"It is better to grow a child than to repair a man."

Earl & Diane Rodd 2180 Northland Ave. Lakewood,OH 44107 USA Phone (216) 521-8856

We want to thank all of you who have written to us the past couple months. We still owe personal letters to some and they will come! Lord willing. (We will stop sending FHC letters to those from whom we don't hear from directly or indirectly after this letter. We don't want money, just to know who wants them). In late October, we had a delightful several days of fellowship with the Chris Field family. In fact, they nearly were unable to leave Cleveland. We will let them tell you that story! We have a lot to share! Our country continues to be a battleground for righteousness in saving the lives of unborn children. There is a healthy emphasis on prayer and a realization that turning to the Lord Jesus is the real answer. Many are also realizing the extent to which we modern Christians have assumed very comfortable lifestyles and that God may be calling us to take difficult stands for what is right in His sight. A recent highlight was a "Rally of Hope" in our state capital, Columbus. About 20,000-25,000 attended in a very positive spirit. There was an incredible number of children! The rally was billed as a "show-down" with a pro-abortion rally the following day. When only a few thousand showed up for the pro-abortion rally, the media in general decided to ignore both rallies!

We have a 10-12 page paper nearly ready on the subject of dating. The elder from whom we received the original inspiration has reviewed it. We are now trying to decide how to get something of that length to you.

In this letter we have two curriculum reviews.

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

This is a book discussing teaching all basic subjects in grades 4-8. Earl has only read the section on math and found it an excellent source of ideas (in spite of an erroneous explanation of the commutative principle) and enthusiasm for the parent. The book can help parents be confident about what subject matter should be included at different ages.

Ruth Beechick also has several books of a similar nature for younger ages. Diane has read the book, An Easy Start in Arithmetic and has the following comments.

The value of this book is the confidence level it will give to any parent who reads it. The author stresses the use of manipulatives and mental arithmetic from the daily experiences of the family. She postpones formal use of written numbers and equations until grade 3! Whew! What a relief. She gives valuable hints, games, ideas etc. to make arithmetic in the homeschool part of your life rather than a "dreaded" subject. Her simple straightforward assessment takes the pressure off most mothers and allows math skills to come easily from the natural flow of the day's events.

The main reason to have this book on your reference shelf is the author's estimation of math skills needed for grades 1-3. This ready reference is an excellent check list to see what your child already may know!

Education Services, 6410 Raleigh St, Arvada, CO 80003, USA. Latest price was US$13.70 for You Can Teach Your Child Grades 4-8 . Set of K-3 Reading, Writing, Arithmetic is US$10.00. We do not review the reading and writing of this set because we believe that Spalding is superior to the phonics presented.
Comparison of Phonics Programs

Proverbs says,

Proverbs 18:17
18. The first to plead his case {seems} just, {Until} another comes and examines him.

The following is our attempt to explain the major differences among four organizations and their publications which claim to be teaching the same thing.

  1. The term SEF refers to the Spalding Education Foundation whose founder (Romalda Spalding) developed the book/educational method commonly known as Writing Road to Reading (WRTR). This publication is now undergoing another major revision.
  2. The term RI refers to Riggs Institute whose author (Myrna McCulloch) wrote a supplement to WRTR entitled America's Spelling & Reading with Riggs, Teacher's Edition ) This supplement is in its first publication and must be accompanied by WRTR.
  3. The term SV refers to Small Ventures which provides a Handbook for The Writing Road to Reading, Putting the Steps in Sequence . A Christian homeschooling mother (Bonnie Dettmer) wrote HB as an outline to WRTR. SV also offers Teaching Reading at Home by Wanda Sanseri which is a supplement instructional manual to WRTR and gives 50 "how to" steps for all grades.
  4. The term WTR refers to Writing to Read , a program published by IBM. It is an early reading program (K and 1 only) gaining in popularity. Unlike the others, it is not directly related to Spalding phonics, but starts with some of the same observations, in particular that young children already have an extensive speaking vocabulary and that if a child can write words, then he can read them.
The following paragraphs compare various aspects of the different programs.

WRTR WRTR $16.00 WRTR $15.00
Book/record $14.95 Book(Detailed Supp) 43.50 Book(Supp) 19.95 Special PC
Cards 12.95 Cards/Phon/Form/Rule 20.00 Cards 12.95 required
Tape/Phono 4.50 Tape/Phon/Rule/Outline 6.50 Tape/Phon/Rule 2.95
Book (Outline) 4.95
Subtotal $32.40 Subtotal $86.00 Subtotal $55.80
Postage 10% 3.20 Postage 2.70 Postage 10% 5.58
Total $35.64 Total $88.70 Total $61.38


SEF (May start when child begins to make sounds)
  • The CHILD : 1) hears (0-1 1/2) 2) repeats (1 1/2-3) 3) sees (3-4) 4) spells (prints) by age 4-6
  • Phonograms include "gh" which only occurs once in the Ayres List
  • Card sequence - consonants first, then vowels, then multi-letter phonograms
  • Child writes clock letters, then line letters
  • Ayres List is in sequential order of learning
  • Spelling Rules list is wordy
RI (Start when child is able to form printed letters)
  • The STUDENT 1) hears 2) repeats 3) sees 4) spells (prints) - All at age 4-6
  • Phonograms - "gh" eliminated and "tch" substituted
  • Card sequence - clock letters, line letters - vowels/consonants combined
  • Ayres List is in alphabetical order
  • Spelling Rules list is simplified to one or two lines

Both books have been designed for classroom use not for homeschoolers. Neither book is simplified to our standards for homeschooling mothers. Neither book simply outlines (1) when to do (2) what to do (3) how to do. Both books take an enormous amount of time to read and to use properly (at least 3 complete readings of each one).

SV eliminates all time schedules, encourages individualization of pace and is easy to follow. It stresses the same classroom techniques of monthly standardized spelling tests (Morrison-McCall), weekly review list, which may be unnecessary and boring for some students. It also uses RI's phonograms and combined learning stages. However, it does substitute "in" for"Indian" and "myth" for "baby" on page one of the Spelling Rules notebook which we feel is more accurate to most speech patterns. Price and simplicity make SV's outline very desirable.
Our own simplified outline.
In Australia in 1987 we first offered our own simplified outline (free of charge) to anyone who was interested in using the WRTR in their home school. Our outline recommended the use of Rod and Staff &/or McGuffey readers rather than random library books because we believe the first success in reading should have a Biblical foundation. We wrote the outline to help Christian homeschooling mothers utilize WRTR with minimal cost and minimal amount of time necessary to begin using the method. However, it did not include simplified instructions for dictating the Spelling Rules notebook. We still encourage
  1. Reading WRTR at least three (3) times before starting,
  2. Jotting down your own outline as you read through the book and purchasing SV's outline.
  3. Ignoring a nine month schedule
  4. Enjoying the process of discovering how English functions
We have rewritten our own outline for WRTR and expanded it to include the Biblical Method of Education and Arithmetic. This usage incorporates the Biblical Methods of Education which we have discovered in the Bible into the Ayres List and the spelling rules. The arithmetic lessons utilize the same Spalding method of dictation.

We added the IBM Writing to Read (WTR) program to the list because it is a phonics program widely used in the USA. Studies of students who have used WTR have shown encouraging results (discussed below), but we don't recommend it to home schoolers for the following reasons:
  • It is too expensive.
  • A strength of the system in schools is the emphasis on following the entire program which is designed to work as a whole. This makes it very cumbersome for home schools. One of the strengths for schools is the way the system can keep 5 and 6 year olds busy for an entire day, whereas home schooling parents do not need to keep 25 children busy 6 hours a day.
  • The system is aimed at children who are often too young to be learning to read. This is necessary for schools who have no choice but to try to do something with 5 and 6 year olds. Many children are not ready for formal instruction in phonics (and printing) at this age. We believe that an older child would find some aspects of the program very tedious.
  • The greatest weakness of the program is teaching incorrect spelling by teaching only 42 "phonemes". It teaches only one way to spell each sound. This leads to spellings such as "elefant" or "vas". It is claimed that children will eventually change to normal English spelling through reading, both in school and day to day reading of signs etc. In our view, however, it does not take that much more effort to learn all the phonograms required to spell correctly from the start. The research results confirm this weakness. The program also leaves grammar (e.g. capitalization) to be picked up gradually just by reading. We believe that this emphasis on simplified spelling is only necessary because the program is designed to use with such young children. Since WTR is only a K-1 program, it is not intended to address grammar.

Having said why we don't recommend the IBM program, we should conclude by saying that it does have strengths. Unlike many educators (who like to make up theories and assume they are right), IBM and the authors of the program have worked hard to evaluate students who have used WTR. My summary of the results is that WTR students consistently out-perform the average student in the same school district not using WTR in reading, comprehension and composition (writing). Of course, the average non-WTR student includes a mix of students taught look-say, so we expect that ANY phonics based program (and WTR is phonics) should out-perform the average. Also, because WTR uses some of the same concepts as Spalding (printing first), it is well liked by students and parents because it avoids the pain of boring readers with a very limited vocabulary. Studies show that by the end of grade 1 (when WTR concludes), WTR students' spelling is equal to non-WTR students. Considering how poorly the average student spells today, this is a confirmation of the program's weakness of teaching incorrect (simplified) spelling. Studies on school districts using Spalding phonics show better results.

Our greatest reservation about teaching incorrect (simplified) spelling is the spiritual problem of violating the principle of absolute truth. Children well grounded in the idea of absolute truth will feel betrayed as they see they are not being taught the whole truth concerning spelling.

We can absolutely state that no child who already knows any phonics should ever use the Writing to Read program. Because he is taught incorrect (simplified) spelling, he will regress.

We pray we have been able to clarify the differences of the above publishers which are not clearly stated in any of the advertising that is appearing in THE TEACHING HOME . We hope this review of the differences will help you decide which is best for your family.


Spalding Foundation Riggs Institute Small Ventures
211 East Osborn Road 4185 SW 102nd Avenue 3055 Mason Drive
Phoenix, Arizona 85012 Beaverton, Oregon 97005 Mesquite, Texas 75150

The Classics, Fine Arts and God's Commands

We have written other articles discussing entertainment. This article directly addresses the issue of entertainment in a "higher form", namely the classics and fine arts. We have considered writing about this a long time, but the final inspiration came when 7 year old Joshua, after seeing pictures in a book or encyclopedia, asked, "Was Michaelangelo the first pornographer?"

Both Australia and the USA are currently suffering from declining literacy rates and a general "dumbing" down of curriculum. Christian parents, schools and publishers are sensitive to these trends and are attempting to provide education for children which offers a higher level of intellectual development. This desire leads to the temptation to turn to old (e.g. classical) material because of its high level of scholarship.

The use of classical learning in the Church (i.e. among Christians) has been debated since the first century. During most of Church history, there have been Christians who thought it was mandatory to teach classics such as Aristotle, Ptolemy and Caesar. Also, during most of Church history, there have been Christians who have objected to training Christian children in pagan ways. In our day, we have two options. One is to once again go around the circle of starting with a revival of Christian education (the modern Christian school movement and home schooling) and then corrupting it with pagan methods and material. The other choice is to break the circle and give our children the opportunity to rise to a level of faith and closeness to God which we have not known.

We must avoid the temptation to assume that because art, music, or literature is old, a classic or traditionally a part of high society, it is good by God's standards! We must judge materials using the standards with which God has gifted us in His Word!

In some cases, "classics" may not be morally objectionable in their own right, but we must recognize that our children will read or do only so many things during their learning years with us. Every minute we have them putting effort into something "good" detracts from effort into the "best."

Nonetheless, there is much in the classics that is wrong. First we will discuss some specific examples to give the reader an idea of things to look for when evaluating material. Second we will present a little used, but important Biblical basis. Examples of difficulties with the "classics":

  • Books of "fine art appreciation" may include painters whose works are the pornography of former centuries.
  • Some classical music was written as music to accompany orgies!
  • Many classical writers were idolaters whose entire worldview was corrupted by their religion. For example, Aristotle taught that women were a lower form of life than men, somewhere between men and slaves (property).

At this point, we must stand back and caution you that many old things are good! The point is that we must be discerning with old literature, art and music just as we are with modern works. For example, the works of Luther or Calvin will provide a very high standard of scholarship and at the same time valuable instruction in the things of God as well as historical perspective.

We believe that the Bible provides us with a basis on which to evaluate many issues relating to the "classics." First with regard to writings and studying pagan religions, we have instructions about not even naming pagan gods. God wants us to be free of their influences and concentrate on Him. Our God is a jealous God who wants our undivided worship and fellowship!

Exodus 23:13
14. "Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let {them} be heard from your mouth.

Joshua 23:7
8. in order that you may not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make {anyone} swear {by them,} or serve them, or bow down to them.

Furthermore, we have the testimony of David in obeying these commands,

Psalms 16:3
4. As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
5. The sorrows of those who have bartered for another {god} will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their libations of blood, Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.

When we review the New Testament, we can see that Jesus and Paul abided by this command. When Paul was on Mars Hill, he preached Jesus after a brief mention of an "unknown god." He never mentioned the names of the pagan deities.

If we meditate on these Scriptures, we will guard ourselves from detailed studies of pagan deities as is found in studies of Greek or Roman mythology!

With regard to art, our starting point must be the second commandment in Exodus 20 or in Deuteronomy 5 :8.

Deuteronomy 5:7
8. 'You shall have no other gods before Me.
9. 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, {or} any likeness {of} what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
10. 'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth {generations} of those who hate Me,
11. but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
12. 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

There is no indication that the New Covenant "fulfilled" or altered this basic command to avoid idolatry. In fact, the New Testament has many warnings to avoid idols and idolatry. In this article, we will not go into a full discussion of the second commandment, but ask that each of you meditate upon it and apply it to your selection of material, especially art. We believe that it is important to start our thinking with an attitude of thanksgiving to God that He has provided us a way of escape from the snares of the world, not that He is trying to restrict our "fun" or "enjoyment of art." We make the following observations about "art."

  • Much classical art is pornographic. Christians who would never have modern pornography on their coffee table will sometimes accept books of pictures by Renoir which are far more erotic than most modern porn. Drawing or painting the human form is forbidden in Deuteronomy 4 :15-19.
  • Throughout church history, a lot of "religious" art has been produced. In our view, the fruit of this art is bad. Many people have fallen into the snare of making an idol out of religious pictures. More common is the trail of misconceptions which have come from popular artistic renditions of angels (chubby cheeked babies!, not creatures who, in the Bible always cause fear - angels always have to say "Do not fear."), Jesus (God has NOT left us with any physical descriptions) as well as a myriad of other pictures the erroneous details of which are often remembered rather than the actual words of the Bible
With regard to the second command in day to day life, as we have sought the Lord in our own household and considered the second commandment, we have found a great freedom and been liberated from a lot of junk! Idols just take space and are never good for anything!

In summary, we believe that we should strive to raise a generation who walk in the power and wisdom of God as no other generation has. Does it make sense to train children at home so that we can make disciples of Christ and then train them in humanistic religion and pagan deities and idolatry?


  1. Unless otherwise noted, All Scripture quotations are from the New American
    Standard Bible, Copyright 1988, The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd