– Merry Christmas
Feature Article –How Much is Enough? by Marlin Detweiler
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
We may not be the first, but we’d like offer you a hearty Merry Christmas and thank you for a wonderful year here at Veritas Press. To that end we have some gifts for you. You will find them in our Free Offers section.
How Much is Enough?
About one week after sending out the November epistula I told my wife that we needed to scrap any plans for a Christmas oriented lead article to answer questions resulting from the Musings From a Mom article of last month. It seems the author hit a nerve. And, like any good dentist who hits a nerve while drilling, we thought it wise to medicate.
There were several statements made in the article that we received comments on, but they generally focused on this:
Homeschoolers Are Behind: It was surprising to hear that Veritas Academy often tests homeschoolers for admittance and finds them lacking. We all think our children are brilliant and several grade levels ahead of where they “should” be. Apparently this is not so. More homeschoolers must hear that.
Some responses and questions asked for clarification. Others pointed out weaknesses or different sets of facts, such as having many more children to teach, as many of you do. Still others suggested that we were throwing a guilt trip on you. One even suggested that a testimonial-type article lacked credibility in an academic journal. I’m flattered that epistula was called an academic journal, but I don’t think the description fits. Our purpose is to be informative and motivational as well as interesting—not just an academic journal.
In the remainder of this article I’d like to address what seems to be at the bottom of all the responses. It is probably best characterized by an excerpt from one of them:
I find myself more and more sensitive to whether I’m doing “enough,” doing it “right” with my dd [dear daughter], etc. What to you all seemed like a limited example has stirred up quite a bit of confusion in our classical homeschooling circles.
The problem is fairly simple. You have chosen to homeschool. Some are not trained as a teacher. You are told you can do it (and we believe you can, too). You believe you can, and you start. You get caught up in the details and at some point you think, “How much is enough?” By the way, this question is one that schools ask themselves, too. And they should.
The question keeps begging an answer. How much IS enough? How much is ENOUGH? And you feel some guilt because there is always more that can be done. There is always someone else doing something that you are not, and you wonder if you should. Again, schools feel this pressure, too.
The first thing we really must consider is the fact
that each situation is different. All other things being equal, a family with
five children cannot educate with the same level of individual attention that a
family homeschooling one child can. Naturally, this makes
a difference. Another factor is money. A family that can afford to take their
third grader to
We all make choices. I can’t imagine anyone moving
Schools and homeschools are faced with similar choices. You cannot do it all. A typical family homeschooling, say, three children can’t reasonably expect to do as thorough a job teaching three different tracks in every discipline with one set of parents teaching as a family with one child. Furthermore, homeschooling has some built-in differences from a school. Many parents are teaching without having been trained to teach—that is tough. Is it offset by the fact that the parent loves the child more than any teacher can? Sometimes. Sometimes not.
I commend you for choosing to give your child a Christian education—in school or at home. That is the first and foremost issue as far as I’m concerned. Christians have no business having their children educated by agnostic institutions and then wondering why they don’t faithfully follow the Lord. This should be non-negotiable.
What is negotiable is, “How much is enough?” But we must be prepared to make these choices. And we must figure out a way to do them both honestly and guilt-free. Basketball or Algebra? Piano or Physics? Are they even either/or questions?
My wife, Laurie, has made the comment that many homeschooing families coming to Veritas Academy are behind.
It seems that needs clarification. Someone asked if homeschooling
families that use Veritas Press curriculum are also behind when they seek to
enter the school. Some are, some aren’t. They do tend
to be better prepared. It is also true that many children coming from other
schools are behind. It is not unusual for a child to be a year or two behind in
math. It is also true that some homeschooling
children will have been exposed to things that children at Veritas have not because
their family deemed it as important. The point that she was making with her
comment is this: schooling children, whether in school or a homeschooling
situation, is HARD, HARD work. It requires diligence. When a child is in a
situation where a teacher is constantly critiquing their writing, making them
redo their math problems, etc. they generally move ahead quickly—school or
homeschool. When a teacher assigns a test for Friday, they do not care if Jimmy
was out late last night at a baseball game, Jimmy still has to take the test
and so Jimmy continues to move ahead. You should know we love homeschooling. If the impression was given that we think
school is definitely better that is not the case. It is not that simple. When
our oldest was in third grade and homeschooled he was
able to do two years of Saxon in one year (A friend of Laurie’s trained as a
CPA was teaching him math). This enabled him to be on a track to be complete
Calculus in tenth grade and Calculus II his junior year. In his senior year he took
We frequently hear that schools waste time—that you ought to be able to do your school day in a few hours a day. Whether in school or at home, work is work; it all depends on how you use the time.
So, where do we get academic standards that tell us, “THIS is enough!”? We think that looking to better educational times historically is wise. We think looking at present day success cases is helpful. In our work we have looked at historic examples, examples from other cultures and, of course, our own circumstances. All this has led to the levels of accomplishment that we recommend in our catalog and on our web site. But we must realize that a rigorous academic education is not everything. It has been very important to me to give my children a well-rounded education that includes athletics and the arts. They have benefited greatly.
As I write I can still sense some frustration. You still want to know, “How much is enough?” Yet, I hope you can see that I cannot provide a simple, one-size-fits-all answer. The answer, frankly, is “It depends.”
Here at Veritas Press, we desperately want to help you as much as we can. We purpose to help parents and schools to raise a godly generation that is better educated than we, that is more capable than we. And that is helping to move the world—individuals, communities and nations—in which we live to a right relationship with their Creator. And we think that a rigorous classical Christian education balanced with other very important matters is an integral part to that end.
In the Free Offers section below you will find a free link to a talk I did on Academic Standards. I think it will help “set the bar” for you.
We have also given much thought to offering a service to homeschools and schools that would be far more extensive than our consulting service. Our discussions have included ideas like on-going consulting, test and paper grading, curriculum design and implementation techniques, certificates of completion for any given grade and even a degree program for graduation from high school. We’d like to hear from you. Would this be helpful? Would it help you know, “How much is enough?”
It is not our purpose to send you on a guilt trip. However, it is our clear and express purpose to recognize that the educational standards of today are quite slack when weighed in the balance of history and student capability. And we want you to join us in doing something about it to the glory of God.
Christmas is just around the corner, and for many families that means bringing home a Christmas tree. Our church family has developed a tradition of a brunch the Saturday after Thanksgiving and then a caravan to a tree farm where we take a wagon into the woods to cut down a tree. Let me tell you, for a Floridian the first time we did that was quite an experience. I love Christmas trees. In fact my husband would tell you, picking out a tree is . . . well, something he sits back and lets happen; I want my tree just right. Then comes the fun of bringing the tree home and decorating it.
Have you ever wondered where the idea of decorating a tree came from?
one knows for sure, but it appears that ornaments began in Germany in the 15th
century. Trees were adorned with nuts, fruits, paper roses, wafers, sweets and
lighted candles. Later decorations would include painted eggshells, cookies and
candies. Many of us still make gingerbread cookies to decorate our trees. In
the 200 years following, this custom of decorating trees spread throughout
What you and I think of as ornaments really became popular in 1880, when F. W. Woolworth of the five and dime stores stocked his stores with German-made ornaments. These were primarily hand cast lead and hand blown glass. By 1935 Japan and some European countries entered the market of producing Christmas tree ornaments. I hope this was as interesting to you as it was to me. I always like to look into the history of traditions.
Now that our children are older I can’t tell you how much fun it is when we get out the ornaments to look at those that they made when they were young. It brings back such memories and usually makes for great stories as we decorate the tree. One of the things I once did was have them make an ornament from the time period in history we were studying. Click here to go to a web page where you can download a file with patterns for ornaments from different time periods in history. We hope you enjoy making them and adding them to your Christmas traditions. ***[Click here to go to a test PDF.]
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From now until Christmas we will gift wrap anything you order at no charge. Just ask. If you would like your order wrapped for several different people we can do that, too. But you’ll need to help a little. When you order tell us you would like the order gift-wrapped for several people and then give all the items for the first person, tell us when their items are complete and repeat for all remaining recipients. We will even drop-ship to another location if you wish. However, we cannot drop-ship one order to multiple locations. This can be accommodated by placing separate orders for each shipping location.
Free Academic Standards talk on MP3
Marlin Detweiler gives some clear standards for the classical Christian educator. This talk was given at a recent Veritas Academy Teacher Training Conference. Click here to play or download it.
Q. My daughter is 13 and in 8th grade. Is it really fair to ask her to read with understanding material that is typically given in High School Honors classes? She is very bright, but is struggling with the lengthy, complex reading assignments.
A. I assume you are referring to the Omnibus curriculum and will answer accordingly. As you might have read, much of this epistula has been dedicated to issues surrounding your question. You mention High School Honors classes and you could have mentioned colleges as well. There is no doubt that a college student should be able to handle more than a 16- or 17-year-old, who should be able to handle more than a 13-year-old. The real question is whether it is realistic for the 13-year-old at all. Certainly, someone who has had a rigorous classical Christian education in the prior years will be more able to tackle the material than someone who has not, so the foundation must be considered. The other matter is how they are taught. It seems quite wise to us to dedicate significant blocks of time to reading out loud with the teacher, stopping occasionally to discuss the reading for comprehension purposes. This isn’t always practical, but for the age level, it is ideal.
Q. What do you think about books written in a series, like The Hardy Boys or The American Girl Doll Collection?
A. As you know, in the younger years we carry some series such as the Boxcar Children, Amelia Bedelia and Encyclopedia Brown. Although we do not purport these to be the best in children’s literature, they definitely serve a purpose. One of the main things children need to do to become better readers is to READ. And one of the best ways to do this is to hook them on a series that they keep asking for more. However, be cautioned: many of the series put out today, like Captain Underpants are just downright disgusting. Not only are they poor literature, they are something you would not want your child to read.
We really want to hear from you. Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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had a points/rewards program. For every $100 purchase you received one point
good for a $5.00 credit on your next order. All points must be used before
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Dr. Leyland Ryken is scheduled to be the
featured speaker at the 2007 Teacher Training Conference July 18–20 in
Those who choose to take advantage of this foundational learning opportunity will leave invigorated with clear tools, methods and plans to teach and administer a classical Christian education in their school or homeschool. We will also be offering Latin-in-a-Week July 16–20th. Look for a brochure in the spring if you:
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Last Call on History or Bible Project Competition
You are invited to submit entries of completed projects from the Veritas Press History or Bible curriculum. The rules are:
1. All submissions must include a picture and description of the project, names of people involved and whether the submission is from a school or homeschool.
All submissions must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Projects will be judged and winners announced in the February epistula.
4. Projects may be from the list of projects included in the teacher’s manuals or may be of your own design. However, they must relate to material being studied.
5. Each division—school and homeschool—will be awarded Veritas Press gift certificate prizes as follows:
a. $200 for first place
b. $100 for second place
c. $50 for third place
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 We realize that some reading this are not aware of the Christian reasons and heritage for the Christmas tree. Time and space do not permit doing so here. If anyone has interest in such an article we would gladly consider it for next December. Just let us know.