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Growing Together

Family Learning Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 1

A Tri-Weekly On-Line Publication

October 29, 2004

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment
- Jane Austen
Photo from
Photographer: Ian Britton


Welcome to the inaugural issue of Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter. I confess to being a novice at formal homeschooling, having only been on this path for a year. However, I have been a parent for 10 years. During this ten-year journey, hovering between the elation of participating in this miracle of creation and wondering whether I will ever get those melted crayons out of the heating vent, I have become firmly convinced that all parents are teachers - every waking moment - from birth.

The past ten years has been the most amazing, frustrating, chaotic and exhilarating part of my life. While raising three children, one with special needs, I have always secretly feared that someone would realize what a rank amateur I was: "Good grief! She's not qualified for this job!" I have always been actively seeking, obsessively reading about topics that concerned me, trying to figure out better ways to do things. This was what motivated me to initiate this publication, as a way of generating and sharing information and offering a little extra support for those performing the job of Care-giver, Teacher, Counselor, Coach, Spiritual Advisor, and ... well: Parent.

Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter is primarily for families of preschool and elementary-school aged children. This newsletter is eclectic, non-denominational and non-partisan, with a focus on living books & ideas and hands-on learning.

I appreciate all the wonderful comments and suggestions I have already received from subscribers. Of course, this issue is just a beginning. I look forward to seeing this newsletter grow and improve. I plan to include downloadable lesson plans and activities, crafts, recipes, book and curriculum reviews, children's art and literature, essays, humor, and cartoons, as well as articles on home education.

Thank you for joining me! I hope you find something helpful here.

Editor: Stephanie Marshall Ward; comments and suggestions are always welcome!

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Some sections of this newsletter are available in a downloadable (PDF) format, so you can save and print items of interest. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to download these files. Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free download.

Backgrounds are courtesy of Graphics by Irene. Thank you!

We welcome your reactions, comments, and suggestions. We are also open to submissions of articles, essays, book reviews, and children's stories, poems and art. Please e-mail Stephanie Marshall Ward.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. - Carl Sagan

In This Issue:
    Perspectives on Home Education:
  • Homeschooling: An Appealing Educational Alternative
    by Carren W. Joye
    This eloquent article explores tangible and intangible benefits homeschooling can offer.
  • What Is Homeschooling & How Do I Know It's Right For My Family?
    by Anita York
    This article offers a thoughtful and creative decision-making approach for the parent leaning toward the home education option
  • You're Doing WHAT?!? Common Objections to Homeschooling
    by Stephanie Marshall Ward
    This essay counters common misconceptions about homeschooling.

    Field Trip Guide for Homeschooling Families
    articles by Shay Seaborne
    A seasoned homeschooling parent and writer offers tips on both joining and facilitating home school field trips.

    Exploring Nature With Children:
  • Nature Study Notes
    by Stephanie Marshall Ward
    Can a snail plucked off the author's garbage can or a stroll through the park ignite a life-long love of science and nature? This article discusses the myriad benefits of nature study, along with several insights from Charlotte Mason.
  • Teaching Children About the Natural World
    by Dr. Ernest Marshall
    This beautiful article further explores the benefits of outdoor experiences for children, and shares the author's enduring love of nature.

    Making Math Fun and Meaningful
  • Build Strong Arithmetic Thinking
    by Ruth Beechik
    Popular home education writer Ruth Beechik explores developmentally appropriate ways of teaching math to young children (preschool-second grade). This article offers ideas to help ensure that a child develops a strong conceptual foundation in mathematics. It also offers a "checklist," a sort of scope and sequence, for tracking a child's learning.
  • Taking the Worry Out of Math
    by Greg Tang
    This creative educator and author of many books, including the bestselling The Grapes of Math, shares his vision for mathematics education.
  • Books by Greg Tang
    by Stephanie Marshall Ward
    Six mathematical picture books are reviewed.
  • THIS is a Math Book?
    by Julie Brennan
    This fun, imaginative article offers examples of how ordinary children's books can become living math lessons.
  • Hands-On Math for Young Children: Exploring Numbers and Operations With Whole Numbers
    by Stephanie Marshall Ward
    This article explores teaching whole number concepts to young kids (preschool - about grade 3).
  • Math! Part 1
    by David Albert
    This homeschooling father and author shares ideas on illuminating the order and beauty of math.
  • Math! Part 2
    by David Albert

    Tidbits Last-Minute Election Trivia, Making Oobleck, Apple Harvesting Season, Homeschool Humor.

    Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter, Copyright 2004, Stephanie Marshall Ward; All materials in this newsletter are the copyrighted. For permission to reprint any contents please contact the newsletter editor.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
- Albert Einstein

Photo from
Photographer: Ian Britton

For More Information:

PBS TeacherSource
Many creative lesson plans organized by subject and grade level.

Learning Treasures
I recommend this site and free newsletter for free lesson ideas, worksheets, and tips. Belinda offers a wonderful Cooking With Kids section with fun, kid-friendly recipes, and Kids Kreate with ideas on crafts to do with your children.

This is a beautifully organized home education web site, from a Christian perspective, created by contributor Carren Joye. It contains a great deal of information specific to Alabama.

L7S Studios
This is the web page of contributor Anita York; she offers a practical book on home education, writing services, and animation drawing tutorials.

Shay Seaborne's Homepage
This is the home page of contributor Shay Seaborne, a dynamic and articulate advocate for home education. It includes her articles and links to other resources. It includes some information specific to Virginia.

Book Links
Book Links' aim is to introduce educators to a wide variety of children's books that can be used to support any topic of study, including language arts, social studies, history, math, and science.

Living Math!
"I want to build a bridge," writes webmistress Julie Brennan. "I'd like to close the gap between math and history, science, literature and humanity created by the isolated way we approach math education." This site advocates a dynamic approach to math education, incorporating a variety of "living books," reading about math history, active exploration of math and science concepts, and games. It offers comprehensive book lists and a discussion group. Highly recommended!

Math Solutions Online Newsletter
On-line newsletter offered by well-known math educator and author Marilyn Burns. Includes lesson plans, Q&A, and a list of living math books for children.
They sell a "curriculum fair in a box" for parents who are new to home education. This includes sample curricula from various sources to help parents with this decision, kits for helping develop portfolios, and "compliance kits," to make home school record keeping easier. "3Moms" also offers a free weekly home school newsletter with resources, lesson plans, and online programs.

Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence.

- Norman Podhoretz

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