© 2017 Peppermint Stick Learning Company Inc. All rights reserved.

Stories of "School Days"

Personal background and educational experiences

Hi! My name is Joy Delmore and I am a home schooling mom. My husband and I had originally planned on home schooling (HSing) our children for kindergarten only, like I had been raised by my parents who had been schoolteachers. (Not planning on HSing that is, unless we had remained in the city, which we didn’t; we moved instead to the Muskoka District when our daughters were very young for reasons other than schooling matters.) We ended up building a house in the country during our first child’s kindergarten years so my mom occasionally came to our place to “babysit” and teach Weigela to read, using her proven creative methods from her classroom days and from HSing my sister and myself years ago. Oh, by the way, “Weigela” isn’t a real name—we have web names for our children instead. I will introduce the rest of our family now…

Weigela, our oldest daughter, is followed by Petunia (girl), Bachelor Button (B.B.) (boy), Hollyhock (girl), Tulip (boy), Dandelion (boy), and Sunflower (boy). Then there are the Elderberries (my parents who now live in a portion of our home), Poppy (Daddy—Rob), and Peppy (Joy—my web name based on my former MBC children’s ministry staff name because I liked peppermint candies). And Sweet Pea (baby girl 2016) is our little addition to our garden of blessings! 

 

Back to our story…  In 2005, my husband and I were looking for fun, easy-to-teach Canadian-based curriculum for our own children. While we had initially enrolled Weigela for grade 1, it became apparent by August that her special needs and advanced reading abilities would be a better fit in a home schooling environment. A school representative from the small public school replied strongly on the phone, “Please do!” upon our suggestion that we had been recently considering homeschooling instead. Thus, we began searching for grade 1 curriculum. It was HARD that first year and sometimes impossible to find products that were really valuable to us for homeschooling. We tried a lot of different things that year (and have tried a fair share since that time for the purpose to keeping in touch with what products are around). Motivated by another home school curriculum provider’s suggestion, I began to write a beginner level Canadian-based science resource, publishing my first book at the end of 2007. An encouraging Christian mom from a former church we had been part of invited us to our first conference in Kitchener and by that time (spring 2008), other subjects had been included.  We also produced Canada’s first full-subject kindergarten bundle of curriculum specifically designed for home school. (The printed JK/SK bundles has recently sold out until the new editions are completed; the bundle including printable discs with some printed books is still available.) As our family grew in size and number, we were led to move again, and build again, so our family packed up and moved into a large campground trailer for many months in 2015 and then into our new home here. The larger space helps with our schooling, work, and outdoor interests and here, we have a true “high speed” internet connection, something that wasn’t possible at our old home. There are more possibilities here to grow in business as well, as time permits. Today, we have published over 40 books under the PSLC imprint and have begun producing rearranged/2nd editions for some of our earlier resources (e.g. with updated graphics, newer format since my computer offers more options than when we started our business). Click on the tab “Our Style” to read more about the characteristics of the PSLC teaching style.

About “Peppy”:

 

Joy was home schooled for kindergarten where she learned to read well (e.g. with Sally, Dick, and Jane, Alice and Jerry, and Sandy and Susan and other beginner books), add, subtract, do art, and help in the garden. When she entered public school, she was placed in a library group for “gifted students” for grade 1 —this was where she read many classic children’s books such as Billy and Blaze, Flicka, Dicka, and Ricka, etc.. The following summer, her family moved to the country, next door to her grandparents’ farm. So for school, Joy grew up going to a small elementary public school where she loved most of her studies and the way she was taught (e.g. old-fashioned teachers who had notes to copy and taught skills like phonics and penmanship, hands-on projects, (e.g. science fairs), some center-based learning, relevant topics, great field trips...), enjoyed being creative and unique with oral/visual/written presentations, was asked to help various teachers and the librarian with their work, and began a Bible club at recess to reach out to those around her with God’s good news. And for home life, she learned how to milk a Jersey cow by hand, gather the eggs, feed the chickens (and prepare them to eat), quilt, sew, churn butter, make bread, plant seeds, can fruit, and make things “do” by using things at home, rather than running into town unless necessary. She kept up with conservatory piano lessons (and played other instruments by “ear”) and watched only a bit of T.V. at her grandparents next door (e.g. Mr. Dress-up and Billy Graham specials). (We had no T.V.—too many better things to do with our regular days.)

During her teens, Peppy began 5 summers of work at Muskoka Baptist Conference (now Muskoka Bible Center) where she was involved with training/leading youth staff, program coordination/development, storytelling, ventriloquism, music, and crafts. Using the examples of her parents and aunt and their work with S.S./VBS curriculum and activities, she began to work on her own materials to use for the 7-11 year old group or the toddler group. Joy’s favourite school subject was science and for a number of years, she had been very interested in physiotherapy (her eventual co-op education placement). After “fast-tracking” through secondary school, she attended the University of Western Ontario for pre-medical coursework and later, the University of Waterloo to complete her science degree. In the midst of her studies, serious medical issues arose, changing her direction but ultimately broadening her studies to include other science areas, computer skills, etc.. She did not expect that these “unplanned courses” would ever be useful for “work”. But this broadened post-secondary coursework along with the schoolwork learned and kept from the K-12/O.A.C. years, camp ministry work, plus the impact of teachers in her family, and home schooling her own children, prepared Joy to write, draw, and publish the PSLC curriculum in a variety of subjects.

Peppy’s hobbies and interesting life activities beyond looking after “Peppermint Stick” and home school stuff include gardening, sewing, canning, cooking/baking “from scratch” (tasty food, natural cleaners—allergies in the family), drawing, playing the piano (advanced hymns/gospel music), science, mentoring women, and making purposeful crafts/home décor/gifts.

 

About “Poppy”:

 

Rob also grew up next to his grandparent’s farm in Southern Ontario. He received his business administration degree with a math minor from Wilfrid Laurier University. Rob helped profs/teachers there as well as in his previous schooling as one of the top students. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and works as a senior audit specialist in the Muskoka District.

Joy and Rob were married in 1998 in Waterloo, ON. They happily returned to real “country living” when they had very young children. “Poppy’s” interests include baseball, biking, math, chocolate, reading, photography, chickens, homemade bread, and times at home with his wife and children. He does a lot of hammering and sawing, moving dirt, helping with canning, and doing the dishes, among other home skills.

For “Peppermint Stick”, Rob looks after most of the bookkeeping aspects, occasionally edits, previews a lot of resources (especially those for teens/adults), and moves lots of boxes of books around!

The best word I can think of right now to describe what our family has learned from him is “faithful” - Faithful to God and His Word, even in challenging times, faithful to his family, faithful in prayer and testimony, faithful in the tasks facing him.

 

About the “Elderberries”:

Joy’s mom was home-schooled  (way back in the 1940’s!) for most of her grade 1 year due to a lengthy illness and her one-room schoolteacher sent her long lists of boring drills to learn. She decided if she grew up, she would like to become a teacher who would be more creative. She did! After teaching for about 10 years as a public schoolteacher (rural one-room + town school grade 1) and designing many of her own lessons, she taught her 2 children at home until grade 1. Our Let Me Read program and some of the other ideas in our PSLC curriculum are based on some of her successful style of teaching. Later, she went back to teaching in the public system as a supply teacher, retired, and recently she and Dad moved to our home for some extra help/elder-care. Mom especially enjoyed art and teaching primaries how to read early and well.

Joy’s dad too, was a public schoolteacher for a number of years in his career life. He had mainly attended Christian school founded by a Mennonite group.  His interests were in Canadian history and geography. Both “elderberries” also taught various age groups in evangelical churches (e.g. Sunday School). Together as a family, they were involved in music ministry and developing children’s ministry programs (e.g. making puppets, recording stories, drawing flashcard stories, etc.).

Both sets of grandparents also had a background of being involved in teaching Sunday School for many years and maintaining interest in education. They were farmers (fruit/peach/cherry farmers, mixed farm/dairy farmers). They were also lifelong learners and self-taught in many ways. One of Joy’s grandpa’s received only a grade 6 formal education yet went on to be a well-loved chairman of the local public school board.

 

Two of the lessons learned from the “Elderberries”:

· Christians students in the public school who are surrendered to Christ, CAN and SHOULD make a difference in the lives around them. God will provide opportunities - and He is our Strength! Live for Him wherever you end up.

· There IS an interesting way to teach, learn, and show things; put the cookies on the lower shelf so that children can reach them (i.e. age-appropriate fun lessons). Learn important things in such a way that they will “stick”. 

 

This page is under construction.

Weigela’s “School Story”:

 

A bit of Weigela’s story has been shared here and there on our website and in newsletters. I really have to think some more to put down something concise in this section because her story covers the years of JK-grade 12! Congratulations, Weigela, on completing your homeschooling education and doing very well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons we have learned:

Curriculum matters!!! Weigela tried a LOT of types of curriculum, styles, resources over these years. Her input has impacted me to continue searching, previewing, and/or developing refreshing resources.

Petunia’s “School Story”:

Petunia loves stories—listening to them, reading them, telling them verbally or in long writing pieces. While her older sister was quiet and thoughtful, Petunia was determined to be more dramatically expressive , spontaneous, and humorous. Fun and giggles seemed to be her learning style as an eager youngster. She’d bumble around with tenacious spunkiness for learning new things and still anticipates new topics and experiences with a vivid excitement. If a resource we were testing was taught in a boring manner, she’d try it but roll her eyes and let us know clearly that just wasn’t something SHE’D want! While we have a number of books already on our shelves, Petunia often has been the one to ask, “When are you ordering more storybooks?” or “When/do you think you’d write curriculum on that subject for MY grade?” She helped with some art ideas in Art for Grades 1 to 8 and edits some of my work now because she works diligently to get her assignments done so that she can do other stuff like sewing, independent projects, or yes, read another book! After a year of French, she asked if she could also learn Spanish like her friend (she excelled at both). When missionaries who knew about 5 languages stayed with us, well, Petunia absolutely had her interest tweaked even further. She also likes studying about Canadian government and maps, playing musical instruments/doing theory, and studying ecology/bugs/creepy crawlies (fireflies, crickets, worms, and other bugs brought into the house in a bug catcher to identify).

 

Lessons we have learned:

· We needed to have more bookshelves! And buy more storybooks!

· Literature study curriculum can be very boring. Reading novels for “school” can be fine without an actual “study” report or written activity about them. Literary devices/techniques sometimes are better taught as a summary note with short examples and generic activity rather than in a unit on  a “specific title by author format”.

· Favourite resources (other than PSLC) - Math Essentials (pre-algebra, geometry), Mission Monde and Mision Mundo (MFB publications), Nature Friend magazine drawing lessons, reprinted readers from the Canadian Reading Development Series, lots of wholesome books including titles we have listed in past and current catalogues.

Bachelor Button’s (B.B.) “School Story”:

Bachelor Button was an “end of year” baby so we delayed his kindergarten years as if he had been born at the beginning of January instead. By the time he finished grade 4, he was ready and wanting to quickly cover grade 5 as well, so he did two grades in one year, making him grade 6 level matching with his “peer-school” age. At that time, he also wanted to “kinda” study the public education system and, with this in mind, a local public school principal arranged for B.B. and two of his sisters to sit-in on classes for a few weeks one fall, rather than just giving him a school tour. B.B. gained a fair amount of insight on how the public elementary system works these days (in comparison to past stories from grandparents and parents) and he too, values home schooling much more than what the public school has become today, even though he had a nice teacher and friendly class. (“Definitely!” he sighs, as I read this to him.) Beyond the same reasons as his sisters, he was bothered with the wasted time doing “extras” (videography, etc.), the lack of expectations in writing assignments (no due date given, no direction to research topic, write an outline, edit a draft, then type it—no, they were just to start typing whatever into a computer for a writing assignment—he did it our “normal” way and submitted his assignment by e-mail when he was home sick with a cold to a surprised teacher), and observing his peers with their way of doing math—just a series of weird games on a computer. But B.B. liked riding the school bus and meeting a good friend who came over later to experience a few days of homeschooling at our home during some “snow days”. At home, the flexibility is superb! For example, Bachelor Button has always loved plants (and other science) and can be outdoors on days his peers have to stay in class, yet he accomplishes far more learning in various subjects than if in a regular school. We also plan to have Latin lessons in our home for the first time ever because HE will likely find that subject of use in the future.

Lessons we have learned:

· For learning to read, boys find reading “real life” information-type simple sentence books more motivating than relationship-based stories like Dick and Jane’s family so it is a good idea to include books describing tractors, trains, etc. in the stack of books to read.  Humorous stories in old readers also hold interest.

· Nature walks are nice but outdoor “work” is so beneficial to a young fellow’s sense of purpose and they really love to put what they know into real life practice.

· “Surprise Mom and Dad!” Never under-estimate the growing interests or friendly competition of a pre-teen boy —he loves to surprise you (e.g. with his baked pies, bread, attempts to fix stuff or solve problems like Dad without you knowing, suddenly getting a research topic done really well, being creative in a craft, singing a solo, etc.). OK, he’s NOW just said, “Hey Mom, did you know that I fixed ___ and it works?” (No, I had no clue.)

· He has helped in designing some PSLC curriculum too(e.g. the PSLC printing program has letters where his idea of driving around them was included).

About Hollyhock’s “School Story” and what we have learned with an extremely early learner:

Hollyhock began early—far earlier than I had planned. At the age of 2, she was more interested at times to listen in on her siblings’ lessons (especially B.B.’s) than playing with her dolls. In fact, she was THE main motivation for B.B. to read and do HIS math. She’d tell us the right answer first and he’d just LOOK at her, stunned! (He knew the answers but just wanted to be silly and say things like “January, February, bananas…”.  The “problem” was that once our eager toddler had picked up reading skills, she just couldn’t stop and so read and read and was quite able to read at the grade 3 level by the time she “started” JK at home/age 4! Then she decided in her “spare kindergarten time” to write a multi-page storybook personifying a flower character, complete with a plot line. I “slowed her” down by “going deeper” and by having other “subjects” (e.g. “baking”) for her “school” rather than moving her on to older grade levels too soon. (I had heard that it is better to expand a topic deeper rather than add older-level skills too quickly to avoid having a young student getting frustrated with materials that are designed for older students (e.g. small print, few visuals/manipulatives, etc.)). Years later, with a sister and brother, she took the opportunity to see what a grade 3 public classroom experience was like in comparison to home-schooling (in other words, a multi-day school tour with kind permission of the principal and staff). Her basic opinion on the matter is that she’d so much rather be home-schooled and had felt academically held-back in the grade 3-4 class. Since just before that time, Hollyhock has been a caring, empathetic one who has retained a keen interest in the medical sciences and phys. ed..

Tulip’s “School Story”:

“Somebody stole my snowball,” he yelled, in the middle of a snow-covered yard. Tulip loves the outdoors in any season. He also likes his schoolwork and finishes quickly while retaining most things. He reads a lot, really loves Math Sticks, and is fascinated with science and social studies, etc. He is a determined young fellow. His sister taught him to read one summer using our “Let Me Read” program (it’s easy and fun to teach with) but he really missed her when she went back to her own grade in the fall. In his spare time, Tulip likes to borrow her calculator and play “inventory” or “catalogue shopping” by writing out lists of numbers and items.

 

Dandelion’s “School Story”:

“I want to get THAT kind of flower!” announced our preschool/kindergarten-aged son at a garden nursery. “I love those yellow flowers and want them in MY garden.”

Yes, those were dandelions. We helped him change to planting marigolds instead. He is a little helper and also an eager student who was delighted to tell Daddy he had already finished his first reader.

Lessons we have learned:

Ideas and things that can help young students with vision challenges. For Dandelion, outdoor play in bright sunlight without sunglasses is recommended. 

Some of our second editions are also being produced in a larger print (and some updated graphics), partly for his sake, partly because my computer can do more than it could when we began PSLC and the result looks great, and partly because there are few first editions left of a number of titles and we will need to print more curriculum soon.

Sunflower’s “School Story”:

 

He loves to paint, colour, play with math manipulatives with his brothers and sisters, eat snacks, run, sing when we’re trying to talk, etc. He can recite the book called Building a House quite clearly and likes books about machines and vehicles. He also likes to learn the “trades” by not just watching tradespeople or Daddy intently but also re-constructing our house when we’re not looking! He’s very smart and would like to do “school” too.