Repetitio mater studiorum

“Repetition is the mother of learning.”

Mention this saying to my children and they will probably muster a dramatic eye roll for you. Truth be told, we memorize a lot of things in our homeschool. Not because I adhere to everything “classical education” but because repetition comes so naturally to them in this stage of learning, and being able to recall important information when studies become much more demanding saves time and enables students to apply themselves to understanding more whys instead of whats. I am not sure if Susan Wise Bauer would agree with me, but this was the main theme I gleaned from reading the Well-Trained Mind. It’s incredible to me how much better the kids are at memorizing than I am. Adult brains just aren’t as pliable, so now is the time for this very method of study.

Memorization and recitation are all well and good, but trying to add up all the information from all the subject areas we are studying for all five of my students and trying to get through it all every day or even once a week (the only way memorization will work) is quite a daunting task. We’ve got geography songs, math facts, poetry, Scripture, Latin vocabulary, parts of speech, Hebrew vocabulary, and the list goes on for each grade level! This is not even to mention the children memorizing their music and practicing their stringed instruments and piano every day. How can we possibly get to it all often enough to learn everything without burning everyone out? I don’t want memorization to be a drudgery, but I desperately want it to be a worthwhile endeavor.

Trying to fit everything into our school day has plagued me ever since we started adding memorization to the daily schedule. I could easily see just how much time we’d be spending in drilling with so many levels and interests. Right now we are memorizing Psalm 91, and it is very clear to me that Noah and Hosannah, my five year old twins, are so adept at cementing those words that I want to jump on the opportunity to get important tidbits into their little brains before my window of opportunity closes. How much easier ALL of their math will be if we just get some of those pesky facts down! Since repetition does take a chunk of the day, I don’t want to sacrifice Scripture for the sake of Latin vocabulary or geography songs for poetry but until just recently I had no idea how I was going to manage it all without making circle time go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

Enter mp3 players with personalized playlists. We have a few of those little players lying around that we use for working out, and they are simple enough to be kid friendly for this very task. Now, instead of keeping everyone sitting still and focused during circle time and going through each child’s songs, maps, and flashcards, something that takes an hour at best if we try to get everything for everyone in, they can disperse to wherever they want (even outside!) after Bible time every day and listen to their OWN playlists!  I can even schedule the twins’ little grammar poems three times in a row, just like First Language Lessons suggests, until they know them. Then, after a week or two (or however long) of listening to each play list and looking at the accompanying visual material, I  schedule review time with each child to continue listening to the tracks that need work, updating playlists with new stuff, and leaving occasional review songs on their playlists on a completely individualized basis. This new method is saving me a TON of time, and opening up possibilities to actually get to all the things I want them to solidify – like Latin pronunciation, which is a you-know-what. Even if we only had one mp3 player in the house, I could still make individualized playlists for each student.

I keep asking myself how in the world I didn’t think of this before. I’m sure some homeschool genius out there has been doing this for ages, but I just love it when I am desperate and earnestly ask Holy Spirit for anointed ideas that will make our young ones prosper in their studies and He drops an idea like this in my heart. I am so very blessed to have THE Teacher guiding me in all my ways.

And the QUIET that reigns in the house while everyone is on their own listening to their playlists?
That’s not too bad either.

Still a masterpiece in the making

Each school year brings new enlightenment and revelation to  my education methods, heart attitude, and acknowledgement of the validity of “out-of-the-box” ideas in homeschooling. Since I’m a visionary, I like this consistent reevaluation because it forces me to look at the big picture again and again – and sometimes even reassess the big picture itself. It’s healthy to be reminded of where you’re going and if the destination is really one you want to reach after all. You would think the overarching theme of a firm vision would keep me on track pretty well, but I’ve realized that it can also create a lot of bunny trails that in turn toss all my beautiful organization and executable lesson plans out the window. I find myself often reaching for assurance from the Holy Spirit to guide me through the maze of the incredible amounts of information out there. He is the One Who knows my children and their needs most intimately. If I can only rest as clay in the Master’s hand I will ensure to myself, my family, and my children that they are safest here in His care as well.

After listening to some very encouraging (albeit shocking) podcasts by Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Andrew Pudewa and only having done fourth-grade grammar for three weeks, I have decided that we are going to get rid of our formal grammar curriculum entirely. But let me back up lest you should think I have lost all my marbles! I should mention that we have done two full levels of Rod & Staff English and I have absolutely no problem with it as formal grammar instruction goes. In fact, it is quite wonderful in that it goes very slowly and thoroughly over only one topic at a time (verbs, pronouns, etc.), it has plenty of review, has short, simple, daily lessons, is quite affordable, and is complete if not flashy. I thought it was a dream come true when I finally stumbled upon Rod & Staff after many unsuccessful and expensive attempts at other grammar programs. Helping my children to become excellent communicators has been and still is one of the backbones of our family and homeschool vision. How could I think that putting our grammar books aside would help this in any way? Though we use IEW’s writing programs, I’ve been resistant to the idea that children in the grammar stage of learning really do not need formal grammar instruction other than the very basic mechanics of sentence construction. I’ve continued to press my girls into it despite advice from a growing number of professional educators and English instructors that grammar is quite abstract in nature and is best reserved for when children start to think abstractly. It hit me between the eyes while listening to the podcast titles “But..but…but…What About Grammar?” that English grammar (at least at this stage) is particularly irrelevant to children who are native speakers of English because they already know what good English sounds like (and hopefully are continually being exposed to excellent and sophisticated language on a regular basis via read-alouds and the like). They don’t need to know HOW they speak proper English; they just do it. One thing that IS recommended by Mr. Pudewa is to teach Latin in the early grades because it is within the context of learning a foreign language that English grammar finally begins to make sense – not to mention that more than two-thirds of three-syllable words in the English language have a root somewhere in Latin and Greek. Thus we can also use Latin to create a robust library of vocabulary without having to add yet another workbook. Kill two birds with one stone? I like where this is headed. This information was so impacting that I had to listen to it again with my husband. Pete, who studied abroad in Spain during college and is fluent in Spanish, realized as we discussed this revolutionary idea that English grammar only started making sense to him when he began to earnestly pursue speaking Spanish. The bonus for me is that the girls are really enjoying their Prima Latina studies and the payout for one less subject to drag down our school day enjoyment benefits everyone in this family.

The Lord is moving on my heart to consider this year more than ever the JOY of learning. The less I have to cajole, manipulate, and be frustrated, the better. I have gotten really sick of the girls crying over sentence-diagramming, underlining direct objects, and other such things in all our grammar books. They still look at me with glazed eyes when I ask them to tell me the forms of the verb be. We’ve only been discussing them for the past two years! It’s finally dawning on me that their little minds don’t make the connection between their grammar books and the sentences they speak and write every day. The relevancy is very low, as Mr. Pudewa would say. Rod & Staff will still be a fantastic program to use when the girls are entering middle school, and I anticipate that it will go much more quickly and enjoyably then when they are able to make the abstract connection and have a firm foundation in Latin. For now, I’ve got my grammar handbook and I can correct their compositions to make them “legal” without having to disrupt their creative flow by jamming a bunch of grammar terms into their little heads. However, I will not be leaving them completely to their own devices when it comes to language they are exposed to and use. Reading excellent literature out loud is still a cornerstone to our school day and will remain so for many years to come. In fact, I am inspired anew to continue reading aloud even to the eldest girls, who are completely proficient in reading. They are going into the years where everything they read and hear will be enlightening them with more sophisticated vocabulary and to hear the words spoken aloud will help them develop a fantastic proficiency in the English language.

This lesson was not an expensive one to learn as far as money goes, but quite a bit of time was wasted. I’m glad I got whopped upside the head before I really taught my girls to HATE anything to do with excellent writing. We just don’t need to have tears over grammar anymore. It’s only by the leading of the Lord that I’ve been able to give up something that I’ve held tightly to for the past few years for fear that I would lose control over what matters a great deal to me. But…but…but…what about grammar (i.e. won’t my children be stupid if I don’t make them do a grammar worksheet every day?) How silly for me to underestimate the whole process of home education. In contrast, I probably really could make my kids lose it if they have to copy one more complete predicate. By allowing Him to help me redefine this portion of my curriculum, I am submitting to Him to teach me the better way. Yes, it’s an unknown path to me right now, but this new journey is just a confirmation of so many convictions up to this point. Who knew that homeschooling could be such a journey of soul-searching?

Piecing it together #3 Part 2

Planning for this year, I have to address boredom with Chavah. I originally got fearful of the idea of teaching three Sonlight Cores at one time with a young baby in the house because the read-alouds require so much time from me. I want to spend the quality time with Chavah that I spent with Jaelah and Selah when we did Core A, so I originally planned to have her wait until the twins were old enough to start Core A and do it all together. But that just isn’t going to work. Chavah has grown in leaps and bounds this year and focusing only on reading and math isn’t going to cut it for her this year. I was talking with my mother-in-law about this issue and she told me that’s exactly what Pete struggled with before he was finally placed in a class that challenged him. Chavah is tired of the Core P books that the twins are doing and I believe reading some quality literature with her will help her develop her vocabulary and self-expression. I talked about it with Pete and prayed about my reticence to set myself up for FOUR Cores eventually. We came to the conclusion that we just have to trust the Lord and not make any decisions based out of fear. We have to give our children what they need right now and allow Him to direct our paths in the future. I suppose I could go out and purchase a full boxed first-grade curriculum for Chims, but we’ve already made the investment with Sonlight and have no desire to switch from that. So we will be doing Core A with her this year. I pulled out the books and just looking at them filled me with anticipation for all the conversations we’ll have through the year reading fantastic literature together. Chavah even tried to sneak one of the books from the pile to her bed during rest time. This approach will give me the freedom to only start Core A when the twins are truly ready for it, instead of forcing them to start at 5 years old just because I’ve been holding Chavah back and can’t wait any longer. Core A provides a basic overview of world cultures, but Chavah is so hands-on that I decided to use some Evan Moor history pockets with her this year to supplement the read-alouds. They are lots of fun and will provide a very good overview of topics and allow her to express her own creativity.

I am changing science this year for Chavah. We love, love, love Apologia’s Young Explorers series and have had no problems with it for Jaelah and Selah. The books take an entire year to delve into subjects and provide a depth of understanding that most spiral science books to not provide. I want to do all of them with the girls and they truly have a love for science because of this curriculum. However, Chavah is not ready to start the way the girls were when they were 5 and 6. She needs to move her body while learning in short bursts – so I need something that has more science projects and experiments and is somewhat short and sweet for the time being until she’s able to handle longer periods of reading and writing. I have a feeling notebooking (the kind Apologia uses) is going to be something she LOVES because it’s crafty but her handwriting needs quite a bit of development first. I could do weekly trips to the library and throw together some books on interesting science topics, but honestly I need something a little more directed and regimented right now for my sake. I know myself and if we’re just reading science books for fun, I’ll be too tempted to let it slip until we’re not doing anything serious by the end of the year. Of course that wouldn’t be the end of the world since she’s only 5, but I want to slowly get her ready for the amount of reading the Apologia books will require. I don’t really like the science curriculum workbooks I’ve seen around and nothing really piqued my interest until I came across God’s Design for Science series. To be totally honest, I still don’t LOVE it (they are relentlessly dogmatic about Young Earth philosophies, but that’s another blog). However, since my main priority is to remain with Creation-based science, this fits the bill and offers several other things I need. It will be just enough of a taste of science for Chavah, I can include the twins, it can be adapted to fit in the older girls when they are interested, it has lots of simple and inexpensive hands-on activities, AND it covers a broad base of topics which I can then use to determine which Apologia book she wants to start with when the timing is right. If I had my druthers, I would use Apologia all the way through for all of my kids, but having a child who doesn’t fit the mold of the older two is forcing – no, allowing me to learn flexibility and patience. Yay. I never thought I’d be using two science curricula in this house, but that’s where we’re at.

The twins are not going to be doing much besides letters and numbers this year (they’ll still sit in for science activities) but they continue to enjoy crafts and preschool play each day. If my goal is to foster a love of learning, I have succeeded with them thus far. I have a few phonics workbooks and handwriting workbooks for them if they express interest this year, but I don’t necessarily expect them to just yet. We’re going through All About Reading Level Pre-1 and it fits perfectly for their age and stage. I like the curriculum because it allows us to go through each letter three times – first for the capital letter, then the lowercase letter, then finally the letter sounds – so that could take a full year and half if I wanted it to. We’re using the Critical Thinking Company Age 3 and Age 4 math books because the twins aren’t quite ready for Math U See Primer yet. Still, it’s preparing them and Noah in particular loves the numbers concepts. When Pete comes home from work, “maths books” is often the activity the twins want to do with him (other than pulling all the cushions off the couch and wrestling, of course).

It continues to be highly beneficial to our school day to start with the twins so they can play while I focus on the harder subjects with the older girls. Now I’m at the stage where Chavah needs my attention for just about every subject, and the older girls are more independent than ever. Allowing our schedules to be flexible will give me the best payout this year. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pack and move in the middle of the academic year.

Piecing it together #3 Part 1

I just looked at my yearly planning calendar and we only have 2 weeks left of school. WHERE has the time gone? My goodness this year flew by. We’ve had lots of wonderful life-learning this year, and I’m also very pleased with how much the kids have developed.  Having a new baby in the house for much of our school year has given me ample time to consider and reconsider and consider again the methodology and approach I have to our family education. The longer I do this “homeschool thing” the more eclectic the choices I make. I’m trying to keep an open mind to what the children need as they get older. How much am I impressing MY goals on them, and how much are they inspired to do their own learning and discovery? Am I giving them enough to spark interest, or are we getting too bogged down with workbooks to have the energy for other pursuits? Are we continually coming back to the development of godly character as being primary in importance here?

God impressed on my heart the need for the girls to take a little more ownership of their learning as I prepare for the coming year. Though we are still laying a foundation in math, science, and being able to use the English language excellently, there is plenty of time during the day for them to pursue their own interests as they are becoming more independent and don’t need me to constantly be helping them. For the past couple of weeks, we have been discussing the process of setting goals and then using daily free time to meet those goals. I’m a very goal-oriented person, and our children will eventually have to develop self-governance in whatever pursuits they take on in life. Managing time and passions well is a lifelong pursuit and takes much practice. After all, there comes a point in time when Mommy can’t MAKE you practice piano anymore – you either want to become a good musician and will have the self-discipline to achieve that status – or you don’t and won’t. When it comes to what we lay out to learn this year, I have to consider my own very limited time and resources so that we can both lay a solid foundation and begin to build individualized little rooms. I also have to keep looking back at what our original motivation and mission was when we set out to homeschool. While recognizing that there have been and will continue to be circumstances that change HOW we accomplish what we set out to do, the main heart has not changed. The two over-arching goals we have at Hebron Heights Academy is to train our children in the admonition and fear of the LORD, and to endeavor for excellence in whatever we put our hands to. Everything else is icing on the cake.

I’ve spent some one-on-one time with the girls, asking Jaelah and Selah what THEY want to learn this year. Jaelah wants to continue to develop her artistic abilities but she also is very interested in nutrition and menu planning for the family. She is captivated about what makes healthy food healthy and how to get the whole family involved in eating it. Also, she is very passionate about food presentation (which probably stems from her extremely creative nature) and she wants to begin consulting with me whenever I re-arrange furniture. Hah – she could be a budding little interior designer, and considering how often I am moving things around to accommodate our growing family, she has job security for the foreseeable future! Selah has a great love for writing and she wants to continue to pursue that this year (not surprising to me – she has authored six books already to the great delight of the twins) but she would really like to learn how to sew as well so that she can make clothes for her American Girl doll and “save money because they are so expensive on the website, Mommy, like SO many more coins than I have.” Smart girl. I haven’t been very intentional about home economics other than living it in front of the children and requiring them to do chores as part of the “Family Blessing” portions of our day. Apparently, my endless talking about how to poach eggs and make almond-flour bread and sneak pureed kale into foods has sparked some curiosity. I couldn’t be more pleased. Maybe if I make a big deal about how to get the rust-stains out of the tub using natural products, they will get excited about cleaning the bathroom too. Or not. Both girls also expressed a strong desire to study the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln this year. I don’t know what it is about the injustice of slavery that speaks to their hearts, but they just want to know all about it. In Story of the World Volume 2 we recently covered the awful exploitation of West Africans as Spanish explorers realized they would need slaves to build their great cities and empires in the New World. The girls listened with rapt attention as we read some rather sobering stories of the ways Native Americans were treated in the race to claim land and grab gold. This topic can and will take years to cover, and there are obviously many more characters to study in our discovery of the Civil War as well as modern-day slavery, but I’m excited that they want to start. I’ve sort of been dabbling in the subject to see if their emotional maturity is keeping in step with their curiosity. So far, they appear to be ready earlier than I previously predicted. So in addition to our main studies this year, we’ll be adding purposeful cooking and sewing, beefing up art and creative writing, and spending a lot of time reading biographies and stories of slavery and its part of our history as Americans. I will still be holding off on purchasing Sonlight Core D until late 2014, but we’ll be going through SOTW 3 and 4 slowly until that time so we can get both a broad overview of the early modern world and a closer look at the States for the first time in our homeschool journey.

The Lord is doing a work of liberation in my heart. I’m experiencing the freedom to take an honest look at what we’re doing and get rid of what doesn’t work and embrace things that might be unfamiliar but might work with my learners. For instance, the girls’ handwriting curriculum continues on with about four more books after the one they finished this year. Four more entire workbooks! Now, don’t get me wrong. Having neat handwriting is a lifesaver in the real world, but the girls’ have beautiful cursive and do so much writing practice throughout the day that I just don’t see the need to give them another workbook on top of everything else. Instead of completing several more years of cursive busywork we’re going to start learning how to type this year, which is an extremely necessary asset in our ever-developing technological world. I am setting myself free from any guilt that would tell me I HAVE to make them go through the four more workbooks because I have to check all of my curriculum boxes. A few other changes we’ll be making – chucking the Wordly Wise vocabulary workbooks once and for all. I need to quit trying to make something work that just doesn’t work. We’ll be doing formal Latin study this year for vocabulary as the girls wanted to have more than just memorizing Greek and Latin roots. They were having a difficult time seeing the roots in language and how they make words work together. We’ll keep our English From the Roots Up for highschool or just as a reference material because it really is better for that purpose. Once I let the girls see a video excerpt of Prima Latina, they were hooked, and Chavah will be able to watch them as well. I don’t know how far we’ll take our Latin studies, but I really do think it is a superior method to memorizing lists of words that don’t relate to one another. Another change I’m making this year is the older girls’ reading material. Sonlight provides wonderful readers, but we’ve done all the Core C readers. I want to help the girls really engage with the literature they read and rather than just going through a bunch of good books, I would like to slow way down and spend time going deep with a few great books. We’re not big fans of book reports around here but I am not opposed to some “structured” reading, so we’re going to try Memoria Press literature guides for the first time this year. Each year only covers four books. They are workbook format which isn’t my ideal, but I can easily adjust the exercises for the girls to give narrations. The best part I’ve seen in the MP guides is that they give me a launching pad for deeper discussions. For composition, the girls are now ready to go through IEW’s Student Writing Intensive Level A. I am SO glad I didn’t push them to do it before they were ready. Looking through the materials now, I am relieved to see how far they have come in such a short time. I now have no anxiety about their continued development as writers and I was completely overwhelmed at the beginning of this year. What a difference a few months makes! Apologia’s worldview curriculum has turned into our family’s favorite devotional study tool. Pete leads the kids in this program, and we’re ready to start book two this year. We take a lot more time to go through the material than is required, but I appreciate that the topics we cover are so in-depth. I believe the girls are ready to take on some Bible study of their own this year too. Rather than just reading the Word, I want them to begin to be familiar with what it means to go deep. I recently discovered that Kay Arthur (author of many fantastic resources covering the inductive Bible study method) has written a series just for kids called Discover 4 Yourself. The books cover only small pieces/topics of Scripture at a time. We’ll be slowing down our Bible reading this year so that we can do more study. The Kay Arthur books I got for Jaelah and Selah discuss in-depth God’s Name, covenant in the Bible, and how to pray. Of all the shiny new books we have for the year, I’m probably most excited about these ones.

With all the talk of what I’m going to change, I have to mention the things that we’re going to keep using. Math U See, All About Spelling, and Apologia science for the older girls are tried and true now – three years going strong. I don’t dare change what makes our days run so smoothly! Alfred’s early beginner piano books are also the perfect pace for us and the girls will begin the third book in the series this year. I won’t require the kids to take more than two years of rudimentary piano because music is an excellent discipline. Beyond that, I will let them choose if it’s a passion they want to pursue. After doing about a year and a half so far, the girls don’t show any desire to stop and Chavah actually is constantly bugging me to start her books. I decided to let the girls practice any time they want instead of making them do it at a particular time slot each day because I was coming up against some major ‘tude. As long as they learn the pieces I lay out for them every week or two, I don’t say anything about piano. Since I’ve been quiet about it, they started practicing all the time. Whenever they are bored, they head to the piano.  LOL – they have no idea this was my plan all along and it’s working for now.

We’re moving in April to a home that has much more space. With the nightmare that is moving, I feel like Abba is expanding our tent pegs and it’s a reward not a drudgery. All this energy, passion, and creativity that has been bubbling under the surface is going to be given wide berth to be expressed. I can’t wait to see some of the amazing things God has in store for all His students in our family this year.


Memorization trains the mind well

It’s a little baffling to me that most schools today do not endorse the practice of memory work.  The main reasons I’ve been given in researching this is that it simply is not necessary anymore with the advent of the internet – anyone with a computer or smart phone can Google anything, anywhere.  They don’t NEED to know what 12 times 12 is or on which continent Turkey is.  Educationists began believing about 60 years ago that rote memorization was hampering students’ creativity and enjoyment in the learning environment.  Well, no one ever said that drill exercises were FUN, but I have come to see that they are very NECESSARY.  I still would say that the ability to regurgitate a list of facts is an inadequate tool to define the success of a student (at least in today’s educational climate) if it is the only assessment tool being used.  However, memorizing my multiplication tables has proven to have been extremely valuable to me over the years.  Critics of memorization say that it does not teach children how to think; it only teaches them to state back information.  This can be true, and of course this is largely why multiple choice tests and the like have not really succeeded in getting children to understand what they are learning – they are only regurgitating information.  Part of what makes this unsuccessful is memorizing for the test, taking the test, then promptly forgetting everything because there is no reference to put all that information together and not enough review.

I would like to propose that our homeschool classroom can have both.  You can teach your children to memorize all the countries of the world, and you can also teach them the delicate balance in which these countries exist as sovereign governments.  The two methods do not have to be mutually exclusive.  Being able to know important dates, names, locations, and events is a significant part of understanding history and culture; just as important as the reality that living books will give a deeper understanding of them.  We need not have only rote memorization or only scintillating stories.  We can have a well-defined timeline of the world filled in with the many beautifully-written stories of the men and women who have walked before us.  Many, many high school students today struggle with basic geography, whereas my great-great grandparents (who only went to school until eighth grade) had to know (memorize!) the most important rivers on every continent, as well as every country and its capital.  Why shouldn’t children today know the major players and battles in the Civil War?  Instead of having to constantly rely on spellchecker, why not memorize the spelling rules of the English language?  Why not have a basic, memorized panorama of the countries occupied by the Third Reich in World War II?  This may seem to contradict my love of the reading of real books, snuggled up on the couch with my little ones.  However, I am coming to see that we do not have to forgo the basic outline built by memorization but can instead use it as a foundation upon which our love of literature can be built.  I am seeing more proportionality between the two styles of education than I previously thought possible, and it’s exciting!

Americans are unbelievably astute when it comes to memorizing pop culture.  We all know who the latest reality TV show stars are, but a random poll taken during this most recent election showed an appallingly low number of citizens who could accurately state the three branches of the U.S. government.  I would infinitely prefer my girls to read about and care about people who have changed and are changing the world.  I could not be more proud if they can tell Harriet Tubman’s story but have not a clue about which Kardashian sister is getting married this week and how expensive the wedding will be.  There is no end to the worthlessness we can stuff into our minds these days!

Of all that Well Trained Mind has to offer, one of my favorite aspects is probably their encouragement to memorize things.  This year, we have been memorizing a lot of poetry and Scripture verses.  To date, the girls know ten or twelve decent-length poems and about 25 scripture verses, including whole Psalms.  During the grammar stage of learning, children’s minds are like little sponges that are motivated and excited about memorizing all kinds of information.  The thing is, they will memorize at this age; it’s just a matter of what that information will be.  McDonald’s advertisements or a Robert Frost poem?  Snoop Dogg lyrics or Psalms of praise to our King?  Obviously, it takes a lot more work to actively memorize anything.  I so desire to be intentional about this part of our learning.  We are absolutely bombarded with pop culture and easily remembered little ditties everywhere we go.  However, I have been so blessed to see the girls pick up some of this information we’ve memorized and run with it.  It fills them with a sense of accomplishment when they can stand up in front of grandparents and recite a whole repertoire of poetry and Scripture.  Neurologically, memorization is a great way to expand linguistic connections in the brain.  Hearing and then internalizing sophisticated language patterns will go a long way in filling their little brains with instinctively-understood “correct” words and patterns from which they can then write and express their own ideas.  It also creates mental discipline that expands to all areas of education.  I am also thrilled about the mathematical foundation we are building for the future.  The girls have already memorized their addition and subtraction facts, next year they will memorize their multiplication facts, and then it is only a few short steps to the pièce de résistance of higher mathematical problem-solving in algebra and calculus.  We have decided not to use calculators in any of our elementary math because it removes all motivation to pursue the excellence of memorization.  Math drills certainly are not our most favorite part of the day, but I know that some day the ability to do mental math is going to get them further in life.  Even if that’s only to the end of a balanced budget.