00:22: Hello and welcome to Title Testimonies number three. Today’s story is all about LLATL, which is the acronym for Learning Language Arts Through Literature. It’s fondly known here in South Africa as LLATL. I’m not sure if that’s what they call it in the States, but that’s what we’ve come to call it here in South Africa. And as you might have come to know that these Title Testimonies are all about the stories of how the different titles and resources came to be in Oikos. Each story is a true story. I’m here to tell you about how it all happened. I hope that I get the facts as close as I possibly can, because I have to go back a couple of decades or more to tell you the beginning of the story. In this instance, the LLATL story began at a picnic. We, as a family, were having a picnic at a dam, nearby our home. And one of the benefits of home education, there’s so many benefits, but this is just one of the small benefits, is that you can actually do things out of season and mid week when everybody else is at school and the school terms and so on. And here we were saving money, because the costs are lower out of season, and we were having a picnic at this dam. And we were by ourselves, the place was pretty deserted. Then a car arrived, and to our surprise, there was a little family. Well, actually not such a little family. There were large family, came to also picnic in the middle of the week.

01:49: And so the mom of this family came up to me and introduced herself and told me they were missionaries here in South Africa. And she asked me if we are tourists or holiday makers. And I said to her, “No, we are South Africans.” And she then said, “Oh, so you’re homeschooling.” I got quite a surprise because homeschooling was not a word even that was known in South Africa at that time. And so now somebody here was talking to me that actually understood and knew what this was all about. That, of course, piqued my interest immediately. Her and I began to chat about home education, and I told her that we were going to be home educating our children ’cause God had called us to that, but it wasn’t yet actually legal in the country and so on and so forth. Well, this lady then proceeded to tell me that she had home educated all of her children right from the start. Her youngest, at that time, was about eight. I think she had about five or six children, maybe seven. But we spent the day together now, having a picnic. And this mom was just giving me a lot of information about home education. What it had mean to them as a family, how valuable it had been. Well, then eventually we got on to the topic of curriculum and she asked me, “What curriculum are you using?”

03:04: And I said to her, “Well, we’ve got our Bible. That’s our most valued resource for home education. And then we’ve got KONOS.” And I told her about KONOS, which by the way, I’ve shared in another Title Testimony, episode one, because that’s where it all began. One of the first resource that came to Oikos was KONOS. And the second resource in fact was, LLATL. However, I’ve made episode two to be Picture Smart because it’s Bible studies, and it’s just terribly important, so we made that one number two. But when our children were still very little, LLATL came in our path in this way that I’m telling you about it. So this mom started sharing with me all about curriculum and what they had used and what they had found to be useful. And she was giving me a lot guidance about how not to overload myself with curriculum, and she was quite pleased to hear that we were just using KONOS and our Bible, and she picked up quite soon that I wasn’t terribly distressed about curriculum and I wasn’t running around trying to find curriculum. In fact, it wasn’t really possible. It wasn’t like it is today where there’s just multiple choices. In those days, there wasn’t even Google to jump on and have a look at all the different options. I was pretty satisfied with what we had and I was grateful to the Lord for the KONOS manual that He had brought on our path. We were pretty immersed in that.

04:26: We were satisfied with how things were going. However, we had started to ponder, I suppose, as I say, I have to go back in my memory here. I’m imagining that because our children were reaching learning-to-read stage, that it possibly had crossed our mind what do we do about teaching them to read. As this mom started sharing with me about what she had used to teach her children to read, I started to realize that actually that’s quite a daunting task. I’ve never taught someone to read before, and how am I gonna do it? This was just a reality. As a home educator, you might wonder, “How am I gonna teach my child maths?” and “How am I gonna teach them to read?” In fact, it’s interesting that we don’t think, “How am I gonna teach them to crawl?” and “How am I gonna teach them to walk?” and “What am I gonna do about teaching them to speak?” I haven’t got a curriculum to teach them to speak.

05:16: But because we ourselves went to school to learn how to do certain functions, we suddenly as parents, might had bit of a panic as to think, “Well, I’m not a teacher and I haven’t been trained or qualified to know how to teach my children these various functions, these various skills.” As this mom at the picnic began to share this with me, I remember thinking, “Well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. What am I gonna do now?” Because I suppose I just thought, “I’ll just figure it out as I go.” But she told me about LLATL, and that’s why I’m telling you this story now. Because it so happened that she had LLATL in the boot of her car. Isn’t it interesting? KONOS, we got out of the boot of a car. Now, we’re getting LLATL out of the boot of a car.

06:00: I’m not quite sure the significance of that. But anyhow, she went to her car and she brought back this box. I’m gonna show you what the box looked like ’cause I’ve still got it to show you. It’s like this. And she opened this box up, and she showed me that this was a “teaching a child to read” program. And I was fairly impressed because… I shouldn’t even say fairly I must say I was actually incredibly impressed, because… I’m just gonna take this one out for starters. Because here was a curriculum I had never seen before, had never heard about it. On the first page it’s telling me that it’s gonna give me grade one, two, three, four, all the different grades skills for teaching to read. But what really got my attention the most about this program was the following. Just have to get to it here. Well, all of this is just thinking skill, summary, handwriting, grammar. It’s covering all the different aspects of language. But here on day one, it says, “We are ready to begin an exciting 36 weeks of reading and language art instructions. Tell your child that we will be doing some activities that help us to get ready to read. Find the activity in the appendix for part one, lesson one, and cut the cards apart and give your child one set.”

07:17: I immediately realized that this was going to give me guidance on how to go about the process of teaching my child to read. And what I loved is it was talking to me, the parent, and it was referring to my child. I immediately realized that this curriculum must have been written specifically for the sake of home education with parents in mind. Not getting a curriculum that would be used in schools, given to a teacher that’s been trained and educated at how to impart that curriculum to a classroom of children. But rather it was… In my hand was a manual, an instruction manual, helping me, the parent, to take one step at a time and teaching my child to read.

08:00: I must say that in the actual manual, it says day one, step one, step two, step three. Now, we might have done all of those steps on day one. We might have got as far as step two on day one and I’ve never been very rigid when it comes to making sure I do on the day what it tells me to do on the day, and that’s just how we’ve always used LLATL. But the fact is that there is this guide and lesson one goes on for a few days and it takes you to the end of day five on lesson one. So I saw immediately that this is a week’s process of doing lesson one. And then we have lesson two and it’s day one, step one, read [08:40] ____. And now I must show you these little [08:42] ____ because one thing I had found is by visiting the library, you would go and get a book that was close to your child’s interest or level of maturity, or reading ability, or maybe they weren’t reading it, but there were these little readers that you could get from the library. But there was no consistency of knowing they were going in the next level one little inch at a time.

09:02: What was also amazing about this LLATL program that I discovered very, very early on in the lessons was the fact that there was a whole lot of nice little picture books that came with it, that I didn’t have to wonder what stories would suit the program I was reading. And all these wonderful little classics had already been selected as well as little readers for the children. Let me just show you. These little readers are the first readers that the child is exposed to. That their own little story book that they’re reading. It’s an actually a story, it’s not a whole lot of random words. So this little first reader is called [09:39] ____. So the child has learned these particular letters while mom has been teaching them from the parent manual, step one, day one, day two, day three and so on. And these little readers are introduced very, very early on in the program. In fact, right from day one… Right from the first lesson, they are introduced to these little books.

10:01: And so early on in the program, the child is already having the experience of actually reading. At the end of the book are the little words that… The four new words that they’ve learned and so it goes on. The very next book is going to add the next words that we’re gonna teach them through the language or through the parent manual. And so by the end of it the child has read all these little readers themself. And so there’s a tremendous amount of motivation, ease. There’s nothing scary or daunting about, “What am I gonna next? And “How do I know what to do next?” Because literally each day, each step of the way it’s telling us, “Take out these cards. Do this next.” I’ll show you the progression just now with the other LLATL Blue Book which is slowly but surely LLATL has developed over the years naturally, because this is now decades ago that we received the first LLATL, and how we received it. And what’s also really, really, exciting about how we received this is again by God’s hand, is the fact that we didn’t have to look for a language program.

11:02: I didn’t have to wonder, “What are we gonna use? Is there one that is better? Perhaps I’m missing something with language arts lessons.” I didn’t have to consume myself with any of that, because this particular program, LLATL, had come onto our path at a picnic, and I was finding early on the program that it was easy to use as a parent as well as the fact that it was encompassing all aspects of language arts, not just a teaching-to-read program.

11:31: There was also a lovely student workbook that came with it. I just wanna show that to you ’cause I’ve told you all about the parent book, but let me show you the student book. I can’t show you our original one, because the student book is consumable. It gets used up as it were. I’m gonna show you a new student book. That’s the back page, showing you the back first because it’s showing you all these little [11:53] ____, all these little readers, beginner readers. As they’ve read their stories, they’ve got these little chart to mark all the stories that they’ve read. By the time they’ve finished Blue Book, they’ve read a lot of stories already. So it’s all very motivating. But the child gets their own little activity workbook. And I can just quickly whiz through it. I don’t really need to go into the detail of showing you this because we have done product clips for each and every resource that you’ll be able to find that on the website, each resource that we have here in Oikos is on the website. So if you want to see greater detail about the actual resource itself, I think rather go watch the video because this particular video is actually about me just telling you the story of how it came to be.

12:34: But now I’m getting all excited about showing you the content and showing you how we became so involved so quickly with this program. It wasn’t just a case of finding a language program and going, “Oh, that’s nice. Let’s use that.” It wasn’t like that. There was a lot more to it. We were immersed. Just like what happened with KONOS. So what resulted in this, is the fact that I didn’t ever feel the need to go look for a language curriculum. I didn’t wonder about, “What about spelling? And what about composition? Or what about making sure that I’ve taught them all the various different aspects, grammar and so on of language?” Because I very soon discovered it was happening, it was happening through LLATL. It was happening easily because the moms that wrote it themselves were specialized in language, and they used other specialists in language such as Dr. Ruth Beechick. And we’ve got some of her resources now as well, the books that she’s written. We’ve got those as well in Oikos because it just was part of the story. Obviously things just progressed. We were using LLATL. We discovered Ruth Beechick. We got some of the books she had written and so we found them to be valuable, so we put them on our website. So the story goes on.

13:44: But back to the LLATL story, this was just to me like a gift. A gift in my lap. And so I was thrilled with it, it worked for us. And what I can tell you is that it’s the only language program we have used as far as grammar is concerned. You might know about Excellence in Writing resources, which will be another story. But this is our main foundational language program that we use to teach our children, the extra children we’ve had along the way, as well as supplying it to hundreds and now I can say thousands of home educators in South Africa and beyond the boarders to other countries as well.

14:25: I shared in another video series we’ve done which is actually the language workshop which also on the site, a story that a mom shared with me about how she had used a huge variety of different language programs until she came across LLATL. She got that and she suddenly realized that’s all she was using, all the other bits and pieces she had put away, because she found LLATL to be so comprehensive. And that basically just summarizes the experience we have had over all the years with LLATL, starting with teaching your child to read and it not being scary all the way to very advanced as in Gold Book. We’ve had English professors look at the Gold Book and say, “This what they’re using first year university.” So again, we were very thankful to the Lord for bringing such an incredible program upon our path and that it’s the one that we could use. After using it and finding it to be fantastic, we could then share it with others.

15:19: And now, let me show you the progression. That was the first LLATL box that we got as I’ve shown you, and I’ve shown you the cover of the parent manual. And then you’ll see this cover that I’ve briefly showed you is how it has developed. So look at this progression. From this LLATL parent book to this, and as time goes on, changes happen and the artwork changes, improvements happen. But what has happened with the LLATL that I just want to tell you all about as well, is it hasn’t been revised and revised and revised, and upgraded and changed and changed. And I believe that’s because it’s just worked. It’s worked so well for so many years that there’s hasn’t been much need to change content. I think it’s coming to whereby you get things like where it says, “Go to your library, we are now at… ” We could change it and go, “Well, actually I don’t use library anymore, I use Google.” So perhaps those changes will come down the line. But the actual model and method that’s been used, the way the moms have encompassed all aspects of language studies in here, in a way that is approachable and easy for the parent, enjoyable for the child, it’s just been a wonderful program. That’s why we haven’t have to look for other ones.

16:35: I’m also gonna show you some other aspects of the actual Blue Book set because Blue Book is where it all starts, and then it goes all the way up to Gold as I’ve mentioned. Let me just get this lot here. As if you were to order a Blue Book set on the website, you’d get it in a box, kinda box set like this, which it’s got the back showing you all the different components. Inside here, we have got those cards that I was telling you about earlier on when I read a bit out of the parent book where it says, “Take out certain cards.” And here’s the material pack for the parent and the students to be using. And then of course this, the little readers. Which they just keep advancing to from the little tiny books up to the next and the next. But now, let me show you some progression from that to this. Show you how things are developing over the years.

17:30: Here are the little readers. See now, they color. Here’s the material pack. Things are more color coded now. More little readers with color covers. So this is just showing you a timeline history of our LLATL story. Our Tittle Testimony story. It’s all very exciting. The fact that one can… A parent can actually get a program that just has everything in it. That’s got the picture book readers for the… Well, it doesn’t have included in this pack, the picture book readers, that’s actually a set of readers that one gets separately, but then they become classic readers on your personal library home shelf. That’s what happens with home educators, they start developing their own library at home, a home library, and they get lots and lots of beautiful, lovely classic literature. Well, we hope they do. But the point is, is that you’ll see on the cover of this LLATL manual box set that it’s covering all the various necessary skills for language. As I said, let me rather not go into too much detail about how wonderful the program is as far as its content and what it covers because that is covered in the product clip.

18:39: Let me just rather tell you about the fact that this particular resource has been to us, as I’ve mentioned before, a gift from the Lord in the fact that we didn’t have to look elsewhere. The fact that it came on our path by his hand under the boot of a car from a missionary family and we have been just thoroughly blessed by it. So many thousands of families have used it. I would love to meet that missionary mom again, sometime. I don’t know where she is these days. It’s many, many years since I last saw her and they have moved on in their missionary calling. And Oikos keeps moving on. If something else comes in our path that the Lord delivers to us and comes by his hand and we see that this will be a valuable resource for families, well then we will introduce it.

19:28: However, you might have gathered by now that the resources in Oikos have been the same resources for decades because of the fact that they have just worked so well. And our LLATL story is that too, it’s no different to others really so each Title Testimony story that I’m gonna be telling you about is gonna have a similar theme and the fact that this is how it came, it’s been wonderful, it’s been a blessing, and it’s worked. I’d also like to share with you on this Title Testimony video about LLATL, the company itself, the people who developed LLATL and distribute it. We were very, very blessed to be able to eventually get the printing rights for LLATL here in this country. Fortunately, at Oikos we’re able to print and publish LLATL for you. For the families here at South Africa and the missionary families and anywhere in the world really.

20:22: But obviously not the States, because the States are providing LLATL directly there. But we used to have to import all the LLATL resources from Blue Book all the way up to Gold Book and the readers that came with them. And so there was a lot of importing, many, many titles to import. As it became increasingly difficult to import, we were then blessed with permission to have the printing rights for LLATL. We have been printing LLATL now for possibly more then a decade. I’m not sure the exact year we started printing LLATL, but it’s been going well and the fact that we can print on demand is it will never be out of stock.

20:58: We’ve always got the parent book, the student book and the four readers. Sometimes we don’t… I’m saying that we always have stock, but some of those four readers we don’t have printing rights for. We have printing rights for most of the readers, but not every single one of them. In the instance that it’s a book we don’t print and we go to order it, because we have to import it, they might not necessarily have stock and so that could create a little bit of a problem with not always having stock of every single reader, but the majority, the huge majority it is the case. We do have printing rights for them and so we print here, the four readers, as well as LLATL parent and student books. The moms that wrote LLATL and the people that have been involved in the LLATL program, all have a heart for the Lord and a heart for helping parents teach their children in the area of language arts at home. That is a huge comfort right there, knowing that we’ve got specialists that have developed, and formed this, and created this curriculum and this LLATL program. And also, that their hearts are for supporting and helping parents in this journey of home education and teaching our children this particular skill at home.

22:12: That is a blessing and they are a blessing. It’s been a blessing dealing with the people from LLATL themselves, and we’re just very grateful for that here at Oikos ’cause we’ve been able to pass that blessing onto you, the families that are using Oikos resources and specifically LLATL in this instance. In fact, if I want to be very current with this Title Testimony, I can tell you that just a couple of weeks ago, I got a letter from the daughter of the parents who have been running LLATL all these years who have been involved in this distribution of the LLATL programs. And so, now their children are beginning to be involved in the… Their adult children, are now being involved in the continued distribution of the LLATL materials. You see the story doesn’t just end, it just keeps going from generation to generation. I’ve tried to take you back to the beginning of LLATL and Oikos back to the start of it being at the picnic, and I hope I haven’t left anything important out. But there you have the Title Testimony of LLATL and Oikos. Thank you for watching. Thank you for being with me today while I share this story with you. I look forward to telling you the next Title Testimony. Bye for now.