Knowledge House Newsletter

Homeschool Information... Ideas... and Inspiration

~ January 2009 ~

Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

Can you believe another year has already begun? It seems that I'm off to a good start with over 300 new subscribers! A great big WELCOME to you all! It was amazing to see my mailing list double almost overnight after a couple of my e-books were featured in The Old Schoolhouse Christmas promotion. I owe a special debt of gratitude to one of my readers who referred me for this opportunity – thank you Nancy!!! I pray that my newsletter will meet - or hopefully perhaps even exceed - everyone's expectations.

The new year has already brought some changes for our family. My son Peter who graduated from high school this summer was awarded a full tuition scholarship at the local community college. This means he can get a two-year degree tuition-free (as long as he keeps his grades up) which was a surprise blessing, and a much needed one since my husband is out of work. Incidentally, my husband (the math teacher in our house) was disappointed that Peter’s math score on the placement test wasn’t as high as the reading or writing sections. But then the honors advisor told him that Peter’s was the highest math score she had ever seen! (Yep, Saxon really works!) Peter has been homeschooled all of his life, so it will be interesting to see how he likes the college classroom setting.

Since Peter will be busy at college, his 13-year-old brother is taking over Peter’s part- time job packing and shipping vitamins for a mail-order business run by a homeschool family in our neighborhood. Although Jon is starting out at a younger age than Peter did when he first started working there, I'm hopeful that he will do as well as his older brother since Jon has always been responsible and entrepreneurial-minded. Now all we need is for my husband to find a job. In light of the economy and employment situation, I wanted to avoid any sense of commercialism this season, so I vowed not to venture into a store between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. It made for a nice relaxing stay-at-home holiday, but I kind of cheated by having my husband pick up the groceries. ;)

P.S. As part of my ongoing website improvement effort, I've added illustrations to all of the existing bios on my Famous Homeschoolers pages. From now on every bio will include a picture, as long as I can find a public domain image of the person. This month I'm focusing on Ben Franklin in honor of his January 17 birthday.

Click Here for January
Holidays & Special Days

Freebie(s) of the Month*

Start the New Year off Right!

Download a replica of Ben Franklin’s virtue chart. Every evening, review your day and give yourself a mark if you transgressed the week's virtue. The goal is to live your days without having to place any marks on your chart.

See Also: a completely blank template, with only days of the week. You can print this out and write in your own virtues and descriptions or use it for tracking daily exercises, etc.

Franklin also created what may have been the original Day-Timer. Download a replica of Franklin's Order of the Day chart based on his scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day. Print this out and use it to organize your own day.

(*Requires Adobe Reader: click here for free download.)

Featured Article

Homeschool Resolutions

If you're like me, your New Year’s resolution probably is: "This year I will do all of the things that I didn’t get to finish last year." LOL! Of course if the new year is really going to be any different, it means that you have to actually make some changes, not just continue in your wishful thinking. It might help to read this article that I wrote. See also the sample homeschool resolutions below:

1. I will develop a homeschool mission statement and follow it.
2. I will re-examine our curriculum choices and make changes if necessary.
3. I won’t get upset when my homeschool fails to run “smoothly” based on a made-up schedule or pre-set timeline.
4. If our homeschool schedule is not practical, I will change it.
5. I resolve to keep our schoolroom neat and organized. (Really, I will!)
6. I resolve to keep our homeschool records updated and accurate.
7. I will not compare my family to other homeschooling families.
8. I will not covet the free time that my neighbor has because her children are in public school.
9. I resolve to always spend my time and money wisely.
10. I resolve to always treat my children respectfully.
11. I resolve to acknowledge each of my children’s unique strengths and gifts.
12. I resolve to use those unit studies that I bought last year and haven’t touched yet.
13. I resolve to not get discouraged when I have bad days, but to call a friend who I can count on to empathize with me and encourage me in some way.
14. I will watch that fine line between giving up on something too easily, and knowing when it’s best to go on to something else for the time being.
15. I resolve to assist a beginning homeschool family in getting started.
16. I resolve to actively participate in a local homeschool group.
17. I resolve to take some regular time off for relaxation and reflection, and to maintain my mental and physical fitness.
18. I resolve to do my best to keep my patience and sustain my enthusiasm.
19. I resolve to trust in God’s help and pray for the Lord to bless my homeschooling efforts.
20. Finally, I know I’m not a perfect person, so I won’t expect my child to be a perfect student.

Ben Franklin's Proverbs
Benjamin Franklin’s
Proverbs from
Poor Richard’s Almanack
My Newest E-book!

Quote of the Month

“Let no Pleasure tempt thee, no Profit allure thee, no Ambition corrupt thee, no Example sway thee, no Persuasion move thee, to do any thing which thou knowest to be Evil; So shalt thou always live jollily: for a good Conscience is a continual Christmas.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Famous Homeschoolers

Benjamin Franklin

Despite being born into a poor family and receiving less than two years of formal schooling, Benjamin Franklin became a successful writer, inventor, and businessman. In his spare time he played chess, composed music, enjoyed swimming, experimented with electricity, helped found a country, and then served as its diplomat. Benjamin Franklin was a great American patriot, the oldest and wisest of the Founding Fathers. The new country that was to become the United States relied on him to conduct matters with European countries because he was so well respected not only in America but also around the world. Franklin would have been a famous American even if he had not been a renowned statesman and diplomat. His wide-ranging skills and knowledge led him to invent a variety of things that are still in use today such as lightning rods, Franklin stoves, and bifocal eyeglasses. His inventions also included social innovations such as “paying it forward.” Learn all about Ben Franklin here: (Each month I will highlight another famous homeschooler.)

Easy Money Gifts
Easy Money Gifts

Verse of the Month

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~Proverbs 29:18

Reading Between the Lines

Classical Astronomy: Study the Sky as Ben Franklin Did!

The International Astronomical Union has declared 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first astronomical observation through a telescope. Make this the year your family studies Classical Astronomy!

Author/illustrator Jay Ryan has done for astronomy what Jay Wile (Apologia Educational Ministries) did with the other sciences, by writing a Creation-based user-friendly curriculum designed with home learners in mind. Signs & Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy is a Biblically-centered, evolution-free science curriculum. It is particularly well-suited for Classical Christian homeschoolers or those who follow the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Unlike “Modern Astronomy” which focuses on space travel and black holes, “Classical Astronomy” is the traditional approach to studying the sky as it has been done for centuries.

Astronomy is the most ancient science. One of the Seven Liberal Arts in a classical education, Astronomy was once as essential to an educated person’s training as Arithmetic, Geometry and Music. Thus, astronomy had been part of the education of every classical and medieval scholar, as well as great thinkers from the Renaissance and Reformation, through the Founding Fathers of the American Republic. Basically, the starry sky is an excellent means of observing logic and order applied in a natural system.

Throughout history, people have used the sun, moon, and stars for timekeeping and navigation. This is the purpose for which God created the celestial bodies – for signs and seasons, days and years (Genesis 1:14). At one time, everyone from scientists to common folks knew how to read the signs in the sky. However, somewhere along the way this knowledge was forgotten and is now neglected or even omitted in contemporary classrooms and curricula. Signs & Seasons provides a golden opportunity for Christian homeschoolers who respect God’s creation to rediscover the astronomical heritage of a bygone era.

Signs & Seasons is an 8½ x 11” heavy hardbound book, 280 pages in length, lavishly illustrated on thick glossy paper, with an eye-catching front cover that would be suitable for display on a coffee table. Selected pages are printed in the style of an old almanac from Colonial America. If you are a fan of Ben Franklin, you will want to get this book!

NEW! Jay Ryan recently published a companion workbook to accompany the curriculum textbook. The Signs & Seasons Field Journal and Test Manual was especially created for high schoolers to establish 120 hours of field work for a full high school astronomy credit. Time sheets are provided to enable students to record work hours and thereby document their time spent working on the course and related activities. The Test Manual section measures the student’s mastery of the subject matter for assigning a final letter grade. I was thinking of making up my own test questions for each chapter but hadn’t gotten around to it yet, so I was really glad when this book was released!

The Field Journal and Test Manual is a 192-page perfect-bound softcover, the same high quality publication as the textbook. It includes tables, maps, sketch boxes, worksheets, test pages, a parent-friendly answer key, and even copy-and-cut-out paper rotatable wheels for modeling the motions of celestial objects. This workbook makes the curriculum a lot more useful for busy homeschool families. One more thing I would like to add is that the author, through his Yahoo Group, will be happy to answer any questions that you have. This in itself adds tremendous value to the curriculum, while it also enables you to discuss your night sky observations with other users of the Classical Astronomy curriculum from around the world. Now you have no reason not to study the sky as Ben Franklin did!

For more information, read my original Classical Astronomy review here or go directly to the Classical Astronomy website, where you can order the curriculum.

Psalm 23
The Lord is
My Shepherd:
23rd Psalm
Unit Study

Learning Links

  • New Year Resolutions (Haven't thought of a resolution yet? It's not too late! Pick one from the list and get tips for keeping your resolutions.)

  • The Snowflake Man (Wilson Bentley, a homeschooler, was the first person to photograph a snowflake on January 15, 1885.)

  • Let it Snow (Fun facts about snow.)

  • Robert E. Lee (January 19 is a day of celebration in some southern states, as it is the birthday of Robert E. Lee. As a child he was taught at home by his mother, and his own children were homeschooled by his wife.)

  • Handwriting & Penmanship (National Handwriting Day is coming up on January 23. This article contains tips for teaching handwriting and ideas on how to improve penmanship. Practicing better handwriting would be a good resolution! You can start by copying Ben Franklin's Proverbs.)

  • My Products

    Learning for Life Gardening for Wildlife How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement The Nativity Story Citizens Rule Book
    My Websites

    Knowledge House

    Homeschool Patriot

    Little Brick Schoolhouse

    Homeschooling Teen

    Arizona Edventures

    A Note From Teri...

    What's Your Homeschool Vision?

    The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to re-think and re-organize your homeschool, especially if you feel that things weren’t going so well at the end of last semester. Perhaps the excitement of beginning school in the fall has worn off and the mid-winter doldrums combined with the anxiety of all you have yet to cover has you feeling overwhelmed. In addition, you may have noticed that the busyness of daily life seems to distract you from the things that matter most. The whole family can get back on track by sitting down together and compiling a homeschool mission statement to assist in guiding you from this day forward. I created an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide that explains "How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement." It's only $7.50 for 36 pages! View contents and download a copy here:

    Happy Homeschooling!

    P.S. Next Month: Stay tuned for the big bicentennial celebration of Lincoln's birthday coming up in February.
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