The Work Aspect of the Moore Formula

The Moore Formula is based on creating a balance in the homeschool family between studying, work (manual labor), and service. As the child grows, the percentages of each change. Moore recommends to do as much work as study per day, with service additionally lasting an hour or so. A young child of nine or ten may only study an hour, with service being helping someone in the home or a close neighbor. As the child ages, study may increase to three or four hours for high school, followed by the same in work (home chores, self-employment, or family business), and service consisting of volunteering outside the home on a regular basis.

For some parents the work aspect of the Moore Formula can become a bit confusing. Today, I hope to clarify some questions and also bring in what Ellen White says we, as parents, need to teach our children about work.

As soon as a child can walk, he can begin doing “work.” This can be picking up toys or emptying out the bathroom waste basket. By teaching them early, children learn that they have a place in the family to contribute to the family’s good. There are no free rides for anyone. As they age, their work can include a home business in addition to home chores, in which they learn many practical life application skills. Working in a business (whether their own or a parent’s) can help teach math skills, planning, social skills as they talk with others, manners, patience, and even cause/effect. Running a business helps a child build self-confidence, self-control, and problem-solving. Self-employment helps boost creativity. Work teaches responsibility.

Ellen White wrote that education is more than just the studying of books. Children are to learn to be masters of labor, to use their mental faculties to make work more proficient and useful. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden to dress and care for it. Labor was to provide a safeguard against temptation. Mrs. White also wrote that fathers are to train their sons as they bring them alongside them in their work. Mothers are to teach the girls of the family to handle their share of the family’s burdens. Education is to develop habits of industry, self-control, self-reliance, money management, and business acumen. (By the way, she also states that education should teach children courtesy and kindness to others, which is what service to others teaches.)

By using the Moore Formula, the child learns a truer purpose in education. It is not just learning the “3 R’s,” but learning useful life skills to be successful in the community and fulfill God’s purpose for their life.

From this background, we can see the benefits of adding work to our school day. I think one important aspect of this work is it is to be manual, rather than cerebral. Children have spent some time already doing brain work. Now they need to move their bodies. As I said earlier, work can begin as soon as a child walks by doing simple chores. A child of five can set the table and even help mother with preparing meals. My children even helped with dishes at this age by rinsing. They were washing by the time they were eight, with me standing beside them.

As a child reaches adolescence, self-employment can be sought, using their God-given talents. Moore also suggests that children this age be given an officer position in the family business. If a parent will put this type of responsibility on a child (with parental guidance), they will not see the child fail or suffer burn-out from doing too much. Instead, the child will develop self-confidence and amazing social skills as they practice life application.

In the teen years, the child can take more responsibility with self-employment as they take over covering some of their own expenses of life. They learn financial stewardship and responsibility. Psychologically, teens begin to pull away from their parents in a search for autotomy. This is a natural and essential stage of development. Teens by this time need to be practicing more decision-making, even suffering the consequences of mistakes. The parents can be there as a safeguard, but still allow the teen to feel the results of a bad choice.

The Moore Formula may sound as it would include a lot of work to implement. Instead, it allows the family to work together in God’s purpose while the child learns the needed life skills to become the person God meant him to be. Study, work, and service — three aspects of life we all can use to develop Christ-like character, no matter our ages.

Homeschooling the Gifted/Talented Child, Pt. 5

Just How Fast Should He Go?

One of the beauties of homeschooling is that a child can go as fast, or as slow, as needed in order to learn the needed material. With some gifted/talented (G/T) kids, going slow is not the problem. I know some kids who will whip through a year’s worth of math or science in just a couple of months, especially if you are using a curriculum where it is focused on reading and answering questions, followed by testing. Many G/T kids are left-brain learners, and this type of schooling is very easy for them. They can read the material, answer questions, test, and move on to the next topic.

Should they be allowed to? I mean, you’ve seen those TEDx Talks where there are 14-year-olds in college. You’ve heard of kids graduating college at 16. Is this best for the child?

On the other hand, if the child is learning easily, is it right to hold him back so he will be at a level for his same-aged peers? Does this lead to boredom? Acting out? Quitting school?

To be honest, in a public school setting, the second scenario is more than likely to be true. You are more apt to find G/T kids who are held back due to age, who get bored and begin to act out. It is not unusual for them to drop out as soon as they are old enough. I’ve seen it numerous times.

In fact, I believe that many of our behavior issues in schools today, outside of not eating real food, can be traced to boredom due to material being too easy or not being taught in their learning style.

So what does a parent do when their Johnny is speeding through their curriculum so fast he will be done in half the school year? I’m going to share some suggestions.

  1. Make sure that you are using a curriculum that is not just read and fill-in-the-blanks. There are so many choices available today that I would try to provide a learning program that provides a good deal of hands-on projects. Hands-on learning provides all types of opportunities for deeper learning, making mistakes, and making discoveries outside the pages of a textbook.
  2. For subjects of deeper interests, explore library books, documentaries, museums, businesses on the topic, etc. Allow the student to dig deeper, while at the same time making sure that they are not focusing only on the subject of interest. It is not unusual for a child to become so fascinated with a topic they can become walking encyclopedias on that particular topic. Our children need to be well-rounded learners.
  3. When they have taken the normal subjects pretty deep, be sure they have the opportunity for other learning such as music, art, photography, and sports. Each of these can allow the child to continue to learn while broadening their horizons. In today’s technical world, a child can be exposed to all types of museums online.
  4. If they are still speeding through these various topics, then it is time to turn their attention to the world and being of service. I love the Moore Formula in that students are encouraged to study, work, and be of service as part of their education. I used this template with my children. It helps give them a broader view of life. If you have problems finding places to volunteer, check out the United Way.
  5. The last option follows along with Moore’s Formula also. This is allowing them to develop a home business or help a parent in a home business (depending on age). Moore has some wonderful advice in his homeschooling books on the positive learning a child has by developing their own business.

When I was just beginning to homeschool, I met a family who had a 16-year-old son who started a computer consulting business at 14 and was in such demand that the parents had to limit his work hours due to taxes. This so impressed me that I adopted that mindset to help other young people develop ideas for their own self-employment.

When considering how deep to allow to go, it depends on the child’s age and maturity. There is nothing inherently wrong with graduating early and going to college as a pre-teen. Just remember that cognitive development is often not at the same level as emotional development in the G/T child. This is where the advanced graduation can cause some problems.

A child who is 14 and entering college will not be emotionally ready to socially interact with young adults who are experiencing living on their own for the first time and learning to set their own boundaries. Sometimes, even in our Christian schools, the older students are not as accepting of a child who has graduated years early. Life is hard enough to have to wade through teen years and early adult years without adding additional stressors.

I was given an option of placing my daughter several grades ahead. I turned it down. I had too many negative memories of being teased for being the youngest in honor classes and making the highest grades. From this homeschooler’s viewpoint, I chose to branch out to explore the wide variety of topics available rather than going so far ahead. There’s an unending amount of knowledge to learn. By going broad, rather than deep, a child can slow down enough to allow other parts of their development to catch up.

Warm, Responsive Parenting and Delayed Academics

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In our family, we chose to follow the Moore Formula approach to education. The focus on work, study, and service helped us keep a balance in our family life while presenting the value of learning to our children in every facet of our lives. I believe that the Moore approach, possibly more than any other, allows learning to become integral to the whole child and the complete family system. With this approach, education is not placed in a box. Instead, the entire world is open to the child in a way that most other types of educational systems cannot replicate.

Sometimes parents who choose to follow the Moore Formula find that they can feel like a fish swimming up the stream instead of going with the flow. That’s because they are thinking and teaching outside the norm. Our culture and the educational system are creating learning environments that take the parent out of the educational formula at an early age (preschool). One goal of the present public system of education is to do this at increasingly earlier ages. As homeschool parents, sometimes we forget that these are external, artificial pressures, and we take them upon ourselves.

Research shows that children whose parents practice delayed academics rather than early academics, catch up with and exceed peers who have been educated formally and starting at a young age. Not only are delayed-study children beneficiaries academically, but research shows that they exhibit more skills in inquiry and higher-level thinking than their traditionally educated peers. Traditionally “schooled” AND traditionally “schooled at home” children who are not taught by the work-service-study model of delayed academics that Dr. Moore promoted have been found to exhibit signs (across the board) of burnout by fourth grade. These are only a few examples of the excellence that results in children who receive an education with delayed academics.

School Can Wait is an example of a very well documented and highly researched book which proves Dr. Moore’s educational philosophy. This book is highly research oriented and the result of a $257,000 federal grant which documented the importance of unbroken continuity of parental attachment wherever possible, and the dangers of formal schooling until at least eight to ten. In it Dr. Moore states that:

“The preponderance of evidence indicates that the key role of a parent throughout the years of childhood is simply to be the kind of warm, responsive, and relatively consistent person to whom a child can safely become attached. Early development and learning are actively dependent on this relationship. Parents are chiefly responsible for a child’s early learning by their attitudes and responses to the child in frequent interactions,” (School Can Wait, p. 47).

The Moore Formula encourages warm, responsive parenting and a delay in formal academics until eight or ten years of age. It is a plan that has proven itself over and over again. It really does work!

How to Grow Independent Learners, Part 2

A few months ago, I had the privilege of attending the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention in Nashville, TN. It was my first time to go, and although I wasn’t able to go to many of the seminars, it was still a valuable learning experience.

The main thing that was impressed upon my mind was that it is our job as parents to not just focus on teaching our children facts, figures, and how to be successful in this world. But to be independent thinkers who know what they believe and why they believe it.

Adults who can stand on their own two feet to support themselves while helping others along the way.

Time to re-evaluate
While I felt like we were on the right track in some ways- emphasizing the Bible, character, and nature- it just didn’t seem like things flowed. There was a constant struggle to accomplish anything measurable without falling into “school” mode.

I was ready for a change and praying that the homeschool conference would give me a boost and clear direction.

That “Aha!” moment
What I learned were practical ways to start giving the kids responsibility for their own education.

It was that “Aha!” moment when the theory and the application finally makes sense and the light bulb turns on.

If we are educating for independent thinking, we must give our kids the chance to take on some tasks independently.

However, like the bird parents in my last post (click), we don’t just leave them on the ground to fend for themselves, we gradually give them more independence as they are able to handle it.

This can be applied to household tasks or schoolwork.

Translated into the homeschooling environment, that means having age-appropriate tasks demonstrated first. Then give them the chance to assist with, perform with supervision, and finally, independently.

A portfolio
My first plan of attack was to build a portfolio for each child.

My daughter is eight years old. She can read well and knows how to do quite a few tasks to bless the home.

To help encourage her independent learning, I printed off several pages to go in her portfolio:

  • A morning checklist
  • A weekly checklist (with daily things to check off)
  • A calendar
  • An attendance record
  • A basic outline of our daily schedule

Having to record her progress gives her the responsibility to track her education, including keeping an account of the number of days in school.

The checklists are to be completed daily and turned in at the end of each day for my review.

This way, although she is in charge of her education, I can help her stay accountable and make sure she is doing appropriate activities to meet her goals.

When we first started doing this, it seemed great, but after about a week my daughter fell into her usual, “Do I have to do this? I don’t like school” mode, even though the “school” we do is super informal with little to no seat work.

I asked what it was that made her not like to learn and what she would like to learn about that sounded more fun. We were already doing theme study, so I wasn’t sure what else to do to help her stay interested.

No more school
One thing she asked is that I stop calling it “school” and start calling our learning “fashion design school” as right now she wants to learn all she can about being a fashion designer. Simple enough! So far it is working much better.

I also created one more checklist with each subject to be covered and several suggestions to choose from for each subject (see pic).

She loves it! It’s finally helped her catch the vision of what our goals are for learning and what counts as “school” including learning how to classify normal daily activities into different subject areas.

It’s a fun challenge for her to make sure that she finds something math, history, service, or work-related, for example, to check off that area of study daily.

It’s also fun for her to try to relate it all to fashion designing (or whatever subject she is studying this week).

Now that I’m putting my daughter in the (supervised) driver’s seat, it has taken the pressure off of me to come up with the plan. Although I’m still very much available to offer as many suggestions and resources as she needs to get going on a project.

Daily independent learning routine
We still have a regular routine even though working independently at various times throughout the day.

A regular school day might look like this:
• Wake up, complete morning checklist
• Eat breakfast
•Clean up breakfast and bless the home (a.k.a. tidy house) for the day
•Begin daily checklist (independent learning time)
• Come together for singing and story time (after I have the toddler cleaned up and ready for the day)
• Free play, walk, or other outdoor activity
• Continue checklist with the goal to finish before afternoon free play time

We continue in this manner, keeping each subject area to around 20 minutes each to avoid boredom or dawdling. Plus it reminds us to break up school time with outside, active, or “home blessing” (a.k.a. chores) time.

Independent learning sounds great for a reader, but how to implement it with a younger child?

As for my son, he is five years old. He does not read nor is he particularly interested in learning how to read. To encourage independent learning in him, I also gave him his own portfolio. He has a morning checklist (with pictures) and calendars.

Most of the morning checklist must be completed before breakfast. We keep it in a clear page protector so we can mark it with a dry erase marker and reuse it daily. I simply double-check that he has completed his morning checklist tasks before breakfast and encourage him if he’s getting sidetracked.

Update: A few months into it, my son is completing his tasks without needing to check them off so we are no longer using a formal checklist.

He also has regular tasks to bless the home (chores). Plus he has the option to give extra blessings for service or paid work (as does my daughter).

He has a lot of time for free productive play, and I also try to assign him outdoor duties as much as possible because it seems to help him feel more useful and regulate his emotions.

To pre-empt mischievousness and bickering, I have a list of activities he can do while his sister is in “fashion design school” such as Tinkertoys, board games, coloring pages, crafts, Legos, puzzles, skeleton model (his favorite), dollar store phonics, math, or sticker books, etc. to keep him busy.

Baby School 101
My toddler son (age 2) still needs constant supervision of course, so he tags along with whatever the rest of us are doing. My daughter has started him in “baby school,” as she calls it, and daily goes through the Sabbath School lesson with him.

She is responsible to teach him the lesson, including his memory verse, and to come up with ways to keep his interest. She uses felts, prints coloring pages for him, puts on audio stories or songs, and has even used Legos to teach the lessons.

They both really enjoy the time. It also gives me a chance to have some one-on-one time with my older son.

It’s a work in progress, but I finally see how this teaching method can be implemented in the real world, with multiple-aged kids, little to no seat work, and still have a well-ordered day!

I’m very hopeful for our homeschooling future and pray this also inspires you to encourage independent learning in your own home.

What are some ways you are growing independent learners?

Castles in the Sky

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We have based our homeschooling methods on Ellen G. White’s counsel and the Moores’ principles and research. We delayed formal education with our son, we used life experiences as teaching methods, we helped him with business opportunities, and we read to him all the time. Always, the idea of unit study study approach kept popping up, and finally we decided to give that a try too.

I sat down with my son and explained the concept of unit studies and asked him if that was something he would like to try. When he showed enthusiasm, I asked him to tell me some areas of interest so we could narrow it down for our first unit study. His answer held all the usual interests of most boys: war, pirates, ships, airplanes, etc. The list also included the one we finally decided on — castles.

With excitement, I dove into the preparation. I ordered books from the library, scoured our bookshelves, looked on the internet for places to visit and things to do, the whole deal. I had books on unit studies, and we used a form from one of these to map out our strategy. He was so interested, and this was so fun and exciting. I put all our resources in a plastic file box and we were ready to go.

Now, just so you know, we had already read innumerable books on castles, watched videos on castles, and crafted our own castles. Still, this time it was going to be with learning as the goal. I gave him spelling words related to castles, writing assignments, and art projects, and we read lots of books together. We were really doing this, it was really great…at least for a few days! Then it became old, repetitive, and a little boring, but there were still books to read and materials to be used. We couldn’t quit now, but we did. Right there, in the middle of the unit study, we quit. I knew it was a done deal the day I emptied the box and put everything away, even my good intentions and hopes. I guess the unit study approach wasn’t our thing after all.

Then, amid all those wonderful, fill-up-your-box-and-overwhelm-you, homeschool emails, was one for a free monthly timeline. I looked it over and printed it all out for February, and enthusiasm returned for both my son and me. My idea was to include it in our homeschooling each day and explore a little farther than just what the timeline mentioned. So again, off to the library for resources. I was ready for this, with my file folder marked timeline and a new burst of enthusiasm. Banner paper, tape, scissors, and markers were going to make this happen. The good news is we finished February’s timeline, but not in February — even with the extra leap day! It was actually April when we finally put it to rest, so I hope there aren’t any major historical events in March, because we missed the whole month!

I learned something as I failed at these two approaches to learning. I learned that they weren’t really failures, but stepping stones. I realized that we have probably been using unit studies all along without realizing it. In fact, we probably started when my son was about four (you know, before formal education or homeschooling) when my husband said, “Let’s pick a subject that he’s interested in each month and read books about it.” It continued when we would research and explore things that caught our attention. And, it even happened when we tried the timeline experiment, as we delved further into some of the events or people that were mentioned.

So, I guess we will continue with the Moore philosophy of learning from and for life. We will continue with unit studies, whether it be the traditional approach or our own twist on it. We will keep following where my son’s interests lead, and just hope that it’s not down the path to another castle!

*Special thanks to WriteBonnieRose.com for the wonderful timeline and free materials included with it.