I saw this graphic making the rounds on Facebook and thought I’d share it with you all.


Ruth Beechick & the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash

 Homeschooling naturally is natural. Don’t work too hard at making it artificially schoolish. -Dr. Ruth Beechick

The Old Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog HopToday I am thrilled to share a few questions that I personally got to ask Ruth Beechick as part of the Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Blog Hop. Did you know that The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is officially 10 years old this year? Why yes it is! And they are having 10 days of celebration full of fun giveaways and interviews with the new Family of Columnists on the Homeschooling with Heart blog.  Plus you can download The Curiosity Files 9-pack bundle featuring Professor Ana Lyze as a free birthday gift!

Ruth Beechick, Debbie Strayer

Ruth Beechick & her dear friend, Debbie Strayer

Many of you probably already know Ruth from her It’s Just Common Sense column in The Homeschool Minute e-Newsletter with Debbie Strayer. Maybe you’ve read some of her articles in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine before.

Or maybe you’ve heard about her common sense approach to teaching children from some of your other homeschool friends. (That’s how I first heard about her!) I was stressing about not making progress with one of my boys on something and one of my friends loaned me The Three R’s Series. I felt such freedom after reading those little books. That’s probably where I began my journey as a relaxed homeschooler.

The Three R's by Ruth Beechick

These little books made our homeschool a MUCH happier place!

Ruth is already a regular columnist at The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, but you’ll get to read even more from her as TOS launches their new monthly interactive digital format starting in January 2012. (Woo hoo!)

Dr. Ruth Beechick, a retired educator, began writing for homeschoolers in their “early” days of the 1980s and has happily watched the movement grow. She sees these families as being the strongest part of our society. From her wide knowledge of teaching, she tries to give common sense help and to encourage parents to follow their intuition and not be slaves to published curricula. Her books are available at www.HomeschoolingBooks.com and from other suppliers.

You can learn more of her story from this 2006 Tribute to Dr. Ruth Beechick on the TOS website.

And books? She’s written a lot of them! She’s a fountain of knowledge. Here’s a basic list:

So, without further ado, I’ll get right to the interview. (But be sure to keep reading. I’ve got an extra giveaway at the end to share with y’all!)

Nancy: Are there any common mistakes that homeschooling parents make when teaching their children to write? How can we avoid those mistakes?

Ruth: The greatest homeschool mistake in teaching writing is to emphasize grammar. Knowledge of grammar does not improve writing. Researches over and over have confirmed this. Actually, children learn much grammar through daily conversation and reading. Grammar courses add some terms like noun and verb, but children already use nouns and verbs correctly, and other parts of speech, too. When a child writes something ungrammatical, just read it aloud and ask him if that’s the way it should sound. Usually he can correct it orally. Then he will be able to correct his writing.

Nancy: Is there a certain age at which you recommend that children learn to read? If not, how can homeschooling parents decide when their children are ready for reading?

Ruth: People wonder when to begin teaching their children to read. But they usually have already begun when they read picture books or other books aloud. Through this reading, the children learn that books tell things, that words are in books. They begin to learn some of the words and letter sounds. “This word that begins with J is Jesus.”  “This word is table. It begins with T like your name Tom.” Consonants help reading more than vowels do. Try reading these lines of consonants and vowels.
Lttl Mss Mufft
St n  tfft
E  e  u  e
Lng  cm  spdr
Nd st dwn bsd r
A i  i u a a

On familiar books, you pause now and then for a child to fill in the next word or phrase. Is this reading? You could call it beginning reading. This is tutoring, the powerful method that homeschoolers use. It is individualized. You teach on-the-spot, or the many-spot teaching that happens naturally.

Sometimes children memorize whole books and can read them to you. Sometimes they read parts. For this, it is best to use real books, not the committee-written textbook readers. Real books are more interesting for the children. They help them grow a large vocabulary, as they are not limited to “grade-level” words as textbooks are.

Nancy: Do you think preschool-aged children should do “formal” school work in order to be ready for kindergarten?

Ruth: How do you help children be ready for kindergarten? This question need not worry homeschoolers. Since you always tutor at the child’s current level, you need not be concerned about schoolish terms like kindergartens or any grades. And your tutoring and parental attention usually bring high levels of learning. It is the main reason that homeschoolers do better than classroom children.

Nancy: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Ruth, and thanks for joining our new TOS Family of Columnists. I really look forward to reading even more of your encouraging words.

Now, are the rest of y’all ready for the big giveaway?

It’s Giveaway Time! (imagine party horns blowing and confetti flying)

Today, we’re giving away two great gifts from TOS. One winner will receive a one-year digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you’ll receive free access to Teacher’s Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, “This Day in History” lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you’ll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here by midnight Thursday, October 6, 2011! Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and will be notified via email on October 7th. You can get an additional entry for sharing this post via Facebook, email, or Twitter (handy buttons at the bottom of this entry), or for subscribing to my blog via email (top right corner). Just leave me an extra comment for each of those that you do, m’kay?

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.

Here, There, and Everywhere

Oh my, I was on a good roll with blogging and then all of a sudden, BAM, I got a little busy and now it’s been almost a month since I last posted. Yikes.

The truth of it is that with my fibro, I only have SO much energy and when I focus on other things, things like this blog just have to slide.

I’ve still been at the computer quite a bit though. Let me give you the general rundown:

Teacher's Toolbox

  • Teacher’s Toolbox – I helped get this website set up with lots of fun activities, recipes, history facts, etc… for The Old Schoolhouse subscribers. It really is like a little treasure chest for TOS subscribers with a ton of free resources.
  • Journey Through Joy – I’ve been posting updates for my friend, Brooke, while they’ve been at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital with their precious little miracle baby, Haddie Joy.
  • Kingaroo Games – And then in my spare time (HA!) my friend, Candace, and I have decided to start marketing some of the games that her husband creates. He is a natural game creator and writer. He loves it. It’s what God created him to do. The kids love playing the games and it’s amazing how they are learning along the way. Her 6 year old is a maniac with strategy and a U.S. map! We’re getting all of the components together so we can list them for sale on the website. I’ll be sure to announce when things are ready so you all can check it out!
  • The Homeschool Channel – Mary Jo Tate interviewed me via Skype (that was a first!) for her Homeschool Spotlight. We talked about the importance of staying connected as homeschoolers. I thought it was kind of fun, but it’s embarrassing to see the funny faces I was making when I forgot I was on video. I’m more used to just doing audio with the Schoolhouse Expo!
  • 2011 CHEK Leadership Conference – Tony and I serve on the Advisory Board so we got to go hang out with a bunch of homeschool leaders one weekend in Elizabethtown. We had some wonderful speakers, a great time of encouragement, and they all laughed at my Top 10 List of Reasons You Do NOT Want to Lead a Homeschool Group.
  • 2011 CHEK Family & Homeschool Conference – This doesn’t happen until June 24-25, but since we ran into some scheduling troubles, we’re still in the thick of planning speakers, lining up vendors, etc… Whew, I’m so glad that God somehow can do amazing things with our very humble, imperfect efforts.

Wow, typing this all out, actually helps me not to feel like such a slacker. Sometimes I get so frustrated by feeling like I’m forgetting things or letting projects slip, but seeing all that I HAVE managed to accomplish is pretty encouraging. I  just lose my perspective and get lost in the busyness of things. I’m so thankful that God is always right there to meet me where I am and that He never loses track of me.

Truly, He is Here, There, and Everywhere. :O)



Black Friday on the Farm: A Guest Post by Hannah Braboy

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Braboy, and I’m a good friend of Nancy’s. She asked me to stop in because she’s having a few technical glitches right now. No worries! Her Internet should be back up and running before too long. In the mean time…

My family and I sometimes take care of Nancy’s family’s farm for them. We love to do it and were there on Black Friday taking care of everything. We also happened to get some snow that day, which is far and few between in this area. The animals were as excited as we were to see it! Here’s a virtual tour around Nancy’s family’s farm:

In the video you might have caught twin boys plopping in the snow off the slide (those are my brothers), guineas making themselves known, the horses’ shy “hello”, Baab (the sheep) portraying his spunky and independent personality, bits of conversation between my family and I, and lots of other little things. I love that – the imperfection, the simplicity, and how each time we take care of that special farm, it reminds me to let my hair down and get back to the basics.

Schoolhouse Expo: Day 3

A Little Touch of Home from the Farm

Well it felt like a bit of a wild and wacky Wednesday as we got things started for the Schoolhouse Expo today. Our first speaker of the day usually logs in about 15 minutes early just so we can do the sound check, but because of some time zone confusion our speaker had mixed up the times and didn’t think she was supposed to be on until an hour later. YIKES!

I was scrambling with the other of the Expo Team to come up with a plan B and sweating bullets until Sharra sent me a happy message that Dianne Craft was logged in and ready. And wow, I am SO glad that she joined us.

  • Dianne’s workshop was fabulous. Honestly I think that EVERY homeschool mom should hear what she has to say about learning glitches. She talks about the different learning paths in the brain and how we can figure out what learning gate might be closed for our struggling learners. She also shared some information about nutrition and what an important component that can be. Her presentation had us all saying, “That’s my kid!” or even sometimes, “That’s me.” She was just full of practical information that we can all apply and left everyone wishing we had more than just one hour with her. Her handout will give you a little taste of what she shared, but I’d really suggest that you spend some time clicking around on her website and visit her vendor booth.
  • Next was the Rosetta Stone workshop and I’m sure it was great. I saw lots of great comments in the chat box, but guess what. I didn’t get to hear much of it. . . because . . .  I was talking to John Taylor Gatto!He called to confirm things for Friday and I just have to say that I drop EVERYTHING when John Taylor Gatto calls. I was like, “Expo, what expo?”. I can’t tell you what a special thing it is to have him joining us for this online conference. In recent  years, he has decided to step away from some technology – like email, cell phones, etc… He feels like in some ways it keeps people from connecting with each other on a personal level. However at 74 years old, he believes so strongly in homeschooling that he was willing to take advantage of this opportunity to speak to as many homeschoolers as possible (as long as we would send someone to get him logged in and set up. ha!).  He’s not even traveling as much as he used to. I’m telling you all that we are in for a special treat. I crack up because whenever I say, “Hi, Mr. Gatto.” He always says, “Please call me John.” and I just almost giggle with joy thinking that I am on a first-name basis with John Taylor Gatto. Sigh . . . Enough of my gushing.
  • Deborah Wuehler had another wonderful devotion for us today. The one was I Don’t Know What To Do! Deborah shared a lot about how we should respond when things are so crazy in life that you don’t even know what to do. One thing that she reminded us was to say to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You.” We simply MUST keep our eyes on Him. Deb shared so many insights from 2Ch 20:1-30: God Defeats Judah’s Enemies in King Jehoshaphat’s Reign. Check out her slides and her handout.
  • And then Zan Tyler blessed us with her absolutely inspiring Life in the Fiery Furnace. (Click here for the handout.) She shared about a time when her family was threatened with being thrown in jail if they continued to homeschool and pointed to how God is always with us during those challenging times just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I loved how she said that so often when things are going wrong, we automatically wonder what we’ve done wrong to deserve them. But perhaps we should remember that sometimes we are attacked for doing right!  Rich Mullins once said, “We will see Christ in the furnace long before we see Him in the air.” Isn’t that a wonderful reminder to look around right where you are to see Him with you?

I hope you all are enjoying my little recaps of the Expo each day. I wish you all could be there to enjoy it with us. It really is a special fellowship time, but I know how crazy life can be.

In fact, I’ll actually be stepping down as Director of the Schoolhouse Expo after this week. I’ve just been struggling so much with my fibromyalgia that I need to slow down and give my body some time to recover. I guess that’s why Zan’s message was such a blessing to me. I feel like so much of my struggle with pain feels like I’m being kept in the Refiner’s Fire and I appreciated that reminder of Who is there with me keeping me safe.

Have a great week y’all. He’s right there with you through it all.

See the rest of my Schoolhouse Expo Recaps: