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Growing Together

Family Learning Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 3

A Tri-Weekly On-Line Publication

January 7, 2005

"Though not usually mentioned at first, experienced home schoolers give yet another reason to homeschool: the joy of a child's company and of sharing with him the excitement of discovery and learning. I believe this last reason is the real heart of the homeschool movement."

- Kathleen McCurdy
in "Why We Homeschool"
Home Education Magazine, Nov. 1986
Photo from
Photographer: Ian Britton


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

In this month's issue, we explore Howard Gardner's research on multiple intelligences, Charlotte Mason's philosophy, Waldorf-inspired education, the unschooling movement conceived by John Holt, and other educational approaches. One common characteristic of all of these philosophies is their focus on the importance of ideas - large and important ideas - which nourish learners of all ages. Education is much more than gaining a set of knowledge and skills, an achievement that can be neatly measured by tests and other evaluations. It is a process of mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth, a journey that begins in childhood and continues throughout life.

I believe the commitment to this kind of learning is one of the biggest reasons for the home education movement. Parents may home school because they want the child - rather than an external agenda - to be the center of his own learning, because they want their religious and spiritual beliefs to run seamlessly through all their children's learning experiences, because they want a more positive or wholesome environment for their child, because they distrust a system based on standardized tests and other objective measures, or simply because they want to share every aspect of their kid's educational journey. A common thread running through all these reasons is the families' desire for an educational life based on great ideas, a love of learning, and a commitment to the child's mental, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Some families achieve this by using a distinctive approach to education. They home school using Charlotte Mason, or an unschooling approach, or Montessori methods. This meets their family's needs and nourishes them with a steady diet of living ideas. Other families are eclectic, borrowing theories and methods from different philosophies. I see nothing wrong with the latter approach; I am an eclectic homeschooler myself. However, I do see great benefit in exploring at least one educational philosophy in depth. It seems to me that it would be impossible to do justice to any of these theories with a handful of articles or a few discussions. By reading and thinking extensively about one educational philosophy, one can gain a great deal of knowledge about learning and development, absorb many nourishing ideas, and discuss these ideas in depth with others studying the same philosophy. This can be a wonderful part of one's own lifelong learning journey.

This issue offers introductory articles on several learning approaches and recommended resources for further reading. You will find many perspectives on home schooling, book reviews, and hands-on learning activities. Thank you for joining me! I hope you find something helpful here.

Comments and suggestions to the editor are always welcome!

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Backgrounds are courtesy of Graphics by Irene. Thank you!

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In This Issue:
    Multiple Intelligences:
  • Home Schooling Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences
    by Carolyn C. McKeon, M.S. Ed.
    The author describes Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and explores home schooling as a way of addressing children's unique abilities.

  • A Home School Kindergarten Curriculum Based on Multiple Intelligence Theory
    by Carolyn C. McKeon, M.S. Ed.
    This writer describes an individualized plan she developed for her five-year-old son, based on multiple intelligence theory. This is a wonderful example of a balanced, relevant, living education.

  • Multiple Intelligence Theory and Home Education
    by Stephanie Marshall Ward
    Howard Gardner's Intelligence Reframed is reviewed in light of how his ideas can be implemented by home educating parents, and suggestions are offered for using multiple intelligence theory in your home school.

    Home Schooling Methods:
  • How to Find the Homeschool Method That Will Work For You
    by Christine Ralston
    The author describes popular approaches to home education and encourages you to consider your child's unique learning style when deciding which method or methods will be best for your family.

  • Popular Homeschooling Approaches This is a list of some popular home schooling approaches with suggestions on where to find information.

  • Charlotte Mason Approach: Family Fun
    by Penny Gardner
    Popular author Penny Gardner describes how Charlotte Mason's methods enhanced literacy, writing skills, and family sharing of literature, nature, and many other aspects of life.

  • Awakening the Soul Through a Generous Education
    by Penny Gardner
    Popular author Penny Gardner describes how Charlotte Mason's methods provide a rich education, immersing children in art, music, literature, poetry and nature, as well as basic academic skills.

  • An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling
    by Donna Simmons
    This article offers an excellent overview of Waldorf Education; it is a concise yet thoughtful and in-depth discussion.

  • What is Unschooling?
    by Luz Shosie
    Luz Shosie writes eloquently about the unschooling philosophy, which emphasizes the fact that children are natural learners and is based on the view that when we trust kids to direct their own learning, they gain the knowledge and skills they need and accomplish amazing things.

  • Relaxed Homeschooling: One Alternative to Unschooling
    by Christine Ralston
    The author offers "relaxed homeschooling," a balance between unschooling and more structured methods. This offers a wonderful framework for parents who are attracted to the unschooling philosophy, but want some structure in their home schools. This article was originally published in The Link.

  • Creative Homeschooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families
    by Lisa Rivero (book review)

    Stephanie Marshall Ward

    Exploring Nature With Children:
  • Entomology For Kids
    by Jennifer James
    Even toddlers and preschoolers love to study insects. This author describes living science experiences with insects in her own kitchen.

    Preschool Learning:
  • Early Learning at Home: Kitchen Fun
    by Susan Franklin

  • Early Learning at Home: Kitchen Crafts
    by Susan Franklin

  • Just Do the Math!
    by David Albert
    David Albert's articles on mathematics always inspire and challenge me, and this one is no exception. The study described in this article underscores the fact that many difficulties with this subject stem from our efforts to teach it before a child is ready, when he is unwilling to learn it, and in a way that is stripped of relevance to our lives. Albert also offers ideas on involving your children in "real life" math experiences.

    Next Month: More articles, reviews, and activities; Winter Nature Study, Kids' Craft Corner, more installments in our Hands-On Math for Young Children series, humor, cartoons.

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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.

"It's hard to watch your children learn to walk, learn to understand and use language, and learn to get into anything and everything within reach , without believing that they are capable of learning about anything they are curious about."

- Mary Griffith
in The Unschooling Handbook

Photo from
Photographer: Ian Britton

For More Information:

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 humanities 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!

Christine's Country Units
Contributor Christine Ralston sells unit studies on various countries. I have previewed several of her unit studies, and my daughter and I plan to use the unit on Ireland, supplemented with living books, music CDs, videos, and other activities. I found the unit studies to be excellent. Each one offers much more than an outline of suggested activities. They include narrative information on various subjects, original artwork, and hands-on activity suggestions.

Penny Gardner's Web Site
This is my favorite site on the Charlotte Mason method of education. It offers a generous collection of articles, ideas, and lists of living books.

Christopherus Homeschool Resources
This is a Waldorf-inspired publishing and consulting company, run by contributor Donna Simmons and her husband. Their site offers a wealth of information, including articles, music, crafts, and examples of student work. They also sell books and unit studies (main lessons). They presently offer as unit study on Roman History, which includes summaries, drawings, maps, poems, quotes, study guides for two books, examples of student work, and several drawing lessons. A new unit study on Botany will be available this month.

Unschoolers Unlimited
Contributor Luz Shosie and her husband offer this informative site, including unschooling articles and links, along with information on home schooling in Connecticut. They will also mail you a free informational packet and newsletter on unschooling.

National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance
This site, developed by contributor Jennifer James and her husband Michael, provides solid information on home education along with insight on how home schooling can benefit African American families. James is a skilled writer and an active advocate for home schoolers and for the African American community.

Early Learning at Home
Contributor Susan Franklin moderates this forum on home education for preschoolers.

Skylark Sings
David Albert's site offers essays and information on his books. It also provides information on outreach projects to India.

PBS TeacherSource
This site provides many creative lesson plans organized by subject and grade level.
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.

I encourage you to find books through your community library or local booksellers. However, in case you like the convenience of on-line book shopping (as I occasionally do), links to Amazon are offered for your convenience. There is a small commission offered for sales through this site. If any money is earned this way, I plan to use it to provide more original material for this newsletter.

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Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter, Copyright 2004, 2005 Stephanie Marshall Ward; All materials in this newsletter are the copyrighted. For permission to reprint any contents please contact the newsletter editor.

Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.

- Maria Montessori

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