Beechick Basics

Beechick Basics

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

The following are just a few of the themes that resonate throughout her works. You’ll find that when it comes to addressing specific challenges, there are many gems in her books that you’ll want to seek out on your own!

 

1. 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.”

 

2. 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 we use is a tool, not a tyrant.

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

 

3. Homeschool Yourself

We know this. We cannot give what we do not have. Therefore we need to keep learning. It is fine to receive good advice, but in the end, we need to just roll up our sleeves and dive in — learning as we go.

An interesting thing happens when you educate your children. You end up becoming more educated!

 

4. Simplify

Understand the difference between content subjects and skill subjects:

  • Skill subjects are those in which our children need to develop a set of skills to learn anything at all. They are fundamental and our focus in the early years. Skill subjects include reading, writing, and thinking.
  • Content subjects on the other hand include those areas in which we use the skills we have developed to learn any subject throughout our lives. These can include literature, history, and even science.

Educating our children becomes much simpler when we realize skills can be improved as they are practiced on the content subjects.

 

5. 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.

 

6. 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

 

7. 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. Research shows no correlation 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.

 

8. 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

 

9. Approach History Through Real Books

The real book approach has turned many students on to history, while the textbook approach has turned many students off. Unit studies can be used that provide a framework and book list, along with teaching ideas for projects, for writing, and for discussions.

 

10. 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.

 

Books by Dr. Beechick

Beechick BasicsA 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!

Beechick BasicsA 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.

Beechick BasicsAn 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.

Beechick BasicsThe 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.

Beechick BasicsYou 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 BookBeechick Basics
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!

Beechick BasicsThe 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.

Beechick BasicsA 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.

Beechick BasicsHow 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.

 

Articles by Dr. Beechick

Answers: High School Homeschooling
An article by Dr. Ruth Beechick taken from her book Dr. Beechick’s Homeschool Answer Book where she explores what a college-bound high school homeschool student needs.

“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.”

 

Additional Resources

Beechick Basics
Practical helps, how-tos, book studies, writing helps, math helps, and reviews.

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.