A Letter to the Subscribers of Keystone and TEACH Bulletin

Dear Subscribers,


In July 2011 we wrote informing you of Craig’s brain tumour and saying that we wouldn’t be doing anything with the Home Education Foundation (“HEF”) for at least the remainder of 2011. Craig died on 30 September 2011 and we are now ready to give you an update on the status and direction of HEF. Thank you very much for your patience.

The Trustees of HEF made the following decisions at an AGM in January 2012:


A.  This will continue however it will change from being published four times a year to being published when time permits.

B. Subscriptions will be changed from expiring with a certain month to expiring after a certain number of issues. Your address label will change slightly to now indicate how many issues you still have to come.

C. New subscribers will sign up for a particular number of issues.

D.  Craig was halfway through the July 2011 issue of Keystone when he died. Barbara will complete this and send it out as time is permitting.

E. After this another family will take over sourcing articles and putting Keystone together.

F.  If you are not happy with this for your future Keystones please let Barbara know and she will send you a full refund of your remaining subscriptions.

TEACH Bulletin

A.  This will no longer continue in published form.

B. Material which would previously have appeared in TEACH will now be put straight up on the website: https://hef.org.nz/teach/

C. Refunds on TEACH subscriptions will be posted out after we have finished fixing up all the end of year financial reports.

D. Thank you to everyone who said that HEF may keep the remainder of their subscriptions as a donation if we cease publication.


The Home Education Foundation will continue to sell books and has some new books which will be advertised soon.

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144


Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

Enquiries from new home educators and those seeking curriculum or general advice

A. Barbara has to guard her time in order to home educate her own young ones, so,

B. These sorts of enquiries will be passed on to local support groups, or,

C. Anybody who would like us to advertise their availability to assist with such enquiries.

Difficult home educating cases

A. Barbara is available to help with difficult cases with the MoE, ERO, CYPs and the Police.

B. She has helped with a number already since Craig’s death and so far all have had a good outcome—even if just that the ERO has agreed to another review in three or six months

C. Craig was very good at this and while Barbara is on a very fast learning curve she has certainly benefited from helping Craig on various cases over so many years.

Thank you for your prayers, support and patience over the past nine months. God has been gracious.

Yours sincerely,

The Trustees


From the Smiths:


Updated 22 May 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here


Needing help for your home schooling journey:



Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:




This link is motivational:


Review of Informal Learning by Dr Alan Thomas

Informal Learning

Dr Alan Thomas
(Review by Craig Smith)
Group of Children
In their book A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of
Disorder, Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman show that
moderately disorganized people and institutions are
frequently “more efficient, more resilient, more creative
and, in general, more effective than highly organized
ones.” And probably more successful too. They
cite a survey that found that the higher the salary, the
messier the person: “Sixty-six percent of Americans
making $35,000 or less are self-described ‘neat freaks,’
whereas only 11 percent of those earning above
$75,000 claim the same.” Abrahamson and Freedman
are at the forefront of what one might call the “anti
anti-clutter movement.” They are encouraging people
to invite confusion into their lives in order to be more
creative and productive both personally and at work. In
an article in Inc. magazine, they advise us to “be inconsistent,
pile up, blur categories, make noise, bounce around, get
distracted.” Sound like any kid you know?
Unschooled kids are a good example of how making a
mess gets things done. And usually, the more they’re
learning, the bigger the mess they create. Places that
stress neatness, order and quiet might make good retreat
spas, but they don’t function well as learning environments.1
When I first heard about unschooling and read up a bit
on its number one promoter, a life-long bachelor and
career school teacher named John Holt (author of
Growing without Schooling), I was put right off by
much of Holt’s radical secular philosophy. However,
I’ve met a few young people who have been home educated
in this manner, and I must say, they were articulate
and creative. Maybe not as disciplined nor as methodical
nor as predictable as most Christians would
like their children to aspire to, nor generally as reverent,
but these are only generalities. And not everyone
defines “unschooling” as did Holt. Our family consider
ourselves “unschoolers” in the academics (but very
hands-on in character training) for we consciously
adopt unschool-like, non-institutional-like ways, even
though we realise the term “Christian unschoolers” is a
contradiction in terms to American homeschoolers.
Nevertheless, a lot of what is written about unschooling
rings true.
Dr Alan Thomas is Visiting Fellow at the University of
London Institute of Education. He was formerly at the
Northern Territory University, Darwin, Australia. He is
a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 2006,
he wrote an essay on this topic that started out just as
we’d all like to read:
Originally, the research I wanted to do was into
what children actually learn in the classroom. My
gut feeling was that schooling was totally inefficient,
that children spend a lot of time learning very little.
At the back of my mind all the time was the question,
“What is it that is wrong with the way children learn
in school?” An advantage of teaching in a university
was that I had the freedom to research what I
wanted. So I thought, “Well, how do children learn?
Let’s look right back to classical times to see what
philosophers and other educational thinkers had to
say about children’s learning. Across more than two
millennia, what they nearly all said was that the best
way to “teach” children was individually.2
Dr Thomas points out how everyone knows this, including
the schooling establishment: Even in modern
times, educators talking about the best way of teaching
children refer to individualized teaching. The interests
of the individual are paramount. It simply doesn’t
make sense to teach 30 at the same time. You can’t
individualize in the classroom. But the rhetoric of
classroom teaching is that this is exactly what you do.2
Most of us home educators, like Dr Thomas here, have
long recognised that schools say one thing and do
something quite the opposite. On top of that, classroom
teachers often belabour a point unnecessarily, hoping
to teach a nugget of wisdom, when the fact is, the children
already know it. Dr Thomas refers to a book by
Barbara Tizard called Young Children Learning at
Home and in School (1984, Fontana):
The book studied children who were half-time at a
nursery and half-time at home, a standard thing in the
British education system. They wanted to see what
their language was like at home and in school. What
they expected was a big class difference…But what
they found astounded them. Working class or middle
class, the level of language used between children and
parents at home was of a far higher standard than that
used in school. Not only was it of a higher standard,
but also the children themselves were able to follow
their own logical means of enquiry. Whereas in school
the typical example they give is when a child walks up
to a teacher with a piece of paper and says, “Can you
cut it in half for me please?” and the teacher thinks
“Aha! Here’s a teaching opportunity.” So she says,
“Go and get the scissors then.” And the child gets
them. By now the teacher has been distracted by a lot
of things and then says, “Now what am I doing now? I
am cutting it in …, what am I doing to this piece of paper?”
“You’re cutting it,” the child says. “Yes, but
what am I cutting it into, in two pieces, so what am I
cutting it in?” The child says, “You’re cutting it for me
into two pieces.” This goes on for a bit until the teacher
says, “I’m cutting it in half.”2
Sadly, the teacher never picked up on the fact that the
child’s initial question was, “Can you cut it in half for
me please?” NZ’s own Dr Graeme Nuttall of Canterbury
University confirmed during a whole lifetime of
educational research that students already know at least
50% of what teachers teach.3
Dr Thomas was invited to Tasmania to do some research
on home educators there: “Eventually I got a
total of a hundred families taking part in my research. I
found a few who carefully stuck to a school approach,
a majority doing some structured work in the mornings,
leaving the rest of the day free, and a small number
who were completely and utterly informal, doing
what the North Americans call “unschooling,” what is
sometimes known in Britain as “autonomous,” and in
Australia as “natural learning.” I would not for a moment
say one approach is better than another. Perhaps
the best advice, commonly given to new home educators
who are unsure of themselves, is to start with a
structured approach and adapt as you go along.”2
In his research on this idea of “informal” or “natural”
learning, Dr Thomas came up with two influences that
seemed to shift parents toward adopting such an approach:
[F]irst, the gradual realization that school at
home doesn’t work. You don’t need a timetable. These
families had started with, for example, planned lessons
and then learned it was not necessary. You just carry
on from where you were before. Lesson planning, curriculum
planning and timetables just aren’t needed at
all, even if you stay fairly formal. There is no point in
giving exercises because if you can do something, you
can do it. There is no need to prove it over and over
again. There is no need for marking or assessment because
you know exactly what your child is up to. The
beauty of it is the interactive element. Because you always
know where your child is at, you’re not wasting children
are learning anyway outside the formal system,
then there is a move away from formal learning.
Some parents abandoned formal teaching altogether as
a result. This is fascinating because it pointedly challenges
establishment wisdom and educational theory.2
Trying to understand informal learning is difficult.
Learning without knowing you’re learning is very hard
to document. One home schooling mum in Tasmania
illustrated the phenomenon like this:
“I really feel sometimes I want to say, ‘Right, let’s get
that text book out and let’s get on with some proper
learning!’.” But she didn’t and the child continued to
learn. In fact, this child learned everything except what
her mother tried to teach her, which was the multiplication
tables, and this was when she was 10 or 11. But
she did learn her 20 times table before any of the others
because she found out that you could get money from
supermarket trolleys. At the time this was 20 cents, so
when she was only about five or six years old, she
knew her 20 times table. The motivation was there to
learn. By the age of 11 she was on a par with what
children in school had learned.
Then there is informal learning that is goal-directed –
for example a child spurred to find out about Roman
life after seeing a film. There is a world of difference
between this kind of learning and being taught it as
part of a curriculum in school.2
Current research into “informal Learning” shows that
professional people, lawyers and doctors, are constantly
learning and advancing through their everyday
work and by being with colleagues. Dr Thomas referred
to a good example of this in a study with Brazilian
carpenters: [W]ithout ever having been on a course,
[they] have a better understanding of math related to
carpentry than do apprentices who have just finished a
taught course of the same material. These people are
simply learning alongside others who are better at it
than they are, and they gradually pick it up.2
Very young children apparently will learn quite a lot in
a similar way. They are pre-disposed to learn what is
important in their own culture: that is, the Lord has us
wired up at least from birth to pick up clues all around
us and discover those things that others around us
deem as important. These things very young children
will mimic and strive to learn: when they see that
adults value reading and writing, they will pick up pencils
and books and pretend to read and write. It is well
known that many children, by no means all, will actually
teach themselves to read.
Certainly, doing school at home is generally far less
productive than one-to-one interaction over the course
of performing everyday chores and errands and projects.
The basic skills that must be mastered – reading,
writing and arithmetic – may require some intensive
formal tuition, but all other subjects can be taught –
that is, picked up by the student – by reading books
together, doing projects, going on field trips to museums,
science centres or other more relevant areas of the
real world such as the home, the community, the work
any time and it’s highly intensive.
That’s getting informal already by official educational
standards, but it goes further than this because the parents
realized that their children were learning a lot outside
the formal system. Because it was so intensive,
most parents in my study group came to restrict teaching
or structured learning to an hour or two in the
morning. They came to realize that their children were
learning a lot outside this time without being taught.
Phrases like, “I don’t know where he got that from, he
just knows it,” or even, “We do a course in math but
more math seems to happen.”
The second very important influence was from some of
the children themselves. These are children who resist
formal learning. At first this was terrible for the families.
Parents told me that they were prepared to teach a
very interesting lesson, and the children resisted learning
in this way; their eyes would become glazed…they
weren’t interested! Now, there is a significant difference
here between school and home. In school you
don’t have all the children listening all the time, but
you can’t just say, “Well we’ll stop there and do what
you want for an hour.” You have to continue to teach
the lesson regardless of who is listening or not listening.
But at home, the feedback that you get is acute,
and parents find it is pointless to keep teaching in this
way. If you ally this with the observation that these
place and the market place.
“Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up
her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high
hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries
out by the gates, at the entry of the city, At the entrance
of the doors,” (Proverbs 8:1-3). We can introduce her
(wisdom) to our children out there in the real world…it
is debatable whether she is hanging around in an artificial
classroom setting.
1. From the Editorial by Wendy Priesnitz, Life Learning,
March/April 2007, LifeLearningMagazine.com.
2. Alan Thomas, “What life learning parents can teach the
world about the nature of learning,” www.
lifelearningmagazine.com/0704/MarApr07.pdf. This essay
first appeared in “Learner-Managed Learning and
Home Education: A European Perspective,” Leslie Barson,
ed, (2006 Educational Heretics Press.) For information,
3. “It’s About Bluff,” Keystone, Vol. XIV, No. 73, January
2008, p. 11.

Some extra links:




From Keystone Magazine

July 2008, Vol. XIV No. 75
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

Sanctifying Our Sons and Daughters-part 1

Sanctifying Our Sons and Daughters

by Craig Smith
Listen Dads: we know our society today is saturated in
sex and sensuality. It is simply evil. We need a wellthought
strategy to help ourselves and our children survive
with anything like a healthy sexual outlook.
Sex education in schools has become little more than
pornographic how-to sessions. It is totally unacceptable.
Actually, “sex” education in NZ has been supplanted
in the schools by “sexuality” education. It is
equally pornographic but with perversions added.
Rather than being strictly “how-to,” this new stuff
helps children work out what gender they want to be.
On page 22 of the NZ Curriculum (published in November
2007), you will read that sexuality education is
one of “the seven key areas of learning…to be included
in teaching and learning programmes at both primary
and secondary levels” right along side things like
“physical activity, sport studies and outdoor education.”
See that? Exploring one’s sexuality is now considered
by our government educational gurus to be just
another recreational activity. Morality has gone completely
out the window. I Thessalonians 4:3 says that
the will of God for us and our children is our sanctification,
that we abstain from sexual immorality. Apart
from the marvelous efforts of Christians and other
moral people teaching in the government schools, the
NZ Curriculum will guide young people into all kinds
of perverted immorality. Government schools are no
longer suitable places for Christians to leave their children.
That’s why we’re home educating.
Let’s first try to get the Big Picture, a fuller context of
what we’re trying to do. Here in our culture, what you
might call the Western Christian Civilisation, we have
copied the classical Greek way of thinking. That is, we
take a logical, compartmentalised approach to knowledge.
But we need to realise that life is, in fact, an integrated
whole. Conventional schooling follows the logical
approach: we study maths, put it aside, pick up
English grammar, then lay that aside to concentrate on
History. But you never hear anyone point out the connections
and interrelationships among all the academic
disciplines of maths, English, History and all the rest.
Such a wholistic, knowledge-is-integrated approach is
more in line with the Hebrew or Biblical way of thinking:
after all, we do live in a Universe, God and His
word being the unifying factor. We do not live in a
multi-verse of many different truths, many different
In communicating with our children, therefore, it makes
a lot more sense not to deal with such things as sex in
isolation, as if it could be dealt with quite adequately all
by itself as a standalone, separate subject. We would be
better to consider sex, and all things else, in a much
wider context in our discussions. In addition, we need
to model for our children – as well as instruct them in –
every day morality; modesty in dress and speech;
decency; how men are wired up; how women are wired
up; what constitutes proper social intercourse, politeness
and manners; the purpose and roles of marriage, child-
rearing, etc., etc. These and many other factors of life, all
being interrelated, provide the wider context in which
we can then more properly understand and discuss, as
appropriate, sexual issues with our children. The
instruction starts from day one, not all of a sudden when
they reach the preteen years.
Perhaps we should also first of all lay to rest some of
our most cherished cultural fairy tales. The idea of
“falling in love” is deceitful. We cannot allow ideas
such as “falling in love and then seeing where that will
lead” to take root in our children’s minds. One of the
obvious problems is that our sexualised culture puts no
restrictions on where “falling in love” might lead. This
fairy tale concept of love is seen as one of the highest
forms of good one can pursue in life. You’ve heard the
ridiculous ways in which this idea is lionised: “It is
better to have loved and lost than never to have loved
at all.” “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” To
begin with, these ideas are totally at odds with Biblical
“agape” love, which is a unilateral and disciplined decision
to rest your best actions, attentions and intentions
upon another no matter what, no matter how the
other responds. Those fairy-tale ideas about love are
expressions of purely selfish erotic love and have no
thought for the welfare of the other person.
This “falling in love” idea wreaks havoc with the
hearts and emotions of an ever-widening set of people.
Look again at I Thessalonians 4, at verses 3-6 this
time. It implies very strongly that not only are we parents
to play our part in sanctifying our children, helping
them to abstain from sexual immorality, but that
we should teach them how to take a spouse for themselves
or control their own bodies (depending on your
translation) in holiness and honour. We certainly do
not get this kind of coaching from TV or billboard
advertisements. In addition, it says we are not to chase
after a spouse “in the passion of lust like the heathen
who do not know God.” Wow! Messing around sexually,
presented to our young people from all sides by
the worldly culture around us as nothing more than another
form of physical recreation, is referred to here in
Scripture as a characteristic of those who are heathen.
We and our children’s lives must stand out as clearly
different to that kind of thing. And verse 6 says something
interesting: “that no man transgress and wrong
his brother in this matter.” So how does one wrong a
brother in this matter? Well, apart from the obvious
one of defiling another man’s wife or daughter (or another
woman’s husband or anyone’s child), one can
wrong a brother by flirting with a girl’s emotions,
breaking her heart, damaging her in other ways, then
moving on. She and her future husband are both
wronged by such behaviour. My wife has been counselling
a woman who has fallen in love with a string of
men, producing a total of six children to four of them.
Some of the children have identity problems, wondering
who to attach to, the biological or day-time parents.
The abortion she had was quite traumatic for some of
the children, for the murdered child was their sibling,
and it was traumatic for the family with whom the children
lived. I’ve talked to guys who have sired so many
so-called “love” children over the years, they cannot
help but wonder at times if the pretty young thing
they’re currently chasing isn’t in fact their own daughter…
that they might be close to committing incest.
This is where “falling in love” leads to right here in
New Zealand. It’s a total disaster. We need to thoroughly
repudiate the whole concept.
When young people do come to an age to consider
marriage, the young man and the young woman need
to review carefully how they might fit together culturally,
theologically, doctrinally; how committed they
each are to Scripture; how close they are in their concepts
of family, child bearing, child rearing, education,
roles within the home, finances, incurring debt, insurance
issues, commitment to aging parents, etc., etc.
Plenty of people have “fallen in love” and married…
only to find themselves married to near strangers with
a whole head full of foreign and even ugly ideas about
how things should be.
Draw up a time-line for each of your children with an
80-year life span. Mark off the halfway point, 40, and
the half-way point of that, 20. Point out that by the time
they reach the customary entrance to adulthood, age
20, a full quarter of their allotted years are gone.
Most of that last quarter of their lives, from 60 to death
at around 80, is usually thought of as “retirement”,
though both you and they should be re-thinking that
entirely, for at age 65, unless your health is really failing,
you should be an expert in your field, your calling,
full of wisdom and incredible life experiences, and you
should also be well along the road of sanctification and
growth in godliness, bearing the fruit of the Spirit: love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). You should
be an incredibly valuable asset to your family, your
church, your community…I’d say there is a very good
argument that only such men qualify as Elders in the
church since only they are actually elder. Oopps, I’ve
digressed again.
Point out on the timeline that your children have a
mere 10 years from around age 11 or so when they are
just starting to think straight, until entering into
adulthood at 20 to get their act together. If they (or you
as parents) mentally “write-off” the years from 13 to 17
as those wild, hormone-raging teenaged years when
you can’t expect much out of them except grunts and
rebellious attitudes, you have grievously undermined
your child’s primetime for setting the stage for the rest
of their lives. But look at the timeline again: straight
away you can see that there are unavoidable seasons:
childhood, young adult, married, career building, family
building, empty nest years, growing old. Until age 20
you and your children simply need to be concentrating
on getting the foundations solidly laid in their lives:
basic education, character training, work ethic and all
forms of home economics. A 20-year-old should be
able to do all the family budgeting, menu planning,
shopping, meal preparation and balance the cheque-
book. These are nothing more than basic survival skills…
and note that I didn’t even mention earning the income
to balance the chequebook…the boys for certain will
have to add that one on later. The early- and mid-20s
seem to be given over these days to gaining requisite
training: a university degree, trade certificate…
establishing some kind of career path qualifications.
If your sons get married at 25, have 5 children by age
38, then the youngest one (your grandchild) will turn
16 when your sons turn 54. The oldest one (of your
grandchildren) by then will be around 27…so in fact,
by then, your child could be a grandparent and you a
great-grandparent. So your child is 54, still has a teen
at home, has a married child and a grandchild, maybe a
couple of children at trade school or university, is at or
nearing the top rung of his career path, and you, the
parent of this powerhouse of a child now aged 54, are
over 75 and may be in declining health. What do you
want to be doing at age 75? Are you planning for it?
Draw up your own timeline of your own life. You may
be stunned to see how, as the work responsibilities
started to increase, so did your family and child rearing
and mortgage and other responsibilities. That period
between roughly 30 and 55 on your timeline should be
bulging with responsibility, while the earlier years look
slim and carefree.
Can you see the huge pile of responsibility your child
will have at this point if he has 5 children, a mortgage
and a career? More importantly, with the help of that
timeline, can your child see it and that it will require
that he be made of stern stuff? Where does your 14-
year-old want to be at age 54, in 40 years? He/she
needs to start planning for that now, planning for it, not
just hoping it will happen. Those few single years from
when our children’s rational minds start coming together,
until they can establish their own households,
are so vital, so crucial to how well they’ll be able to
handle the responsibilities, we simply cannot let them
slip by.
If they have not been regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit
until sometime late in their teens, it is going to be a real
challenge to get them to do all for the glory of God,
including the planning for their career paths, until then.
We don’t assume they are regenerate because they are
born into our Christian family, although clearly the
Scriptures indicate our children are “holy” by their believing
parentage alone (I Corinthians 7:14). But we do
have every reason to hope that they will be regenerated,
and so we train them up in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord, inculcating the one true worldview,
that Jesus Christ is Lord of all (Ephesians 1:21-23, Philippians
2:9-11) and commands all men every where to
repent (Acts 17:30). We do not train them up in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord, with family devotions
every day, Scripture memory several times a
week, involvement and commitment to the Church,
training them to acknowledge the supreme authority of
and to live every area of life according to the Scriptures…
to think that they can then choose to go their
own way. No. Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth
and the Life. End of story.
We have a lot to do to prepare our children for all of
life, and they have a lot to do to get prepared for life…
and we just don’t have time to mess around. Make
every day count. I’ve seen my oldest three leave home,
and I am embarrassed at how woefully little I did to
prepare them. I had always planned to take my sons
fishing. I’ve got most of the gear. But I never did…in
all those 20 years they were at home, I never did. I
mean, how hard could it have been? I am here to tell
you: 20 years slips by mighty fast.
However, by God’s grace, these three are doing well.
And again by God’s grace, we have two more adopted
sons…I have another shot at it. Pray that I don’t miss
or squander those many daily opportunities this time

From Keystone Magazine

July 2008, Vol. XIV No. 75
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

A Home Educator’s Commentary on Finishing (the First Leg of) the Race

A Home Educator’s Commentary

on Finishing (the First Leg of)

the Race

By Craig Smith
The Growing Smith Clan of Home Educators. L to R: Jeremiah Smith; Zach & Megan (nee Schneider) Smith
holding Cheyenh Smith; Pete & Genevieve (nee Smith) de Deugd; Alanson Smith; Kaitlyn Smith; Barbara Smith;
Jedediah Smith; Grace Timmins (our foster daughter) being held by Craig Smith; Charmagne Smith.
Click on photo to enlarge image

This is the kind of thing home education leads to!
Friends, it doesn’t get much better than this. All I can
say is, give me more of it!
Our two eldest, Genevieve (born March 1980) and
Zach (born December 1981) have married. Both now
live overseas. Both married into pioneer home educating
families in their respective countries who have a
passion for seeing Christian families strengthened and
the Lord glorified by parents taking the government of
their own children back away from the secular state
and educating the children in the safe and secure haven
of home.
Our dreams have been realised. In spite of all the mistakes
and inconsistencies in our lives, the Lord has
blessed us more than we can express. What are the
blessings you hope and pray and wish for your
chidren? Our two and their spouses each have a:
• Solid walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Exemplary Christian character qualities.
• Great interpersonal relationships with us and with
their siblings.
• Emotional and physical purity before marriage,
which sets them up for emotional and physical
purity throughout marriage.
• Total commitment to marriage until death.
• Desire for as many children as the Lord will bless
them with…8 being a good round number for
• Passion for and commitment to home educating
their own children.
• A work ethic that leaves us huffing and puffing in
their dust and marvelling at their exceptionally
high standards of quality and service.
• Academic acumen which may or may not include
academic qualifications.
Zach & Megan live near Peoria in central Illinois and
work for Megan’s parents, Bob & Linda Schneider,
founders and owners of Rainbow Resource Center, a
mail-order book company that grew up catering specifically
for home educators. The Lord convinced Bob
& Linda of home education long before it was much
heard of, and they helped pioneer the movement in
their state. Not only so, but as their business was being
blessed by the Lord with exponential growth, all the
Schneider children became vital assets to its personalised
service and continued success. Christian discipleship,
entrepreneurial apprenticeship, service to others
and academic education were all rolled into one nonstop
home education lifestyle. Exhibitors and speakers
at Christian home education conferences from one side
of the USA to the other would tell different members
of the Smith family who were working at the Rainbow
Exhibits that Megan was their favourite out of all those
outstanding Schneider girls. Zach’s record-breaking
work standards and ever-dependable, never-flagging
character and personality attracted everyone’s attention:
and soon the Schneiders were offering Zach a permanent
job, and he was proposing to their daughter —
after first getting the blessing to proceed from both Bob
Schneider and me! No sooner were they engaged than
a husband and wife from work asked them to be the
guardians of their children (should anything happen to
the parents), for Zach & Megan formed the perfect
couple they’d been looking for as guardians. They’ve
also produced a daughter, pushing Barbara & I into the
grandparent category for the first time!
Pete & Genevieve live near Ballarat, an hour and a bit
outside of Melbourne, where Pete has been working on
the family farm and building up his own saw milling,
timber working and tool making business on debt-free
principles since he was 14. When we visited his home
town and family before he and Genevieve were engaged,
his extended family members, his clients, his
suppliers, his friends and the folks at his church were
pulling Genevieve aside to tell her that this guy was
pure gold! While Megan has one or two university degrees
(including Hippotherapy) and Genevieve has a
Legal Executive qualification and Zach aced the only
university course he ever took, Pete has a trade certificate
in cabinet making and was offered, but turned
down, a lecturer’s position at a local university specialising
in arboriculture. Pete & Genevieve shunned the
cultural norms around them in order to be as holy and
pure as possible for each other.

So what’s the secret? What did Barbara and I do to
bring down the Lord’s blessings in this way?
It is all of God: His unmerited Grace toward us in Jesus
Christ is more than we ever had any right to hope for.
Honestly, we are bunglers. We were from pretty typical
unbelieving families: decent folks with solid middleclass
values. But we were thoroughly defiled and corrupted
by the peers surrounding us at the state schools
we attended and the social environment of work and
play completely away from any kind of parental guidance
or oversight. Plus the TV and Rock & Roll culture
of the radio. The Lord converted us and put us through
an accelerated sanctification programme with The
Navigators…we needed something drastic, for we were
starting from a below-zero position. I think our greatest
asset is that we have no illusions as to what we have
been saved from. Personal experience and the heightened
conscience of the Holy Spirit causes us to hate
and fear sin. Yes, of course we still have weaknesses
and inconsistencies…but we do identify with Paul in
Philippians 3:13-14: “Forgetting what lies behind and
straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward
the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in
Christ Jesus.”
The only consistent thing about us, I believe, is the fact
that the Lord will not allow us to rest on our laurels, to
cruise along smoothly at any higher level of sanctification,
to turn aside and rest for a while…we are driven to
push on, to raise the bar, to explore that virgin territory
described in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such
there is no law.” We can go hog-wild in the areas of
love, joy, peace, goodness…boldly go where no man
has gone before…and never fear that we’ll break any
law! We cannot abandon ourselves to anything but
these things without getting into trouble. We find this
compelling and exciting…only because the Lord has
reformed our attitudes and desires by His Holy Spirit.
The Open Brethren used to say, “To get the Lord’s
blessing, put yourself in the way of blessing.” To get
squashed, put yourself in the way of a freight train. To
get a new heart and a new mind, put yourself in the
way of the Lord’s spiritual weapons: listen to preaching,
fellowship with keen believers, read and memorise
and meditate upon and apply the Scriptures, share your
faith with unbelievers, love one another, love your
neighbours, love your enemies. In short, love the Lord
more by obeying Him more (I John 5:2-3).

Specific things I believe the Lord led us to do: I
thought back to those places I’d robbed by shoplifting
and the people I’d robbed by gambling. I visited them
with money or posted cheques with added amounts for
interest and inflation. We fostered dozens of children
and ended up adopting three. We agonised in front of
the children about all these things as well as personal
confrontational issues with workmates and clients…and
the children watched as we drove off to apologise to
someone and come back rejoicing. The children have
seen us lending out our car again and again; and giving
groceries to probable con-artists begging for cash; and
getting total victory over the TV (we now never watch
it); and gaining increasing victory over rock music; and
being 99.9% consistently and vehemently opposed to
any flirtation with sexual sins be it pornography in
public or private, immodesty in dress to where we’ve
even told visitors to go away as there was too much
cleavage showing, and we now avoid swimming at any
public place. We guard our minds so our emotions are
fixed where they should be and not floating around.
We are not prayer warriors. I am conscious of the Lord
all day, but I cannot say I specifically pray to Him all
the time. Perhaps the number one family priority is taking
time over every meal to pray, read the Scriptures,
sing at least two hymns or Psalms and make an effort
to discuss issues of the day or those raised in the reading
and singing. Those discussions around the meal
table and the ones that happen as we read good books
aloud around the fire at night…those times of spiritual
and emotional and intellectual interaction have been
the key to a cohesive family. And we have been un-
apologetically strict in limiting the children’s socialisation
outside the family. In all the areas that count, we
assume we know better than they do…so we give them
no choice: they can choose their socks, but not close
friends; they can choose a shower or a bath, but not
which of His commands to obey.

An Approach to the Teaching of Reading — Part 2

An Approach to the Teaching of Reading — Part 2

by Craig Smith
To review briefly: teaching reading is not like teaching
a subject. Reading is a skill one must master thoroughly,
whereas subjects such as history and geography
and science are academic disciplines or bodies of
knowledge that do not need to be mastered in order to
grow as a Christian and fulfil both the Dominion Mandate
of Genesis 1:28 and the companion Great Commission
of Matthew 28:18-20. Let me just restate that
for clarity: if one does not have the skill to read, he
cannot even read the Scriptures. Such a person generally
will be greatly hampered in his grasp of God’s
Word as well as its availability to him. Having no
knowledge of science or history is tragic, but not
nearly as tragic as not being able to read. One can master
the skill of reading, but one can never master more
than a small area of science or history or geography,
for these bodies of knowledge are just too big and are
growing all the time.
Last time we also said that the prerequisites for teaching
reading are: be a reader yourself and read aloud to
your children. After that we covered teaching the alphabet
and then began a discussion on teaching the letter
Because I’m not a purist in this area of letter sounds,
my system is fairly simple. It has made good readers
out of my children, and in fact they shot way ahead of
me as I was teaching them, so I have never actually
finished going through it ever.
Just as we had flash cards to teach the children to recognise
each of the letters and their names, so now we
have a different set of flash cards to teach them the letter
sounds. But before we start working with this new
set, get the children to thoroughly master the recognition
of the vowels and the consonants, in both capital
and lower-case letters, using the old set. The vowels
are: A/a, E/e, I/i, O/o, U/u and sometimes Y/y. The
consonants are all the others. The letter Y/y can be in
either camp.
Each vowel makes more than one sound in English. In
some of the other common languages we are likely to
learn (Maori, Spanish, German, etc.) the vowels only
make one sound or will have some kind of mark on the
vowel to indicate how it is to be pronounced. This is
not like English where you have to work out the pronunciation
of the vowels by their position in the word
in relation to other letters. This is why some say English
is very hard to learn. While most of the consonants
in English have only one sound each, there are some
significant exceptions. And again, the pronunciation
rules of these consonants are based on where they are
in the word and how they relate to other letters in the
To teach the sounds of the letters, start with some of
the most common consonants first: B/b, D/d, F/d, K/k,
L/l, M/m, N/n, P/p, R/r, S/s, T/t. Ooops, maybe most of
you native Kiwis better set that letter R/r off to one
side just now, for you pronounce it differently depending
on where it is in a word or what the word is…not
like Southlanders who more consistently roll their Rs.
Most pronounce the Rs in “Arrow” and “spruce” but
leave them out entirely in “Car” or “Far”.
Anyway, get the children to learn the consonant sound
for each of these few consonants using both the capital
and lower case flash cards.
And now for the vowel sounds flash cards. These are
different than the ones for the names in that we’ll have
some marks above the letters to indicate what sound
we want them to learn. For the long sounds, we’ll put a
straight line above each letter, both caps and lower

Long Vowel Sounds:

A/a = ay (as in say, may, play);
E/e = ee (as in see, me, meal);
I/i = eye (as in sigh, kite, mine);
O/o = oh (as in soap, rainbow, go);
U/u = you (as in uniform, cute, use).
Y/y never actually says its name, but it comes close in
words like myopia, sky, trying.
There’s a reason we call these “Long Vowel Sounds”.
It is because each of these is a diphthong; that is, to say
the sound, we actually start with one sound and glide
over to a different sound. We count the starting sound,
the glide across and the finishing sound all as one
sound. For example, say I/i as in “eye”: notice how
your tongue moves — that is a diphthong.
For the short sounds of the vowels, use the little smile
above each letter:

Short Vowel Sounds:

A/a ~ (as in cat, fan, crab);
A/a ~ as in car or father
E/e ~ (as in bed, step, elephant);
I/i ~ (as in sin, in, grim);
O/o ~ (as in hot, slot, ostrich);
U/u ~ (as in run, under, cuddle);
Y/y ~ (as in silly, simply).
Notice I used one more symbol, a wee dot above, for a
third sound of the letter A/a. Dictionaries will show a
lot more sounds and symbols for the vowels, but as I
say, I’m not a purist, and my objective here is to teach
reading, not Kiwi or Australian or American or South
African accented English pronunciation.
Drill these sounds with your children using this second
set of letter sounds flash cards. Again, full mastery of
the sounds and instantaneous, unthinking response
times are what we’re aiming for here.
Some people will start getting the children to sound out
words at this point, having learned just enough
consonant and vowel sounds to form simple words. Be
careful here: some children simply are not ready to do
this yet. If they are, go for it! But others will not have
the brain development to handle it as yet.
We found that this step, blending the sounds of several
letters together from left to right, was the most difficult
aspect of learning to readfor our children. If they
couldn’t get it, we’d just leave it until they’d aged a
wee bit more and then try it again. This particular
ability seems to be a function of brain development and
physical maturity, something I don’t think you can
hurry along to suit your own convenience. This is
probably why so many children, especially boys, get
labeled as dummies at school: they struggle with
reading for the simple reason that they are being
expected to do something they physically cannot do:
decode and blend the individual sounds of several
letters in order from left to right into words. It is more
of a boy problem because girls develop and mature
faster than boys in this area, yet the prison/school
system insists on herding them according to age.
Parents will also find that some children quickly
memorise many words by sight, especially as you read
to them and they follow along in the text. This is how
the state prisons/schools teach reading: look-say or
whole-word it is sometimes called. This is treating
English as if it were not a phonetic language, which it
most definitely is. Chinese is not a phonetic language,
and one must simply memorise thousands of unique
symbols in order to read a text. Because English is
phonetic, one need only learn around 50 sound/symbol
combinations and can then read virtually any text.
Don’t discourage your children from memorising
words by sight, but keep in mind and definitely let
them know that you will require them to master the
technique of reading letters from left to right, blending
the sounds into words, and then reading the words
from left to right to read sentences and thereby gain the
meaning of the text. It could be that reading problems
such as dyslexia are caused by faulty training: when
children memorise words in a child’s reader, they
memorise it using all sorts of cues: the picture that
goes with it, the familiar flow of the words just before
its turn to come up, its position on the page, the general
shape of the word, the first letter, any bits that stick up
higher than the rest, any bits that hang down lower than
the rest. So their eyes are scanning each word as a
whole — not from left to right — and scanning further
afield to work out what the word is. This is not, not,
NOT how they must learn to read! It is absolutely
essential, in learning to read English phonetically, that
they train their eyes to scan each word systematically
from left to right, blending each letter in a set sequence
from left to right to get the individual words, and then
setting each word in a set sequence from left to right to
understand what the text is saying.
Our children learned this technique and went straight
onto the King James Bible; the archaic language
simply did not present a problem in reading. They were
somewhat unfamiliar with the vocabulary…until we read
more from the KJV and until we read Gulliver’s
Travels and Pilgrim’s Progress in the Old English.
So finish off the rest of the alphabet sounds on flash
cards. We’ve dealt with the vowels. The following
consonants should present no trouble, so they have no
symbol above: B/b, D/d, F/f, H/h, J/j, K/k, L/l, M/m,
N/n, P/p, R/r, S/s, T/t, V/v, W/w, X/x, Z/z as each has
only one sound. OK, the S/s in “this” and “sing” is
different from the S/s in “these” and “is”, but your
children will figure that out. You could indicate the
buzzing S/s with S/s as I do with th below.
Then there are some slighly awkward consonants: the
ones with no symbol above have a sound similar to
their name.

Awkward Consonant Sounds:

C/c ~ (as in centigrade, scene, mice);
?/? ~ (as in cake, crumb, micro);
G/g ~ (as in gem, hinge, hedge);
?/? ~ (as in go, gate, haggle);
Q/q is always followed by U/u and pronounced as in
Y/y ~ (as in yellow or yak).
And add in a few common special blends (sounds like
coffee time, eh?), using underlines to identify them:

Special Blends:

ch ~ (as in church);
ph ~ (F/f sound as in photo, graph);
sh ~ (as in shoe, mash);
th ~ (softly as in with or thistle);
th ~ (buzzing as in these or other);
wh ~ (as in whale or whistle and not like an F/f as in
Whanganui, which isn’t an English word, and
which I suspect was originally pronounced as in
which” or “whale” since the wh was assigned by
English speaking missionaries, evidently
approximating the beginning sound of
Whanganui” with the beginning sound of “whale”,
when they first put Te Reo into writing. In the
meantime, English speakers have stopped pushing
extra air through when we pronounce “wh” words).
ing ~ (as in sing, hammering);
ong ~ (as in song, belong);
ind ~ (as in kind, find);
ough ~ (?ff as in tough, enough. This awkward group
of letters also has weird pronunciations such as in
“through” and “though” and “cough.” You just
have to memorise these odd-balls separately).
Have your children thoroughly master all of these on
flash cards. Then by reviewing a few rules to go with
these, which we’ll look at next time, they’re ready to
start reading.
(To be continued.)
Craig was born and grew up in Sanger (near Fresno), California,
came to New Zealand as a 21-year-old in 1973 and
has lived here ever since. He has a BA in Social Policy from
Massey University. He and Barbara have four natural children,
three by adoption and one permanently fostered, aged
from 28 down to two, all being exclusively home educated
from day one. Craig & Barbara established Christian Home
Schoolers of NZ in 1986 which later became the Home
Education Foundation.

From Keystone Magazine

April 2008, Vol. XIV No. 74
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

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