Monday, August 18, 2014

Arguing for Simplicity

In a time of polarizing opinions, little "across the aisle" dialogue and gridlock it's been refreshing to read two books, written by very different authors, that end up arguing for a similar cause. Ten Way to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is written by Anthony Esolen, a college professor, Christian, and social commentator. The Idle Parent is written by lefty British anti-authoritarian Tom Hodgkinson. While they come at parenting from completely different positions, they both end up advocating for an educational approach that includes cultivating an atmosphere of learning within the home. They're both positive about home schooling. They encourage parents to take responsibility for their children's education. They advocate plenty of free time, outdoor play, limiting structured activities overseen by adults. Imagination is valued and great literature is used to encourage its development.

Respect for Children

The thing that struck me is that both authors have a healthy respect for children. As a parent, I'm
continually amazed at the developments of my son. Little ones come with so much pre-programed information and are so incredibly aware of their surroundings. Even during the first week of my son's life, he expressed interest and curiosity, staring at the lights and decorations on our Christmas tree. As he gets older that natural inquisitiveness has only increased. He also expresses, as all babies do, the purest form of joy. His affections are clear and shameless. These are qualities I want to preserve as long as I am possibly able. While many parenting philosophies and teaching ideologies seem to put an emphasis on "developing" the child, I think that can often result in misguided applications. Esolen and Hodgkinson seem to agree. They both make convincing arguments for freeing children from the pressures of performance based success. Replace a rigid class schedule with a more holistic educational approach that involves more time for exploration and discovery. Reduce the number of hours children are required to spend seated at desks and allow them to run free outside. Let them organize their own games instead of signing them up for youth soccer. Ultimately, it seems to me, they call for parents and educators to put a little more trust in the children entrusted to our care. In a culture that encourages helicopter parenting, I think there is wisdom in this idea.

Rejecting "Success"

As homeschoolers and parents, don't we all feel an enormous amount of pressure to ensure that our children succeed? That they stay on track with their traditionally schooled peers? That they're adequately "socialized"? Maybe we can relax a bit. According to Esolen and Hodgkinson, maybe we need to rethink what we mean by success. Both authors argue for a rejection of commercialism and an adoption of simplicity. How refreshing! Maybe success can't be equated with a 9-5 job and lots of stuff. As homeschoolers, we're already a bit outside the mainstream and I think that we all want more for our children. The authors certainly place a high value on innovation and entrepreneurship and giving back. By eschewing an educational system and philosophy that values order over innovation, time spent indoors over time spent exploring nature, fill-in-the-blank answers over critical thinking, we've taken the first step toward allowing our children to grow into the people they were created to be. And we're encouraging them to look at learning not as something that should be accomplished in 45 minute segments, but in everything they do.

Leaving room for joy

One of the most rewarding aspects of my jobs is hearing from parents who have been reacquainted with what it means to love learning. Time after time, I'll hear from parents who thought they hated literature or despised history. After getting rid of the textbooks and rejecting test-driven learning, these moms and dads have rediscovered their curiosity while encouraging their children's inborn inquisitiveness. They've spent hours together cuddled on the sofa with their children learning about Beowulf and Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Augustus Caesar and Marie Curie. They've planned history field trips to state parks, something that a couple of years ago would have sounded like drudgery but instead has become a favorite family memory. Amazing how redemptive these experiences can be. Education stops being the mere transfer of information from an "expert" to a "student", it becomes an organic exchange between child and parent, both inspiring one another, perspectives shifting, eyes opening, stories unfolding. Left to their own devices, children will learn and explore (especially if there are no screens nearby to distract them from this important endeavor). So, as you start this new school year, in the midst of lesson planning, leave a little room for freedom, exploration, and joy.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

We had so much fun reading all the reviews you submitted on our website! These provide valuable feedback for us and we're thrilled to know what you love about our products...and what you think needs improving. So, thank you to everyone who submitted a review. We appreciate the time you put into helping us. 

And, we have two winners:


Both Paige and Shelly submitted lots of great reviews and RandomPicker pulled their names. Paige and Shelly, you both have won one of our most recently updated Study Guides! Choose one of the following: 
History of Classical Music

Early American History for Intermediate Grades

Early American History for Primary Grades

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review to Win Update!

Today is the last day you can write a review in order to be entered to win one of our updated study guides!!! If you've written a review, be sure to leave a comment here or on the original blog entry:

And if you haven't reviewed a study guide, book, timeline, or other product, get those reviews in today for your chance to win! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Now Available: Our Updated and Expanded History of Classical Music!!

Our expanded and updated History of Classical Music Study Guide is now available! Now in full color with expanded information on many composers and the addition of a book on the greatest violinist in history, this study is sure to encourage a love of classical music in your family and classroom! Now features the biography of Paganini, the boy wonder violinist, Paganini, Master of Strings

This newly revised and expanded study covers the development of classical music composition from the Baroque Period to the Modern Period. Tracing the development of orchestral music from Corelli, gifted Baroque composer, up to the time of Igor Stravinsky, students will learn of the lives of the great composers, of their triumphs and failures. Students will study the formation and instruments of the orchestra, the complex job of its conductor, read the most famous ballets, and listen to the greatest music works in history. 

Students will utilize the following resources to learn about the wonderful world of classical music:

These resources are all combined in this year long course with hands-on activities, internet resources, discussion questions, and much more to create a view into nearly 400 years of musical composition. Check out our complete jumbo pack here - it contains everything you need to complete the course and is available for a special discounted price!

Also, don't forget to enter our giveaway! You'll get a chance to win a copy of this guide!!! You only have a few more days to get your reviews in! Be sure and leave a comment letting us know that you've submitted a review!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

30 Year Anniversary!

Beautiful Feet Books celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year! We've come a long way since offering our first study guide, The History of California, to other pioneering home school friends. We now publish over 60 titles and offer history and literature curriculum for students K-12. Even though we've moved from California to Massachusetts and back again, one thing has remained the same: our dedication to offering great literature and study guides to make history real and relatable for students, and easy to teach for parents. We sincerely thank you for the privilege of providing teaching materials to educate the leaders of tomorrow. We promise to seek out the best books, provide the best study guides, and refine our existing studies to meet your history and literature needs. Sincerely, The Berg Family. 

To celebrate our 30th Anniversary we now include free shipping on all our Jumbo Packs. In addition to our Jumbo Pack savings, save even more now with free shipping! To browse our Packs click here.

We've offered our History Through Literature Study Guides to the home school community for 25 years. We thought it was time for a new look! Check out the new Medieval History for senior high, Early American for K-3, Early American for 4-6, and coming soon our History of Classical Music for 4-6. Same award-winning literature, new easy-to-use format, brand-new look! Stay posted for more new guides in the coming months.

As a small family owned and operated company, we don't get caught up in the cost-saving practices of many larger companies. For instance, all Beautiful Feet Books publications including books, study guides, timelines, and maps are printed in the USA. We are committed to keeping manufacturing jobs here. To learn more about buying American goods click here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review to Win!!! Now Extended!

Summer is here! And you've probably finished up your BFB study in the past few weeks, and we would love to know what you think! Before last school year slips too far into distant memory, we would love it if you would go to our website and write a review of the study guides and/or packs that you used last year.

Your reviews are not only valuable to other parents and teachers seeking out the best curriculum choices for their students, they are a wonderful resource for us! As many of you know, we are in the middle of a long-term process of expanding and updating all of our study guides. You feedback helps guide that process, especially in making the guides even more user-friendly. 

As an incentive we will be choosing at random two winners to receive one of our updated and expanded study guides! The winners can choose from our Early American History Primary Study Guide, our Early American History Intermediate Study Guide, our Medieval History for High School Study Guide, or our History of Classical Music Study Guide

Win one of these guides!

Early American History for Primary Grades
Early American History for Intermediate Grades

Medieval History for High School
History of Classical Music
To enter, just submit a review on our website and you will be entered in the random drawing. The more reviews you post, the more chances you have of winning. All reviews submitted between today (7/15/2014) and 8/12/2014 will be entered to win! So, let us know what you think of our study guides and history curriculums. VERY IMPORTANT: For your review to be entered, you must comment below. For each review, leave a comment telling us what product you reviewed.

All the best!

Terms and Conditions: 
2. Eligibility requirements: entrants must be from persons over the age of 18. 
3. Giveaway begins on 7/15/2014 and ends at 11:59 PM on 8/12/2014.
4. To be entered, review a product on our website, 1 entry per review.  
5. Two prizes includes choice of  one  (1) Beautiful Feet Books, Inc. study guides of the winners choice. Approximate retail value: $17.00.- $28.00.
6. Odds of winning: the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
7. Beautiful Feet Books bears no liability for technical failures or typographical errors.
8. Winner will be selected randomly on 8/13/2014 and will be notified on the blog within 24 hours. Winners have six months to claim their prize. 
9. This giveaway is sponsored by Beautiful Feet Books, Inc., Contact at: or 800.889.1978

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Practical Homeschooling Reader's Choice Awards

Practical Homeschooling Magazine Reader Awards are the highest honor the home school community can bestow. The winners are the products that receive the highest ratings from thousands of seasoned users. Thanks again for making Beautiful Feet Books a top choice in Geography, History, Literature, and Unit Studies!
First Place in Geography, 2014
Second Place in History, 2014
Third Place in Literature, 2014
Third Place in Unit Studies, 2014