Your Child’s First Textbook

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Ps. 34:11

The very first textbook to be used for the education of our children is the Bible. Day by day, we are to use the Bible to lead our children to Christ. We are to begin with short lessons, simplified so as to be easily understood. “In these simple stories may be made plain the great principles of the law of God.” Education, 185. Our goal is to direct to our children the commandments of God as standard for living, to teach them to use the Bible as a guide for life. As we use the Bible to introduce our children to God, they will be introduced to His character and their characters will be influenced as a result.

How should we teach our children? The pen of inspiration gives us guidance in creative ways to teach Bible lessons to our children. “ The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory. Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods. The teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best methods, and our most earnest effort.” Education, 186.

Let us renew our energies to consistently present to our children the most important lessons they will ever learn.

First the blade, then the ear…

One of the biggest challenges facing parents desiring to follow True Education principles is the concept of delayed formal academics. In an increasingly competitive world, the pressure to have our children keep up with or surpass their peers is intense. We first fall into the habit of comparing our child with others when they are very young – how old was Jr. when he started to crawl? Said her first word? Took his first steps? As our children enter their toddler years, we hear of children learning their alphabet by two, and reading by three or four. We begin to wonder, are we hindering our child’s future progress by not getting a set of flashcards and starting to review the alphabet by the time he is 18 months?

Mark 4:28 tells us, “…first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” We know that to enjoy the optimum summer corn experience, we want fresh, plump,  sweet kernels of corn, picked when matured to perfection. Nothing less will do. To enjoy corn at it’s best, we must allow the corn to develop the way God intended. For our children, it is exactly the same. With God’s help, we can give our children an optimum education at the proper stages of maturity.

It is easy to forget that young children are constantly learning, making connections and developing new ideas as they encounter the world around them. A nature walk presents a young child with a feast for the senses – so much to see, touch and explore. As he touches the rough bark of a tree, picks up a fallen leaf, or listens to the cry of a bird circling overhead, he is gaining the scientific knowledge that serves as a basis for future learning. Time with Daddy folding laundry teaches the importance of neatness and order in the home and the world in general. Cutting fruit for a salad with Mommy reinforces not only nutrition, but also cooperation and the joy of a job well done. These priceless foundational experiences cannot be taught with worksheets, flashcards or while seated in a classroom desk.

There is no denying that a child will eventually need to take a pencil in hand and apply herself to a math problem, a spelling list, or a timeline of historical events. That time, however is not as early as society would have us to think is necessary. “The only schoolroom for children until eight or ten years of age should be in the open air, amid the opening flowers and nature’s beautiful scenery, and their most familiar textbook the treasures of nature. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children amid the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten…. “ CT 80.


Originally published June 3, 2010.

Bible Memory Quotes

This week we share quotes that deal with memorizing Scripture.  We pray it is a blessing and that it will guide your homes as you make these truths your own.

“The mind must be stored with pure principles.  Truth must be graven on the tablets of the soul.  The memory must be filled with the precious truths of the Word.  Then, like beautiful gems, these truths will flash out in the life.”  ~Messages to Young People 69.3


“The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory.  Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods.  The teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best methods, and our most earnest effort.”  ~Education 186.1


“But there is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures.  One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty of comprehend its deep and hidden meaning.  One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.  Keep your Bible with you.  As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory.  Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind.”  ~Steps to Christ 90.2


“Says the psalmist, ‘The law of the Lord is perfect.’  How wonderful in its simplicity, its comprehensiveness and perfection, is the law of Jehovah!  It is so brief that we can easily commit every precept to memory, and yet so far-reaching as to express the whole will of God, and to take cognizance not only of the outward actions, but of the thoughts and intents, the desires and emotions, of the heart.” ~Sons and Daughters of God 39.3


“Here are the promises, plain and definite, rich and full; but they are all upon conditions.  If you comply with the conditions, can you not trust the Lord to fulfill His word?  Let these blessed promises, set in the framework of faith, be placed in memory’s halls.  Not one of them will fail.  All that God hath spoken, He will do.  “He is faithful that promised.”  ~Testimonies to the Church, Volume 5, 630.2

This one is in reference to when Satan comes in to tempt us to give up all hope… point him to the promises we are assured of in God’s Word.  🙂


“Let those who work for the higher classes bear themselves with true dignity, remembering that angels are their companions.  Let them keep the treasure house of mind and heart filled with, “It is written.’  Hang in memory’s hall the precious words of Christ.  They are to be valued far above gold or silver.”  ~Ministry of Healing 215.3


“A great lesson is learned when we understand our relation to God and His relation to us.  The words, ‘Ye are not your own,’ ‘ye are bought with a price,’ should be hung in memory’s hall, that we may ever recognize God’s right to our talents, our property, our influence, our individual selves.  We are to learn how to treat this gift of God, in mind, in soul, in body, that as Christ’s purchased possession we may do Him healthful savory service.”  ~Medical Ministry 276.1


“The most valuable treatise on etiquette ever penned is the precious instruction given by the Saviour, with the utterance of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul – words that should be ineffaceably written in the memory of every human being, young or old:

‘As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”  John 13:34′” ~Education 242.2


“Two chapters to Be Memorized. – The 12th and 13th chapters of 1st Corinthians should be committed to memory, written in the mind and heart.  Through His servan Paul, the Lord has placed before us these subjects for our consideration, and those who have the privilege of being brought together in church capacity will be united, understandingly and intelligently.  The figure of the members which compose the body represents the church of God and the relation its members should sustain to one another (MS 1898).  ~Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6, 1090-91


“Scholars should not try to see how many verses they can learn and repeat; for this brings too great a strain upon the ambitious child, while the rest become discouraged.” ~Counsels on Sabbath School Work 182.1


“The true teacher is not content with dull thoughts, an indolent mind, or a loose memory.  He constantly seeks higher attainments and better methods.  His life is one of continual growth.  In the work of such a teacher there is a freshness, a quickening power, that awakens and inspires his pupils.”  ~Education 278.5


It is in youth that the affections are most ardent, the memory most retentive, and the heart most susceptible to divine impressions; and it is during youth that the mental and physical powers should be set to the task in order that great improvements may be made in view of the world that now is, and that which is to come.”  ~Sons and Daughters of God 78.3


Letter Tiles as Manipulatives

Next time you are at a yard or jumble sale, don’t walk past that ragged Scrabble game box.  The game board may not be of interest to you, but the letter tiles are homeschool gold.    They are sturdy, portable and great manipulatives for working on letter sounds, word families and spelling/word study activities.  A visual learner’s delight!

Wait for It, Wait for It….

So your three year old is telling you about the new swing at the park.  The story is taking forever and a day.   You are so tempted to finish his sentences for him!    Here are a few reasons to ‘wait for it’ and let your child get that story out on his or her own.



Your child is developing his oral narrative skills.     Your child is learning how to put sentences together that focus on a central thought or theme.  She increasing her descriptive vocabulary by repeating words and phrases that she has heard you use to tell her story.  He is practicing sequencing skills in relating what happened first, then next and finally.  She is beginning to clue in on the idea of cause-and-effect.    Those skills are a vital part of speech & language development; foundational skills for learning to read and write.

Take a deep breath.  Listen and be encouraging as the story progresses.  Remind yourself that this is homeschooling at its most organic.  No lesson plans needed.

Ripley, Kate.  Developing Narrative Skills.  March 2012. Rosebowl, Southampton.

Reading Aloud is for All Ages!

Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott and Wilkinson, 1985) presented among its findings that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This landmark  Commission on Reading report also indicated reading aloud in the home is an essential contributor to reading success, and that reading aloud… is “a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

What powerful motivation to include reading aloud as part of a homeschooling schedule!  Most families however, see read-aloud time asMother_reading_to_child_1850 an activity for younger children only.  But as the report states, the practice should continue because the benefits of reading aloud don’t diminish as children grow older.


For the very young child, being read aloud to sends a multitude of important messages. The time spent with the reading parent is a vitally important bonding time. The young child gets the message that the act of reading is important, fun and desirable. Even though the child may not begin to read himself for several years, the underlying knowledge needed for reading success is being developed.


Emerging/Growing Readers

As a child enters his emerging reader years, the act of being read to still maintains a place of importance. Motivation becomes key factor in reading success, and being read aloud to keeps that motivation alive. It shows that reading is important and is a skill valued by the family. While the emerging reader listens, he takes note of the sounds of words, how punctuation is used, and begins to develop a personal vocabulary. As the books read aloud become longer, and the words become more difficult, a growing reader is able to gain access to new material with support.

Older Readers

One might think that reading to an older child is not a valuable exercise, but that is far from the truth.  It is one of the best ways to promote independent reading in older readers.  Because most children listen at a higher level than they read, reading aloud is an opportunity to present material they may have difficulty accessing on their own.   Reading aloud may motivate a reluctant reader to try material previously thought too difficult. Reading aloud to older readers also stimulates fluency and vocabulary growth. In addition, taking the time to discuss the reading material is excellent preparation for higher level critical thinking and writing.


Using Literature to Support Mathematical Learning

Children think about and understand math concepts in a variety of ways.  Many children can process abstract mathematical ideas in their heads easily, while others need a different type of support.   For example, kinesthetic children benefit from the hands-on use of math manipulatives.   Visual learners often appreciate seeing a problem being worked out step-by-step on a whiteboard or computer screen.   What about that linguistic (language-strong) student who may be a bit mathphobic?  Or perhaps you have special needs student who needs exposure to math in a new way.

math symbols

Have you ever considered using literature to help your student comprehend math concepts?  Math-themed picture books can be useful tools for introducing a math concept or reinforcing a math skill.   Most of the books are easy to find in your local library, or even as read-aloud videos online.

If you have never thought of combining math and literature , Scholastic teacher blogger Alycia Zimmerman has written two extremely helpful articles on using picture books to teach math skills.   Her first article describes the three tiers of math picture books  as well as provides helpful ways to use picture books to teach math.  Her second article expands on the idea into biographies and independent reading books that math-minded children would enjoy.   Click over  on the links below to get an idea of how to use literature with math.  She has shares quite a few book suggestions as well.  Well worth the time to bookmark and read later.

Teaching Math With Picture Books – Part 1 

Teaching Math With Picture Books – Part 2

Math in Literature resources on our Facebook page this week – book lists, activity ideas and more.  Scroll down to the bottom of this blog page to find the link to the AHE FB page.