- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 19, 2005

Tracy Broadhurst is educating her daughter, Chloe, at home. Chloe is 5 years old. She has been reading for three years. She writes summaries in cursive of the history texts she reads. She has been adding four-digit numbers on paper — and two-digit numbers mentally — for more than a year.

This Beltsville kindergartner already is learning the basic concepts of algebra. She plays piano and tennis in addition to doing her schoolwork. Her mother contends that these accomplishments could be duplicated with any child.

Before you pull out a checkbook for some expensive curriculum, consider that you may already have the book that created these results.

“The King James Bible is the foundation for all of this,” Mrs. Broadhurst says. “Repent of sin, cut off the television, and replace Dr. Seuss with the Holy Scriptures. Our Creator will lead us back to excellence in scholarship.”

It’s no secret that religious faith has been a major factor in the home-school movement. Judging from Mrs. Broadhurst’s experience, however, there may be a direct connection between living one’s faith and helping one’s children learn better.

“I didn’t intend this. I was going to send my child to school, but I had a revelation when she was young. God showed me that at that young age, the child’s mind is so keen, the memory is so strong. Their capability is so great that so much can be poured in,” Mrs. Broadhurst says.

She listened to the urging of her heart, and when her daughter was just 18 months old, she wrote words on cards: “Jesus,” “Bible,” “God,” “nose,” “jump” and others. As her daughter was playing during the day, she occasionally would flash the cards, reading them aloud.

“About two months later, she brought the word ‘outside’ into the kitchen and read it to me. I thought it was a fluke at first, but one by one, she retrieved and accurately read the cards,” Mrs. Broadhurst says.

From that start — before age 2 — Chloe began reading, and at 3, she was able to read phonetically at a third-grade level.

“I spent about five minutes a day teaching her to read,” Mrs. Broadhurst explains. “The key was consistency.”

The central textbook used by the Broadhursts is the Bible: Language arts, dictation and transcription, punctuation and stories all are straight from the Bible.

“Once, my daughter stopped playing with a friend suddenly and came back. When I asked what happened, she said, ‘He spake roughly to me,’” Mrs. Broadhurst recalls.

In addition, they used the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” She also found books that teach positive attitudes within their stories.

“After reading these, she began helping set the table or calling us ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ because she saw that the characters showed respect in those ways.”

For math, the Broadhursts used the “Right Start Mathematics” program, which uses a lot of Asian learning techniques, especially the abacus and other useful and meaningful manipulatives that help children understand numbers.

Auxiliary lessons include some exposure to Spanish, a few educational videos and Suzuki piano instruction. Mrs. Broadhurst has shared her findings with schools and individuals. The Dreams and Visions Christian Learning Center in Landover invited her to share her methods, and one teacher, Lisa Grimes, used them with a class of 4-year-olds. Within six months, they were reading, writing and doing arithmetic.

Mrs. Broadhurst provides tutoring services to help parents learn how to use these techniques to tutor their own children. “The aim is to quickly help parents become better teachers and their children become better scholars,” she says.

One key to learning: Turn off the television, radio, video and other distractions. Pointing out that her daughter can sit and listen and be totally engaged in reading, listening or a discussion, Mrs. Broadhurst says, “The kids are so overstimulated, and inundated, they are bouncing off the walls.”

By focusing on the simpler means of sharing information — listening and reading and talking about things — the children’s minds can absorb and get involved.

This method works for a simple reason, Mrs. Broadhurst says: “God made man’s mind. We became fools because we left the word of the Lord. He wants to bless our children. Parents need to come back home, leave the world alone, and God will show us the way.”

Parents who want more information on Mrs. Broadhurst’s methods can call her at 301/931-2547 or send e-mail to [email protected]

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a free-lance writer who lives in Maryland.

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