down. If that sets up hard, you’ll be looking at weeks and months of patiently and artfully diffusing it. Habitual patience makes your job just that much easier. If your child’s lower lip is quivering over academics, back off.
All intellectual growth must take place incrementally. It should never be overwhelming. (To gain a sense of what your child feels like when he is in over his head with some new concept, you can go stare at a screen of Japanese letters for a moment.) Get the task bite-sized enough—a slight stretch—and you’ll make steady progress with no resistance. If there are tears, you are pushing too hard.
You’ll get the fastest results if you’ll surround academic endeavor with your own cheerful attentiveness. Studies have shown that when classroom teachers leave the room during an academic session where the students are concentrating hard, the students’ focus goes all to ribbons. Just your presence helps the child stay on task. Internal discipline is always learned by many, many experiences of external discipline, i.e. a tutor directing the student’s mind through the task, inch by inch.
If a teacher steadily walks up and down the rows of student desks, the academics prosper profoundly. Likewise, if you as the parent will simple sit next to your child, pointing to each new thing, this will focus the child in an incredible way. Parental focus on the child and on the task is the single most effective tool in your toolbox. If when the child frequently looks up at you for encouragement, he (1) finds you there and (2) finds that his flailing, beginning efforts are met with your warm, loving eyes, you will have success.
This is why tax hikes for public education are worthless. The more money we throw at public education, the worse the test scores become. It’s an inverse graph. Why? The public sector focuses on academic trinkets, and more glitzy curriculum and equipment—while retaining indifferent, preoccupied teachers, or too many students per teacher. We know from history, however, that the Pilgrims’ children (with virtually no tax money allocated for schools) were taught in bare one-room school houses, but got twice the education out of their children as a modern child does—because the teacher was “on it”, with one book. The Puritan teachers gave meticulous attentiveness to the process. If you hover over every stroke of the pen in teaching beginning handwriting, or shoe-tying, or teeth-brushing, or math flashcards, you’ll embed the right way to do it in your child for a lifetime. It is all about hovering over beginnings. Don’t turn your back too soon.
If you observe academic stress in your child, do one or more of the following things to remove that emotional resistance:
1. Shorten the task; less is sometimes more.
2. Splinter the task into even more bite-sized pieces.
3. Go wide when you can’t go forward; enrich and stabilize what is already known.
4. Leave it alone and try it again in a few days.
5. Change your teaching approach—try another angle.
6. Go back to the concrete level and proceed slowly to the abstract.
7. Teach it at a different time of day—right before bedtime, perhaps.
8. Teach it in short spurts, with spaced repetition.
See our 12 Amazing Brain Triggers e-book for much more about these and other strategies for the easiest ways to get information into the brain of your child.
Conversely, make no mistake, moral training requires you to exercise tight, firm, unflinching resolve. When a child is misbehaving, the parent must level some sort of consequence. The most effective consequence is to devise something that is seen by the child as against his own self interest. Do not match energies with his fits. Remove yourself from the fray. Pit him against himself, not allowing him to think he is irritating you at all. Pick some consequence that costs him emotionally and you’ll turn that behavior around, prontito.
Most parents have this all backwards. They are rough on the academics, but the child is swimming in self-indulgence in his character. Teach the child self-denial, putting his own will under for the good of another, not once, but over and over throughout the day. Then if you want to make over your child with your own gushing love impulses (what parent can resist) go ahead at other moments, when you are not engaged in a toe-to-toe conflict of wills. You can endlessly initiate love activities, but make sure that you have not descended into a “respond-a-thon” with your child. If you are giving in to your child, contrary to your first commands and wishes and hunches for what is best in the situation, you are creating a future problem for yourself. Nip it in the bud now while he is young, and you can put your feet up, eat bonbons and take a snooze later. If you don’t, you may be battling that immature, indulgent will all the way to your grave.
Tuesday, 17. December 2013 by Renee Ellison
It is appalling that a recent national survey of over 3,000 adolescents (from all walks of life) revealed that their most prized possession is their freedoms. “Don’t take away my cell phone or my car. I’ll hyperventilate if you do; I’ll go ballistic.” The survey shared anecdotally about an undergraduate high school class being released on the last day of school (for just that year) where the students ran from the building shouting like a bunch of warriors, or a scene from Braveheart...FREEEEDDDDDOOOOOOOMMMMMM. But what is more to the point is that similar scenes take place everyday in the homes of teens, demanding to escape from their parents, and the house itself. This is routine. The struggle to “get free” is growing in intensity.
In light of this statistically-verified psychological state of teens, i.e. it is what really lives in their heads these days, parents were encouraged, as a result of the survey, to walk delicately and not to step on this fragile dynamic. Restrain your adolescent if he gravitates toward evil, but not by taking away his cell phone or his Internet connection, nor by clogging up his social pipeline. Huh?
Upon some reflection, one might ask, what is it that these articulate and desperate teens really want? “Freedom FROM what, and freedom TO DO what?” Historically, people have shouted (or rather meekly, exhaustedly, unbelievably, whispered) “freedom? at last?” if they have just emerged from a Siberian work camp, or a German concentration camp. But we have none of that here. Freedom has not been a pressing urgent word in American for over 200 years. But now it emerges as an insistence, a veritable air-hose for the adolescent. In America?
So what is really going on here? Teens want to escape their homes and their educational institutions, desperate to do what? To smoke weed and cut themselves with peers…asserting, with a hamburger in their hand, “aahhh, freedom.” But what they really mean by the word “freedom” is lasciviousness. They want unbridled lasciviousness. They want no responsibility, no work, no personal production quotients, no input from people who have lived life several decades ahead of them, no have to’s, no context at all that they don’t generate themselves, sometime in the middle of the night, in a dark alley.
The majority of teens desperately want to escape to an unbridled world of their peers. Peers these days are increasingly sought-after to replace the home, the parents, in an absolute sense. But let’s get some clarity here. Peers do not have enough of an experience base to mentor other peers. It ain’t gonna happen. What happens is that adolescent peers, left alone, descend into a pool of iniquity together. And peer pressure becomes a demon in their life they hadn’t counted on.
All of this is a non-issue if one carefully, diligently, lovingly homeschools. A child never runs from a homeschooled high school “class” wanting to get away from learning, because long ago they realized that there never is a last day, that real learning goes on forever, and that to be involved in it is the human’s happiest state. For by it the child finds himself actualized, invigorated and thrilled to be alive. He has no struggle with a deep search for identity, because his unique identity has been under close surveillance and pumped up from the time he was born. His parents have meticulously groomed his academic prowess, skills and talents from the get-go. Homeschooling parents are daily launching their child into what God made of him, and that feels good to the child. It is exhilarating for any human being to be made more ME, and to find God’s calling for ME. A parent realizes early on that his child cannot run in all directions and get anywhere. Thus, restraint and discipline become the loving “hands” used to make over the child. As a result, a maturing discipline becomes the child’s settled expectation and ever-growing satisfaction.
So what is the problem with secular teens, not so trained? Why do they want to escape? What are they running from? They are running from parents who are constantly preoccupied with something other than their own child—be it work, their own social life, their own hobbies and projects, their own baseball games, and their own emotional traumas. So the child wants to escape being ignored. The child wants to escape educational institutions because they taught him the what of life but never mentioned the why. It was 12 plus years of a mental life that ignored God at best, and grew increasingly irritated with Him at worst. So the school strutted forth to became a surrogate God from which the child now looooooooooooongs to escape. Secular education is not God’s equal. It is not even close. The secular teens are right after all, but deluded. They are running not toward freedoms but from meaninglessness—and now are searching in the wrong places. Only you, as a parent, can reverse this.
Sunday, 24. November 2013 by Renee Ellison
When most homeschoolers begin homeschooling the most frequently asked question from relatives and friends is “Aren’t you worried about socialization?” At first such a question makes a newbie homeschooler quake. But upon a closer examination and a little more time a homeschooler grows in her unclouded perspective to such a degree that she answers CONFIDENTLY: “Yes, I AM worried about socialization. That’s why I homeschool!”
Peers do not make good role models. Peers do not make good missionaries. Peers do not have enough of an experience base to make good mentors of other peers. They don’t know what wisdom IS yet.
The Bible says, “Those who walk with the wise WILL BE wise” (Proverbs 13:20). So, the only thing we have to find out is WHO ARE the wise? The answer: they are spiritually mature Christian ADULTS…i.e. PARENTS, and some grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other mature Christians. The MORE time your child can spend with these people, the more refined they will become. Their association with wise elders will keep your children out of multitudes of temptations, and they will learn from their observations of hours and hours of spiritually mature responses to all of life’s vicissitudes, which then become easy to emulate and imitate.
When children are taught that their SIBLINGS and other close family members should be the focus of all the great majority of their social yearnings, they CAN create LIFETIME BEST friends for themselves. Children can’t figure this out by themselves. They need parents to tell them, show them, and emulate it for them. Children so trained will be comfortable with ALL age groups. Conversely, children who have been socially indoctrinated in the public schools can ONLY relate to peer ages with ease. Most of them won’t even look adults in the eyes when speaking to them, and they often show disdain for those who are much younger than themselves.
Public education has its mincing inroads into the heart. Therefore, watch diligently at the DOORWAY of socialization bonding with families whose children are public-schooled. Public education is 12 plus years of training children to ignore God (at best), and to become irritated with Him (at worst). Is this the influence you WANT for YOUR child? If not, hover over BEGINNING peer relationships. Who ARE those peers, what do they spend the majority of their time doing, and WHERE are they getting their influences FROM?
Strive to raise a HOLY child. A holy child gives you NO REGRETS in your golden years. If we spend the bulk of our lives content with athletic and academic training of our children that is largely secular and pagan, going through the motions of child-training without a FOCUSED deliberate eye on raising up GODLY seed, we CAN find, sadly, later that we have wasted our finest energies on that which is not eternal. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real deal.
It is most interesting to note that John the Baptist emerged a LEADER of men from a totally isolated childhood, raised with no siblings and only elderly parents; the same was true of Joash. Joash RULED all of Israel—presto—from the get-go—right out of isolation. You, too, strive for a private life full of character training and endless expressions of sacrificial love within a family, and your public influence LATER will be immense. Do it the other way around and your life can fall like a house of cards.
Godly seed is FRAGILE. Roaring lions crouch at the door, seeking to devour it. The remnant has more than once dwindled; historically it has become breathtakingly thin. At one point it only consisted of Noah’s family of 8. There is a REAL war that we were born into. Keep watch. Be vigilant. Don’t let down your guard. Arrive on the other side of the Jordan at least with your own offspring. Present to God YOUR godly seed.
Sunday, 24. November 2013 by Renee Ellison
Our recent podcasts have been focusing on teaching the principles of personal financial management. The current broadcasts have been addressed to adolescents. This blog post contains some quick tips for how best to teach financial soundness to younger children.
Give each young child a GLASS jar (gotta be able to SEE money accruing in there—as opposed to an opaque piggy bank, which is like dropping money into a black hole). Write the child’s name on some tape and affix it to the jar. If the jar is skinny, like a spice jar, the child could fit it into his or her school box, along the edge, if they use a box to house their textbooks.
Then you, as the parent, go to the bank and trade in dollars for rolls and rolls and rolls of NICKELS. Nickels are BULKY, so that makes it look like the children’s money is accruing FASTER. Also, nickels are also easily divisible in small increments for dividing later, at the end of the week when they divide up their nickels between tithe, savings, spending money and taxes. (Taxes are the money that is given BACK to the parent. This shows the child in spades that he NEVER gets the whole dollar of what he earns.)
Then tell your young children that ANY TIME THEY WANT to earn money you will pay them a nickel for every ten minutes of work. You have to start with small increments with small children, because you have to have room to INCREASE their pay over time. If you start paying them too much, in the young years, you’ll find the raises unmanageable later. If the children are wasting time, or squandering it on media, TV, or computer, pull them off and say this is EARNING MONEY time—we will never get today’s hours back. We’re building a FINANCIAL FOUNDATION and you never get a second change to build a foundation of savings so that money can begin to EARN money—e.g., buy tools or whatever to make MORE money. FOUNDATIONS are everything. Imagine building a house without a foundation. Your children’s financial goal is to secure a nest egg. The more visible their progress toward that goal, the better.
For much more on this topic, check out our additional resources here.
Thursday, 14. November 2013 by Renee Ellison
Is everyone in your household (age 5 and older) touch-typing, without looking at the keys? If not, check out Zoom-Type, the fastest and best way to learn how to type.
How about some fun practice ideas, to improve your typing speed? You probably already know that this classic sentence (or some variation of it) uses all the letters in the English alphabet: The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. The sentence is a pangram—a series of words that utilizes all the letters of an alphabet. The word pangram is derived from the Greek for all letters (pan = ALL + grámma = LETTER). Read more about it here.
Pangrams are great for typing practice because they require you to use every letter on the keyboard. Here’s another one, that you may enjoy practicing after you’ve learned how to type in just five days using the Zoom-Type course: God created zebras and foxes to walk, jump and hide very quickly. That pangram uses 50 characters, so it isn’t as efficient as the quick brown fox classic sentence (which only uses 33).
By the way, the Word of God contains a pangram of the world’s first and oldest language, Hebrew—in Zephaniah 3:8:
“Therefore wait for Me,” declares the LORD,
“For the day when I rise up as a witness.
Indeed, My decision is to gather nations,
To assemble kingdoms,
To pour out on them My indignation,
All My burning anger;
For all the earth will be devoured
By the fire of My zeal.”
Interestingly, the verse just after it (Zeph. 3:9) may prophesy the revival of the use of Hebrew: “For then I shall turn unto the peoples a clean lip, so that they all call on the Name of the Lord, to serve Him with one shoulder.” To give yourself a boost in learning the original language, order our Hebrew Zoom-Type course.
Also, see these links to a number of free online typing tests and keyboarding games.