Beechick Basics

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Beechick Basics Dr. Ruth Beechick was a skilled teacher and curriculum developer who considered home the best place to learn. She also thought parents didn’t give themselves enough credit for being the best teachers!

I meet teaching parents all around the country and find them to be intelligent, enthusiastic, creative people doing a marvelous job of teaching their children. But, sad to say, most of them do not know what a great job they are doing. Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else’s house and theirs is the only place that has problems. I’ll let you in on a secret about teaching: there is no place in the world where it rolls along smoothly without problems. Only in articles and books can that happen.

Dr. Ruth Beechick, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully

Dr. Beechick left behind a series of books written specifically to homeschoolers which help parents become familiar with the “language” of teaching, build self-confidence, learn to rely less heavily on “the book,” and teach their children in a more natural way.

If this sounds like a tall order, Dr. Beechick has certainly succeeded and then some. New material by and for homeschoolers is introduced each year that takes advantage of Dr. Beechick’s insight. No matter what method or combination of methods you decide to use in your homeschool, you’ll be blessed by her guidance and encouragement!

Following are a few of the themes that resonate throughout her works, mostly in her own words. But just be aware, Dr. Beechick is at her best when it comes to the practical nuts and bolts of teaching our children. So when addressing specific challenges, there are many gems in her books that you’ll want to seek out on your own! (Some of the following links are to our sister site, DIYHomeschooler, where we post practical helps.)

 

Think tutor

How do children best learn? Research consistently shows that children learn best when tutored individually. Bend education to fit the child. Each child is unique, and no person or curriculum can specify what your child should learn. Move at your child’s pace and “teach the child, not the book.”

Don’t focus on the curriculum

‘A tutor teaches mind-to-mind and is always aware of where a child is. So the focus is always on the child and determining what the child needs to learn what he needs to learn. The curriculum you use will be a tool, not a tyrant. When choosing a curriculum, also consider whether the materials will work for you, while being consistent with your beliefs.

Curriculum materials are less important than we tend to think. They do not make or break your homeschool — unless you try to use too much. That might break a few things.

A Biblical Home Education

 

Homeschool yourself

Ignore much of the overwhelming advice you are likely to receive, and dive in and learn as you go. This will keep your teaching real rather than bookish. You will also find that as you provide your children with the skills they need to learn, you are the one becoming more educated.

 

Simplify

Understand the difference between content subjects and skill subjects. Skills can be improved as they are practiced on the content subjects.

 

You know phonics

“You have been using it for years. Why pay high prices for something that you already know? What’s the big secret? There isn’t any.” Phonics should be associated with stories read from your child’s books. Once the child is reading storybooks, reading becomes a skill to use, not a subject to learn. The skill of reading can then be practiced across the other subjects.

  • 7 Ideas Toward Teaching a Child to Read
    Ruth Beechick says we tend to try several phonics programs before hitting on the right one, when all that is really needed is time and practice. A look at teaching reading the Beechick way.

 

Learn to write, write

“Forget the push for creativity in writing. Just get the child writing so that when the day comes that he has something creative to express, he’ll be ready.” It is easier to teach writing during the early years if you keep it natural. Regular writing practice will lead to improvement. It is also important to read extensively.

One reason homeschoolers like workbooks is that they think they can measure progress each day — at least progress through the book. But real progress in the skills of reading and writing is not that linear. Look back in three months or at the end of a year and you will be encouraged with good progress after using some of the freer, non-book methods. You can save occasional dated samples of writing for this purpose.

A Biblical Home Education

 

Grammar comes after we have learned to write

Once we know how to write, we can learn the names for the roles words play in a sentence. There is no correlation in research between a knowledge of grammar and the ability to write well. Older students may actually enjoy grammar if they have not already burned out on it in their earlier years. So we use language, immerse our children in language, and then teach its grammar.

 

Interact with what you read

New information must be processed in some way for the information to be retained. There are many ways to go about this, but simply hearing or seeing information one time will not lead to the facts being remembered, except in rare individuals.

To learn, one must process information in the mind, and writing is a powerful way to process information, in other words to think.

A Biblical Home Education

 

Approach history through real books

Make sure history materials are clearly Biblical, particularly when it comes to ancient history. Unit studies can be used that provide a framework and book list, along with teaching ideas for projects, for writing, and for discussions. The real book approach has turned many students on to history, while the textbook approach has turned many students off.

When it comes to science, encourage thinking

Teach important science concepts instead of technical terms and other easily-tested items. Children need to learn to ask questions, so feed them interesting books about science concepts, supplementing with real-life activities that illustrate the concept. The history of science is easily learned through biographies.

Thinking is taught throughout the subjects

We don’t need to add a separate thinking skills class, but practice thinking skills in every subject. Because knowledge builds slowly, and the quality of what we think on is largely determined by the content, be careful when it comes to choosing content.

  • 5 Ways to Develop a Better Thinker
    “Thinking does not work well as a separate subject. Students should practice thinking in every subject and in family life, too. We are preparing children for life, not for tests.”

 

Natural learning

Children are always learning. They will continue learning, unless we sit them down to workbooks and “school” their learning up. Provide them with a rich learning environment. Talk to them and interact with them. This type of natural learning is a powerful way to build language skills.

Somebody, please tell these mothers to relax and enjoy their young children. If you know either kind — the workbook slave or the see-everything mom — go rescue her. These moms need to know that what the children need most is their natural, loving, peaceful home environment. They learn more this way than with School.

A Biblical Home Education

  • Try It At Home
    There are always online courses (many free), real or virtual tutors, self-instructing curriculum, or homeschool co-ops for those who are faint of heart. But first — try it at home!

 

Christian home educators are in a healthy, vigorous stage of their movement. Most are on the high road. But as they become more initiated into the beliefs of modern education, they are in danger of losing their strength, as happened with church education. Bombarded from all sides with information and ads, parents, wanting the best of their children begin to wonder about their own wisdom. The answer is to stay deeply rooted in the Bible.

The Language Wars and Other Writings for Homeschoolers

 

Books by Dr. Beechick

A Home Start in ReadingA Home Start in Reading
Includes when to start reading, how to begin, and step-by-step instructions through fluency. A parent guide that removes the mystery from teaching a child to read. Want to teach your child to read? This is the only book you need. Really!

A Strong Start in LanguageA Strong Start in Language
This book starts by pointing out that YOU are an effective language teacher. Think how much your child has already learned! Emphasizes the natural way of learning language including guidelines for all language components at each level.

An Easy Start in ArithmeticAn Easy Start in Arithmetic
Here we learn the different attitudes we need to be aware of when we teach math, the different ways we “see” math, what we can do in the early years, real math, and teaching suggestions at each level.

The Three R'sThe Three R’s
This is the above three titles together in one book. Sometimes you’ll do better purchasing this one book, at other times it may be more cost effective to simply purchase the three individually.

You Can Teach Your Child  SuccessfullyYou Can Teach Your Child Successfully
Dr. Beechick’s encouragement is outstanding: “You parents naturally know how to relate to each of your children and to help them learn. Your biggest problem is that so many of you are afraid that teachers or society or somebody out there will frown on your way of teaching…. It is the child you are teaching, not the book.” What a wealth of useful information! From reading, writing, and arithmetic to history and social studies, science, music, art, and Bible, Dr. Beechick includes lessons, spelling lists, math charts, mechanics, and grade-level guidelines — all in a common-sense, easy-to-understand style. Very practical!

Dr. Beechick's Homeschool Answer BookDr. Beechick’s Homeschool Answer Book
Edited by Debbie Strayer, this is a compilation of questions Dr. Beechick has answered over the years and her responses. The topics range from a discussion of the various homeschool methods to selecting curriculum through each of the subject areas and on to high school, family life, and special education. Full of useful tips. You’ll find Dr. Beechick’s calm voice of reason very reassuring!

The Language Wars and Other Writings for HomeschoolersThe Language Wars and Other Writings for Homeschoolers
This book is a collection of 25 articles selected by Dr. Beechick’s daughter-in-law as representing those that are “encouraging to parents who think publishers and textbooks have the answers while they themselves know nothing.” The selections cover curriculum, what Dr. Beechick learned when she began teaching, Bible knowledge, phonics, arithmetic, memorization, thinking skills, and childhood education.

A Biblical Home EducationA Biblical Home Education
Subtitled Building Your Homeschool on the Foundation of God’s Word, the work takes you through the content subjects and language skill subjects one by one, all from a Biblical perspective. This book essentially provides the big picture, the larger framework that the first five books above fit into. There is so much meat in this book that it really deserves more than one reading to absorb the larger concepts peppered throughout.

How to Write ClearlyHow to Write Clearly
What if writing was actually very simple? What if the key was — much as we learn to walk by walking, or we learn to talk by talking, or learn to read by reading — simply to learn to write by writing? Those familiar with Dr. Ruth Beechick will be quite familiar with this phrase and the natural method of learning to write it connotes. Many of her ideas on writing are summarized in this book. Read our full review.

Further Reading
  • Beechick Basics
    Other thoughts on Beechick Basics.
  • Beechick Basics
    Practical helps, how-tos, book studies, writing helps, math helps, and reviews from our DIYHomeschooler site.
  • The Fox and the Grapes: A Mini Unit Study
    An example of how to use a real children’s book to teach language skills.
  • Book Study: The Little Red Hen {Free eBook}
    Another example of using real books to teach language skills.
  • “How Not to Teach Writing”
    Fascinating article by Dr. Beechick addressing the excesses we are free to rid ourselves of in the area of language arts.
  • “Tutoring: The Best Teaching Method”
    In this article, Dr. Beechick explains that tutoring is more efficient than following a book because you provide a child with what he needs when he needs it. You also have a chance to teach in context, which means it sticks!
  • “Who Needs Grammar?”
    Very practical article by Ruth Beechick to help us keep grammar in perspective. “Children use mostly correct grammar as they copy the speech of people around them. Later on, then, it is fairly easy to learn from grammar books the definitions and rules for grammar. The books just describe what the children already use and understand.”
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