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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Issue #16 Feb 1, 2001


Nurturing our children in the freedom of Christ
Issue #16, Feb. 1, 2001
Sr. Editor & Publisher: Elissa Wahl
Assistant Editor: Teri Brown
Contributing Editor: Angel Dyke


1. Welcome from the Editor
2. Info on Our Book and Pre-Sales!!
3. Playing With a Passion, by Angel Dyke
4. Math and Christian Unschooling, by Jeanne Musfeldt
5. My Story, by Joy Banks
6. Links: The Importance of Play
7. Information on: VHEA, the Conference & Curriculum Fair 2001
8. Some cool message boards for homeschoolers!
9. Closing letter from the editor
10. Subscription Information
11. Reprint Information

1. Welcome from the editor

Hi all, hope this newsletter is received in the manner it was
sent ... in love and through God!

This issue will lightly explore a topic that I think many
unschoolers can relate to, yet still feel guilt about, the role of
PLAYING in our lives. Much of what our infants and toddlers learn is
done through play, so why do we often feel we must make learning more staid as they get older?

Please read on, and we pray you are blessed!

2. Info on Our Book & Pre-Sales!

Here is a sample of the TABLE OF CONTENTS... If it sparks your
interest, go to the website and read the first chapter!!

Chapter 1 What is Unschooling
The dream of homeschooling versus the reality of burnout.
Unschooling, the dream realized?
Just what is unschooling anyway?

Chapter 2 Why Unschooling
Why does unschooling or interest-initiated learning work?
The Lord Made Us Unique.
How children learn.
The environment factor.
Can Christians be unschoolers?
Jesus as our model.

Chapter 3 Getting Started
The age question.
Deschooling versus starting right in.
Bridging the Gap between Structure and Unschooling
Unit Studies.
The Charlotte Mason method.

Chapter 4 Children and Choices
How do help your children learn to make good choices?
By example.
By the Book.
By Prayer.
By consequences.

Only one more month of pre-sales on our book "Christian Unschooling;
Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ".

3. Playing with a Passion
By Angel Dyke

Be it babydolls, or trucks, sandboxes, mudpies or crayons; your
children need to play!

One thing I have realized on our homeschool journey is that it is so
easy to become addicted to academics. Mommies feel pressure from so
many different influences as they dedicate themselves to the moral,
emotional and mental cultivation of their children. Our society is
now pushing Head-Start programs for 2 and 3 year olds. It's no wonder that as parents we have a hard time allowing our little one's to engage in one of life's luxuries: Childhood Play! In this article I will share why I think it is important to let your little ones revel in merriment daily.

I believe that childhood should be a time to make joyful memories,
develop character and relationship between parent and child. God has
instilled in each child a playful spirit that is birthed directly
from His own heart. We see that children are important to Jesus in
the Gospels, and He made sure it was to be understood that those
children should have free access to Him. I feel that as parents we
need to allow our children time to explore creation, to learn about
God and this can be accomplished by playing. More than once, I have
had to examine my own motives concerning why I would scold a child
for having fun! Of course, we never need to encourage foolishness
that would bring on a disrespectful attitude, but we should also make a valiant attempt at encouraging an inquisitive childlike nature. Unfortunately, it is very easy for a child to lose his playful nature when parents refuse to accommodate his joyful spirit. Great care must be taken not to lay a heavy burden upon a child by expecting a maturity that is beyond years. Childhood is a time of training, but should be done with love and concern for preserving the nature of the child. Free time for playing and laughing should be a part of the agenda for the day.

Learning is sparked when the fires of curiosity are fanned. Are you
tired of pushing, prodding and begging for those worksheets to be
completed? Why not instead try playing a game with dried beans
instead of the Math book addition drills? English can be fun when
done in a creative nature, and spelling is much more enjoyable when
you can cut the letters out of the newspaper instead of having to
write them. Science takes on a whole new meaning if you can actually
make it come alive by doing experiments in the kitchen. I don't know
of one child who dislikes making a little mess! Encourage outdoor
time for examining our beautiful world and all the little creatures
in it! It does take a deal of patience, but once a child has learned
his responsibility to help with the clean up, they will gladly pitch
in. Make sure you have plenty of art supplies and paper available, a
good yard, or Local Park, a few household items like pots and pans,
and your child should be able to play for hours. OH, and the most
important thing for you to know is RELAX!!! Kids are born knowing
how to play, and if you leave them alone long enough; they'll find
plenty to do when it's not time for more rigorous academic endeavors
like writing, etc.

In closing, I would like to encourage you not to allow present-day
opinion to dictate your parenting style. On a daily basis, as a
pastor's wife, I see children crossing over to adulthood prematurely
at an alarming rate. Children in America are at risk of being robbed
of something precious when they are forced to conform to a rigid
academic environment at such an early age. A childhood is too
precious to waste.

Read my articles at Themestream:

4. Math and Christian Unschooling
by Jeanne Musfeldt

Math is often the last subject that parents can relax with
when they begin to unschool. I know many families that unschool
everything else and not math. It was the last subject I "let go of"
for my children, too. There is math all around us. It is just a
matter of looking for it. Let's look at some recent happenings in my
home and find the math together.

My dad called me one day last fall and invited the children and I to
go with him to gather walnuts that had fallen from the trees. At
first the children weren't too interested, but when they found out
they could sell the walnuts for $10.00 for every hundred pounds of
walnuts, I could see the dollar signs in their eyes! So we loaded up
into the van and off we went. After we filled about eight garbage
sacks, my youngest asked if we were done. I told her that depended
upon how much money she wanted? She asked if we had a million
dollars yet. We talked about how much 100 pounds weighs. After
carefully thinking about this, she said, "It would be cool if each
walnut was worth $1.00!" I told her, yes, it would be, but then who
would let us pick up their walnuts for free if they were that
valuable? When we finally delivered the walnuts to the sheller,
about a week later, the children were delighted to find that they had earned $6.00 each. That money was then deposited in their bank
accounts, and they used it for holiday shopping.

Last fall, we went to a Halloween event at the local zoo. Admission
was $1.50 per person, even with our membership. We talked on the way
there about how much the total admission would be for the four of
us. And we talked about who had how much to spend. Lately, money
has been tight, so in order to go, everyone agreed to pay half of his or her own admission.

Another thing we do is a paper route. Recently while delivering
newspapers, Evan, my eleven year old, began reading the advertising
section for a local grocery store. He noticed one advertisement for
toilet paper. The advertised price for twenty-four rolls was $7.99
and he asked me if this was a good deal. So, we walked thru the
steps and broke it all down. Let's see, $7.99 is almost $8, right?
So, to make this easier, what number can go into 24 and 8? My son
replied 4. I told him that yes, this is right, but there is another
bigger number that will go into both. What is it? My daughter Cora,
who is 9, piped up, "Eight!" Way to go, Cora!! So, if we divide 8
by 8, what do we have. One, of course. Then let's divide the 24 by
8. The answer this time came from my youngest, Brenna. She said 3
before the others could beat her to it. So, we now know that we can
get 3 rolls of toilet paper for $1.00. Now, how much is that a
roll? Here we talked about numbers that go on to infinity. So,
roughly that is 33 cents a roll. How much do we usually spend on
this product? Usually we get 4 rolls for 75 cents. So is that a
bargain? No, of course not.

Cora wanted to know why people would buy it then. We then talked
about how it is important to have good math skills that you can do in your head so you can determine while you are at the store if this is a good price or not. I told her that many people today do not want to take the time to figure all this out. If the store has it on sale, it must be a good deal, right? The children thought this had been so much fun that they wanted to do more multipack products. We did a few more until Mother's head began to hurt from it all. But that has now become a new game to play on our paper route.

Our faith provides us with another area for the children to learn
more about math. Being a good steward of what God gives us includes
spending our money wisely, and teaching our children to do so. This
not only includes getting the best buy for our dollar at the store,
but also giving back to God what is His. When my son asked me how I
know how much to put in the offering late, the answer was easy. Ten
percent is what God commands us to give back. He gives us all we
have, and He asks us to have the faith to give back one-tenth of it.
He will bless that and give us more. And He always does.

Math can be learned from all things around us. God has created
everything, including mathematics. By opening your mind and heart to
the different ways. He has provided math in your life, you and your
children will be learning and enjoying math before you know it!

5. My Story
by Joy Banks

I'm 46, married 18 years, and the mother of nine children ages 17,
16, 15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 5 & 2. As Lorie Dunlevy found out (previous
Seedling Issue), God often has plans for our families that don't
include curriculum.

I succumbed to curriculum against my wishes when our oldest were 8,
7, and 6, because to join Homeschool Legal Defense in those days, one had to use an organized curriculum. Our house was full of little
ones and the stress was unbelievable. I tried to manage lesson
planning, record-keeping, pertinent field trips, related hands-on
activities, the whole bit. After experiencing what felt like massive
failure... screaming toddlers, uncooperative students, late or
nonexistent suppers, we nearly hired a maid and discussed the *perks* of public school!

But this *failure* was God's way of teaching me... He said (through
various sources) "Drop everything you're trying to do school-wise.
Begin showing these children how to help you. I have given them to
you for just that reason. They are all the help you need, and that
is all the curriculum they need." I sold the curriculum, re-read
Dr. Raymond Moore's books, and began teaching my children about
laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, and what clean bathrooms are
supposed to look like. I put together schedules for each child, and
myself, so that everybody knew who's supposed to do what at any given time (this is time-consuming but oh-so-worth-it and something I still do today). Laundry and after-meal cleanup were the most problematic, so that's where we began. Soon my oldest ones were running the entire household under my direction, with me out-of-service much of the time with various pregnancies, complications, breastfeeding, etc. Scheduled outdoor play times, regular reading times, cooking and freezing meals in bulk, and naps for everybody (including me), all contributed to making life beautiful instead of burden-full.

Today, I can't tell you how many blessings our family has reaped
because of this..... How honored I am to be the mother of so many
capable, helpful people. They willingly cook entire meals, bake
from scratch, sew, work on vehicles, put up fence, do their own and
others' laundry (including hanging it outside & taking it down &
putting it away), clean the house even when it's not *their job*,
take up the slack for us in every way, no matter what our day ends up looking like. They read voraciously, are self-taught in whatever
interests them, and have real skills that no amount of curriculum
could have given them. We've always required a bit of math, plus a
written page in their journals, on the days when there's nothing else going on.... but very little else over the years. The younger girls were taught to read by an older brother (their choice--- they felt left out seeing everybody else reading with so much delight), and they in turn are teaching their little sisters how to read and
spell. My oldest daughter (almost 18) just decided she knows very
little history, so I shrug my shoulders & say "Well, dear, how do you want to handle that? Can we order some books for you?" She gets
miffed that her *education* does not translate into grade-able
numbers, yet she doesn't realize how much she knows! My main task
now is to bolster these young people and help them see beyond the
allure of college.... which, in our house, is not an option, unless
they can show us exactly why they want to go, what they want to
accomplish, and how they will pay for it. We're more inclined to
help each one set up their own business, or be employed in the family business and learn a useful trade. We're not against higher
education, but many times, that education comes at a high cost, both
financially and morally.

Thanks be to God for my husband, for without his knowledge and
guidance, none of this would be happening. He agreed to quit a
lucrative job and start this family business so he could work with
our boys (16 & 15) and spend more time at home. It's not easy, and
there are times the boys would rather be playing volleyball with
their friends than occasionally working out-of-town with their dad.
But I'm seeing growth and change that was not possible when they were with me 24/7.

Most of the homeschoolers I've known over the years did not
understand, or agree with, our *system*. A surprising number
abandoned homeschooling and put their children in school because of
the stress of organized curriculum on their families. We've been the
most radical unschoolers we've known. Not to say unschooling is for
everyone, but after this length of time, I've seen that the most
economical use of my time is *not* in force-feeding someone else's
ideas (i.e., curriculum) to my children. It's in managing my
household well and enjoying my family! It's in talking with the
children constantly, especially the little ones.... taking many of
them with me wherever I go, even if it's a hassle (in that case, it's my attitude that must change). My children have spent many
productive hours in grocery store aisles... We discuss shapes,
colors, words, numbers, food choices, types of people, godly
behavior, American life in general. They (vicariously) learn a bit
of spelling, a bit of math, interpersonal skills, how to shop wisely, and how to obey me despite distractions. Happy obedience is a learnable skill for children of any age or temperament.

My time is best spent training the children how to love God and to
pray... to communicate without whining or manipulating.... to play
well together under any circumstances.... to help do all the
household tasks skillfully and uncomplainingly.... to be of service
in the family, neighborhood, church, and the world-at-large. The
ability to read does matter, yes... but it will come when each child
is ready and should not be forced. Casually sounding out letters on
signs or in books, showing each child (often) how much you love to
read and how pleased you are when they can identify colors, numbers,
letters, etc., or sound letters out for themselves... those are the
things that build good reading skills. Children really can teach
themselves how to read, if we don't kill their love for reading by
pressuring them.

A little written math for everybody who can read is not asking too
much and is usually fun (as long as everyone pitches in to correct
it!). Science is as simple as observing one's environment
closely.... identifying flowers, birds, trees, insects, animal
prints, weather patterns, whatever the Lord brings. It's forgetting
to add the baking powder to a batch of banana bread and seeing the
results. It's changing the oil in the truck or turning the compost
heap... hiking or biking or playing in the mud. Everything else is
*out-there*, as far as I'm concerned... Learning and knowledge are
rarely in a neatly-boxed format in the adult world, and definitely
learnable by any young mind which is free of the influence of TV and
peer groups. The beautiful stories like "our unschooling day" are
worth everything we have to sacrifice, including our stunning
reputations for perfection or a spotless house. Sometimes we even
have to sacrifice our own mother's good graces... temporarily. Give
those recalcitrant relatives all the time they need to observe what
you're doing. The biggest nay-sayers usually become your most ardent
fans as the children mature and the benefits become evident...
provided the children are well-behaved, courteous, and happy. If
they are not, it will detract from your witness and negate the
benefits of unschooling.

I still recommend everything written by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy
Moore.... my mentors from the beginning. Also John Holt, who had
such curiosity and loved children very much. If you haven't read
these authors, you are in for a treat. For more insight into family
dynamics and children's minds, read anything by Dr. Peter Breggin, a
Jewish psychiatrist who is radically opposed to using drugs to change behavior or mental conditions, especially in children. "Reclaiming Our Children: A Healing Plan for a Nation in Crisis" is excellent, but all his books are worth reading. With case histories and good common sense, he proves that "love is enough".... that empathic love can heal even the most mentally and emotionally damaged people, and solve the world's problems, too. He outlines in plain terminology how we, with God's help, can become a healing presence in our homes and relationships. Surprisingly, he is describing pure biblical Christianity... taken far beyond anything I've ever considered possible.

Thanks for this opportunity to share our story.
Joy B.

6. Links: The Importance of Play

What Does Research Say About Early Childhood Education?

Davis' The Importance of Play

The Importance of Play in the Development of Children

Preschoolers: The Importance of Play in Your Pre-Schooler's Life

The importance of play

The Importance of Play


7. Information on: VHEA, the Conference & Curriculum Fair 2001

Refresh Yourself at the
Saturday, April 21, 2001 ~ 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
In Beautiful & Historic Charlottesville, VA

FEATURING Linda Dobson
Veteran Homeschooler, Popular Speaker, Home Education Magazine
Columnist and Author of Several Books, Including the Recent
Homeschoolers' Success Stories

Veteran Homeschooler, Popular Speaker, Homeschool Resource Center
Director, Author of The Relaxed Home School, The Joyful Home Schooler, and The Home-Schooling Resource Guide and Directory of Organizations.

In the fashion of VHEA, the Conference & Curriculum Fair 2001 is
intended to be inclusive, and affordable for the typical
homeschooling family. It will be held in a casual and comfortable
setting, offering activities for adults and children to enjoy.


EARLYBIRD (Until February 28): Adult attending full event $20;
parental couple $25; children 18 and under $7*

REGULAR (March 1-31): Adults attending full event $25; parental couple
$30; Children $10*

LATE (April 1-21): Same as regular, with a $10 late fee per family*

*Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult or teen at all times

Begins January 15, 2001.
For more information visit

The Virginia Home Education Association is a fully inclusive statewide organization advancing the interests of the diverse homeschooling community.

8. Some Cool Message Boards for Homeschoolers

Homeschool Books - Shop, Swap or Sell
( is a board of over 70 homeschool moms that are interested in building a
community in which to buy sell and/or trade books & supplies. There
are currently no dealers allowed on this board.

The Snowbound Schoolhouse
( is a community
of approx. 30 moms that are exploring aspects of Gods creation EVEN
IN WINTERTIME. There are so many things that we can learn when we
simply look at the resources God has given us....apart from the
textbooks that is.

Wisdom's Way of Learning
( is a community of
over 70 moms that have read WWOL by Marilyn Howshall, and are
intending to educate their children in this very personal and
intensely spiritual journey, with their focus on the Lord and HIS
will for each individual child.

Fat Homeschool Momys
( is a group of over
45 momys that are 30 lbs or more over their DESIRED weight. The
purpose of this board is not to encourage "liking me for who I am",
but for encouraging one another to become who we want to be....for
these ladies that means thinner.

9. Closing Letter

We feel continually blessed to have been given the means to express
our desires, for more parents to relax and love their children. We
know so many people feel the same way!

Only one more month of pre-sales on our book "Christian Unschooling;
Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ".

Until next time,
Be blessed you all!

Elissa Wahl
Teri Brown
Angel Dyke

10. Subscription Information

Subscribe at :

Unsubscribe at:

11. Reprint Information

Individual authors herein retain their own copyrights. You may
freely copy this entire newsletter or material from this newsletter
in other nonprofit publications (unless otherwise marked in the
article), but you MUST include the author's name and this entire

"Reprinted with permission of Elissa Wahl from Seedling, a
Christian Unschooling E-Zine. For a free subscription, send
any e-mail message to or visit

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