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Frequently Asked Questions
1) Do your kids participate in any activities such as music lessons, scouts, liberty girls, etc?
2) If you don't pay for lessons/experiences (music, sports, scouts, etc.) until they are older or in "LOL" phase, but you want to be "inspiring" them towards something and you personally (as the mother or father) don't have that skill, what do you do?
3) What are some of the most inspiring things that you have read to your children? Also, once you start a book (like Little House series) do you usually finish the whole book, a little at a time, or do you just do pieces of it?
4) What about Sports?
5) Do you ever allow family movies or video games on the weekend for limited amounts of time, or have you found that this stops their progress?
6) I am curious about some ideas for my 11 year old son, what skills would you learn?- wood working, carving--since we put the legos away- I need some ideas
7) Do you play with your children during Core Phase? My 4 year old daughter often asks me to play with her. Should I ever do this?
8) What about math?
9) Does TJed teach having a scheduled school time?
10) What does family work look like?
11) What does your day look like?
12) What are the plain & lifeless toys that are good for children?
13) Do you use a TJED Closet?
14) What do your children do while you read aloud to them? My children are used to coloring quietly while I read aloud. What does it look like at your home?
15) My husband helps with some laundry and dinner dishes. Is this wrong?
16) Do you go to the library or just buy your books?
17) Do you feel that children with ADHD or Dyslexia, or anything else should be home schooled in this same way?
18) You mentioned how well your daughter spells and how good her grammar is. If your other children are not so inclined, will you do little lessons later in love of learning or work on it in Scholar phase?
19) How do you best deal with family members (i.e. parents and other extended familiy) who disagree with your method for your children’s education?
20) My children love to play music to listen to like primary songs, safety kids, joy school, etc. Is this a wrong headgate?
21) When I downsize the collection of toys with parts and pieces, my children just find other things to build huts with like spoons and pots and pans, throw away junk.
22) Do your children "own" toys? Do you give them toys for gifts (birthday’s, Christmas, etc.) Do they keep personal toys in their room or playroom?
23) Any suggestions about how to go about removing those toys from my house that belong to a particular child, while still respecting personal property?
24) I have 10 children (ages 14-1) would you recommend any adjustments to your recommendations for the amount of toys in our home?
25) Do you have any baby toys in your home for your infants?
26) Do your kids ever get vacation?
27) When you are training your children to work, you mentioned that you train them one at a time. Do you make sure they each get some training each day, or do you train one child one day and another the next?
28) All children have special treasures - be it a special stuffed animal, a necklace or a letter from a loved one. Do they keep these things tucked away from their younger siblings? How do you apply "ownership" in this lifestyle?
29) My 2 & 4-year-olds will not be home schooled; do you think your principles can still apply in the short time I have them at home all to myself before they go to school?
30) Now that the most of the toys are gone my three year old is into everything! I have spent the weekend cleaning up his adventures in makeup, kitty litter, dumping drawers, etc. What suggestions do you have for these little guys?
31) Have you read John Holt’s How Children Learn? His ideas about how children need to play with materials, like art supplies, for a long time before they use them in the way they were meant to. Is your philosophy at odds with this idea?
32) What about social events, family gatherings, church functions, and friend's houses? There are so many headgates wide open in these situations. What do you do?
33) You mentioned in your e-book that you teach your children, when they ask for it, out of the Dick and Jane books. What other early readers do you use for teaching reading? What books do you have in your home currently they can practice reading in? Many people use Magic Tree House, Magic School Bus, The Illustrated Classics, and the Box Car Children? How do you feel about these book designed to build fluency and also expose them to the great classics to read later one?
34) What games to you consider the “best”? Do you have a specific time that certain games can only be played?
35) When you read to your children are you only reading classic fiction or do you sometimes try to inspire them with something from history, science etc?
36) When your children find a tangent they want to explore during your reading do you do it with them or tell them to go on their own?
37) What is the difference between inspiring and spoon-feeding? I mean, if you are doing an activity with the kids that they are enjoying (but maybe didn't ask for) isn’t it a good thing to expose them to new things?
38) What are your thoughts about teens emailing/chatting online with their friends? Is this a wrong headgate? I'm think that eventually email may become purposeful and necessary, but for younger teens is it a waste of time?
39) I have been implementing the "Headgates" principles and my daughter has begun to choose to spend some of her free-time reading. However, with the newly arriving warm weather, she spends nearly all of her free-time running around outside, climbing trees, and playing in the sunshine. Could this be a wrong headgate? It seems so natural but it also seems to be such a distraction. Do you recommend I limit her outside time?
40) In your book you stated that if a child chooses to spend their free-time playing then they are in core phase. What if my scholar (who I really believe is in scholar phase) chooses to at the end of the day when his studies are done to spend his free-time playing (running around with good friends playing things like airsoft?) Does this mean he is in core phase?
41) My daughter is always asking questions like: "What was the biggest tornado?" or "What do jellyfish eat?" In the past I have always dropped all I am doing and sat down with her and looked them up on the internet or find books at the library. She is still in core phase. I don't have books on these topics. Please share your suggestions.
42) When the children ask for a basic math lesson, how do you teach that? Do you use a simple addition worksheet for practice?
43) Most of the crafts you give for give examples of are what I would consider appropriate for girls such as knitting, quilting, and crochet. Someone mentioned wood working, but you said that is only good for older boys. What specific crafts do you recommend for boys while the girls are learning to knit?
44) I have a six year old who is working along side of me daily during work time. Please share how this works for you. How do you keep them motivated and on task?
45) How do you explain to your older kids what brain candy books are and why we are not going to read them?
46) Who excuses the children from the dinner table?
47) How are you inspiring good music?
48) Do you have any picture books for your younger children? Ones that teach values like little engine that could, or Little red Hen etc?
49) When do you read to them the book of there choice?
50) My oldest has said he wants to learn his multiplication tables. Do you have a suggestion on how to go about helping him learn them?
51) You touched on it in question #30. My daughter wants to play at a friends house daily and soon a good friend will be living next door. What would be appropriate boundries for play time with friends?
52) There was an article about some preschool girls who wanted to play "book store" and had to fill out paper work before they could play. This confused me as it seemed really counter to a lot of your philosophies. Would you explain your opinion of that article and why you posted it?
53) Do you have any books or other methods you would recommend for helping me teach my children obedience?
54) Do you do Kid school during free time or work time, or before both? What do your other children do when you are working with one
55) I have been reading about transition to Scholar Phase in the TJED materials. How do you think this change will effect the Love of Reading, closed headgates, etc in your home?
56) Our “bedtime” always feels like a difficult process and I am searching for a better way to work things. My husband commutes for work and so does not get home until about 7pm each night. That leaves us with about 1 ½ hours of family time before bed. Then we do baths, scriptures and to bed as quickly as possible. My husband and I share in the going to bed routine, but it makes him grumpy. Do you assume full responsibility for your children’s bedtime routine? What does it look like for your family?
57) Since I have implemented the “Headgate schedule”, I have found it more difficult to get out to grocery shop. I usually go to 3 different stores for my shopping (Costco, Health food store and reg. grocery). It feels like more of a chore out of my schedule that I love. Have you found a good schedule and time to do your grocery shopping?
58) Do you have your table time rules written for others to view? How did you go about yimplementing them?
59) As far as structure goes, what do your Saturdays look like for your family? Do you implement “family work” on Saturdays?
60) My children have become huge collectors of trash. It has been worse since I have really been de-cluttering. They will dig through the garbage just to see what they can claim as their own. It drives me nuts! How would you handle this situation?
61) You mentioned "Baby Journals" in your presentation at the forum, and I was wondering how you do them and what they are. I have tried getting my kids to journal on their own with little success, although I keep a journal myself rather regularly. I don't think it is inspiring them enough, and I wonder how you have done it in your home.
62) Do you attempt to "manage" or limit the gifts that come to your children from outside your home? Well-meaning family members enjoy showering our children with way-too-many toys and gifts at birthdays & holidays. Any thoughts on how to handle this?
63) I am loving the Headgates concept. I just can't pull myself away from it. I found, though, that I wish I had found it just three or four years earlier. I have three children that I am homeschooling. The oldest two are 12 and 14, just ready to start into scholar phase. Headgates seems to cover more core and love of learning. Could you expound a little on how it looks for scholar phase kids - any insights?
64) Now that your daughter is taking formal music lessons, does she help pay? If so, how does she earn that contribution?
65) Please share suggestions on finding mentors. I live rural without, any TJed families nearby. How do you suggest being successful during scholar phase (for myself) without the local support?
66) Can you expound on Family work? My house is very small and I have three young children.
67) I have allowed my children to choose books for themselves with birthday money etc. They have chosen book that I would not choose for them (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc) but I felt like I made up for that when I read classics to them. Your thoughts?
68) I was wondering about Montessori, absorbent mind. Do you use any of the Montessori toys in your simple toy box?
Question #1: Do your kids participate in any activities such as music lessons, scouts, liberty girls, etc?
Answer: These are great questions. I will answer them one at a time since they each contain different elements.
Formal music lessons follow the Scholar Model because they involve completing assignments plus returning and reporting on time. They actually "study" music, which means that they are not free to take it or leave it once they start. They must take it and run with it nearly every day in order to be prepared for the next week's lesson. I would let a love of learner (remember phase, not age) try out something that follows the scholar model if they can bear the responsibility of it themselves, without my assistance. The key here is to be sure that they are deep into love of learning phase before allowing them to try out a scholarly commitment.
Likewise, a core phaser is free to try out a love of learner activity, like reading, writing, knitting, or any free-learning that is non-committal. However, I would not allow a core-phaser to try out a scholar-model activity, no matter how much they wanted it.
I have watched little children take things and run with them, but only when they are free to fall in love with them voluntarily. For example, when my children begin to fall in love with reading, the process is natural and real because they chose it themselves. They did not choose it in an orderly and reliable fashion at first (like every day for 30 minutes). Instead it was sporadic and noncommittal, just like you would think it would be for an 8 year old--a little here and a little there, then maybe none at all for a whole week. It is off and on until finally one day it sticks. This is when they are deep into love of learning and it looks as if they are truly committed to their studies. But to them it is still just play.
As far as music goes, I want them to begin their informal music lessons the day they are born. They do this by listening to and enjoying great music with their family. Then, after many years when the music is in their hearts and minds, and they are deep into love of learning phase (not age), I will allow their formal music lessons to begin. They are able to learn to play the piano when they are 8 even if they are still in core phase, however core phasers are not naturally happy when they must commit to the study of anything and bear the weight of that responsibility by themselves--no matter how old they are...unless their mother sits by their side for daily practice, attends the lessons, and carries that weight on her own shoulders. Yet they are extremely happy enjoying great music, and accidentally memorizing the different pieces and composers.
Scholars are not only capable of responsibly completing assignments on time, but they actually enjoy and prefer it. They love the challenge. They yearn to break limits and records, to meet goals and to be accomplished. Through the exercise of their wills, they cause themselves to do things they naturally would not do for fun that are hard and take self discipline. This is why it is much more effective to leave study completely out of their lives until they are ready to try out this phase (not age, but phase). Again, I do allow a true love of learners to try out activities/commitments/lessons that follow the scholar model, if they can handle the commitment of it themselves. By allowing them to try these things when they are ready (truly in love of learning) and when they want to (truly inspired), they will not be making such a sudden transition into full blown scholar phase once they are prepared, but will instead be making a gradual transition over the years. When a love of learner tries scholar-model activities on for size, I do not allow it to happen in place of their family work. I allow them to try it out during their own free-time. It is my feeling that taking family work away from a love of learner may inhibit them from developing that added measure of character and self-discipline needed to voluntarily propel themselves through scholar phase with no rewards nor punishments attached. When they are ready to take on that full load of scholarly study from books (not just scholar-model activities like music lessons, but from actual books assigned by a mentor) then I will be willing to trade in their family work. Another reason that I insist upon my love of learners continuing family work until they are full-blown scholars, is that I feel that the learning that takes place during those hours is absolutely invaluable to their lives. It is during those hours as they serve the family needs, that they learn how to become their like their parents, because they are mentored one on one by them. My 8 year old son is learning to do the things his father does around the house. He can de-junk and organize the garage, the closet, vacuum the car, compost the garden, refill all of the food storage cans and jars. Soon he will mow the lawn, sand the shed, etc., etc. Not to mention he has learned/is learning the basic home skills that more readily belong to the feminine role, but that he will need when he leaves the home unmarried, such as all of the house-cleaning, dish-washing, baking, cooking, laundry and child-care. It is in the afternoon that he serves his individual interests, and develops himself more. The two kinds of service (family and individual) go hand in hand, the one enhancing and enriching the other.
Once the children are in love of learning phase for real, no matter how old they are when they get there they in one or two years could make up for all the lessons they may have missed during core phase, and be caught right up to the other children who had been practicing for the past 3-5 years. This is because they can handle more assignments than the core phasers can handle. The core phase children's music lessons, then, become a waste of valuable childhood time. Not to mention all of the money their parents would save by waiting until the child's prime phase for studying. Again, the prime phase for studying is scholar phase, however true love of learners can have great success and enjoyment trying out scholar-model activities. Also, much research has shown that mentally, the most ideal time to begin music lessons is before the age of 11. Those who begin after this time usually learn it slower and less proficiently. The same goes for foreign languages. For this reason, it is to our greatest advantage to create an environment where our children can fall into love of learning as soon as possible, so that they may voluntarily embark on the study of music before the age of 11. However, rushing the system, and allowing or even pushing our core phase children (no matter what age) into the music lessons so that they might begin them during this prime age is actually putting them and us at a great disadvantage. The rate of learning in these scholar-model settings is exponentially greater for children who are really in love of learning vs. children who are still in core phase, even if they are the same age. It puts the parents at a disadvantage to allow core phasers these lessons because the parents must carry the weight of the responsibility of the child's commitment. The parents must get that child to practice as opposed to the child in love of learning who wants the lessons, and therefore loves to practice. Learning a foreign language follows the same pattern. Yes we want our children before the age of 11 to learn a foreign language, but not at the expense of their development. We must not push them into it in order to meet that ideal age. We must give them an environment where they can thoroughly progress in, through, and out of core phase--even if they miss that window in the process. Many people have learned foreign languages and musical instruments after the age of eleven. Although it is not ideal, it is possible and in my opinion, better than missing out on scholar phase because of lack of development through core phase.
In our town there was an old piano teacher who was the most sought out teacher in a one hundred mile radius. He had a several year waiting list and only the best and brightest students would he take on. He once explained that the best student he ever had during his entire career was a thirty-five year old man. He said that the reason he was so great was because he remembered everything he ever taught him the previous week, he went home and diligently practiced, never having to be given an instruction twice. This was because he wanted to be there, and also because he was in the phase to "study."
Not knowing any of this, I started two of my young children in piano lessons. One was definitely in love of learning phase, and the other was definitely in core phase. This was during a time when we were always listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It was a part of our family culture and it was definitely engrained in our children's minds. When "Ode to joy" came along in the kids' weekly lessons, they learned it in a snap. I remember how different it was for them than any of their previous songs had been. They seemed to put forth almost no effort, and the song just came flowing out of their fingertips. This is not only because they knew the song, it was because they loved the song. They did not have the same experience when "Yankee Doodle" came along even though they knew that tune as well.
Now, instead of starting core phase children in lessons, my aim is to let them enjoy the music and live alongside the music for all of these years, getting many, many more songs as engrained in their minds as Beethoven's 9th was. I do not mind if they want to plunk out a few tunes by ear, as long as it is beautiful, and taking place during a convenient time. But they will receive the luxury of a paid lesson as soon as they are developed enough (deep into love of learning phase and begging for a lesson) to carry the weight of the entire experience, sans payment, on their own shoulders.
I love scouts for older boys (12 +) if the leaders are strict and truly REQUIRE the boys to meet the requirements before they sign anything off. I find that little kid scouts is full of assignments and tasks that are watered down versions of important tasks they could fully comprehend after the age of 12. I have no interest in raising them up on these watered down tasks so that they can "prepare" for the real thing. I feel that they will be better prepared for scouts if they get a rich core and love of learning phase.
Also, I don't care for the “checking off” the list at this age. They always need their mom to either spoon feed, or "pass off" everything. I would rather them go fall in love with a book that they can read on their own and that is inherently attractive to them. With scouts, I didn't see the young children really in love with the tasks as much as the prizes, recognition, and treats...all of which are wrong headgates in our home.
I have not felt inclined to get involved in Liberty Girls and other similar clubs for children because it seems to me that children want to get together with other children to play, not to discuss and learn (discussing and learning are too scripted). If they are going to read a book for the reasons that I want them to read books for (love) then they are going to read it at home in a natural setting when they happen upon it on their own. Then, if the book was important or fun to them, let them think to discuss it informally and spontaneously on their own with parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, cousins or grandparents.
For example, if the Liberty Girls are reading a chosen book and it happens to be a book that my daughter has not chosen to read or want to yet, she may run the risk of reading it for the wrong reasons. I cannot make such a paramount gamble during these foundational years. Again, my focus for my children is in preparation for a world-class scholar phase. I see too many would-be scholar phases crumbling because they are attempting to build them on top of faulty foundations.
I do enjoy my children accompanying me to my formal events like a monthly quilting circle. They see me diligently learning needle-work with the commitment of an adult and also discussing important subjects with my friends. They oft times join in and other times go play. They are always free to stay or go, which allows them to fall into love of learning because it is of their own will and decision.
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Question #2: If you don't pay for lessons/experiences (music, sports, scouts, etc.) until they are older or in "LOL" phase, but you want to be "inspiring" them towards something and you personally (as the mother or father) don't have that skill, what do you do?
Answer: e inspire them by letting them see how much we love these beautiful arts. We go to symphonies, ballets, and art museums when possible but not often or excessively. They are a special treat. However, daily we listen to classical music in the home and my children go around humming their favorite pieces. We participate in the ones we have learned ourselves, but our enjoyment of the end result is the real inspiration. It shows what is important to us. If daddy's face lights up more when an action packed movie is on than a classic piece of literature is read or a classical piece of music is played, the children pick up on it right away. This whole thing is really about the parents changing their own leisure pursuits into the highest and most important/rewarding things this world has to offer. The children easily follow suit when they are ready. They know when we love something for real vs. when we're trying to manipulate them into doing something they'll "surely need someday."
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Question #3: What are some of the most inspiring things that you have read to your children? Also, once you start a book (like Little House series) do you usually finish the whole book, a little at a time, or do you just do pieces of it?
Answer: In the back of "A Thomas Jefferson Education" there is a long list of classic books for children and youth. This is my favorite resource. However, the ones that stand out in my mind as very inspiring to our children are: Heidi, Pollyanna, Little Britches, Little Princess, Secret Garden, Charlottes Web. For my children that are younger than 6, We have loved the original Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Goldilocks and the 3 bears, The 3 little pigs, Hanzel and Grettel, Peter Rabbit and all of the other Beattrix Potter books, classic nursery rhymes, fairy tales...anything with Core Values in it like good/bad, right/wrong.
Such topics spark the children’s attention because they can relate and are very concerned, even at this age, with these core values. They are very black and white in their judgment and they usually love to discuss why Cinderella's step mother was so mean, or why Goldilocks walked into the house without permission.
Spending twenty minutes a day I always read the whole book unless it becomes so boring that nobody wants to come when I invite them. I find though, that if we stick with the classics, this hardly ever happens. The reason that I read the whole book is because my real goal is to enjoy the story with them. I want them, as children, to fall in love with the emotion and expansion of the mind associated with reading great books. This happens as we enjoy the whole experience. Later, when they are well into love of learning and are just looking for a new book to start on their own, I often start a new book for "kidschool" and they take it and read it, and I am then forced to begin another one because they rapidly finish it on their own.
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Question #4: What about Sports?
Answer: For me, sports are a fun way to bond with family and friends. They are fun to play and are to me about as valuable as a game of checkers. I can see no reason to higher someone to train my children into master checkers players nor to spend my precious free time attending countless checkers tournaments, not to mention uniforms, hype, etc. I am more than willing to pay good money and invest good time into things that are beautiful to me and enhance and bless the world, like great books, music, art, ballet, etc. I don't see professional or organized sports doing any of these things except when family, friends, church groups get together in the name of "having a good time." Then I think they are lovely.
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Question #5: Do you ever allow family movies or video games on the weekend for limited amounts of time, or have you found that this stops their progress?
Answer: Parents will each have to decide for themselves, but I think that once you practice with the headgate principles in your home you will start to see their effects, and you get a feel for the principles they are based upon. As you begin to apply them to your unique situation you will soon have a sense as to how video stimulation will fit into your life.
My personal opinion is that there is something so powerful, probably more powerful than any of us adults can really understand, happening inside our children when they are involved in those highly stimulating activities. So much so that the less contact with them the better.
Concerning family movies, I personally feel that once a week is too often, especially for boys. They are turned on by powerful things. In my personal experience, a once a week movie was enough to keep boys thinking about it and asking about when the next one was coming all week long. I would rather they spend their free time getting bored, staring out the window, and then conjuring up something grand in their imaginations.
For our family, once a month is too often. As my husband and I have begun developing our own appetite for great books, we have found that we much prefer great books to movies…even to classic movies.
We would rather sit down to a great book than a movie because the movie evokes no lasting change in us. It just gives us a quick story that feels powerful and lasting, but because its plot and teachings do not escort our current beliefs and paradigms into unknown territory, no lasting change ever occurs. In order to really experience lasting growth, we must consider new ideas that we have not hitherto considered, and then discuss them with friends and family. Once solidified we write our new beliefs down in our journals to document the process and the growth.
If you have read TJed, you will recognize this as "read, write and discuss" in the scholar model. This process is so delicious to the whole soul, that once you taste it, movies just become second-rate. When this happens to the parents, it is not hard to decide about movies for the kids because your example rubs off on them naturally. They do not see you saving movies up for a "special treat" that they only get to have semi annually. This would make movies seem like they are extremely special, almost like Christmas.
When I really want to have a good time, I choose to snuggle up on the couch with my husband and the kids and read a great book, which we can do as often as we like! We can't go anywhere now without a great book to bring for the drive--we are addicted. We attended a concert in Salt Lake the other night, and brought our book in to read together just incase the opening act was a little dry.
You see, I'm not just trying to be so strict with the children's free-time environment (for headgate purposes), I am actually creating an entire new way of life--for all of us in the family, including the parents. Part of the reason the children value great books is because of the conversations they listen to us having at the dinner table. Just like Laura and Mary Ingalls, our children do not talk at the dinner table, this is their chance each day to just listen and be inspired. The classics themselves brought me to think, speak and live on a higher plane. It is a more refined world than the world I was used to. Classical subjects and topics have become so important, that there just is not room for the subjects that merely scratch the surface through entertainment.
As for the video games, I personally can see no value in them for children or adults in any way shape or form. The movies I would watch now, (extremely sparingly) would be of the highest quality classical musicals or plays, or something just so wonderful, educational, moving, beautiful, etc., that it simply must be a part of our lives. But the video games, to me, are too damaging for all.
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Question #6: I am curious about some ideas for my 11 year old son, what skills would you learn?- wood working, carving--since we put the legos away- I need some ideas
Answer: The principle is that they can participate in activities requiring real life skills inasmuch as they can make things of good quality that the family actually needs, and can do this on their own, unsupervised. This way their skill will be channelled and not wasted. For a child to successfully participate in woodworking to the extent that thier work is of high quality and something that the family could actually use (like a bookshelf) it seems to me that they would need to be quite grown up, maybe 14 or so. They must understand the math and the tools, and have the sense to perform the procedures correctly.
If they have been working alongside dad for many years and are used to taking assignments from him in woodworking, they may be ready earlier than that. But their free-time, remember, is unsupervised. You're still there, but you're not helping them. They are welcome to work on the things that they have already been taught and can handle on their own.
Carving can be a great skill for young boys to learn. It comes with some rules if it is not to become a headgate. (They must carve at a certain designated place so that the knife does not turn into a toy or a show-off item to the neighbors. They must keep the "junk" they make outside. When they make nice things that the family needs, they may bring it inside and put it in its proper place.)
The slightest tweek can turn this right headgate into a wrong headgate. For example, if the child is allowed to carve toys with his knife, that is like unto the privilege of bringing more toys into the home. By telling my son that he can carve sticks into anything he wants if he leaves them outside, he gets the carving experience without the added priviledge of bringing in new toys. If he wants to make something useful, and of very high quality, then it can come inside.
The basic life skills (that seem more feminine in nature) like cooking, mending, knitting, seem to be the most likely skills for a child to learn on. These skills are included in the feminine role in the home, but are actually wonderful life skills for both boys and girls to learn because they give them some survival skills to call upon when they move out of the house, and before the boys are married.
However, the best thing for a boy who was used to legos, is not to fill in that hole with something else, but to let it remain an empty hole. He is in core phase. Let him stare out the window, bored to tears, until he thinks up something great to do. Let him work dilligently and play freely month after month until he falls in love with reading.
I don't push the life skills in any way. I just allow them. The real sign of love of learning is when a child reads for most of their free time
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Question #7: Do you play with your children during Core Phase? My 4 year old daughter often asks me to play with her. Should I ever do this?
Answer: Playing together is an important part of bonding, however I never play with them on demand.
We always bond as a family at night, which includes books, games, walks etc. They get to look forward to this each day. I like to follow the pattern of kids making their own fun just as I do mine.
Having said this, I spend one on one time with each child before I tuck them in at night, or while grooming them in the morning. This is our time to laugh, talk and bond.
During kid school we sing and read, also there is plenty of interaction as we do family work.
I never sit down and play toys or childish games. I find that if I do, it enables the child to need adult stimulation to have fun. They loose their creative ability.
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Question #8: What about math?
Answer: The first thing I would do to help my child improve in math is to get them to progress through the phases. First, I would identify which phase they are in. NOT WHICH AGE, but which phase. If they choose to play in their free time, and are thus in core phase, I would give them a core phasers schedule: work time and free time.
As they progress in the goal of core phase (master values) they will be moving on to love of learning. When the time is right for math lessons, they will let you know by asking. Remember, math for a love of learner is basic arithmetic (foundational math). If they can fall in love with reading for real, they will soon progress into scholar phase. When they are in scholar phase, with a professional mentor who can walk them through the great math classics, their math education will be so thorough that it will not matter what path they took to get there.
The important thing is to work on the phase that they are really in. This is the quickest route to the next phase.
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Question #9: Does TJed teach having a scheduled school time?
Answer: Yes, TJed does teach having a scheduled "school time" by name, but not by practice. If you read Oliver and Rachel DeMille's original description of TJed in their home ("A Thomas Jefferson Education in our Home") you will find that when they "do school" it is really not like school at all. In fact, she says that the only difference between their version of school and chaos is that she is present. She mentions that she works on her own things, while they do whatever they want. Some cook, some play, some read, some write.
The principle "Structure Time not Content" suggests to the mind that someone is structuring a school time for the kids. However, when you do not structure content, what does that school time look like? When children have a set time each day that their mothers are not needing them to work or serve in any way, and no content is structured, what does that look like? FREE TIME!
The "Structure time" is just for the parents so that they are not running errands and asking the kids to babysit or do chores. They are to keep the children free during that time. Their free time is the same thing as their school time because children learn from play. The play turns into learning (or what you might call school) on its own as the child develops. They turn it into learning--not you.
This is where many people misunderstand TJed and short-change themselves and their children on the magic of "inspire not require." The instant you structure school time for the children (instead of just for yourself to keep their schedule free) you ruin the chance for them to fall in love with learning because we do not fall in love with things that are pushed on us. We fall in love with things that we discover on our own, that capture our hearts, and steal us away...this is how love feels.
Many parents think that their children are in love of learning because the kind of like learning, when they are really still in core phase. I would like to emphasize something here from the ebook: The way to tell what phase a child is in is by spying on them during their free time and noticing what they choose to do: Play= Core Phase. Read= Love of Learning. Study=Scholar Phase. I don't mean spy on them during their "school time" that you put them up to. I mean spy on them in their "free time."
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Question #10: What does family work look like?
Answer: In Little House on the Prairie, Ma's morning routine included grooming, breakfast, dishes, and morning chores to put the house in order for the day. Then the work assigned to that day would begin (we call this family work). I love this model because the morning routine puts the house in order every single day. That way each day is begun with the refreshing feeling of having everyone and everything shiny clean. Bear in mind that this happens in the early morning. Ma wasn't cleaning up until lunch time. She was putting the house in order for the day in the early morning, and then spending the bulk of the morning on the special work that belonged to that day.
In her world it included: Wash day, ironing day, mending day, churning day, scrubbing day, and baking day, (Sabbath rest). In our world it will look different, but the pattern is the important part because it is so productive. She was actually completing her tasks by noon, after which she would move on to more leisurely things. When I began doing this (fitting my important to-do's into the morning hours) a wonderful balance came into my life that felt so good and natural and productive, that I could never go back. Something in the pattern feels so right, it's almost as if that's what our bodies wanted to do all along: work hard in the morning, leisure in the afternoon, family bonding in the evening. Parents and children thrive in this cycle.
Also, Laura said that she and Mary always helped with the early morning chores, and that they helped as much as they could with the work for the day. She also mentions "We were always minding baby Carrie." I also follow this pattern by training up the little kids on early morning work first. Starting at about age 4 they can help make the beds and tidy the main rooms. As they get a little older they can shine the bathroom sink, dust the living room, sweep the mudroom, organize the shoes...all of the work (not deep cleaning) that needs to be done daily.
For the family work, I also follow Ma in that they help as much as they can, and some are often just minding the baby so that I can keep sewing, keep gardening, keep canning, etc. My first rule of thumb is The children help support the family work. This means that they help inasmuch as I believe they can really be helpful. On some projects, and with certain ages of children, that means they actually help. On others, the best help they can offer is to go play, and bring the little ones along. But they most definitely do not get to detract from the family work--they always support it.
My children 8 and up nearly always work all morning long. My six and 41/2 year olds always help with the family work that I think they can actually be helpful to. In our home they are always joining us on Laundry Day and Deep Cleaning Day. They rarely-never join in on baking day, because it is smoother without them and they play with the baby so well that it supports the family work. About the age that I begin to feel that my 6 year old can really take over a baking task, I will begin to include her regularly on baking day. However, whenever I have a task that comes up that she can help with, I call her away from her play and she joins in.
When I first began family work it was a bit of a disaster because I thought that we would just all work together in perfect harmony. I did not realize that each child needed to be trained with me, then near me, then let go on their own. After a few weeks of chaos, i realized my second rule of thumb for family work: I only train one child at a time. At first, this meant that my perfectly capable 7 1/2 year old boy had to go play instead of help so that I could teach my 8 year old daughter one-on-one. Then she had to go play while I taught my son one on one. After a few weeks of this, they both became efficient in most of the common family work, and now I am able to get more done by utilizing both of them during the whole morning. Now that they are able to carry out any of our family work without supervision, I am able to call my 6 year old over any time I come across a task that she can help me with (like chopping a cucumber or getting beans ready to soak) and really focus on training her one on one in an orderly manner.
Although the amount of work for the children younger than eight varies from age to age and from task to task, I feel that it is very important to the development of the children eight and older (not including scholars) that they spend the whole morning working. I see a direct link between their family work and their ability to fall in love with learning. I also see a direct link between their family work and the development of their good character.
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Question #11: What does your day look like?
A day in the life
1. Early Morning: this is general and will be different in every family. Every detail
may not be important, but give attention to the whole picture.
a. Core Phase
i. Groom, read from family core book (like scriptures), family meal,
morning chores (with Mom), kid-school or story time
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Same as Core Phase, except that children around age 8 may do
their morning chores independently of Mom
c. Scholar Phase
i. Groom, family core book, eat, begin studying
2. Morning: Large chunk of morning time
a. Core Phase
i. Unstructured free-time, Helping Mom with projects or minding the
little children while Mom works on projects. This all depends on
the child's age and capabilities, but either way, the child's activities
during this time SUPPORT--not detract from the parents projects.
The children's "agenda" bows to the family's needs (the Mother
and Father's projects) during this time, not the other way around
(not the family's needs--or Mom and Dad's projects--bowing to the
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Structured time: Helping Mom with projects or "to do's" for the
day. We call this FAMILY WORK, but it may just be minding the
younger children while the parents keep working. The children are
only involved in it inasmuch as they can be useful. However, they
are almost always very useful because in a family setting, Dad is
usually at work and there is much physical work in the day that
must be accomplished in order to keep the family running
smoothly. These children can learn to do this work independently
if they are mentored one on one from Mom first. As the children
work beside their parents day after day they learn, over the years to
become the parents. We do not worry about infringing upon these
Love of Learner's precious morning time, because the training they
receive during these morning hours is invaluable and can only
enhance their education. Their free-time in the afternoon will be
richer because of it. For example, what mother would let their love
of learner go in the kitchen and bake something during their free-
time, if they hadn't been previously trained how to properly do it?
Also, by the children becoming perfected at this early age in the
arts of childcare, cooking, mending, laundry, cleaning, gardening,
yard work, etc., we as parents can feel good about allowing our
teenage scholars to study 8-12 hours per day, because we won't be
anxious that they learn some basic life skills---they will have
already mastered them before they reach scholar phase. We also do
not worry about training our boys in the basic life skills which
many might call "women's work", because they will surely need
these skills if they are to ever leave home successfully.
c. Scholar Phase
3. Lunch: Meal time and cleanup
a. Core Phase
i. Formal sit down meal and cleanup chores with Mom
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Formal sit down meal and cleanup chores with or without Mom
c. Scholar Phase
i. Study, eat, study
4. Afternoon: Large chunk of afternoon time
a. Core Phase
i. Unstructured free-time, usually playing pretend
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Unstructured free-time, usually reading or doing other "real"
c. Scholar Phase
5. Dinner: Evening meal and cleanup
a. Core Phase
i. Formal sit down meal and cleanup chores with Mom
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Formal sit down meal and cleanup chores with or without Mom
c. Scholar Phase
i. Study, eat, study
6. Evening: Evening family time
a. Core Phase
i. Anything fun as a family and as directed by the parents: reading
stories together, taking walks, singing songs, cultural activities:
plays, musicals, ballets...or maybe the parents just sit and visit,
and the children listen or play.
b. Love of Learning Phase
i. Anything fun as a family and as directed by the parents: reading
stories together, taking walks, singing songs, cultural activities:
plays, musicals, ballets...or maybe the parents just sit and visit,
and the children listen or play.
c. Scholar Phase
i. May join family or continue studying
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Question #12: What are the plain & lifeless toys that are good for children?
Answer: The rule of thumb is anything a child can morph into countless scenarios: rope, blanket, dolls, stuffed animals simple button-less plane’s, train’s and cars.
Rule of thumb number two is have very few of these.
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Question #13: Do you use a TJED Closet?
Answer: I used to utilize a TJed closet, until I realized that everything worked better in its natural place in our home, rather than all collected together in a closet in the same room that children were trying to read in. When I first began experimenting with leadership education, I believed I was home schooling--just in a much different way. Now I feel that I am not home-schooling. I'm just running a home, period the end.
In a home, when little children play, they make noise. I don't allow them to make much noise, but they definitely need to make sounds and dialogue as they reenact the stories floating around in their heads. If they are going to make these sounds, the Love of Learner's will be quite disrupted and feel like going somewhere else. I don't want them to go somewhere else until they are in scholar phase because the whole idea of keeping the books in the family room instead of all shut up in a library, was that the books were meant to be integrated into normal family life. If they are to be a part of every day life, they must be accessible in an inviting place. The family room is not very inviting when there are toys underfoot. Thus, I would rather let the little children play in a play room where they can build time machines and travel to china while the living area remains peaceful.
The pens and pencils just belong where pens and pencils naturally belong. Everything goes where it would normally go for my convenience. The more orderly, the better. Children thrive on order. This is part of the art of creating an enriching environment. They also learn such wonderful manners when they have to keep their voices down in the regular living area. They do not have to be perfectly quiet in this area (like they would if a scholar were studying), they just need to be peaceful and polite, and mostly quiet for enriched living to go on all around them. The scholars may go away into the library or somewhere else because their level of studying is really not conducive to "living" going on all around them.
Keeping the play in the playroom or outside also provides a wonderful atmosphere for the children who are concentrating on making a new recipe or being trained on a new task. All of the "real life" activities/projects go more smoothly when people can concentrate or carry on a civilized conversation while they work.
It also makes it easier to have company. We had 20 children in our home last month for a quilting circle. We mothers and older daughters who carried on a peaceful conversation in the living room (our TJed room) while the children played in the playroom and outside. It did not feel or sound like 20 children were in my house. This, I believe, was due to the setup (play room for toys, living room for real life) and also to the lack of messy wrong-headgate toys.
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Question #14: What do your children do while you read aloud to them? My children are used to coloring quietly while I read aloud. What does it look like at your home?
Answer: When I read to the children we are almost always sitting on the couch in our front room (which is our family room, living room, and music room combined). They are never required to come, but if they choose to come, they must be polite and perfectly quiet or they are asked to go into the playroom to play.
I don't know that there is necessarily anything wrong with them coloring while you read. I choose to require the high standard of manners because I am truly reading right on their level and right to them. I do 3 different kidschools each day because I am catering to 3 very different levels of understanding.
My 9 year old has no interest in what I am reading to my 8 year old because she has already read all of the books I choose to read him. Whenever I buy a new one to begin, she takes it and reads it within a few days. Because of this, I've started reading more advanced books to her, looking for something to interest her that she may have not discovered on the bookshelves yet (This week was “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court”).
After she is exposed to and inspired by the new book, she takes it and reads it in her free time, and I am left to find something else to begin for kidschool. When I find something and begin it, I will have limited time to read it to her because as soon as she finishes the last one, she'll probably take the new one and eat it up as well.
If I were to combine thier kidschools and just read her book to both of them, my 8 year old wouldn't understand it. His vocabulary is not developed enough. If I were to invite my 6 year old to attend they 8 year old's kidschool (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, unabridged) she would also not be able to follow even one paragraph. She gets her own in combination with our 4 year old (Little House on the Prairie).
Each kidschool lasts 20 minutes, making kidschool 1 hour total. We always start with a hymn and a prayer, then the little kids get 10 minutes of little kid scripture stories, and 10 minutes of a classic. They run off to play and I call my 8 year old. He and my 9 year old daughter get the real scriptures (combined) for about 10 minutes, then he gets about 15 minutes of a classic. My daughter then gets about 15 minutes from another classic.
I absolutely love connecting with them. I read to them on their levels of understanding. This is why it is so fun. They get so much out of their 20 minutes and I come away with an inexplicable high from having met them where they were and walked them a mile or two further. It feels so good. It is far more fun than doing school. It is so much more fun than playing "teacher". I invite all of you readers who do some kind of school time to give it up and try this...let Laura Ingalls, Jules Verne, and Mark Twain be their teachers--they know some things that you do not know. They know lots of things that ABEKA doesn't know.
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Question #15: My husband helps with some laundry and dinner dishes. Is this wrong?
Answer: It goes against natural law. Whenever you are obedient to natural law, you reap the positive consequences associated with that law. Whenever you are disobedient, you reap the negative ones. By giving your husband part of your feminine role, you simply short-change yourself on an added measure of joy you might have otherwise experienced. Natural law is what it is whether or not we are aware of or even agree with it. For further reading on the laws that govern masculinity and feminity, see the appendix of the ebook "Headgates".
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Question #16: Do you go to the library or just buy your books?
Answer: I have found that the library is most beneficial to scholars who can go there with purpose and on their own accord. I use our library minimally for my daughter who is already deep into love of learning and only then with many rules attached.
Every book must meet my standards before it is allowed in my home, and that takes a fair amount of supervision at the library. This is hard to do with 5 children, including a baby. It is much easier for me to look at a list of great classics, order them used online for a good price, and have them arrive on my doorstep the next week, while continuing my regular schedule all the while.
In general, I like the children to make choices between the books that we have provided for them. I do not like to include them in my job of deciding which books to provide for them. Also, we love to own our books so that the children grow up with them and know them, their feel, their look, their smell.
If I could not afford to purchase books, I think I could have great success with the library if I would just go there once a month by myself and pick out all the books I would like to provide for my children.
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Question #17: Do you feel that children with ADHD or Dyslexia, or anything else should be home schooled in this same way?
Answer: I am not familiar with dyslexia and cannot advise someone with a child with it, however I am sure there are sources you could use to help.
As for ADHD, I don’t think it exists in the sense that it is generally prescribed. I think it is a product of being raised in a headgate home and society. My husband’s partner is a clinical psychologist and wrote his doctoral dissertation on ADHD. He believes that it is caused from a public school setting, whether at school or home. He also believes that it is heavily over diagnosed
As I have observed children, EVERY child that is in core or lover of learning will flit around to many activities. When forced to pay attention and they struggle, we often throw up our hand, diagnose ADHD and begin to medicate. This is normal behavior.
Having said that, when we removed the wrong headgates from the lives of our children, they could spend hours of focused play that in turn lead to hours of love of learning.
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Question #18: You mentioned how well your daughter spells and how good her grammar is. If your other children are not so inclined, will you do little lessons later in love of learning or work on it in Scholar phase?
Answer: When my other children are truly in love of learning for real, I will know it because they will be devouring books as fast as they can. When they are doing this, they will be in the process (automatically) of perfecting their spelling and grammar.
As far as scholar phase goes, they will never get to scholar phase until they do perfect those skills through a proper love of learning phase. I do not "work on" things with them. I teach the initial lesson (refer to lessons and application in the ebook). They work on the skills (accidentally) when they are enjoying book after book.
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Question #19: How do you best deal with family members (i.e. parents and other extended familiy) who disagree with your method for your children’s education?
Answer: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
At first we had family who was concerned at our choice of education. It seemed un-orthodox and banal. However, as time passed and they observed how well educated and confident our children were, their concern shifted toward praise.
Now many of our family members are familiar with TJED and love the principles of this type of education.
Remember, that what you do in your home is up to you, it is your stewardship, but keep in mind it is also never beneficial it to alienate family.
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Question #20: My children love to play music to listen to like primary songs, safety kids, joy school, etc. Is this a wrong headgate?
Answer: I love music in creating an enriching environment for my children, however the privilege of choosing the music, we reserve for the parents. The insta-result from the music player acts as a wrong headgate (refer to headgate questions #1 in the ebook.) Also, in order to have a house of order, I feel I must control the atmosphere by deciding when and what music to play.
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Question #21: When I downsize the collection of toys with parts and pieces, my children just find other things to build huts with like spoons and pots and pans, throw away junk.
Answer: Building forts and playing house is such a big part of children's playtime. They must do it somewhere and with something. I like to provide them with a playroom to play in and some blankets and ropes that are for play, which do not belong on their beds. They make forts all over the playroom and the back yard to their hearts' content...but never more than one or two at a time because the number of ropes and blankets remains very minimal.
As part of closing the headgates, I never allow the children to bring new toys into the home. I choose the toys, they choose what they will make-believe with the ones I provide. Thus I never allow them to take my spoons, pots, ponytails, rags, or anything that is not a toy. Dirt and trees are fair game.
Bike: Love it as long as they don't leave the property.
Swingset: Love it.
Trampoline: Seems great as long as it does not require lots of monitoring.
Boardgames: Too scripted, too messy, too breakable/losable, too many rules attatched. (May be a part of family bonding time if there is a special family favorite, but not part of kid's free time.
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Question #22: Do your children "own" toys? Do you give them toys for gifts (birthday’s, Christmas, etc.) Do they keep personal toys in their room or playroom?
Answer: We do give our children toys for birthdays or Christmas gifts if it is something we don't yet own that we think would be a great addition. Right now we needn’t any toys so the last birthday we did was filled with clothes.
Two years ago, when our children did not have the simple and lovely life that they have now, these clothes would have been seen as very boring gifts. But last month when we gave them, our 6 year old daughter was just beaming from ear to ear.
Books will probably become the most common gift in our home, I am sure. Also, useful things that are not toys like hair ribbons, a nice blanket for a child's bed, a doily for their dresser, a new sketch pad or notepad, a pair of snow gloves, some material for sewing, needles, sewing scissors, yew yarn for crocheting, a round loom, a new tie, some church shoes, etc.
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Question #23: Any suggestions about how to go about removing those toys from my house that belong to a particular child, while still respecting personal property?
Answer: Because all of our toys belong in the playroom, it is easier to purge. I usually say something like this. "I know this may be hard for you because you love this set of 6,000 train tracks, however, I have decided that these are not the kind of toys we are going to keep in our home now. We are going to keep this other kind over here."
If they want to argue, I send them away. If they want to discuss it, I tell them that I will discuss it with them after they've obeyed me and helped me load them up. Then I discuss as much detail with them as I feel comfortable. I don't tell them that this will help them love reading more because I want the beauty of great books to catch them by surprise. I don't want them to feel pushed into it. I just say the simple version that has more to do with mothering than with education: "I just like the simple toys that don't make much mess, that you can take outside and up the tree, and on as many grand adventures as you can think of. I just feel better as a mother with those kinds of toys."
Who can argue with "I just feel better about..."? I always let them know that they may not decide which toys we keep, but they may decide what they will play with the toys we already have. The program "Love and Logic" can help with these communication skills, but beware of some of their "cheesy" lingo. I love the principles of Love and Logic and have found them to be sound principles, but I rarely ever say or do their specific examples.
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Question #24: I have 10 children (ages 14-1) would you recommend any adjustments to your recommendations for the amount of toys in our home?
Answer: The exact number of toys is not important. What is important is that they are the right kind, and that to the mother, they feel like they are few. This will change depending on the size of your home (actually, probably depending more on the size of your playroom). Our home and playroom are relatively small, so if we get a few too many toys, we really feel it. In a larger home/playroom, maybe a few more would be fine. Each mother can decide for herself.
One thing that helps me decide how many toys is too much, is to walk into the playroom when all of the toys are out. Usually when a group of children play for a while, nearly all of the toys end up spread across the floor. I like to own just enough toys so that when this spreading occurs, it is still a nice inviting place to play and clean. If I walk in and notice that there is nowhere to step, then I know I have too many.
In the ebook, 12-15 toys was just an example. Most people have hundreds of toys. 10 might be fine for a small family, and maybe 30 or 40 would be fine for a larger family. It depends on the feeling that the mother gets when she really thinks about it.
I would like to add here, that there is one "set" of toys that I like. Remember on the questions to determining right & wrong headgates, that the toys belonging to sets was one way to identify if they were "creative" toys that would not promote creativity. The sets themselves were not the wrong part. The wrong part was the kind of toy. Nearly all sets of toys are wrong headgates, so the "sets and parts and pieces" is a good way to help someone identify these wrong headgates toys. The one set, however, that I like is a set of plain blocks, as long as there are not too many. I like these blocks because they do not hook together. When the child builds something, it soon falls down, and they do not get the "finished product" thrill that they get from legos and lincoln logs. It is also cute to see the many things that they turn the blocks into. We downsized the blocks from about 100 to 20. I have about 20 toys plus the 20 wooden blocks.
There are many kinds of right headgates toys, but my favorite are the ones that invite the children to play house. I like to see few feminine "mommy" things and a few masculine "daddy" things.
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Question #25: Do you have any baby toys in your home for your infants?
Answer: I have a bag of baby toys that I keep tucked away in our storage room until I have a new baby about the age of 5 months that is learning to hold things. I feel that these are best if they are not a part of the toy collection, but rather tools that I get out, 1 or 2 or 3 at a time to bring in the car, or to church, or to give the baby at certain times when a new shape or color is needed.
Once they are past that stage, and would actually crawl into the play room and look for something to do, I think my regular toys are fine. I have also noticed that my babies quickly get bored with my little baby toys after a couple of months.
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Question #26: Do your kids ever get vacation?
Answer: My children who have fallen in love with learning voluntarily spend their free time reading. This means that they do it when they are free to do whatever they want to do. This is vacation. Everyday is vacation at our house! They are FREE all afternoon every single day of the week, and they choose it because they love it. This is what love of learning looks like.
My children who have not yet fallen in love with learning voluntarily spend their free playing (of course). This means that they play when they are free to do whatever they want to do. This is also vacation--everyday! These core phasers are also free all afternoon every single day of the week, and they choose to play. This is what core phase looks like.
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Question #27: When you are training your children to work, you mentioned that you train them one at a time. Do you make sure they each get some training each day, or do you train one child one day and another the next?
Answer: Training the children to work.
It only takes about a week to train a child to work when using the system I described earlier (work with, work near, work alone). When I first trained my children, I had to accept the fact that even though my younger ones could work, they were going to have to just go play for a couple of weeks while I trained my older ones one at a time.
It made me a little sick to see able bodied children playing during work time, but I felt I had to do it so that the older ones could be trained one on one. One on one teaching is so effective compared to delegating to a child who has not been trained. Many mishaps are avoided just by simply working with them for a few days, then near them, and then sending them off to obey and return and report on their own (with a consequence attached, should they forget, might I add--this is how they learn).
After the oldest is properly trained (about 1 week) then you can lessen your workload by sending them off to work and training the next oldest one on one. The next week you can move to the next oldest, and so on. Before you know it, everything will be working like clockwork, and the only ones you will still need to work near are the 6 and 7 year olds. The only ones you will need to work with are the 4 and 5 year olds. Once everything is running smoothly, sometimes the younger children will catch on to the fact that the older ones get to work alone, unsupervised and undirected. They may ask to have that privilege. I always tell them that they may have that privilege on their next job if they can show me that on their current job they are able to complete it without stopping for interruptions. If they can then they get to go try their next job away from me. Just this week my brand new worker (4 1/2) so desperately wanted to take his laundry upstairs and fold it near his sister (9). I divided his little towel pile in half and let him try. He completed it perfectly with no interruptions and then got to take his other half pile upstairs. If he had blown it upstairs, then the next time he asked for the privilege, he would not get it right off the bat. He would have to prove himself again before I would allow the freedom.
My 6 year old now does many of her jobs away from me as well, just because of the repetition week after week. She's developing the habit of working without distraction, even though she is too young to be held accountable for avoiding distractions during work time.
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Question #28: All children have special treasures - be it a special stuffed animal, a necklace or a letter from a loved one. Do they keep these things tucked away from their younger siblings? How do you apply "ownership" in this lifestyle?
Answer: Because I like to keep everything clean and simple, if their treasures are made of paper (like a special birthday card or letter), they go in a little tote downstairs where they can be saved for memories. Maybe we'll save them in a binder someday, or maybe they'll take their little tote of special memories when they move out. Either way, they are not a part of their daily lives, unless they fit into daily life. Loose papers do not fit well into our daily lives because they take up space and clutter up our time, which means more time managing our stuff and less time being together. Since our work comes before our play, this usually steals from our free time or our evening family time before bed.
If they have a special necklace, I usually keep it up in a safe place for them and they get it out on special occasions, or if they are old enough and want to guard it themselves, they may keep it in a jewelry box in their room. Because my children are quite young, they know if they choose to guard it themselves, their baby brother just might find and break it, so they usually ask me to keep it in my jewelry box.
If they have a special toy, I let them decide what that means to them, and how they will handle it themselves. If I get involved and back them up, keeping others away from their special toy, I not only waste my time, but I find that selfishness reigns because they are always thinking in terms of "mine".
When I let them carry the full weight of their decision to keep their toy special and away from everyone else, it wastes their precious time, and consequently over time they usually always decide that it is not worth it, and it gradually finds its way into the family toy collection. Then selflessness reigns and the children see the toys as everyone's. This is not because I am making them give up all sense of ownership. They are choosing it themselves because I refuse to play policeman and back them up and they do too.
They don't really care enough about those belongings to shelter them. But they care a lot about them if I am willing to shelter them.
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Question #29: My 2 & 4-year-olds will not be home schooled; do you think your principles can still apply in the short time I have them at home all to myself before they go to school?
Answer: Yes, I do. I think that there is value in regular school. And I bet they would be much more likely to find that value and appreciate it and seek after it perpetually once they are old enough, if they have been reared in a natural environment.
Many of our founding fathers and other "greats" went to schools at about the age of 7 which, although they were very different from our schools today, did not follow the "inspire not require" model for reading, writing, and arithmetic. These men got more of their classical education when they were older. It still worked for them. However, they lived in a virtually headgate-free world.
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Question #30: Now that the most of the toys are gone my three year old is into everything! I have spent the weekend cleaning up his adventures in makeup, kitty litter, dumping drawers, etc. What suggestions do you have for these little guys?
Answer: Once he knows that those other things are not options, he will begin progressing in the things which are available to him. You don’t have to provide activities for him to keep him busy. He will come up with them on his own, using whatever is available.
Teaching him that those things are not options is the challenging part. But as his mother, you have the gifts to do that. I have gained an understanding of a few very sound principles from the Love and Logic program/tapes/book that have helped me with teaching obedience and responsibility in an agency-based environment. But, like I have stated earlier, I care for very few of “Love and Logic’s” actual examples that they have provided. If you will sift through their stuff, looking for the principles they are teaching, keeping your truth-meter turned all the way up, you may find some great truths at their core.
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Question #31: Have you read John Holt’s How Children Learn? His ideas about how children need to play with materials, like art supplies, for a long time before they use them in the way they were meant to. Is your philosophy at odds with this idea?
Answer: I have not read John Holt's "How children learn". I do, however remember a few years ago, when I used to think that just because little two year olds could color that I ought to let them color. I would let my two-year-old color, and it always turned out to be disastrous...unless I was supervising his every move. But then I felt like I wasn't living--just babysitting. He seemed to want to play with the crayons more than color with them (like you are saying). It was very stressful, but I guess I just thought I had to let him because either it wouldn't be fair since the other kids were coloring. I thought that he needed that artistic experience.
Finally one day I decided that I did not have to allow him to color. Just like he wasn't allowed to play the piano keys, or get into the knives or the cleaners or any number of things, he could also learn that the toys and the nature in the backyard were his domain. As soon as I did this, my life got so much easier. I could be a happier mom because I didn't have to devote so many brain cells to babysitting.
With toys to play with, minimal supervision was required, and I could think about other important things like teaching the children manners, obedience, cooking good nutritious meals, etc. Now in hindsight, I see that little children thrive on play--pretend play. Later on they become ready for real things: real drawing, real piano playing, real knitting, real reading, real baking. But at first it is just best to let them pretend they are doing those real things.
I do not believe that they should be allowed to play with the crayons, the piano, the knitting needles, the books, or the kitchen supplies, while they are still young and pretending. They may get all that preparatory pretending out on harmless little objects called toys.
So yes, they do need pretend and play first, but I do not believe that they need it with valuable real objects or tools. I have not found them to need to necessarily use these objects for their play in order to begin using them for real later on. I have seen them use toys for their play, and then move right into the real things when their age and phase are advanced enough. But I imagine, that if someone was trying to get young children who really ought to be playing pretend to engage in these real activities at too early an age when they are really not ready, they would need to set up some artificial scenario for the children, like letting them play with the real tools for their pretend play, and then moving them prematurely on to the real use of the tools. I think this is some of the logic behind the Suzuki method, when used on young children (I love the method for children who are old enough and ready, or in the right phase).
Personally, I don't feel good when I see those little Asian children (still core phasers) on youtube playing the piano like professionals. I love "inspire not require" but that seems like unnatural manipulation. I have a hard time believing that is what those children's hearts are leading them to do. From what I have learned about it, the parents bend over backwards walking them through every step of the way, in order to get them in on it early. I call this grooming--brainwashing even. I think they would be happier and more well adjusted if they could just do what they want to do each day, within the bounds the parents set, and in the most natural setting of all (headgate free). Then let those Mozarts come out of the woodwork when they are ready, and not at the risk of their emotional well being.
From the results I have seen in my own home, the natural setting also yields results that blow us parents out of the water, but with very little effort (this way the parents can remain progressing as individuals), and with no brainwashing at all (this way the children are not made into projects). In my experience, the enriching house of order brings about the perfect balance between that age-old debate of nature vs. nurture. In this environment both are respected and manifested.
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Question #32: What about social events, family gatherings, church functions, and friend's houses? There are so many headgates wide open in these situations. What do you do?
Answer: We never try to control them and how they choose to live, but we decide how often we will attend. Now that we are mindful of the principles, we just watch and try to be wise. We don't want to boycott everything. We love family, church, and community. We have to play each move by ear though. If we have a child right on the brink of falling in love with learning, who is the right age for it and showing all the signs of it, we may stay home more during those weeks or months until it takes root.
Also, as a rule of thumb, we like to have a simple, stable home life and we never like to plan to attend too many things close together. We have had great success discussing our priorities and our weekly schedule each Sunday night, as a couple, at our "executive council." (We got this idea from one of the DeMilles publications). When we sit down and discuss each move, we feel in control of our schedule, rather than our schedule in control of us.
I don't believe that periodic trips to friend's and family's homes can drain the "water". But I do believe that visiting too frequently can, depending upon the environment.
Also, please see the question on the FAQ concerning scouts and other clubs for more info.
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Question #33: You mentioned in your e-book that you teach your children, when they ask for it, out of the Dick and Jane books. What other early readers do you use for teaching reading? What books do you have in your home currently they can practice reading in? Many people use Magic Tree House, Magic School Bus, The Illustrated Classics, and the Box Car Children? How do you feel about these book designed to build fluency and also expose them to the great classics to read later one?
Answer: I have found that what motivates children to want to keep turning pages, is both the quality of the story and the fact that they can conquer it without too much trouble. I have tried a few early readers, but have found them usually to be too boring to keep the children's interest. Dick and Jane were different for my children, I think because the little adventures that the children in the stories were having were so real-life and captivating to my kids. After that, I chose a few of our children's books that were harder but still interesting, such as "Are you my Mother?" and the Little House on the Prairie picture books that contain the actual dialogue from Laura Ingalls' books but they are short little picture books. I also use nursery rhymes, bedtime story collections, Little Golden Books, little children's bible stories. After that, I would just let them choose from among any of our children's books.
I don't care for the Illustrated Classics set, because I find that the content is shallow. I like the real classics. If they can't read them yet, I like to let them read other original works that are just easier--yet still high quality. I also don't care for any brain-candy books that just stimulate the senses while not providing great nourishment to the mind and heart. I think they can be a source of wrong headgates for the children. Some people like to give their children these books to ease them into harder reading later. I like to give them high quality from the beginning, and let them increase the level of difficulty as they grow and improve.
One interesting thing that I noticed is that when I taught my children on the Dick and Jane books, they did not need to repeat or practice in order to improve during the lessons. They just had to keep turning pages because each page is really a review of the page before, just with the words in a different order. But when I taught my third child to read, she started with a Little Golden Book of Bible stories. Almost none of the words repeated, so in order to improve, she had to practice each sentence on her own, after I taught it to her, and then come back and show me that it was right. I would help her out in the middle of this whenever she got stuck. She was used to the return and report method from her chores. She learned to read faster than my first two. Some children might not like the method where they have to practice. Technically, practicing follows the scholar model, but I think this daughter just thought of it as a wonderful privilege to be allowed this reading lesson, and was happy to comply to anything. To her is was like a game, but a very grown-up game. This is the sort of attitude I am seeing over and over again raising children in this type of environment.
The beauty of the Dick and Jane books is that they don't have to practice because each page is practice. The beauty of the other storybooks is that they are often more interesting to the children. I don't know which way is best or if there is a way that is best. But maybe just being aware of these two very different styles, you can think about what would be best for your children. Or better yet, maybe you can ask them what they would like the best. Either way, I do believe that it is imperative that the quality of the story is high, and that the children love it and are allowed to switch books at any time during the lesson.
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Question #34: What games to you consider the “best”? Do you have a specific time that certain games can only be played?
Answer: We use our games for family activities or family parties. We do not make them available to the children as toys or activities that they may choose from. We let them use only toys or real life useful activities--nothing in between. That way they can either stay little, or grow up, or choose a little of both, but never have activities inviting them to remain little any longer than necessary.
A rule of thumb that I like to follow when choosing which games to keep around is "Is it something that the adults really enjoy?" If it is, I keep it and let the children watch us playing it with friends or extended family at holidays/parties, until they are old enough to join us. I do not provide any games just for the kids' sakes. If they are too young to understand and participate in the adults' game, they may go play pretend with the cousins, make up plays, play games that do not require supplies (like hide and seek, London bridges, etc). But if they are to participate in the games they must rise to the level first. This invites them to stay little if they are little, and to grow if they are ready to grow.
The only game I can think of that I might leave out and available to children that are old enough to play it correctly is chess. The pieces are not much neater than rocks and sticks, and the thrill is obtained after many minutes of deep thinking and planning. It is slow and not stimulating enough to serve as a wrong headgate to children who might learn how to play it correctly. It would not be available to children to play with as a toy. It would have strict rules attached to it.
Because of the small size of my living room, I do not leave a chess set out. Because of this, I have not had to deal with deciding parameters that I would put on it. I think, though, that I might make it only available to Love of Learners and above.
One of our family favorites is Balderdash. We aren't huge game players, so I just don't have a lot of examples to give. But I think that the most important point is that the adults love it, and the kids can then follow in their footsteps.
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Question #35: When you read to your children are you only reading classic fiction or do you sometimes try to inspire them with something from history, science etc?
Answer: My rule of thumb is to inspire using classics. A classic, according to the DeMille's, is any book worth reading over and over again. I use stories 99% of the time. They seem to be usually the most captivating. I just use the children's interest and my feeling as my gauges. Every once in a while, an informational book comes along that is not in story form, and I just think it would be so interesting to one particular child or another. When this happens, I inspire with it during kidschool because my purpose in kidschool is to expose my children to anything and everything I can find that is of great worth. I'm hoping to show them something they might not have known was out there, that they may want to read on their own someday.
I think that probably children deep into love of learning might be more interested in informational books than core phasers because core phasers are so interested in values like right and wrong, good and bad, etc.
Also, when a child is in core phase, regardless of their age, they have probably not yet developed their reading skills to such a level as to be able to understand many informational books (unless these books are watered down). They probably need to read hundreds of stories before they can go very far into informational books.
Also, because I know that scholar phase is the time that they will master the different subjects, and that core is for mastering the values, I don't put any effort into exposing them to different subjects. I only throw one in here or there when I think that a particular child will just love it. But I am purposely exposing them to stories that teach values every day.
While I am exposing them to these great stories, there is a wealth of culture and history that they pick up on at the same time as the values. The younger children are usually more interested in the values, and the older ones more in the information.
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Question #36: When your children find a tangent they want to explore during your reading do you do it with them or tell them to go on their own?
Answer: If they were to get interested in some subject or tangent while I'm reading to them, or any other time of day as well, I would just listen to them express their desire to learn, validate that desire, and then work to make sure that we have the available books in the house for them to explore their tangent. I would not go get the books that day, but I would add them to my list.
I would never go exploring the tangent with them because I want them to seek things out by themselves. If they do not know how because they are too young, then I would rather they play pretend with their free time and look forward to the day that they have read so many stories that they can search out answers and information on their own and readily understand it.
Also, because I have never spoon-fed my children any information beyond a chapter or two of the book we are on, they aren't used to that pattern. They don't expect that I provide time in my day for helping them explore tangents. They do know, however, that at any time, they can express their interests and their passions to me, and that I will do everything in my power to provide them with the tools that will help them to develop those interests.
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Question #37: What is the difference between inspiring and spoon-feeding? I mean, if you are doing an activity with the kids that they are enjoying (but maybe didn't ask for) isn’t it a good thing to expose them to new things?
Answer: I would define inspiring as giving them a small, short taste of something that they could go do, and that I would allow them to do on their own. It's putting something in their head--a feeling or an idea or a love for something that they will draw from later, when they want to. These activities require very little investment for a huge return because for a few minutes of inspiring, the children can then go and enjoy or progress by themselves. Remember, inspiring is only causing them to want to learn something. Teaching them a lesson is when they actually learn that thing. (See the lesson and application section of headgates)
I would define spoon-feeding as doing activities with them (other than work and formal lessons or short inspiring kidschools) because they cannot do them on their own. These activities require yet more and more spoon-feeding as time goes on because the children cannot go pursue them alone. Teaching curriculums, concepts, and lessons day after day is spoon-feeding.
In a nutshell, the goal of inspiring is not to satiate their hunger for knowledge. It is to wet their whistle so that their hunger will grow. In my opinion, the goal of spoon-feeding is to satiate their hunger for knowledge by teaching them the things that they want to know. I like to give them a taste but never enough so that they are always wanting.
I would only inspire my children with an activity if it were something that they could then go and do or pursue without me, once they ask for a lesson and complete it, like reading, knitting, piano playing, or sewing. This is why I would only purposely inspire an older child to want to paint. The younger children would always need me to paint with them or to supervise them. They don't need 4 years of preparatory painting by mother's side in order to become painters. They can just watch mom, dad, or older kids paint, look forward to the day when they get to paint, and then paint when they are old enough to handle it on their own. It is the same with any other activity. They see it, then when they're ready, they learn it, then when they have learned the basics, they learn it further by practicing it.
So often in our kid-centered world of today, we do it backwards. We give away the priceless experience of actually doing the activity first, prematurely and much too cheaply. Then they need constant babysitting, plus they learn the spoon-feeding pattern instead of the natural pattern of listening to your conscience and directing your life accordingly. The science experiment books usually require some supervision too. I steer clear of anything like that. They can learn real science when they are old enough to read real science. I would never pull out bead-making-kits to try to teach them colors or patterns, or any other concept. They learn all of that from work and play. The activities I do with my children generally fall into one of five categories:
2. Kidschool (nearly always song, scripture stories and a classic)
3. Family bonding activities: These nearly always occur at night after dinner when we read, sing, take walks, play frisbee, dance, play catch, bat baseballs, etc. This usually lasts about 30 minutes. They also occur on certain saturdays when we go on hikes as a family, take bike rides, visit family and friends, swim in the river, go to the park, have a picnic.
4. Lessons: These are the formal lessons described in "Headgates." They are one on one and very structured. I am teaching them how to do something specific that they have asked for, like reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, crocheting, knitting, carving.
5. Things I am doing for me that also benefit them and that I allow them to come along to: This includes such activities as my quilting circle. Because I am doing it for me, my old enough and capable enough daughters are not required to help. Infact, they have never even wondered if they are required to help or learn because they have never seen it in that light. When they ask, I allow them to help, and because of this, it is a valued activity. They love to participate and the younger one looks forward to the day that she can do more.
In contrast, liberty girls, co-ops, kid clubs, and other kid-centered activities suggest to the children that there is something that they ought to be doing, and that the adults have come together to help make sure that it happens. This makes the activity cheaper as they no longer have to seek it out, but it is provided for them. It also makes it difficult for them to value it and/or fall in love with it. Often times in these settings, what the children really want to do is go play together. I would much rather have a play day once a month than one of these activities. This way they would be free to play right off the bat instead of finishing the assumed planned out agenda before running free to play.
I do agree with spoon-feeding when the child is deep into love of learning and wants to try out an activity that follows the scholar model of take and assignment, and return and report. These activities usually cost money and require commitment, and I am only willing to sign them up if they are already deep into love of learning. Music lessons are one of these. Dance lessons, scholar schools, each follow the scholar model because the child is no longer just happening upon an activity and freely learning, like they are when they read or knit (they are free during these to quit at no one's expense and are thus free to fall in love with it at their own pace and on their own time-table), but they are actually disciplining themselves to complete required assignments. I would never let a core phaser try this out, no matter how badly they wanted it. But I would allow a child in Love of Learning Phase (NOT AGE, BUT PHASE) to try out a scholarly activity. Please see the question about scouts, liberty girls, and music lessons for more details on this.
I want the children to value my time and to know that I value my time too. This is one reason why I do not do activities with them. By seeing their mother value her time, it will help them to value their time as well. Another reason I do not do activities with them is because I don't want to go backwards. I am not in core phase. I do my activities and I allow them to follow, join, or come along whenever they can and want to, and when I feel it's appropriate. I work on my own activities almost all day long, and the children help as much as they can with them all morning long. We call this family work. All afternoon I work on my more personal, more leisurely goals or activities that the children really wouldn't be able to help with, like reading, writing, email, researching, family history, or simply anything that I want to do that doesn't fall under the category of family work. These are usually my own personal interests, or things I need to learn that contribute to my roles as wife, mother.
I never just do activities with my children. I let them go do their own. This directing of their own free-time is very important, and it is not just so that I get more time in the day. I am deliberately setting up an environment where they direct their free-time so that they can be good at thinking for themselves. I want them to be familiar to that pattern when they are young and just playing all afternoon, so that when they get into love of learning phase, they will also follow that independent pattern with their reading and writing. I don't want them to read a book if I put them up to it. I want them to do it for fun in their free time and to be good at the pattern of recognizing how they feel, deciding what they want to do about it, and then doing it. This is called executive control.
Please see RESOURCES for a great article on executive control from NPR
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Question #38: What are your thoughts about teens emailing/chatting online with their friends? Is this a wrong headgate? I'm think that eventually email may become purposeful and necessary, but for younger teens is it a waste of time?
Answer: Yes, that is how I see it. I like to bring new tools into my children's lives when they are necessary. Once it becomes necessary, they can learn it in a jiffy with a whole bunch of "as long as" rules attached, just like the rules we attach to our blender, mixing bowl, and other tools. Many young scholars are using computers and email to communicate with their mentors and to send assignments. Perhaps the scholars need to be taught the principles regarding this powerful tool they will have at their fingertips. They can be taught how to use it as a tool and not a toy.
I feel that it is probably a question of phase and not age though. Many TJed families have scholar age children that are not actually in scholar phase. I would not allow a 16 year old core phaser any computer privileges. This is because of their phase and not their age. I imagine that when a young adult truly is in scholar phase, meaning that they voluntarily choose to devote their free- time (the time they are not spending on family chores and responsibilities) to vigorous studying under the direction of a mentor, something of a greater character and maturity takes over. Maybe then they can handle these powerful privileges. But then again, maybe not. Maybe they are allowed to use the computer for the mentor only...for a tool. Maybe they may socialize in person and not through email.
As the parent I would have to see how my heart feels, at that phase of their life and if they need to communicate with friends via internet, or if my heart feels that they would be using it as a toy.
I do not know exactly where I would draw the line because I do not have children in scholar phase yet, but I know that my core and love of learning children do not have the privilege of using the phone for their own personal needs. They instead use it when I give them permission for a certain reason that I deem necessary and appropriate. It's kind of like friend visiting privileges. They get to visit friends or have friends over when I have arranged it with other parents because we deem it necessary or appropriate, yet they do not get the privilege of directing that for their own personal use. I have imagined that these things will change when they are in scholar phase. I have imagined that they will pick up the phone and use it when they feel they need or want to. But remember, I am talking about phase and not age. I imagine that the computer privileges will also change with phase (not age), but I am not sure exactly how.
One thing that I am sure of, however, is that use of the computer in any way shape or form for a core phaser (regardless of age) would serve as a powerfully wrong headgate. My daughter who is deep into love of learning uses the computer for about 30 minutes each day because she is using Rosetta Stone to learn spanish. This is not a wrong headgate for her because she was already deep into love of learning before she began it. I would never offer a child Rosetta Stone privileges if they were in core phase--no matter how old they were, and no matter how much they wanted it because it would rear them in that unnatural push button world which would not prepare them for the world of reading. I would just give them simple work and play until they grow up. And then when they grow up, they would receive the computer privilege as a tool and as needed. They would not receive it as a toy.
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Question #39: I have been implementing the "Headgates" principles and my daughter has begun to choose to spend some of her free-time reading. However, with the newly arriving warm weather, she spends nearly all of her free-time running around outside, climbing trees, and playing in the sunshine. Could this be a wrong headgate? It seems so natural but it also seems to be such a distraction. Do you recommend I limit her outside time?
Answer: No, I do not recommend you limit her outside time. If she were deep into love of learning already, and not just mid-transition, she would likely spend a few days/weeks in the sun and then go back to her healthy balance of mostly reading with some playing or other activities. Because she is just transitioning into love of learning, she will likely be "distracted" by many things. These, in my opinion, are not really distractions. She is still in love with play, and will still choose it on and off until she is deep into love of learning. The sunshine, although a natural high, is a new and exciting one this time of year, and will likely be the cause of her being “off” of reading for a while. But because of her phase, this is natural. In other words, if it wasn't the sunshine, it would probably be something else. This is just how falling in love with learning happens: a little here and a little there until pretty soon it sticks. I too feel like leaving everything behind and spending the whole day in the sun when it first begins to appear.
I believe she is following an agenda in her subconscious, and she will progress along accordingly when the time is right. If her little mind and heart need 100 more hours of play until she is ready to slip into love of learning, then the quickest way to love of learning is through play. Attempting to limit her play by limiting her sunshine hours in order to channel her more towards books would be counter-productive. It would delay her arrival time into love of learning because it would slow her journey through core phase, which is the path to love of learning.
The key to headgates is not to watch out for any distractions and outlaw them. It is to watch out for any unnaturally stimulating distractions, or distractions that give away thrills too cheaply.
Another mother had the same experience when she pulled out the trampoline this Spring. All of her children, even her true love of learner dropped everything and devoted weeks to the trampoline. She assumed that it must be a wrong headgate. We discussed the questions used for identifying wrong headgates and found that the trampoline passed the test. Even though the trampoline was serving as a distraction in her mind to her children's progression, we determined that it was a healthy distraction, like unto eating or sleeping or grooming, because it was a thrill the children had to work for and it provided no unearned thrill of creation, etc.
At one point in our conversation she asked why the trampoline was any better than legos, when the legos don't seem to provide as much result as the bounce that the trampoline provides. I answered that the legos fall under a different category. They provide the thrill of uniform creation too cheaply. When a child makes a loaf of bread or knits a scarf, the end product looks quite real (because it is real) and it has near perfect form and feature. When they create a truck and camper out of the toys in the playroom, it looks like a mess—although to them it is imagined as lovely. I want their creations to look lovely when they have mastered certain arts and skills and earned the privilege of creating things that look lovely. When a child creates with legos, very real results appear with near perfect form and feature because the legos hook together perfectly. These results appear without the child mastering a skill or an art of any kind.
In conclusion, the many exciting activities that may “distract” a child from reading are, in my opinion, not distracting them at all as long as they are right headgates. They are simply helping them along toward love of learning as any other naturally stimulating toy or activity does.
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Question #40: In your book you stated that if a child chooses to spend their free-time playing then they are in core phase. What if my scholar (who I really believe is in scholar phase) chooses to at the end of the day when his studies are done to spend his free-time playing (running around with good friends playing things like airsoft?) Does this mean he is in core phase?
Answer: No, he is not in core phase. His free-time is the time that he is free to do what he chooses to do, rather than required to do family work or other family responsibilities. If you have taken many of those family chores and responsibilities away because he has entered scholar phase and has chosen to spend that time studying, then he is spending his free-time studying and is thus in scholar phase...that is if he voluntarily chose the scholar route. If he was pushed into it or required to do it, it will have to be determined if he is really in it or not. But if he is choosing to study in the hours that are not required work hours at home, and is fulfilling the assignments at the rate the mentor expects of him, voluntarily and without rewards or punishments, he is, in my opinion, a scholar.
That small amount of R&R that he takes at the end of the day is not what I call his free-time. That is like unto any little break that a scholar may take to eat, sleep, exercise, play an instrument, or just plain enjoy himself while his brain rests.
Whether or not you want to allow "Air Soft" toys to be choices of entertainment or toys in your home is another question entirely. It sounds like your son is already a scholar, but those kinds of toys may prove to be a wrong headgate for your other children, or even a great distraction to more fulfilling and beautiful hobbies such as art, music, etc.
I find nothing unrefined about running wild and playing--we do it frequently in the evenings with our children in the backyard. However, when I provide an instrument to assist in any "play" activity, it must pass the right/wrong headgate rules.
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Question #41: My daughter is always asking questions like: "What was the biggest tornado?" or "What do jellyfish eat?" In the past I have always dropped all I am doing and sat down with her and looked them up on the internet or find books at the library. She is still in core phase. I don't have books on these topics. Please share your suggestions.
Answer: This happens in our home too. I usually say something like "That is a great question. I do not know the answer, but I know there are many books that teach about jelly fish and tornados and any other subject. We can learn about anything that we want to learn about when we are ready to. Are you interested in books that have to do with those subjects? I will keep that in mind the next time I am out shopping for books. And if you think of any other kinds of books you are interested in, you can tell me about them any time and I'll keep a little list of them in my purse." Sometimes I take the opportunity to tell them something neat I've been learning from the books I'm reading--if I can say it on their level, and if I think it will interest them. This kind-of says to them "I'm finding out what I want to know from books and it's really fun. You can try it to when you are ready" (without my actually saying it).
This way they never get spoon-fed. They know that the little kidschool stories and bedtime stories come almost every day, but beyond that, if there is anything in this life they want to know about, they're going to have to figure out how to get it themselves. I never say this, however it is understood as the underlying message, each time they approach me for spoon-feeding. This idea of them getting it themselves is not too far-fetched or out of reach for them. They know they can't get it that very day, but they understand that they someday will because if Mom can do it, they know they can too...eventually. I basically love and encourage their curiosity, show by example how I learn from books, and then just let them play play play until they are ready to follow in my footsteps.
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Question #42: When the children ask for a basic math lesson, how do you teach that? Do you use a simple addition worksheet for practice?
Answer: My main goal in teaching them the math lesson is to connect right with them and to get them to understand the concept in their minds and on their own level. I do it a little differently for each child because I know how each child thinks. I ask myself, "What will I say so that this child can comprehend the idea of adding?" Perhaps I will get out some dried beans and show them physically. Maybe I will get out a paper and draw circles, or maybe I will just write it out as it is written on worksheets, explaining all the while what each symbol means. I find that it doesn't matter as long as they understand, because this is something they will mostly use in their minds and expand in (on paper) later on in scholar phase. Once I feel that they understand how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, I consider the lessons complete. It usually takes a few days to a few weeks depending on the child.
Also, I think it is interesting to note, that the longer we do "family work", which takes place almost all morning long with children working alongside me, I am finding that they are already perfecting these arithmetic concepts at the level I was going to teach them on when they ask. One example of this in its beginning stage is my little 4 1/2 year old boy. One of his morning jobs each day is to fill up the bathroom cupboard with rolls of toilet paper. He is required to make sure that there are always 3 rolls there. Before he can know how many rolls to bring up from the storage room in the basement, he must glance in the cupboard to see how many rolls are already there. After just a couple of days of doing this job, I got to watch him do simple subtraction in his own head. He would peek in the cupboard, and then announce "Two, so one!" He meant "There are two, so I need to get one."
I did not mean to give him a job involving simple subtraction, it just turned out that way. But I am finding more and more, that almost all family work involves the practical daily application of basic arithmetic. From trying to finish their jobs before the timer beeps, to counting how many kitchen drawers they have scrubbed, there is the constant working of little facts and figures, just enough to make them very comfortable with numbers over the course of these years while they are under my wing. Then when they hit scholar phase, I think they will be fully prepared to comprehend the concepts required for greater math.
I once tutored a little boy in math at the local elementary school. He would look at the problems on the paper as if they were these distant, scary concepts, then he would make a crack at it. He was usually wrong, even on very simple problems. He seemed like a normal child--not disabled or anything. I would say, "Look at this number, what is it?" He could tell me what it was. Then I would say, "They want you to add it to this number--that's all they want you to do. Can you do that?" When I broke it down and connected with him, he could handle it. But I had to always translate his numbers into words. He needed them to be familiar with and relate to his daily life. I think he had just learned math in the wrong order. Had he learned it in daily life first, I don't think he would have struggled with the abstract as much (not to mention the fact that he was being made to do it also). However, according to my philosophy, ideally he wouldn't see much of the abstract until scholar phase.
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Question #43: Most of the crafts you give for give examples of are what I would consider appropriate for girls such as knitting, quilting, and crochet. Someone mentioned wood working, but you said that is only good for older boys. What specific crafts do you recommend for boys while the girls are learning to knit?
Answer: I have not yet thought of any crafts that are specifically for boys except for carving. When my boy carves things just for fun that are neither good quality nor useful creations, I allow him to store them outside like any other stick. But when he carves things that are good quality, useful and also needed inside our home, I allow those creations to come and take their place in the home (for example a wooden spoon). If my boy carves things such as toys (that I don't believe we need) or decorations (that I am not interested in) and I flatter him by allowing them into the home, it could serve as a wrong headgate because he then gets the thrill of creation so cheaply without having to make something of good quality. I want to allow him to bring his wooden carved creations into the home when he has toiled through the process of learning to do the skill correctly. If he is just practicing and cannot yet carve something of good quality, he is welcome to do so, as long as he stores them outside.
As soon as the creations get my stamp of approval and come into the house, they are seen in the kids' minds as “real creations”. As long as they remain outside they seem to see them more as sticks.
I have allowed my boy to knit, sew, bake, etc. in his free time, if he chooses to, because he may have a special talent in these areas which although primarily included in the feminine role in a household, are readily included in the masculine role in the business world. (I have not a few brothers-in-law that are wonderful knitters that create beautiful sweaters, hats and gloves. It has been a blessing to the family.)
I have also required my boy to participate in baking and sewing when these things take place as our family work for the day. The reason I include him in this kind of work is that I think of them as basic life skills. I want him to have these basic life skills so that he can survive when he leaves the home before he is married. If he has not mastered the basic skills of cooking/baking, he will likely be dependent upon the frozen food isle at the grocery store when he goes away to college.
Having said this, I am not actually trying to get my boys to participate in these activities in their free time. I am teaching them the skills and requiring them to achieve them as family work, and I am allowing them to practice them during their free time if they choose. However, my real intent is that they will fall in love with reading in their free time. After we closed the wrong headgates in our home, I did not try to replace them with other activities. I was hoping that the children would have so much quiet free time on their hands each afternoon that they would wander around in a bit of a daze while trying to decide what to do. I was hoping they would stare out the window a little bored, wondering what adventures they would either create through pretend play, or read about on the living room couch. More than anything, I want them to fall in love with reading. Thus, I do not encourage or try to get them going on any of these skills. I instead simply allow them if they choose. I welcome quiet down time. Those moments when they aren't sure what to do are the moments that they usually pace through the living room browsing the bookshelves.
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Question #44: I have a six year old who is working along side of me daily during work time. Please share how this works for you. How do you keep them motivated and on task?
Answer: In my opinion, it all comes down to parenting. This will of course work differently in every household, but here is what I do, and I explain it all to the children before hand so that they know too.
While we are working, if they forget or get sidetracked at any time, it is ok. I will simply tap their shoulder, which means, "please come back to your work." As long as they obey that quickly and quietly, everything is fine and we go on as usual. If they do not obey it quickly and quietly, I calmly take them into my room (in private) and give them one hard spank. Then I hold them for a minute or two and bring them back to the exact place they were in when I tapped their shoulder. I say, "Let's try it all over again," so that they know I have no hard feelings, no lecture, no negative feedback to give them, just a clean slate. Then I tap them again. If they go back to working quickly and quietly, everything is fine. If they don't, I repeat the scenario over again.
This is so out of style in this generation, that it is truly looked on as child abuse. I am well aware of this. However, it has brought such order to our home, because it is done in such an orderly fashion. I never spank them in anger. I never spank them for making a mistake. I spank them for deliberately disobeying a direct request. They may make a hundred mistakes per day, as do I, and I will always offer loving consequences from which they can learn--not painful punishments. But if I give a direct command or direction such as please sit down, please go to your room, please don't touch that, etc., they are required to obey, or they will have the same spank as I explained earlier. When you peek into our home, there is no contention because of this. We are not beating the children. We calmly, lovingly say things like, "Woops, will you please go to the play room?" all the time for nearly every kind of misbehavior. They quickly dash to the playroom without any talking back because they are used to the routine. I don't think they even think about the spank anymore. But a long time ago when it happened to them, they learned to run quickly when Mom and Dad speak. Now it is just a habit.
People often ask me, "Why do your kids obey you like that the very first time you ask, and with no yelling, nagging or counting?" It is because we have something to back up our word. Because of this, our word doesn't need to be strong, but can just be polite and calm every time. And honestly, when children directly obey the first time you speak, you don't feel like raising your voice or using strong words or threatening, reminding, nagging, etc.
(Please see "The German Shepherd 5" in your Love and Logic book for more information.)
1. I only use this when one direct command is deliberately disobeyed--not a string of commands. A child may receive a string of commands, obey the first one, and then get distracted in the middle of the second one. In my opinion, this is not deliberately disobeying. This is forgetting. This is why I tap the child on the shoulder. The tap is the direct command "please go back to your work." If a child yells at another child or steals a toy, or makes any number of mistakes, I ask them to please go to the playroom. If I were to spank them in this moment, they would learn a number of negative things. They would learn to be afraid around me (afraid of making mistakes). They would learn to lie because they must cover up their faults now so as to not get spanked. They would also begin to hate me deep down because I would be punishing them in a hurtful way for doing exactly what God sent them here to do--learn by their own experience--learn from their own mistakes. They are supposed to make mistakes. That is why I just send them away from me for a couple of minutes when they do something inappropriate. The underlying message behind this action is "You may be around me when you are behaving appropriately." Thus I never punish the mistakes. I merely give them a mild consequence so that they might go to a happy place, regroup, and come out refreshed and ready to try again.
I only "punish" the direct disobedience. An interesting effect of this, is a deep sense of security in the child. Also, they seem to have much greater self-esteem when they see that they can behave. It makes them feel good inside. Also, research shows an array of negative effects of punitive punishment, like spanking. This is part of why it is so looked down upon in our generation. I have studied this research in depth. I find it to be sound and true. However, the kind of spanking I am referring to different, and it simply does not yield ANY of the undesirable effects that punitive punishment in general yields. For example, it does NOT cause my children to resort to hitting each other. Also, it does not cause the severed relationship between the parent and child. On the contrary, they love me more for it. I have watched this happen with each child. They love the security that comes with knowing their limits and the self-esteem that comes with knowing they are disciplined respectable people. I don't brainwash any of this information into them. They conclude it on their own when they learn how to obey.
2. I only spank the children under 8 years old. The children over 8 can do jobs with no shoulder tapping, and with no supervision. So they are given an extra job each time they deliberately disobey. If I were to give the 6 year olds an extra job for their punishment instead of a spanking, that would take all my energy to supervise it because they are still in job training. They are not reliable at completing jobs alone yet, and they must be watched closely (this is why we work with them and then near them--we must be near so that we can train them up in the habit of keeping on task). Giving them an extra job would be counterproductive. For the older children, if they directly disobey, I say "I will be giving you an extra job later this afternoon during your free time. I'll think of it later and tell you what it is, but for right now, let's try the whole thing over again." Then I repeat the direct command. If they obey it quickly and quietly, everything is fine. They complete their extra job later when I tell them what it is (always in the afternoon during their free-time.) But, if they disobey the direction again, I say the same thing over again. So then they would have 2 extra jobs that afternoon. This only works because they have already been trained on their jobs. I also only tap the shoulders of the children under 8 years old during job time. The children 8 and older receive a consequence later if they do not finish their jobs before the allotted time is up, return and report, and then ultimately finish before the timer beeps. I don't mind if they get off task a little. I never remind them. They keep themselves on task because they want to finish before the timer beeps. I try to give them plenty of time for fixing mistakes, potty breaks, etc., but not too much time that they are trained to be lazy and slow. In our family, if the older children either don't finish on time, or forget to return and report, they must go to bed right after dinner instead of staying up for the family activity (usually stories or playing together in the back yard).
There are many ways to teach children to work. I just thought I would share these specifics because it's one thing that works very well in our home, and it is something that people ask me all the time. To be honest, I have not met very many people that say it runs smoothly in their home. It seems to be a lost art.
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Question #45: How do you explain to your older kids what brain candy books are and why we are not going to read them?
Answer: Whenever I choose to purge my home of anything, I like to explain as much as I choose is best for my children, for their greatest understanding, without explaining too much that they cannot understand. I don't explain in order to justify my decisions, or to try to negotiate with them and convince them to agree with my reasoning. They are not allowed to talk back to me, so no negotiation is necessary. They may say "Yes Mother", and they may also ask any questions they would like to in order to further understand my reasoning as long as those questions are asked sincerely, and politely, and not in any effort to argue. For example, "What's wrong with that book, there's nothing bad in it!" (Said with an argumentative tone). This question is probably meant to protest the decision I have already made. When a child asks a question of this nature, I ask them to please go to their room or the playroom. An example of an appropriate way to learn more about Mommy's reasoning is "Mommy, will you please explain to me why you got rid of some of the books in our house?" When a child asks a question of this nature, I happily answer them. But I only answer as much as I feel is appropriate for that child.
To an older child who actually reads the books for fun during the day (probably 8 years old or older) I would probably say " I just decided that I want to keep only the very best books around--those with the highest quality of language and content. Some of the books I got rid of were high language, low content. Some were high content, low language. But the ones I kept were the ones that I decided were of the highest quality in both language and content." (I'm not talking about bad language here--those are obviously out; I am talking about low quality language--too simple, cheap, etc. I want to keep only those things that train them up on a diet of lovely, developed language. (Please listen to Marlene Peterson's talk entitled "Stories that build Statesman" from the March 2010 TJed Forum available at Tjedmarketplace.com, for more information on the importance of reading books with high language.)
Then, if the children inquire further into the matter of the book purging, I will usually explain as much as I feel is good for them, as long as their manners stay good throughout the duration of the conversation. I love explaining things to children--I always have. However, I find it is only productive if it is done with refined manners from both parties.
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Question #46: Who excuses the children from the dinner table?
Answer: We consider it a privilege to eat, and thus we never require the children to come or to stay for any duration. However, in order to be allowed to eat, they must come on time to the meal (which is about 30 seconds after I call them to "wash and climb up for dinner.")
Once at the table, they may be excused at any time, however they may not return again. Thus it is in their own greatest interest to stay and get full for the night, as I won't be serving any more meals or snacks after dinner. If they do want to be excused, they simply need to say, "Excuse me please." Then we answer, "Yes?" Then they say, "May I please be excused to get down?" Then we always answer, "Yes." They learn by experience to stay until they are full. No warning, coaxing, or threatening is necessary.
I leave them perfectly free to choose how much they will eat and how long they will stay. But they are also accountable to suffer the consequences should they choose to get down and go play half way through the meal. They have each decided on their own that they want to eat enough to get full, and also that it is exciting to stay at the table because Mom and Dad are talking about interesting things and this is their chance to hear it.
Because being at the table is a pleasant experience (since children are required to speak only when spoken to while at the table), it is looked on as a fun place to be; they seem to see it as a privilege.
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Question #47: How are you inspiring good music?
Answer: We listen to classical music almost every day. Sometimes we put something special on just to listen to and enjoy it specifically, but usually it is just on quietly for background music. Sometimes we turn it up louder while we work.
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Question #48: Do you have any picture books for your younger children? Ones that teach values like little engine that could, or Little red Hen etc?
Answer: I got rid of 98% of my picture books, and decided to keep only the ones that had high quality language. I even got rid of some with good morals and values because their language was quite watered down, or their pictures weren't the kind of art I want in the home (cheap). I will be looking for better versions to replace them.
After listening to Marlene Peterson's talk from the forum (Stories that build Statesman) I have a different paradigm on children's books. My goal is not to have a large collection kept down low where the young children can interact with them during the day. Instead, my first goal for the younger children is to allow them to experience and fall in love with stories on my lap. When they are ready to take and complete reading lessons, they may have the privilege of getting a book out, sitting in an appropriate place, and reading it carefully and respectfully.
My second goal for the younger children is to have a small high quality collection that they can endear to and eventually memorize. I decided I don't need hundreds of books for them until they learn how to read. I only need a small collection of greats that they experience from atop my lap.
So far, the greatest advantages to the downsizing of my children's book collection are as follows.
1. The books are never strewn out all over the floor, wearing them out and needing constant cleanup.
2. The books are never disrespected, ripped, chewed on, or made into houses.
3. The younger children no longer sit among the picture book collection staring at pictures (which to me is kind of like watching movies as it trains them up visually instead of verbally--again, please see Marlene Peterson's talk from the 2010 Tjed Forum entitled "Stories that build Statesman." Instead, they may go run and play and build their imaginations as well as their muscles. When they are ready for books (for reading--not looking at), then they are also old enough to treat the books respectfully, not to mention they are also old enough to reach them, since we have moved the books all up to the level where the 5 year olds, but not the 2 year olds can reach.
I see the books as a great tool that the children can use when the time is right, kind of like the oven or the blender...only much more valuable. I no longer see the books as toys for them to just maul and play with. Up until the age of about 5 or 6, I am just going to tell my children stories, for our one on one inspiration (kid school) and teach them little songs with actions and nursery rhymes or poems from my own mind. I will have these stories and poems memorized because of all of the times I will have read them to my 5 + year olds. I will tell these stories with the same high quality language that my copies are written in. However I will tell the story instead of read it so that they will be looking at my face, and I at theirs, instead of both of us at a book. This can be done from the time that they are babies, and since Mommy is using these wonderful words, and telling it from her heart, the child can learn those words and be trained up on them until they are old enough to follow it in the more abstract version of the book. Mothers raise their eyebrows, and make other facial expressions as they read which enhance the child's ability to be able to understand these difficult words. But most importantly, they are looking at each other's eyes, which provides an accelerated form of bonding as compared with looking at a book.
I feel that the morals and truths taught to the young children in these very formative years are greater understood, greater absorbed, and greater believed when the child is looking into the parent's eyes at the moment of the teaching. In the mean time, the child is getting trained up in the lovely language that the books they will soon be read from contain. (Please see Charlotte Mason’s original writings for more information on story telling to young children.)
Then when I can feel that they are ready for real books to be read to them, I will pull out both the same stories I have been telling them, and also from a few more. We will begin there and then go on and on forever, by just reading to them for about 20 minutes each morning. I say go on forever because it is such an enjoyable experience, that I would be willing to do kid school as long as their is a child living under my roof--regardless of age. However, I have found that once they fall in love with reading, they are so fast because they have such a large chunk of free time each day to work at it and to improve, that they just eat up the books I begin at kid school, and it turns out that I'm not really reading to them each day, but rather beginning books, which they then take and devour in jut a couple of days.
I've tried and tried to read with my 9 year old, but she can't wait until the next day, and I can't join her all afternoon to finish the book off because I am in Mom Phase, which yields much less free time right now than Love of Learning. The turnover rate for books is much slower for my 8 year old because has just begun falling in love with reading this year, and he is not that fast yet. I can begin a book with him for kid school, and he will go read it in the afternoons, but instead of finishing it in 2 days, it may take him 3 weeks because he still plays with 1/2-3/4 of his free time, and thus is much slower. During those 3 weeks that he is reading the book, I will begin to read him another book at kid school, and he doesn't take it away for 3 weeks.
My 6 year old is the one that really gets the good old kid school where we both read a book together start to finish. My four year old still does best with stories told to him, and my baby does best with songs and rhymes.
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Question #49: When do you read to them the book of there choice?
Answer: In the past it has been bedtime stories. But now that we have gotten rid of the picture books, and we only tell stories to our two youngest, it would be the older 3 that really would know any books to ask for. The interesting thing is, that since there are only a handful of books on our shelves that contain high-quality short stories, they are most likely to choose a chapter book. These require a few weeks or months to finish if we only read a few chapters each night. So it makes more sense to us to begin a chapter book for a bedtime story, and read it every night until it is finished, than to have them each pick a story each night. Consequently there is much less choosing, but much more of the book can be read if we are only reading from one book each night.
The little ones that don't really follow these books could choose a story for us to tell them, or a song to sing to them as we are tucking them in or perhaps on the couch before the chapter book starts. If they began asking for the books at bedtime story time (the short stories we chose to keep such as Aesop's Fables and original nursery rhymes and fairy tales) and if they showed me that they enjoyed the experience by asking for the books night after night over the story telling, I would probably decide that they were ready for real books. But so far in my experimenting, the younger ones (under 5 or 6) have enjoyed the story-telling more than the books. They often begin in the living room when the bedtime chapter book begins, but in moments they end up in the playroom where their hearts really lie.
Dress up clothes and costumes? I love dress up clothes and costumes if they are simple--rarely any accessories, and if they trigger the kind of play I agree with. We have about 5 dress ups in a little bin in our playroom. They are heavily used and often need to be repaired.
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Question #50: My oldest has said he wants to learn his multiplication tables. Do you have a suggestion on how to go about helping him learn them?
Answer: I personally like to teach them the concept first so that they understand what multiplying is and how and why it is used in daily life. Then I just help them memorize by drilling with them for about 15 or 20 minutes each night, just like my reading or writing lessons. Each day I teach them one group (like their 2's) and we drill until they are memorized. The next night we would quickly review the 2's and then learn the 3's. The next night we would review the 3's and learn the 4's. The next night we would probably review the 2's and 4's and learn the 5's . Then we would review the 3's and 5's and learn the 6's. After a few weeks they usually have them down.
The interesting thing is, they don't use very much multiplication in daily life, and thus they usually forget what I taught them sometime that year. They use it a little, for example when they triple a recipe, and thus must understand the concept of multiplication. But I have found that they are usually using small numbers when they do this (like numbers less than 5) and consequently the have forgotten the higher multiplication that they learned.
As I thought about this I decided that in order to keep this knowledge up until scholar phase when they will really use it, they would have to drill and practice almost daily. Truthfully, if they aren't going to use it until they are in scholar phase, I can think of no logical reason to teach it to them until they are in scholar phase. It's not as if multiplication tables are difficult and need years of drilling.
From what I've seen, an eight year old can memorize all of them with 100% accuracy in just a few weeks. They just loose them because they rarely use them. And if they rarely use them, what need have they for them? If a love of learner loved math and wanted to learn it just for math's sake, even though it doesn't fit into daily life, kind of like my 9-year-old daughter's Spanish Rosetta Stone, then I can see great purpose in teaching it to them before scholar.
I feel that once a child is truly in love with learning (which I actually would like to call "In love with reading") I can see no harm in them using computers as tools (not toys) to facilitate other learning, such as Aleks Math or Rosetta Stone or other learning programs. However, I would add a huge caution to this statement.
In my opinion it is essential to the child's progression that the development of a strong love of READING occur first within them, before any computer programs or lessons are allowed. Computers should never be allowed as toys as they would likely serve as wrong headgates. But they may be allowed as tools only after the child has fallen deeply in love with READING. If they are used as good wholesome learning tools for children who are not in love with READING yet, they will also likely serve as WRONG headgates.
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Question #51: You touched on it in question #30. My daughter wants to play at a friends house daily and soon a good friend will be living next door. What would be appropriate boundries for play time with friends?
Answer: The boundaries for your family social life all depend on your preference, but as far as I can tell for headgate purposes, children's social life needs to stay within the bounds of family social life. My husband and I enjoy having families over for dinners, birthdays, holidays, etc. We also love to visit friends and family in their homes so consequently our children have a rich social life. They do not however have jurisdiction over their social lives because of their ages and phases. They only have control over how they will socialize. We control who they are socializing with because they only visit who we are visiting, and they only get visited by who is visiting us as a family.
We decided not to do neighborhood roaming/inviting, etc. When they are over 12 and also deep into scholar phase, I think that they will then have some jurisdiction over their social life. I like to think of core phase and love of learning phase as times for training them up socially. I feel I can only do this when they are near me. When children go visiting they are being reared by someone else's mom who no matter how wonderful she is, most likely will not discipline them the way that I would, nor does she put the time and prayer into all the little things that I think about for my own children. They do get expose to spontaneous social situations if I have a friend babysit them or if we go to the park and there are other children there. I feel fine about these exceptions because 95% of the time they are under my wing learning one set of manners. Each time we visit family or friends, even Grandma and Grandpa's house, they are exposed to different social settings and rules. But because these visits are purposely spread out and kept to what we feel is a minimum, they are only exposed to these settings and not reared in them.
I see many children developing at least two selves: the self they put on for their mom, and the self they put on for the neighborhood gang, or even a different self for each neighbor they hang around with. I decided a while ago that I wanted to rear my children on our property with our rules and boundaries and under my supervision. Now I am seeing the fruits of that...I am learning that they are developing only one self.
In answer to your original question, the boundaries I would set would simply be, "You may play with your friend so-and-so whenever we invite their family over, or whenever they invite our family over. You're also welcome to visit across the fence as much as you'd like." In our neighborhood, the houses are close enough together, that if you are playing in the front yard at all, you are automatically playing with the neighbors because they're just all right there hooked to the same sidewalk. Because of this, our children generally are allowed to play in the playroom or the fenced backyard. We go in the front for certain things like to begin a family bike ride, walk around the block, help daddy wash the car, etc. They aren't allowed to go into the front yard without asking.
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Question #52: There was an article about some preschool girls who wanted to play "book store" and had to fill out paper work before they could play. This confused me as it seemed really counter to a lot of your philosophies. Would you explain your opinion of that article and why you posted it?
Answer: I do not favor the planned or premeditated approach. I feel that free play, truly free, is the best, with no paperwork attached. The program explained in the article is much closer to my ideal than any preschool I have ever heard of, and they are obviously getting results. It was neat to see others thinking along the same lines and getting better results. It was just another witness of the same results the more free the free-time.
Is it ideal? No. In my opinion preschool itself, or any school prior to true scholar mentoring is not ideal. The more witnesses I find to these same principles (not exact situations, but principles in general) the more I am encouraged that I did not just draw a lucky card and get some super-genius 9 year old who just reads and writes for the fun of it. I'm seeing these as real laws of nature, eternal truths if you will, by which to govern the rearing of children in virtually any society.
These things just sort of "happened" in the olden days (please see Marlene Petersen's talk entitles "Stories that build Statesman" from the March 2010 Tjed Forum, available at Tjedmarketplace.com), and I don't know if you've looked around much at the TJed world lately, but they're just not "happening" in our day. I'm not seeing many TJed children or any children for that matter who have really fallen in love with learning (learning in the form of reading). I am seeing many mothers who carry their children through love of learning with great efforts to accommodate them and motivate them by the use of clubs, programs, incentives, etc... and the children still aren't generally choosing it with fervor when they're left alone. Then I contrast that with my home, and notice that if I added up all the time I have spent motivating and incentivizing my children to love learning, it would amount to zero. No programs, no clubs, no so-called "goal setting" meetings with children (children don't set goals, young adults do) , just family work in the morning, a little bit of inspiration each day, and a large chunk of unstructured free time each afternoon (about 3 or four hours) and I have a 9 year old who just finished the unabridged Les Miserables in 6 days just for the fun of it. I'm so excited about these results, I feel moved to share them as quickly as possible, and I like to bring in other witnesses of the same general principles so that there are more examples spread than just my own.
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Question #53: Do you have any books or other methods you would recommend for helping me teach my children obedience?
Answer: See the appendix of the Headgates ebook, also, read all of the FAQ's; they accumulatively shed light on my methods. I am working on compiling a book on parenting that will spell out the principles I teach by and I will post information on it as soon as it is finished, but I believe you can gather most of those principles just by reading through all of the FAQ's. I use the basic principles outlined in the Love and Logic tapes and books, however, I do not use their methods. It's a great program if you know how to think instead of just copying their methods or taking them as exact recipes. You've got to dive into it knowing you're weeding through it in search of the principles. I find them more sound than any I've come across yet.
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Question #54: Do you do Kid school during free time or work time, or before both? What do your other children do when you are working with one
Answer: I do kidschool just after kitchen jobs and morning jobs, but before family work. It's kind of a breather between the routine jobs we do every day (morning jobs) and the projects for the day (family work). I like it there because we all rest and enjoy for a moment before we work hard again. I think it also would fit nicely after lunch just before free time starts. Please see the FAQ page for a sample of my schedule.
When I am holding kidschool it is really more like story time. I'm not really "working" with any of them. If I am telling or reading a story to one of them imparticularly, the others know that they may come or go if they like, as long as they are perfectly quiet. The one I am telling the story to or reading to may also choose not to come if they like. That rarely happens because they love kidschool, but if it does happen, I just move on to the next child. There are a few other questions on the FAQ concerning kidschool details. I elaborate much more on the specific why's and how's of it.
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Question #55: I have been reading about transition to Scholar Phase in the TJED materials. How do you think this change will effect the Love of Reading, closed headgates, etc in your home?
Answer: I feel that when they transition into scholar phase properly (meaning they had a real love of learning phase), they will simply go from reading freely to reading obediently under the direction of a mentor. I suppose it will happen gradually, one mentor or lesson at a time. For example, my daughter who is 9 and deep into love of learning was allowed to try out one lesson that followed the scholar model (take assignments from mentor and return and report on time). This was a piano lesson. Because there is definite commitment and money involved, it is not love of learning. Love of learners are free to flit around from one thing to the next, sewing, reading, writing, playing. There is no commitment, remember it is all fun to them? Piano lessons are very different (please see the FAQ's for details on formal lessons). Piano lessons require reporting on time and obeying assignments whether you felt like flitting over to the piano or not... you do it anyway. This is the scholar model. We NEVER allow a core phaser no matter how old to try out an activity that follows the scholar model. They MUST be deep into love of learning to try it out. Because she has had great success with this piano lesson, over the past 1 1/2 years, we have now allowed her to take on a voice lesson. She is gradually making her transition into scholar phase one lesson at a time. If we allowed her to take on too many scholar phase activities, I believe it would tip her over and she would feel crushed. She loves her freedom and often feels crushed if she doesn't get enough free-time for some reason or another.
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Question #56: Our “bedtime” always feels like a difficult process and I am searching for a better way to work things. My husband commutes for work and so does not get home until about 7pm each night. That leaves us with about 1 ½ hours of family time before bed. Then we do baths, scriptures and to bed as quickly as possible. My husband and I share in the going to bed routine, but it makes him grumpy. Do you assume full responsibility for your children’s bedtime routine? What does it look like for your family?
Answer: Yes, I assume full responsibility for our children’s bedtime routine, except during times that we are on vacation. Often on vacation we want to do things differently and fit more into a day than we normally would. In this case, I ask my husband if he would like to help participate in some of my responsibilities so that we can attend the number of events we desire, or would he like not to and I then accept the fact that it takes me an hour to get us all ready in the morning, and however much time to get them ready for bed, meals, etc. Depending on the circumstances, he chooses. I never assume he is just taking on my role, because I know how grumpy I would feel if he ever just assumed I would be pitching in on earning money, changing oil, building sheds, repairing stairs, refinishing floors, etc. I always discuss it with him because it still is my role even on vacation and I am perfectly happy to be responsible for it (even on vacation) and just do less. Sometimes it is more worth it to him to make a breakfast or bathe a child so that I can attend something with him beyond what would fit into a normal day. We recently were on a vacation during which we wanted to take full advantage of every single moment because there was so much to take in such little time and we knew we may not be there again for a very long time. When we discussed our morning routines and how we would plan our days, he said he would love to help get children ready for the day and ready for bed, etc. in order to make more memories. He also mentioned that on this particular vacation, there weren’t very many masculine roles for him to fill, although I still had many of my same feminine tasks. No money to earn, no fix-it projects around the house. Only the periodic loading of bags. I don’t ask him this every time we go out of town, but only on certain trips where I can see that the assumed schedule doesn’t really fit reality.
Now for the regular routine. I have changed my evening routine about a dozen times trying to find the perfect one for our family, and I have learned that the reason I always felt tempted in the past to include my husband in my tasks during evening routine, is that I have cradled the children too much, underestimated how well-behaved they can be, done too much for them and thus taken too much on myself, causing my load to be too heavy. As I learned feminine and masculine roles, and decided to assume full responsibility of the feminine role, I felt a huge burden added to my already imbalanced life. Not only was there too much to do, now there was only one adult to do it. I didn’t want to include him in my responsibilities because we were both basking in the happiness that comes when a couple understands correct gender roles. However, I did need to make some kind of adjustment because my load seemed too heavy. Instead of relieving myself by getting my husband involved, I decided to fine-tune my schedule and to get my children more involved. This has worked beautifully for us. It takes 2 hours including dinner and clean-up. Here is what it looks like.
This could start at any time of the evening but let’s just say it starts at 5:00.
5:30: Cleanup with Mom and kids or just kids if they are old enough.
6:00: Family time: reading stories, singing songs, taking walks, etc.
6:30: Little kids brush teeth, potty, drinks, pajamas, etc. with mom. Our 2 older children who are 8 and over get to stay up during this time
6:45: Kiss little kids goodnight and lights out.
7:00: Tell the older children it is time to go get into bed.
We simplified our evening routine by cleaning up the kitchen in the afternoon after we have prepared the dinner but before we serve it. Also, I bathe our children twice a week now instead of every night. If they get dirty outside, which they often do in the summer, we have them go wash their legs and arms off before dinner. I quickly rinse my baby every night as I’m getting him ready for bed. On bath night I call them in an hour before dinner and bathe the little ones and have the older ones bathe themselves, then eat dinner in their pajamas with little aprons on to keep them clean. On these nights we wouldn’t take a walk after dinner, but would just read or sing before bed. Also, ½ hour before dinner everyone that is capable comes in and does their part to get the house ready for the evening. Someone sets the table, someone chops “tomorrow’s” veggie tray for snack, and then cleans up any stray dishes that have surfaced since lunch cleanup and also since dinner prep. Someone does various breakfast prep for the next morning, and then cleans up the counters that I have been messing up with dinner prep. The younger ones will clean up the playroom and the yard either alone or under the supervision of an older sibling. If I think that there is more to be done than usual, I might begin these preparations 45 minutes before dinner. These changes will not be the same changes that will benefit every family, but the process of pondering and praying for and searching for those adjustments that will simplify your routines where needed, and make your time more well spent on what you and your husband desire the most for your family is a marvelous process to go through. We go through this process every time something is just slightly off. We love to daydream and brainstorm what our ideal life together is. Once we catch a vision of it and put it into words, we can then make a plan to put it into action. This is why I continue to change my schedule whenever I feel like it. I love how it feels to continually get closer to my ideal. And, different circumstances and seasons call for different schedules. I might consider my current routine a bit extreme in some other seasons of life. Giving children their evening bath at 3:00 in the afternoon seems a little odd. But for right now, I love it because it is buying me a wonderful and balanced evening that includes my own free time, and time for my husband and I to spend together. This in turn leads to good early productive mornings that are exciting to wake up to, instead of depressing.
Because my husband goes to work so early in the morning and gets home at 4:00 pm, our evening routine begins ridiculously early (4:00), but it suits us perfectly right now because it draws our whole family together instead of apart. A few years ago when he had a different work schedule, we began the whole thing at 5:30 pm. Because your husband arrives so much later, you might consider discussing with him his priorities right now. He may really value the evening time with the children, or he may be worn out by it and wish he had less of it and more time with you. A friend of mine once told me of some advice she received from a wise, and seasoned mother. At the time, my friend was a young mother with 2 or 3 little children. The older woman was the wife of a farmer. Sometimes her husband had to stay out late in the fields. She found that if she kept the children up to late hours all in the name of “having time with their daddy” it through their whole routine out of balance, which took its greatest toll on the parents. She decided to have her kids in bed by 7:00 every night so that she could have the later evening alone with her husband when he returned. Because of the nature of his job, he had to be up and off early in the morning. With the children getting to bed so early, they could easily wake up refreshed at an early hour and enjoy an enriching morning routine with both of their parents. They could say family prayers together, read scriptures, and eat breakfast. She told my friend to “put those kids to bed early. You and your husband need that quiet free time and together time in order to be happy and balanced parents. The children don’t care what time they go to bed, what they really benefit from is a truly happy mother and father, which are so rare these days.” Children have such an abundance of privileges in our society right now. And I have yet to see that abundance make up for the scarcity of happiness in the adults. On the contrary, I think it adds to the scarcity of happiness in the adults because those privileges are purchased at the expense of the adult’s spare time and energy. Adults have missions in life that take time and energy and that add enrichment and fulfillment to their lives in such great abundance that their life becomes their greatest joy, instead of their periodic “breaks” or “vacations” being what they look most forward to. Without this fulfillment, adults must, in the name of emotional survival, seek some “out” to provide the fulfillment that they need. I am not suggesting that you do what this woman counseled. Your ideal path may be a different one. You will know as you seek answers. I only wanted to expose you to her ideas in case they would spark a new perspective in you that might help. My only sure advice is this: Keep changing it and communicating with yourself, your husband, The Lord, and anyone else you feel inspired to get ideas from until you find what feels good. Once you find it you will know because you will feel more than satisfied.
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Question #57: Since I have implemented the “Headgate schedule”, I have found it more difficult to get out to grocery shop. I usually go to 3 different stores for my shopping (Costco, Health food store and reg. grocery). It feels like more of a chore out of my schedule that I love. Have you found a good schedule and time to do your grocery shopping?
Answer: I have found a good schedule for shopping, but I don’t suppose it would necessarily be convenient for others, it just happens to fit my schedule nicely. I take my daughter to piano and voice lessons once each week (see the FAQ page of our Headgates website for more information on formal lessons), and while she is there I do any quick, local, or short errands that I have to run. I used to bring all of my children with me, but now that my son is falling in love with learning, he usually asks if he can stay home and read to take advantage of the extra free time in the morning (our free time is usually only in the afternoon so this is a real bonus for him.) I then will either take my little children along or leave them home with him to supervise while he reads.
Then once each week my husband and I travel to a nearby town that is 45 minutes away for a trip to the LDS temple, and to do our weekly Costco stop along with usually one other errand.
If I didn’t have the piano lesson or the temple trip already built into my schedule, I believe I would just take one afternoon each week and maybe trade babysitting with a friend, or have my daughter babysit and run my errands for 2-3 hours.
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Question #58: Do you have your table time rules written for others to view? How did you go about yimplementing them?
Answer: ur rules are simple and few at the table. They are explained in greater detail in a previous answer on the FAQ page, but in short they are: 1. The children must come when called to the table if they want to eat. They are never forced to come, but if they choose to come late, they choose to not eat, and consequently to wait until the next meal is served. 2. Children speak only when spoken to. This is a great way for them to listen to their father and mother talk about important things and to learn all about their parent’s culture.
We use the same simple methods we use in most of our parenting.
1. We lovingly explain the beauty in what we were doing so that they can see the vision as best they can.
2. We (instead of reminding or threatening or fault finding) give a consequence each and every time they disobey the rules. In our home this consequense is simply to leave the table.
3. We let them try again after a few minutes with no lectures attached. We let them figure out, while staying away from their food, exactly why they were sent away and how they can avoid that next time so that they can enjoy their meal uninterrupted. We never ask them to tell us what they learned or what they should have done. They are so smart. We just let them figure it out. Besides they have already been lovingly taught in step 1.
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Question #59: As far as structure goes, what do your Saturdays look like for your family? Do you implement “family work” on Saturdays?
Answer: Our Saturdays generally are a little different depending on what projects my husband is working on. If he needs my boy to work with him on something, then the other children and I will do family work and I will let my boy work alongside Dad. If I need to do different errands or random projects that the children cannot really help me with, I will either assign the older ones some things they can do, unrelated to what I am doing, or I may tell them they can have free time for most of the day as soon as their regular morning jobs are done. But most often, we do still do family work, it is just not set each week, but changes with the upcoming projects. Often we will do no work and go play in the river or hike in the mountains. It just depends on my husband’s and my priorities.
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Question #60: My children have become huge collectors of trash. It has been worse since I have really been de-cluttering. They will dig through the garbage just to see what they can claim as their own. It drives me nuts! How would you handle this situation?
Answer: follow the same pattern I laid out in the above question about the table manners.
2. Give consequence when disobeyed
3. Let the children try again with a clean slate and no lectures or hard feelings.
Many times people mix it up and begin to teach in the moment the child is disobeying. For example, they might start teaching right when the child is reaching into the trash to find something fun to play with, “Oh, remember you can play whatever you would like as long as you use the toys that I have given you and nothing else.” This is not the right moment to teach. This is the right moment to give a consequence. In our home we say, “Please go into the play room and shut the door.” Then in a few minutes we call them out, which is step 3. But we never add any reminders or guilt trips; just a hug or a smile. This way we don’t do any of the thinking for them. They get that privilege all to themselves and so the lessons become permanent because they teach them to themselves. If we were to add unwanted lectures in during this moment, our words quite likely would go in one ear and out the other.
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Question #61: You mentioned "Baby Journals" in your presentation at the forum, and I was wondering how you do them and what they are. I have tried getting my kids to journal on their own with little success, although I keep a journal myself rather regularly. I don't think it is inspiring them enough, and I wonder how you have done it in your home.
Answer: I have written little memories and highlights in journals for my children from the time they were born, and I continue to write in them periodically even when they begin their own consistent journal writing. It was just something I wanted to pass down to them some day so that they and their children could have the memories to treasure. I periodically take them out and read them to my children. It would also work fine as far as inspiring goes to read excerpts from your own journal that would be interesting to them. It's fun to have their own journals on hand because I don't have to thumb through my journal to find stories of interest to them. With this in mind, I still believe that children will want to write more after they have read many great books. It schools them in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, etc. and makes the whole process more familiar to them.
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Question #62: Do you attempt to "manage" or limit the gifts that come to your children from outside your home? Well-meaning family members enjoy showering our children with way-too-many toys and gifts at birthdays & holidays. Any thoughts on how to handle this?
Answer: Yes, we definitely limit what comes in. We have learned we must have the courage to be honest, yet still respectful in communicating our needs and beliefs to our family if we are going to create the environment we desire, and keep the quality of the relationships we desire. Our families have been more than understanding when we have done this, and although I know that may not be the case for everyone's family, I believe it is an important part of developing our own happiness to govern our own lives as adults whether or not our parents or other family members accept it.
One friend told me she buckled and backed down on some issues she felt strongly about for her own home and her own family because she didn't want to sacrifice her relationship with her family that did not live in her household. I believe she is cheating herself out of a greater happiness that comes from being one's self and from being honest. Decisions we make for our own households cannot weaken our relationships with others. Our relationships with others are already weak if we cannot be honest with them. Strong relationships have a lot more to do with how we love than with how we live. If we cannot be true to or honest with ourselves, how can we be true to or honest with anyone else? Most family would not really disown or hate us for our differences, but some might get offended, upset, roll their eyes, criticize, etc. I would liken these things unto a child throwing a little fit. Many of us are so afraid of a fit like this from adults we love that our fears keep us from acting according to our conscience. But if we are really honest with ourselves, what are we so afraid of? When the dust settles, and their fit ends, if we are still loving and serving and listening, we will continue progressing with them, only this time a little more genuinely instead of artificially. If, however, push came to shove and our family members did make us choose between them and truth, I would sooner choose truth over comradery. Remember, they're the mad ones--not you. You have nothing to be ashamed of if you are respectful, only they will.
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Question #63: I am loving the Headgates concept. I just can't pull myself away from it. I found, though, that I wish I had found it just three or four years earlier. I have three children that I am homeschooling. The oldest two are 12 and 14, just ready to start into scholar phase. Headgates seems to cover more core and love of learning. Could you expound a little on how it looks for scholar phase kids - any insights?
Answer: First of all, if you haven't already read the questions on the FAQ, read them (especially the one about formal music lessons). They shed some light on how the three phases really fit together and what the true differences between the phases are.
I feel that the most important thing we can do for scholar phasers is to first determine if they are really in scholar phase. A careful look at the simple chart in the Headgates ebook can help you determine which phase they are in. Remember, scholar phase is not determined by how many hours per day they read. It is determined rather by how they choose to spend their free-time. A scholar chooses to voluntarily commit their free time (the time of day they are not required to contribute to family purposes such as chores, babysitting, etc) to study under the direction of a mentor. This means that they obey the mentor and return and report on time. My nine year old daughter just completed the unabridged Les Miserables in 6 days, and she did it in half days since she is required to contribute to family work all morning. She spent 100% of her free-time reading, and she would have spent her mornings reading too if I had given her the mornings for free time (she expressed this desire multiple times throughout the 6 days).
You may think with such advanced interest in harder subjects, and such dedication to reading, that she would be considered a scholar. It is important, though, to remember, that she read the book just for fun. She is not developmentally ready to take reading assignments from mentors. Her heart just guides her and she reads and writes for fun. I believe the fun would come to an abrupt halt if she were obeying a mentor's guidance right now. She is not overly mature. She just has truly fallen in love with reading and writing and does them for fun in exactly the same way that her 6 year old sister plays house for fun. If your 12 and 14 year olds are willing and able to commit their free-time away to the vigorous demands of a true scholar mentor, then I would say they are in scholar phase.
A highly respected mentor of mentors informed me that he has seen many a young adult blossom into scholar phase when given a good mentor and the right opportunities even when they did not have the privilege of completing the ideal love of learning phase. He did however mention that he has not seen this same blossoming take place in young adults who never got their core phase. This is very hopeful for those who have had a good core phase, but may have been required to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic throughout their childhood. He said they can fall in love with learning while in scholar phase if they are willing to work.
I see this pattern in myself. I was public schooled and required from pre-school to college. I bought right in to the conveyor belt mentality and had great success "achieving" things. I fell in love with learning about 6 years ago when I read my first classic and almost immediately into scholarly learning under the direction of a mentor. It didn't take much time to jump into scholar because I was already grown up and had been going through core phase for the past 5 years (learning to work hard and be responsible, etc...all of the things I didn't have time for during my busy public schooled, sports-filled, social life from age 4-19. With this in mind, we can see that the headgates principles are not necessary to grow up within order for someone to become a scholar. They simply make childhood extremely pleasant, joyful, productive, and fulfilling, while at the same time educational--more educational than I honestly ever dreamed possible. They also make parenthood and the task of educating the children (whomever this task belongs to) much more efficient and peaceful.
Now in answer to your real question. You are correct, the headgates principles apply to core and love of learning phases. They have proven helpful for many youth whose parents thought that they were in scholar phase because of their age and quickly learned that they couldn't handle scholar phase because of their unfinished core phase. These parents have found headgates useful for their young adults in order to help them "relive" core phase. If your children do not need to relive core or love of learning phase, and are truly ready for scholar phase, I would suggest finding a real scholar mentor who has truly walked the path of a classical education. My personal favorite right now is "The Williamsburg Academy." Their texts are largely taken from The Great Books of the Western World, and their pace is rigorous. It seems to me like a George Wythe College for youth. You can look them up online. They have an online program and have had a live program. They have talked about sending out a live branch to your area if there is a great enough demand and enough students, but they may not be offering that right now. Similar schools could be started anywhere with the right mentor and enough students with enough money. It tends to be quite expensive because the mentor, while only teaching a few hours a week is mentoring the students full time. This means he/she is reading the books right alongside the students. This way the information is fresh and the epiphanies new. I love it because the education stays alive as the mentor is constantly growing and learning himself. When the mentor learns "it all" before hand, and doesn't continue to experience, but only to expound, I feel they become stale--nothing more than a college professor who learned it all once and became "the expert." The beauty of the classical education is that The Greats remain the experts. This quality of education is in my opinion, ideal, and it is also very expensive, but worth it.
I am envisioning a day when parents plan on this expense the way they plan on living in homes, and work and sacrifice much of their lives to pay for it. We could live in teepees if we really wanted to save money, but it is so important to us to live in home that we simply find a way to make it work. This is how I feel about a scholar phase classical education. It is important enough to the quality of life of any society that I believe it is worth nearly every sacrifice. I believe the freedom of any nation depends upon it. The only way to perpetuate freedom is to know what it is. Thomas Jefferson said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be."
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Question #64: Now that your daughter is taking formal music lessons, does she help pay? If so, how does she earn that contribution?
Answer: No, she does not help pay. We decided to pay their way so that they can learn to serve in the realm of family service without the exchange of money getting in the way of their prioritizing. I'm not saying this is the only way to go. I just feel strongly about finding out if they love something for real. I can find that out by watching if she invests in it. I prefer to see her invest her time in practicing.
Some may also want the added proof of seeing their children invest extra time beyond practicing--time working to pay for the lessons--in order for them to deem it a worthy sacrifice. With all the family work that my children already do, their free time only takes place in the afternoon. If 1 hour of that is devoted to piano and voice practice, that leaves her only 3 hours for reading, writing, playing, discovering new talents and interests, etc. I personally wouldn't want to see that time go to more working.
Also, when our children become scholars, most of their waking hours will be devoted to study. They have the rest of their lives to work, and earn, but only these precious 4-5 years to study all day long with no family to provide for, no babies to nurse, no children to raise. I hope to continue to pay their way through everything until they are finished with scholar (around 18 or 19). I don't want the quality of their scholar phase compromised because of the distraction of money.
They'll have a much easier time earning money, I believe, if they get a true scholar phase. If their minds can be liber and their foundations solid, I feel any sacrifice is worth it because they'll be so much more well equipped to face the challenges of their generation than if they'd missed out on liber wo that they could work 20 hours a week to pay for their car or their lessons or even their expensive scholar education. Now, if we cannot afford it, it is a different story. If the family needs them to work, I'll gladly send them to work. But just as I believe the sky is the limit on how far children can progress in their phases when given "water, soil, and sunshine," I also believe that the sky is the limit on how well husbands and father's can progress in providing for their families when given the proper "water, soil, and sunshine" that they need. They have a unique ability to "shoot for the stars" financially, and the right genius and drive to make a living out of their special gifts. I never worry about money anymore. I worry about living by true principles, and the money always comes.
I know it is God's gift and that at any time he could stop the flow of it if he decided to do so, but I believe we were in the past, keeping ourselves from the abundance by denying the truths that govern abundance. In other words, I believe we wouldn't receive what was potentially ours to have until we opened up to it. This answer really took a turn from children earning to help pay for lessons to husband's financial success. I hope somebody needed that!
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Question #65: Please share suggestions on finding mentors. I live rural without, any TJed families nearby. How do you suggest being successful during scholar phase (for myself) without the local support?
Answer: I am quite pleased with Williamsburg Academy (online) for youth scholars and George Whythe University (also online) for adult scholars.
Also, to create support and unity in your community, I recommend listening to "Unity in the Community" by Dian Jeppson and Jodi Palmer found at TJedmarketplace.com, from the March 2010 TJed Forum.
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Question #66: Can you expound on Family work? My house is very small and I have three young children.
Answer: I do my "family work" with my kids who are old enough after the breakfast dishes are done and the house is set in order for the day. In our home this is 9-11 am. I try to occupy these morning hours with tasks that are mandatory for life and that children can grow into. For example I would not study during these hours, but I would get my most important "to do's" done instead. I got the idea from Caroline Ingalls (Little House Series is a must read if you haven't already). My family work schedule looks like this:
Monday: Deep clean/scrub house
Tuesday: Laundry day (wash, iron, put away)
Wednesday: Baking/food prep for the week
Thursday: Sometimes a sewing/mending day, sometimes misc.
My miscellaneous is often seasonal projects like canning, freezing or drying, planting the garden, catching up on the garden after being gone on vacation, dejunking closets/drawers, rearranging bookshelves or desk drawers, reorganizing storage room. Or it is sometimes other projects I've been putting off like making a baby blanket, painting some trim, etc.
When the kids are as young as yours, it's mostly the patterns that they are learning by watching you more than the actual skills required to complete the chores (with the exception of the little personal chores that you mentioned). In Little House on the prairie, Laura knew all about baking day, churning day, washing day long before she could participate in them. But, because of the consistency, and the daily schedule, she was able to phase into the work when she came of age much smoother than if her mother had suddenly assigned her large tasks at the age of 7. She had watched Ma do wash before she could help. She had smelled and tasted baking day and probably knew exactly how it was conducted before she could actually participate. She says "We helped Ma as much as we could." She said that sometimes they were just "minding baby Carrie". I have had great success following this pattern and have noticed that because of the consistency we now have, my younger children fall into family work routines much more naturally than my older children did at their age when our lives were much less orderly. My baby (2) knows many of the routines from watching them and tries willingly to participate. Of course we only allow him to participate in the ones that would be harmless and possibly useful (like folding wash cloths and other small tasks). But, he knows where the broom is and who to deliver it to, and how to help with various different chores that the older ones are in charge of, and he tries to help. My 4 and 6 year old fell into work routines with such ease as they became capable enough because they had seen the order all along.
If I had understood the power of order before my children were old enough to help with chores, I would have kept these routines then also, even though I would have been the only one participating.
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Question #67: I have allowed my children to choose books for themselves with birthday money etc. They have chosen book that I would not choose for them (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc) but I felt like I made up for that when I read classics to them. Your thoughts?
Answer: In my opinion, it is extremely important to fill my home with the most beautiful, tasteful, most inspiring and the greatest in every subject. Even if it is Karl Marx (which is not so beautiful), it is great because of the lessons learned. It is equally important to rid my home of the cheap, senseless and ugly, or wrong headgates that could serve as distractions from these beautiful things. If I control the environment (which I feel is my stewardship...not the children's) then I do not have to try to control the children. I can let them choose whatever they want from among the choices our property contains. Then I feel in control because they are choosing between things we believe in, and they feel like they are in control because they govern their own free-time.
I think we each feel so good with this set up because we are each controlling that part of our lives and stewardships that we ought to control, fulfilling our responsibilities, and we are each refraining from controlling those things we have no business controlling. I feel that children have no business controlling the home environment, (don't get me wrong, their influence and ideas are welcome at all times, but not their control) and that parents have no business controlling how their children spend their free-time (yet again, their influence is highly felt, just not their control).
In relation to the principles of headgates, I wouldn't allow a "brain candy" book into the home because they seem to stimulate the children's minds in exciting ways without providing the nourishment--kind of like a Twinkie--I got full, but I never got fed, and it was so easy and it felt so good that now I want more. This is the model for all addictive substances and activities. I mention this not because I'm so afraid they will become addicted to brain candy books, although they may. I mention it because it is a powerful model that can play with our minds, and I feel that parents should be aware of it. I would personally keep myself and my children far away from things following the addictive model just in case it would train up our appetites for the unnatural instead of the natural. I know families where the children have had brain-candy books available to them and the children read an unhealthy amount. They will read all night into the early morning, feeding a need to consume more. I have not seen this behavior in families where only the best is available. Children and adults are more likely to read the greats until satiated in a healthy and balanced way.
There is a natural thrill from the classics that is more beautiful than anything a brain-candy book could ever offer. Now that I am grown and have tasted it, I can easily choose it again and again for the rest of my life. But the classics are hard work, and come with less carnally appealing thrills, yet more beautiful, refined thrills, appealing more to the mental and the spiritual. I find these more valuable, yet much more subtle. I feel that children need to train and practice in order to develop the tastes of the more subtle spiritual and mental thrills. I don't think of this as brain-washing because they came with these tastes. They are already a part of them, but like muscles, they need to be exercised.
I also allow my children to spend their birthday money from relatives, but they must choose from among those things that we as their parents would allow into the home anyway.
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Question #68: I was wondering about Montessori, absorbent mind. Do you use any of the Montessori toys in your simple toy box?
Answer: I do not use any Montessori toys, however, I don't know that I have anything against them. I know that some Montessori toys are little activities or tasks that the children do for learning/play and include many parts and pieces and need to be done correctly. I love her reasoning behind these activities and also the results she got using them, but I have decided that my children get this same experience during work time. They must do certain tasks in certain ways and under close supervision. Then, during free time, they can make believe to their heart's content...which wouldn't be possible if their play room was full of special activity sets to be used in proper ways and under close supervision.
I do not know what all of the Montessori toys are, but if I were looking at some, and deciding whether or not to include them in my home, I would ask myself the same questions I ask myself about any toys. These questions are found under the "headgates" section of The Headgate ebook.
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