Did you think I forgot my alphabet? No. This is our learning to Write curriculum.


Free Writing





This is the sequence of teaching we use, over the years, to teach handwriting, spelling, grammar and mechanics, and all the other writing skills, including edification and grace.




Quite the program , don’t you think? Try it.

Freedom & Simplicity™ Poetry Study

Announcing our newest Freedom & Simplicity™ guide! I’m so excited! I just finished another in our Freedom & Simplicity™ “Dirt Cheap” series (that is, inexpensive, quick and concise guides to 1 particular topic, for busy mamas.)

This newest is guide is Freedom & Simplicity™ Poetry Study. Sometimes Poetry Study gets neglected in our homes because we feel we don’t have time for anything but the “basics”. But I believe “basics” aren’t more important than beauty. Life and learning  are not be to utilitarian, but rather about enjoying and growing in the good things life has to offer. Poetry is one of those things. In this guide I show you how to find Freedom & Simplicity™ in quick and painless daily activities. From there you learn how to go Beyond the Basics (as your time allows) and apply Biblical principles. Read what others are saying about this new ebook and…
Get yours today – to add Poetry Study in Freedom & Simplicity™ to your Lifestyle Education through Discipleship™.


New Vocabulary Study resource

Freedom & Simplicity™ Study of Vocabulary & English Roots

Hot off the press!

The study of Etymology will enable you to communicate more clearly, as you learn more words you will be able to use more precise words correctly. What is etymology? Awe, if you know you can communicate more clearly. Etymology is made of 2 Greek parts that together mean “the study of the true sense of words”. Understanding the vocabulary we use.

Words have meanings. And knowing the meanings of a wide variety of words and how to use them properly helps us communicate more precisely to others so they can understand us better. It also is a great help in learning more new words. Although having a large vocabulary (and understanding of those words) can get you great scores on the SAT (and also lead to self-aggrandizing pride – if your only purpose is to show off what you know), the primary purpose for building your vocabulary is to avoid misunderstanding.

If you plan to go to college, a study of English Vocabulary is important. If you plan to converse with others effectively (and I hope you do) it is vital.

This Freedom & Simplicity™ resource provides the tools you need to effectively study Vocabulary, so you can effectively use it in communication. Follow the R Road process to reason through several types of word studies, and Journal these studies on the provided notebooking forms. Rather than a full list of words to study, this course gives you the tools to study any word! These tools include: Foundational study – to put Vocabulary learning in its proper whole-to-parts context, a variety of Journaling forms with instructions, suggested resources – including Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, and an example of course requirements, grading and credits for high school students.


Read reviews of Freedom & Simplicity™ Study of Vocabulary & English Roots to see why others think this is a great study resource.

Beginning Reading

In this series, we’ll follow the steps to learning to read. Where to start? Reading really good books to your child, talking with your child, and teaching your child to listen. Today let’s take a look at a couple of ways we can work on the listening part of this.

Teach your child to listen.  Listen to sounds, wherever you are; what do you hear?  “Can you repeat the sound?” (Have him try to mimic animal sounds, machine sounds, weather sounds, etc.)  “Can you describe the sounds?” (What does it sound like?) Teach him to repeat patterns or sequences (clapping or saying words or numbers, etc.)

©  – from Freedom & Simplicity™ in Reading

In addition to general sounds around him, you can help him begin to listen for sounds in words.

Auditory Recognition:
In Phase One the child learns to recognize various sounds auditorily. In other words, he learns to listen for the sounds in words, and can tell when 2 sounds are the same or are different.  It is a game that can be started when the child is quite young, if it is kept a game.  This Phase is for learning the single consonant sounds, but of course it is OK if your child learns to recognize other, not as easy to distinguish sounds.  There are over 40 sounds in our English language.  This auditory recognition is taught before letter recognition.  After the child is able to distinguish the sounds he hears, you will begin teaching him the letters that represent those sounds, in Phase Two.

©  – from Freedom & Simplicity™ in Reading

Watch our L.E.D. Store for Freedom & Simplicity™ in Reading – Learning and Teaching Reading Through Biblical Principles – Book 1.

R Road to Spelling

R Road to Spelling is a simple but powerful way to Freedom & Simplicity™ in Spelling. Here’s a look at R Road. We are talking here only of the method of learning to spell new words, not broader writing in general, and not a “course of study” of spelling, i.e. the merits or not of spelling “programs”.

If you are not familiar with R Road, it is a methodology of learning, a ‘path to wisdom’.

Receive – Our foundation for Spelling is the instruction we have Received,  the letter symbols needed to represent sounds, and “rules” for knowing when to use those letters.

Record – The Records of what we Received are both in our minds and in our Journals. A “Letters Journal/Book of Remembrance” documents the various phonograms and rules we’ve learned, an ongoing Journal as we learn to spell. The letter-sound connection is Recorded in our minds, as we can’t hear what is recorded in our Journals.

Ruminate – Our spelling learning is not done by just rotely Recording the words we want to learn, but (as in all our studies) by Reflecting on them, thinking and Reasoning. This process will help us remember how to spell the word, be able to figure it out for ourselves if we forget, and enable us to spell other words based on the reasoning we’ve done for the ones we’ve learned. Ruminating consists of 3 processes, Reflecting, Reasoning, Responding/Relating.

– Reflecting – Think about it, put it in context. This can mean many things in spelling. In particular, we need to know the context of the usage of the word to make sure we are spelling the right word. How it is used in a sentence (the context of words) determines its meaning and many times its spelling. Are we talking about going to the sea, or the ability to see? Have you read the book, or is it the color red?

Generally, we talk about Reflecting on what we are learning “biblically, historically, academically, and governmentally.” Do these apply to spelling words? Individual words may or may not have biblical context, that may or may not have bearing on how we spell them, but it does have bearing on how or whether we use them!

Historically, is this a foreign derived word that is going to have special spelling needs that come with that? It’s highly doubtful that you will Research the historical background and roots of every word you learn to spell. But knowing that bouquet and beret are French words helps us to remember to not spell them a-y at the end.

Academically, we Reflect on the word, begin breaking it down. We say the word out loud. How many syllables do we hear? How many sounds in each syllable? Syllables are the context, Big Picture, for Spelling (in addition to the meaning context we’ve already pointed out.) Which spelling we use for a sound is usually governed by where it is in a syllable, as is how it is pronounced. Governmentally, what rules govern the spelling of those sounds? The context of the meaning and the place in the syllable will determine what rules are used.

– Reasoning – The answers to these, of course, all work together and lead right into Reasoning. This is all an integrated thought process. As we continue the process: What is the first sound I hear? How is that sound normally spelled? Can it have other spellings? In what context? Does this word fit in that context? Repeat these questions for each sound in the word.

– Responding/Relating – Responding/Relating usually relates to what we should believe, think and do in light of this new knowledge we’ve learned by Ruminating on new material. In the case of spelling, it can be more a process of Relating the spelling of new words to ones we already know, such as: Thought uses o-u-g-h for the/o/ sound, so does ‘bought’, so does ‘wrought’, etc. R Road has taught us many new words through the process of learning one. But 2 words in that last sentence, require their own learning. 🙂 A-u-g-h for /o/ in ‘taught’, and o-u-g-h for /oo/ in ‘through’. Sometimes there isn’t a hard a fast rule to know when to use which spelling, but we still come very close by knowing the rules that do govern.

Release – Releasing is, of course, the writing down or telling the spelling of the word, generally as we are Reasoning out each sound. We have planned our course, we have taken action, all that remains is judging whether it is correct.

In teaching Spelling, we will be guiding our children through these processes so they do get the right spelling. However, as they grow older and are spelling on their own, they will need to judge their own writing. That will involve looking the word up in the dictionary, whether that be a book, an online dictionary, or spell check in a computer app, or asking someone else if it is correct. It can also involve a further step of our judging their writing, making sure they have spelled words correctly. If our children’s work is never judged, they will learn to Reason wrongly, and will learn to misspell words.

Revisit –  Revisiting a word, of course, implies spelling it correctly the next time we encounter the need to write it. If we don’t remember the spelling or if we’ve learned to misspell a word, we will need to walk through the steps again, Ruminating once more.

As usual, the first 2 and last 2 R‘s are the external, typically thought of processes of learning. The 3 internal processes on R Road are the ones that are normally overlooked, but they are the ones that equip our children to think and learn for themselves. In practice, these processes occur much faster than it took you to read them. But it is a process worth taking the time to teach our children to go through in order to spell unfamiliar words. Naturally, they won’t continue to go through this process after they have learned the spelling. It will come automatically, for they already know it. But for unfamiliar words the Reflective way of learning is a way that engages the learning senses and the mind, for most effective learning. We say the word, we hear the word, we think about the word, we write the word, we see the word. Then we know how to spell the word.


How to Read a Book – Weblink Wed.

Ever wonder how to get the most out of the books you read? In addition to reading the book with the same title as this post, here’s a quicker help for you. I found this YouTube video that gives GREAT pointers. (Not endorsing anything else by them.)

Thanks to These are the Generations of…

And – I’m adding this to the Weblink Wednesday meme by Homeschooling with Encouragement. I think you’ll find this helpful as you learn and teach and teach your children to learn.

I have to admit though, I usually do all this on paper, not in the book itself. It’s hard to break my old habits of not writing in books.

You may find this helpful in working through the Puritan Reading Challenge.

Sound Phonics

As with most philosophies, the teaching of reading is no different, there are arguments over what is the best way. I’m amazed that there are still those that teach “sight” reading or “whole word” methods, after its utter failure, documented in so many ways and sources. But there are other arguments that live on in the phonics camps themselves.

The arguments here tend to be over teaching letter names or sounds first, and whether to teach all the sounds of a letter at the same time, or only the most used sound at first. Having researched all this for about 15 years, and taught phonics for a few more than that, I’ve read and taught much of what is out there.

Some say the letter names should be taught first. Every child knows the “ABC” song, and you can’t keep them from learning it. No argument here, (as to the song will be picked up somewhere, whether you teach it or not,) but that has nothing to do with knowing what the letters look like or how to read. It’s just a catchy tune, easily memorized.

Some have said that it is insulting to assume the child is so stupid that they can’t make the connection, when after we teach them letter names, to tell them that isn’t the sound they make when we read. Perhaps I have dumber children than others, but I am not speaking from theory and “expert’s research” only here, rather from experience. I have 10 children, most of whom I have taught, or am in the process of teaching, or will teach to read. (The 2 youngest aren’t old enough, the 2 oldest I wasn’t their only teacher. The oldest picked it up naturally at home before going to school, then had school teaching, and reclarifying at home. The 2nd didn’t catch on at school, and was retaught when we brought them home.) So I have nowhere near the number of students taught as a classroom teacher, or linguistic expert, but I’ve taught I very wide spectrum of different types of learners.

My dd (that is now 20, #4) did have a big problem learning to read, from knowing the letter names first. (And I don’t consider her “dumb”.) She could not make that changeover from name to sound by age 6.5. She could not get it that f, l, m, x, s, etc. didn’t have the same sound /e/ (short e). I personally knew several other children (most from ps) that had similar problems when it came to blending letters into words, trying to use their names not sounds. So yes, my daughter, and others, are “too dumb to grasp that a letter has a name … and a different sound,” without anyone “insulting” or “assuming stupidity” on their part. Evidently this is no small problem with just a very few children (although they probably are the minority), because those that work with the many “unable to learn to read” children have come up with ways to help them over this, — and to avoid it in the first place. It was in talking to one of these “experts” (20+ yr. K and remedial reading teacher with a MA in learning disabilities) that I learned how to overcome this. The way to avoid it is teaching sound first. (Of course, I knew nothing of this before this experience.)

Neither they nor I are promoting never teaching letter names, just that the letter names are not necessary to learn to read, and can cause hinderances, in at least some children. The names have nothing to do with reading, only the sounds. The child already knows the sounds naturally. That is what he uses to speak. He learns the symbol for the sound to learn to read, not the name of a letter. This is what even Charlotte Mason (though she was not even a propenent of phonics) was saying when she talked about a child picking the sounds up naturally. That he would have his little letter blocks with a picture on them, and would see a book and a ‘b’ and would associate seeing the ‘b’ with the sound /b/ as the beginning sound of book. (Not ‘beee’, the letter name. He would only know that if someone TOLD him this, irrelevent at this point, information, apart from his natural learning of knowing what the spoken word “book” means, and relating it to seeing a picture of a book and seeing the symbol ‘b’.) Again, this is not hiding the names of the letters from the child. It is about teaching him the written symbols for the sounds he knows, so he will be able to read.

Although our language isn’t a perfect phonetic one (one letter per sound), in many ways due to the integration of other languages to make up ours, knowing a few other combination letter sounds and rules makes it fairly easy to “break the code” (which all written language is). Teaching sound (firm, strong, not shaky or defective) phonics, teaching the various sounds that the symbols respresent (i.e. the different spellings for the sounds), along with a few rules that tell you when to use each spelling, your child will learn to read – and spell pretty well, too.

Although it is said that our English language is highly irregular, when reading and spelling is taught this way 97-98% of it “follows the code”. When teaching letter names, and then a few inital sounds, then “whole word” reading – well, maybe they’ll catch on, maybe not. The odds are against them – even greater so for spelling correctly. Teach sound phonics, by teaching sounds!

P.S. As for the letter names, as we teach the 2nd sound for the vowels we tell them that even though the symbol represents a sound, it also has a name. None of the consonants’ names are the same as their sounds, but the vowels’ 2nd sounds are also their names. Once they already have (at least the primary) sounds down of each letter this is not nearly so confusing for these “dumb” kids. Teach them what’s important first, the incidentals later.


Living Books for Little Ones

Just because you have young children (Toddlers and “Pre-schoolers”) doesn’t mean you need to succumb to reading ‘twaddle’** to them. Even young children benefit from Living Books, and there are great Living Books that are shorter and have less complex ‘storylines’ for your younger children.

What is a Living Book? A short, off the cuff (not ultimate) answer is: A book that has literary value (excellence) and engages the reader, regardless the age. For our Christian family, that literary value is not judged by just “well written” style and such, but also God-honoring content – as per Phil. 4:8, that doesn’t go against Biblical values.

Here’s a few (besides the Bible of course) that my little ones have greatly enjoyed – and have been read over and over and over.
1) Books by Margaret Wise Brown – Big Red Barn, Good Night Moon, Runaway Bunny, etc.
2) Mother Goose nursery rhymes (judge which ones) – I’m looking for a copy of the Annotated Mother Goose (oop) that tells the story behind each – most were not written as “cute” children’s stories, but rather political comments.
3) Hush Little Baby (we have a board book, “nature” version with great illustrations)
4) Tale of Three Trees – by Angela Hunt – we have the board book
5) SOME of the CLASSIC Golden Books – Over in the Meadow, The Color Kittens, etc.
6) Some of the classic folk-tales – Henny Penny, Little Red Hen, Chicken Little (are they all chicken stories?) (we don’t do the “magic” type stories)

Just a little more complex:
7) by Beatrix Potter – Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Flopsy Bunnies, etc. This series was my older boys’ absolute fave when they were younger. Now they like – Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, etc.
8) some Aesop’s Fables
9) by Else Minarik – the Little Bear stories
10) The Little Engine the Could – by Watty Piper
11) Corduroy
12) by Robert McCloskey – Blueberries for Sal, Make Way for Ducklings
13) by Ezra Jack Keats – The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willy
14) by Virginia Burton – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, the Little House,
15) by Russell Hoban – the Frances stories
16) by Arnold Lobel – the Frog and Toad stories
17) OxCart Man – by Donald Hall
18) Child’s Garden of Verses – by Robert Louis Stevensen
19) by AA Milne – the Winnie the Pooh stories
20) James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

I could go on and on, but here’s 20 of our favorite great books/series that will get you started reading Living Books to your Little Ones.

Let’s add another, just for fun. Not an old classic, but great for little ones: Sandra Boynton’s toddler’s books: Barnyard Dance, Moo Baa, LaLaLa, The Going to Bed Book, Blue Hat Green Hat, But Not the Hippopotamus, etc.

**twaddle = worthless, poorly written, dumbed-down, fluff