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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
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The Teaching Home
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

Volume II, Number 23                                 Dec. 19, 2002
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

Table of Contents

  • 15-Part Basic Skills Series
  •      Skill #4 Reading Comprehension: Facts
  •      Skill-Building Activities
  •      Selection of Reading Material
  •      Read the Bible Through in One Year
  • Recommended Home-School Products & Services
  •      Moms for Life
  •      Writing Assessment Services
  •      Mentura Educational DVD Rental
  • Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote
  •      Fire Safety Links


         In this issue we resume our 15-Part Basic Skills Series. The subject of reading comprehension is so broad that it will be discussed in this and two more issues. Also addressed in this issue is the important issue of selecting reading material.
         As the new year approaches, we encourage you to read through God's Word with your family.

         That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
              that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
         May be able to comprehend with all saints
              what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
         And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
              that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
                        Ephesians 3:17-19

    Sue Welch
    for Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
    The Teaching Home is a home-school family business produced in our home since 1980.

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    15-Part Series on Basic Skills
    by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

         Our 15-part series is written to help you evaluate your children's skill levels and help them improve in those areas where you see a need by using these practical ideas for learning activities.
         We have reorganized the list to combine two skills and add two more. Topics include:

          1. Listening - Vol. II, No. 18
          2. Word Analysis/Phonics - Vol. II, No. 19
          3. Vocabulary - Vol. II, No. 21
          4. Reading Comprehension: Facts - This Issue
          5. Reading Comprehension: Inferences
          6. Reading Comprehension: Generalizations
          7. Spelling
          8. Capitalization & Punctuation
          9. Grammar
         10. Writing & Penmanship
         11. Visual Materials
         12. Reference Materials
         13. Math: Concepts & Computation
         14. Math: Problem Solving
         15. Thinking Skills, Logic, and Speech

    Reading Comprehension: Facts (Knowledge)
         Reading comprehension is the process of connecting the words that we read to thoughts that we think. It goes further than the simple communication of an idea from one person to another.
         In this issue we address the first of the three following reading comprehension skills:

    * Facts (Knowledge)
    * Inferences (Understanding)
    * Generalizations (Wisdom)

         comprehension skills correspond to the stages of a child's progressively developing ability to think and comprehend as well as serving as a good model for learning any new material.

         These steps also follow the sequence of learning proposed in Dorothy Sayer's article, "The Lost Tools of Learning."

    Grammar Stage
         First facts, the fundamental data of various subjects, are learned. This is the foundation, made up of "who, what, where, and when."

    Logic Stage
         Next these facts are logically analyzed through careful reasoning. Ordered relationships connect the particulars together and answer the "how and why."

    Rhetoric Stage
         Finally the derived principles are expressed in speech or writing in an articulate and effective manner.

    ("Reading Comprehension" is continued below.)

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    Reading Comprehension
    Skill-Building Activities

         These activities give students practice in observing factual details in their reading. They may be applied to any type of reading material, including the Bible.

    __ Use reading workbooks to efficiently build simple recall skills.

    __ Ask your child questions about factual details relating to descriptions of people, places, and events.

    __ Ask your child questions about time and sequence of events.

    __ Read stories together that take several days to finish. Start each day's reading with a recap of the events up to that point in the story.

    __ Have your child describe the similarities and differences between characters and events.

    __ Ask your child to find details that support a given topic sentence or idea when reading or writing.

    __ Have your child identify irrelevant details (apparently) not contributing to the main point of the selection.

    __ Discuss any illustrations. Do they accurately represent the story? How do they compare to the way you pictured it?

    __ As you read to your children, make a note of any quotations you want to remember, new vocabulary or spelling words, items for further research, and related areas of interest. Teach your older children to do the same when reading independently.

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    Selection of Reading Material
         Several considerations are involved in selecting reading material. Following are some criteria and suggestions.

    1. Appropriate Reading Level
         Selecting an appropriate reading level will help ensure that your child will be able to comprehend the facts in what he reads or what is being read to him.

    * Very young children enjoy being read to: poems, rhyming storybooks, and picture books. In fact they love having the same ones read over and over again.
    * Read aloud to your child at a higher reading level than his own.
    * Select the correct reading level for your child to read independently -- high enough to challenge him but not frustrate him. Following is a simple way to help you select reading materials on your child's ability level.

    Five-Finger Reading Level Test
         Ask your child to read aloud a page of average length from a selected book. As he reads, press down one finger of your hand for each word he misses. The number of fingers down lets you know how difficult the material will be.
         0-1 Mistakes - Easy. Choose easy materials for your child to read alone for fun and to build speed in a slow reader. This easy level also frees him to focus on new words or concepts. It is a good choice for technical or difficult subjects like science or math.
         2-3 Mistakes - Challenging. Choose materials on this level to stretch your child's reading ability and vocabulary. You should be available to answer questions while your child reads.
         4-5 Mistakes - Difficult. Use difficult reading materials only when you will be reading with your child. Help him sound out new words using phonics rules. Explain unfamiliar vocabulary and teach him to use a dictionary. Expecting your child to read alone at this level could lead to frustration, skipping over words, and low comprehension.

    2. Negative Moral Elements
         One of the criteria of good literature for Christian children is that it does not contain censurable elements including:

    * Profanity, blasphemy, sacrilege.
    * Scatological realism (specific reference to excrement).
    * Erotic realism (detailed description of love making).
    * Sexual perversion.
    * Lurid violence.
    * Occultism.
    * Erroneous religious and philosophic assumptions.

         Another criterion is that whenever any reference is made to these censurable elements or when any sin (such as lying, stealing, cheating, hurting, disrespect, disobedience, etc.) is included as part of the plot or report, it is used carefully and in a way consistent with the godly purposes of preserving purity, training in righteousness, and developing discernment.

         The analogy of an inoculation can help us understand the purpose of these elements as they are used in God's Word or allowed in our literature selection.
         1. The strength of the dosage. A very brief exposure to mildly censurable material is enough. The reader's mind and emotions should not be unduly swayed to sympathy with the evildoer and his sensitivity to sin should not be dulled by overexposure.
         2. The strength of the recipient. Just as a child shouldn't be ill or immature when given his inoculation, he shouldn't be spiritually immature when exposed to censurable material.
         3. The resistance of the donor. You should provide the proper condemnation of evil so that no doubt is left in your child's mind as to what is acceptable and what is not.

         See complete article "A Biblical Approach to Objectionable Elements (Christian Educational Censorship) on the Bob Jones University Press website at

    3. Positive Moral Elements
         A good standard for selecting literature is found in Phillippians 4:8, where God lists what our minds should dwell upon:

    * True - Story is based on truth and reality.
    * Honorable or Noble - Christian character is reinforced.
    * Right or Just - Appropriate consequences are meted out.
    * Pure - Characters and story are pure.
    * Lovely - Beauty is portrayed (in illustrations as well).
    * Of Good Repute - The emphasis is on what is good about things.
    * Excellent or of Virtue - The material is moral and edifying.
    * Praiseworthy - We can praise God for what we are reading.

         When selecting excellent literature, look for:
    * Non-fiction that is accurate, logical, thorough, and free of
         false assumptions.
    * Quality, well-written fiction, with consistent style,
         intelligent plot, clearly-described setting, convincing
         characterization, and worthwhile theme.
    * Books published before 1960 (they may contain better values).

    4. Variety and Other Criteria
    * Select or read to your child books that meet his needs and
         interests and also stretch his horizons.
    * Select a variety of literature including: historical fiction,
         biography (including missionaries and great Christians),
         nonfiction (even textbooks), poetry, drama, and books set in
         different time periods and geographic locations.
    * Books in a series.
    * Unabridged books.

         Pre-read books, ask trusted friends with similar values for their recommendations, and see book lists (especially Christian ones).
         The Sept./Oct. '98 Teaching Home lists 192 books, each of which have a Christian study guide available.

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    Plan Now To Read The Bible through in 2003!
         You can read through the Bible in one year with your family by reading just 15 or 20 minutes a day.
         The Bible should be the first book you read to your children. You can also teach your child to read directly from the Bible as early as the first grade by using phonics teaching methods.
         The Bible is different from all other books; it is God's inspired Word to you and your family. It reveals God's love and plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death, and His resurrection.
         God's Word alone is the basis of a Christian's faith and practice and therefore, it is the most important book that we can read.
         The Bible also contains good literature, true history, exciting adventure stories, and valuable character lessons.

    Bible Reading Tips and Schedules
         The Teaching Home's unique one-year reading schedule features:
    * Start any month.
    * Read 6 days a week (allows for church on Sunday).
    * Read 4 weeks per month (24 days per month).
         This gives you 4-7 days per month, counting the Sundays, to catch up and stay on schedule.
         Create your own reading plan with the following elements:
    * Complete Bible (minus Psalms and Proverbs)
    * Psalms and Proverbs
    * Optional Second Reading of New Testament
         For Bible reading tips and schedules see:

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    Sunny Side Up: Fire Safety
         I had spent the morning teaching our children about fire safety, stressing how important it is to keep calm.
         Later, as I was fixing lunch, 4-year-old Josiah asked if we should call the fire department. Seeing this as a teachable moment, I went on and on about how we should never bother the firemen unless it was necessary.
         A minute later Josiah asked, "Should we call the fire department now?"
         Sighing, I went over it all again, explaining that if we bother the firemen, they won't be ready to go to someone's house where there's a fire.
         A minute later Josiah calmly said, "But what about that fire over there?"
         I turned around to see a dish cloth on the stove all in flames! After lunch I taught our children (especially our mild-mannered son) that a little excitement is okay during an emergency!
         Sent by Cynthia Z., New Hampshire
         You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

    Fire Safety Information, Lessons, and Games

    God Loves You.
         Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
         "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).

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