Eli's Favorite Curriculum

I was taught at home from the years 1987 to 1997, from the middle of my second grade year through graduation. As the oldest of what would eventually be seven kids, I was in some ways a guinea pig. But my parents are wise and knew that what worked for me wouldn't work for everyone (much less my siblings) so I was able to see how different students require different learning opportunities and curriculum.

As a younger lad, I don't remember formally learning to read. My mother read to me often, and by four I was reading on my own. I learn visually and naturally pay attention to details, so many subjects came fairly easily—basic arithmetic, grammar, spelling. Since reading was never a hardship and TV was seldom allowed (until later) I grew up fairly curious and read a great deal, especially literature of a historical or science fiction nature.

When I was twelve, our family began attending a new church, Reformation Covenant Church—where I still attend today. While that didn't necessarily strongly factor into curriculum decisions, it did give me the chance to be surrounded by friends who liked to think about issues, and where Bible knowledge and theology is stressed. A year later, my parents enrolled me in Christian Liberty Academy (CLASS), a "satellite school" which sends you the curriculum and keeps track of records and grading. I ended up doing much ofthe coursework onmy own and graduating through that school. (My brothers, also originally enrolled, did not care for it and eventually moved on to local classes at Basic Skills in Oregon City). CLASS is a Presbyterian school, strongly conservative on a lot of issues, and the curriculum they used did much to shape me.

Some of the more compelling texts they used I recommend below: both Streams of Civilization books were among my favorites and Volume 2 especially connected history, theology and philosophy with life in a way that I have rarely seen accomplished. That book, along with Economics in One Lesson, Economics: Principles & Policy and the God & Government texts are probably the most influential texts I read during high school.

Another thing that strongly influenced my early life was the desire to work. My parents had given us allowance from ages 10-15, partly to teach us how to budget, and partly to get us used to the idea of having and using money.It worked. By the time I was fourteen, I spent as much time as I could doing odd jobs and working part time. By age sixteen, I was working full-time. While Ilearned plently of practical skills that have been useful ever since, that definitely impacted the amount of reading I could accomplish.

I bought Exodus at age nineteen, full of idealism and a will to make the store work. That said, I now realize how little I knewthen (and am beginning to understand how little I still know). Now that I have more than a dozen years of working with curriculum and other home school parents and have children of my own, my wife and I are coming up with a plan for their education. Our main goalsare toto help themhave a love for God and His word,self disciplineto work and learn,the humilityto listen to others, andthe development of acreative imagination.

We definitelyfeelthat children should havemore interaction with parents and other teachers than I had.Webelieve that taking the time to lay a good foundation early will pay dividends later, so we don't want to stint on the early material. We love the idea of teaching "socratically" (asking questions that encourage thinking) and think it important to present a variety of perspectives on an issue. One of my major weaknesses is being able to clearly explain what I believe and defend said beliefs, so we believe apologetics or some sort of debate would be good for our children.

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