Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Introduction and Chapter One

From our first meeting of the year…

September 20, 2012

Knowing that I didn’t do an exemplary job at sharing notes after meetings last year, Jacki Young, who is graciously co-leading our study group has also heroically offered to share her notes on the meetings.  I have cut and pasted her notes below and added a few thoughts of my own.  (The good stuff is Jacki’s writing; the muttering is mine.  Thank you for your grace in wading through my mutterings.)  Jacki has not only provided a summary of the ideas presented in the book but has also added in some of the thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and musings that we enjoyed during the evening.

General comments about the book:

          Does not have as many practical suggestions as expected.  Perhaps other Ruth Beechick books would fill in the gaps?  See for example The Three R’s (practical suggestions for kindergarten through grade 2) or You Can Teach Your Child Successfully(Grades 3 and up).  Ruth Beechick also has several other writings that would be worth looking at.  I (Cori) liked this article:

          There are a number of assumptions that Dr. Beechick has made from the start of this study such as that we already feel confident in the choice to home educate and that the Bible is wholely true.  She doesn’t leave room for discussion of these ideas in this volume assumedly because she feels that the title A Biblical Home Education ensures that her readers have already grappled with these issues

          Would like more details on how to teach Bible as literature ie. Hebrew poetry

          Dr. Beechick distinguishes between language learning and content learning and encourages students to improve their language skills by using them in the content subjects

          Recent blog articles on might help with teaching individual subjects (17 part series).  Refer to:


Chapter 1 – Bible

          The Bible is essential for literacy because it is the most widely referenced book

          The Bible and Bible storybooks are important for teaching doctrine and for teaching Bible as literature; can be used as main textbook for home school.  An interesting difference from the stance that Charlotte Mason had as she wasn’t very much in favour of using Bible Storybooks.  Charlotte Mason felt that the Bible was story book enough and that any other story books pre-digested the truths for the children, and dumbed down the language.  Hmm, food for thought.

          Reading the whole Bible (not just passages) ensures that parents cannot take verses out of context eg. to manipulate children to doing right

          Old Testament stories point to Jesus (this is a “type”); this is evident in Jesus Storybook Bible and Mystery of History resources

          Put Bible readings in history.  Biblical history and the rest of history mustn’t be separated!

          Beechick says, “Chronological order does not help in the early years”.  As we teach the Bible and History over and over again, children of different ages will hear the cycle a number of times and understand the chronology.  Again, a departure from Charlotte Mason’s style and worth pondering.

          Beechick’s process of a child learning to understanding analogy:

o        Analogies of actions

o        Analogies of actors

o        The objects in the analogies

          There are parallels with the three stages of classical education:

o        Grammar (facts & stories)

o        Dialectic (why?)

o        Rhetorical (what do I think?)

          Do we censor the Bible when reading to young children?  WE use discretion as parents to ensure readings are “age appropriate”

          Other helpful Bible resources:

o        Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

o        “What’s in the Bible?” DVD series by Phil Vischer

o        Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible on

          Some considerations when choosing a version of the Bible to use:

o        Beechick’s history of modern day Bible translations is “limited” eg. King James Version was not “thrown out” when other versions written

o        Different versions had different goals in translation; some Bibles are paraphrases, not translations eg. The Message

o        Some modern day translations have truncated verses eg. In 1 Tim 2:5, studying refers to studying God’s word, not just studying in general

o        King James version is better written (quality, cadence, flow, etc.); familiarity with KJV enables students to read other difficult classic literature sooner


Wow!  Thank you Jackifor giving such thorough feedback on the book and the meeting.

I’m also looking forward to hearing some feedback.  To those of you who were there, is there anything we missed?  If you weren’t there, what are your thoughts?  What were the take away lessons that have challenged you or have helped in your home school recently?  Please try to post your comments directly on the blog (rather than replying if you are receiving this as an email) so that we can all participate in the conversation.

Looking forward to the next meeting on November 1stwhen we will look at Chapter 2: “World History to Match the Bible”!

Blessings, Friends!


Maple Tree Publications

Book Suggestions From This Meeting:

(Many of these are regularly in stock at Maple Tree.  Most of the rest can be ordered through Maple Tree.  Call or email for details as not all of our regular stock is listed on the website.)

The Three R’s

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully
A Biblical Home Education
Jesus Storybook Bible
Mystery of History
Children’s Story Bible
What’s in the Bible?
Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible
The Bible: many favourite versions and paraphrases include: King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Version, the Message, and others…

On Becoming Far-Sighted

Dear Friends,

I thought I would take a {quick} break from my planning.  I’ve spent my evening getting ready to participate in an Awana Children’s Ministry conference at the end of this month.  This will be the second time that I have been to this conference and this year I will be presenting two new workshops called “What is a Biblical Education?” and “Day by Day and Side by Side”.  Even though I do get nervous and pretty perfectionist about my preparations I am really looking forward to sharing some of the new things I have been learning and pondering.

At the encouragement of our local Awana missionary, I picked up a copy of Raising  Modern Day Joseph by Larry Fowler and tonight I got to curl up with a good book to do some “work”.  (This is one of the reasons that I love my job: reading is a requirement!)  I am only part way through it but I am feeling challenged already.

The author asked this question, “What do you want to be able to say about your children when they are thirty?”  Good question…

I think that as homeschooling parents we often consider ourselves more intentional than our counterparts that don’t spend hours mulling over lessons plans and curriculum choices.  But do we often look at our children’s education with such far-sighted lenses?

This was a great reminder to me that I really do need to remember to live beyond just this moment and to think of what the long term goals are that I have when I am educating my kids.  Charlotte Mason stressed that an education was so much more than simply the cramming of much knowledge into a little mind but that equally important was the motivation for learning and the habits that were formed along the way.

Diana Waring recently reminded me in a talk that she did (Thank you Lord for seminars on CD!) that biblical education is a blend of knowledge, piety and morality.  To be truly educated we must be assimilating knowledge in accordance with our relationship with the God of the universe and our love for Him and we must apply that love and knowledge to the world around us, learning to live in a way that is fitting for a child of The King.

I still have so much to learn in this respect but my husband and I have put some thought into what we want to be able to say about these children of ours when they are thirty and, so far, it looks something like this, “It is our hope and prayer that our daughters will become lovers of God and of their families, women of strong character who are contributors to family, church and society, who are unwavering in their faith and able to share it with and defend it to others.” 

Tall order, I know.  And I do struggle with the notion of expecting something of them that I don’t always see in myself.  I guess this is better to be called a hope, a prayer, than an expectation.  But without a plan, as we know, we will never get anywhere.  I like the quote that I read in the book this evening, an excerpt from a poem by Longfellow,

            I shot an arrow into the air,

            It fell to earth, I knew not where.

Without intentionality in our efforts to rightly guide these precious treasures in the path that they should go we can only be sure that we won’t know where they will end up. 

The path is long from finished in our journey of parenting and educating but it is my hope and prayer that, with God’s help, if we keep those long term goals in mind, we will have a better chance of answering that question with confidence someday: “My daughter is 30 today and she is all that I every imagined that God would want for her to be!”

What are your hopes, Friends, for your children?  What to you want to be able to say about them when they are beyond these intensive years in your care?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Maple Tree Publications

Whispers of Change…

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t do well with change.  I don’t like the town’s new library because it is so huge and metropolitan and now I am just a number with a large fine and a lot of books that all to often seem to be reshelved before they are properly checked in.  I would never be the one to think of fixing or improving something in our home since “it’s doing okay as it is, isn’t it?”  I tend to shop at the same grocery store and walk the same aisles.  Trying out new recipes stresses me out because, first of all, it’s going to take time to figure out where to get the ingredients and then someone is going to complain because kids do tend to be “plain Jane” eaters.

Even with the changing of the seasons, though I do look forward to the march from spring to summer to fall to winter and back again – I think that the variety in our weather is one of the wonderful parts of living in Canada – it stresses me out.  It was only just last week that I finally got all of the winter coats and mittens out into the garage for “summer storage”.  I love summer but there is the constant pull in different directions: I want to be outside in my yard, in my garden but I know that I need to spend a few minutes here and there at the computer.  It’s great to get a break from the routines of the school year but then there always seems to be the absolute chaos of lost routines.  (Is it only my kids that think that when there is a break from formal spelling lists and grammar lessons that the bathrooms will never get dirty and the dishes will wash themselves?)

As such it has been easy for me, over the past few years to keep at the same old same old in terms of school planning.  It was comforting to know where we’d been and where we were going.  But then, it also got a bit too routine.  We got bored.

So this summer has been one of regrouping.  Thinking, evaluating, really asking myself what went well and what needs changing.  It has been a time of getting myself mentally ready for a walk down a different road.  We need something fresh.

What is changing in our learning plan this year, you might ask?  Nothing really and yet so much.  We haven’t decided to put the kids in school or to pitch all of the carefully chosen resources that we’ve been using in favour of others.  Rather, the change that we need is one of attitude, atmosphere.  I’ve always claimed to enjoy reading and revered it as the way to knowledge.  Like Ruth Beechick says, schooling can be reduced to two subjects: learning to read and reading about anything and everything.  The thing is that we have reduced reading to a subject to tackle amidst all of the other busy work of assignments and curricula. 

This year, I want to help to reignite the love of learning that we had but have more recently forgotten about.  I want to make reading the central part of our learning time rather than an add-on that we tackle if we can get through everything else.  This school year I want to go beyond the basics of knowledge through schooling and get into real wisdom through education. 

We need to learn afresh that a proper education goes well beyond the stuffing full of knowledge to greater subjects like piety (knowing God) and morality (character training).  We need to learn that real training for excellence is gained by learning to love our sisters, by practicing random acts of kindness, by loving God as more than just a subject in school. 

This school year, though we aren’t blowing away all of our previous habits, we are looking forward to the winds of change as the seasons plod on and we plan around a new set of subjects: love for God, love for our family, love for others and love for learning. 

I hope to share snippets of our learning plans with you as they continue to develop.  For now, I’m just getting comfortable with the changes that we will be making – which will include time again for my old favourites like reading and handicrafts.

Looking forward to the start of a new school year!

– Cori


New Stuff!

It’s been a while since my last post since we officially entered “conference season” at the end of March and I have had to spend more time in the “real world”.  I wanted to send you all a quick note though, before I head out to Ottawa for this weekend’s RVHEA conference, to let you know a bit of what is going on here Under the Maple Tree. 

For more than a decade, Maple Tree has been committed to bringing you spectacular homegrown Canadian homeschool resources.  In the past few years though as I have been out at conferences and enjoying many yummy chats with all of you we have often talked about wonderful books that weren’t on our publication list.  After a chat about one great resource or another the inevitable question was, “Can I get that from you?”  I was pleased to be able to point my friends to where they could seek out some of these yummy resources but have decided to stream line the process for you (and to work harder at paying for our own piano lessons rather than at padding some other retailer’s bottom line). 

So, in light of the fact that we love the principles of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education, we have expanded out product line and now carry many of the essentials of a Charlotte Mason education

I do plan to send you some more info in the near future on these products but, in short, we can now provide you with:

– Life of Fred Math
– Learning Language Arts Through Literature
– Mystery of History
– and Apologia Science

As well as many Charlotte Mason style Bible and parent resources.  We have been slowing adding products to the website so check back there as we continue to make updates but also feel free to email or call for more information.  I’d be happy to try to help you find the resource that you are looking for.  For now, our product line is fairly simple (though it is a big and exciting change here in our little corner of the world) as we aim to provide at least some essentials of a Charlotte Mason education.

Don’t forget that Maple Tree was founded on amazing Canadian resources that we continue to provide: Working Together, Come Sit By Me and the Great Canadian ArtPak to name a few. 

Please stop by our virtual store as you plan to visit your local conference or to order books for you next school year.

And if you are going to be at one of the remaining conferences that I will be at (Ottawa, Hamilton, Barrie, Brantford, or Toronto) please come and say hello!  I’d love to chat with you in real life!



Mother Culture: Wisdom vs. Knowledge – Part Two

Wisdom vs. Knowledge (Some notes on Chapter 5, Home Education:  Strengthening Your Child’s Mind to Learn for God) 

The Clarkson’s have created a simplified list that they believe to be seven basic mental muscles (strengths) that kids need in order to graduate as strong, well-educated adults: 

  1. Language
          talk and discuss much, create a print rich environment, read aloud a lot and on your own, write, limit television

“We all use language as a utilitarian means of information exchange, but those who understand its power use it to change lives and even influence history.” – pg 76

        What are some of your favourite family reads lately?  Do you, like me, find it hard to prioritize that yummy reading time when there are so many measurable things that you should do like math lessons, piano practice and copywork? 

  1. Appetites
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever if right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

– create and appetite for the best academic materials: great literature, art, music, poetry, books that bring people, topics and episodes in history alive.  Limit videos.

  1. Habits
Developing right habits is key to the success and good character of our children.  “Most good habits are the end product of discipleship and discipline of your children.” – pg. 80.  We must work on helping our children to become people of strong virtue.  (That’s why I wrote “Working Together”!)
How do you help your family to build those right habits?  What would define success in habit building to you?  In our family, we have put an emphasis on habits that develop strong, positive character traits and that develop responsibility.  (I would love it if Working Together was an encouragement to you as you strive to teach your family strong character while still working on conquering the everyday responsibilities of keeping home and family.  Please do check it out!)

  1. Creativity
Contemporary parenting styles may create overly programmed lives for children, by over-protecting them and over-scheduling them, which has the effect of denying children opportunities to discover for themselves as much as in previous generations.” – pg. 82 quote from Kyung Hee Kim, Associate Professor at the College of William and Mary.

– keys to creativity: provide time (FREE time) and tools, help to rightly develop the imagination (steering away from destructive imaginative outlets), encourage kids creative strengths and guide kids to try new things without forcing things on them and model creativity as parents.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned in all of my years as a math tutor was that kids who were always busy weren’t always the happiest or most successful.  There has to be something else that leads to success and happiness even though busyness seems to be the mantra of our age.

  1. Curiosity
You must learn how to channel that God-given curiousity into pure-clean waters.” – pg. 84

– how to foster the right kind of curiosity: let them know that curiosity is good, model discerning curiosity, provide lots of resources (not just books but craft supplies, a microscope, telescope, computer programmes or appropriately supervised internet access), direct studies to areas that kids are interested in, plan field trips strategically, and use teachable moments.

  1. Reason
Our reasoning is grounded in our world view so our faith is inextricably connected to our ability to take account of what is real or known (rather than speculative or unknown) to make judgements, to reason.

– Help to develop reasoning by constantly dialoguing and discussing issues, solving problems together, forming opinions and exercising thinking skills.  (They suggest “two-minute mysteries” as good dinner time talk and thinking skill builders.  Some of the mamas in our little group like the deductive reasoning skills books that often have fun mysteries to unravel.  Any other suggestions?)

  1. Wisdom
Wisdom goes well beyond knowledge to rightly applying what we know.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

– We can help our kids to be discerning by helping them to gain the skills needed to search the scriptures for the answers that they need.  Teach them how to use a concordance, Bible dictionary and topical Bible to do their own research.

– Learn the connection between wisdom and humility by seeking answers from others that know more than ourselves.

– Pray for wisdom.  Be a good steward of your time and resources.  Write out wise quotes and keep them present in a book or posted in significant places in your home.

In our homes we need to cultivate a positive learning environment.  Learning can’t be rushed however it is wise to help our children to learn a sense of duty so that they will also know how to do what they ought to do both as young people and later as adults.  This a another one of the careful balancing acts that a parent must maintain knowing that home life itself is a huge part of one’s education despite the presence of a formal time. 

Looking back, this synopsis seems long…  There is just so much packed into each chapter.  Yikes!  I still have so much to learn.  (Don’t you sometimes wonder that you will never really be ready to love and care for and teach your little cherubs until you have graduated them all?  Maybe it’s just me.)

Wishing you strenth as you take this crazy job on!


Mother Culture: Wisdom and Knowledge – Part One

(Some of you, Friends, mentioned that, when receiving these posts by email, the last post didn’t come through fully.  My technical expertise are still very lean and so if that is the case again then please look to the bottom of the email for a link to the blog online where you can read this entire post.  Thank you for your Grace!))

**  Thank you also for your many words of encouragement and your prayers for our daughter.  Her cardiologist feels that her pains aren’t related to her heart condition at this time and so her paediatrician gave her a bout of antibiotics…  L  A few days later she was sick again but with a common virus (fever and headache) so “out of the frying pan and into the fire”.  At least now we are dealing with a more run of the mill illness and are recovering. **

Wisdom vs. Knowledge (Some notes on Chapter 5, Home Education:  Strengthening Your Child’s Mind to Learn for God)
“Contrary to secular educator’s view, a child is not educated just because he has logged enough time in classroom, performed well on certain tests, or completed a formal curriculum….  A truly educated child is one who has the desire and the ability to learn and to grow as a whole person.  The desire to learn (will) is from the heart; the ability to learn (skill) is in the mind.” – pg. 73

How do we need change the way that we have been teaching in light of this?  In our house it has meant taking the focus on the short term (history, language, math) skills building and focusing instead on more long term character based skill building (attentiveness, responsibility).

The true test of a child’s education is not what they know at any one time relative to what other children know (or don’t know).  It is whether or not the child is growing stronger in all of the most important learning skills – the skills that enable them to acquire knowledge, insight, and ability and to educate themselves independently.” – pg. 75

The goal should be to exercise all of a child’s mental muscles so they enter adulthood with a strong mind and the will and skill to learn whatever is necessary.” – pg. 75

Do we properly value autonomous learning skills?

Regardless of your children’s mental capacity, it is the strength of their mental muscles that will have the greatest impact on their success in life.” – pg. 75
Looking forward to hearing from you,

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