Rule #6: Record



We record what we are studying. We keep it very simple; only a pen and a composition notebook or timeline is required. Every day, we each want to make sure that we write something down. That’s because we are more likely to remember the things that we write down… from poetry or scripture copied to the grocery list.

It’s just the way the brain works. If I just hear something, I’ll likely forget. If I read it, I may remember it, though I might shift it around. But if I write it down, it’s there in my head for a good long time.  My husband remembers everything that he tells back, and when he takes time to write down his thoughts on a topic, those ideas are in his head forever.

My kids’ minds work similarly. I have one kid who remembers everything he hears (unless it is an instruction from me… those he forgets), and two more who remember everything they read. We’ve worked to develop the opposite abilities in each of them. We’ve also worked are to conquer what seems to be a hereditary pencil allergy, one short line of handwriting at a time. (We’re still working on it, as most males in our house seem to be allergic to pencils.)

For instance, Micah, who is nearly fourteen, copied down Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “My Shadow” when he was six. He can still recite most of it now. It took him weeks of one-line-a-day work to accomplish the copying, but those lines are stuck in his memory. He gained a few new vocabulary works, and some knowledge of rhyme as well as the idea of a shadow and some observations of how shadows work. It wasn’t a unit study. It was just copywork spread out over time. Copying down someone else’s beautiful words counts when the goal is to record something every day.

Also, composing an essay, typing a story, or creating a poem or writing a letter all count towards our household goal of recording our thoughts or experiences every day. Journaling, blogging, and planner-keeping all record what we have done in a season of family life.

A habit that we are beginning this summer is that of timeline-keeping. I have kept a timeline of my own for a couple of years, and now that the discipline of starting it is over, I really enjoy seeing where in time people existed and events happened. Timeline-keeping is a personal bird’s eye view of history. A timeline brings order to the stories that we read and the people that we meet in books.

Occasionally, recording comes in the form of snapping photos or creating art, but usually, we just write something down as neatly as we can.

What is a Rule of Six? How did I find it?

Rule of six instagram
A Rule of Six isn’t fancy. It is just six words or ideas that you want to meet regularly. It isn’t intended to make you tired or to be a judgment on whether you had a good day or not. A Rule of Six is meant to bring rest – to allow you to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing because you know what the Main Things are for your family. You won’t be as tempted to go chasing after every new curricula that pops up after you know what works in your house, and what is important to your family.

I am not completely sure of the origins of the Rule of Six, but I first read about it in 2007. That was a crazy year around here.  You see, we have five sons. Our oldest son, Danny, died when he was five years old in 2005 due to a nasty genetic disorder. That left my husband and I and Micah, preschooler. And then we had babies in 2006, 2007 and 2009. So, in 2007, I was struggling to recover from my own grief, help my husband and Micah recover from theirs, home educate that now-kindergarten-aged boy, and care for our almost Irish twins (our double blessing boys, Josiah and Gideon, who arrived 14 months apart). I was exhausted. I went searching for ways to simplify, and I found the idea of the Rule of Six appealing, but I was too overwhelmed at that moment to really think it through.

I was reading Ann Voskamp’s A HolyExperience daily because I had found that counting blessings was the only way to crawl out of the grief hole into which I had (quite understandably) been sucked. I was intrigued when Ann posted a list of Seven Daily Rungs that her homeschool hung on. That was back before she was famous, but after she started keeping her One Thousand Gifts list. You’ll find that post here:

Then I found the idea again on Elizabeth Foss’s blog as I continued my search for holistic education ideas. She wrote about a Rule of Six in 2006 and 2007 and likely some other times also. These were simply six things that she was striving to give her children daily. Those posts are here: and here:  (If you haven’t read Elizabeth Foss’s book, Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home, please do. Especially if you are in the season of many small children, she has some practical advise and curricula ideas for the first eight school years, as well as ways to avoid burnout.)

Elizabeth Foss led me back to Melissa Wiley, here: Melissa Wiley had her own (different) six things that she plans for her family.

All three ladies had different rules of six, but they had the same purpose – to bring peace and efficiency to their home educating homes that allowed them both structure and freedom as they created family life and wrote books and blogs and articles while they were at it.

Much more recently (after multiple rounds of simplifying and making our homeschool look like I want it to), Sarah Mackenzie, who hosts the Read Aloud Revival Podcast over at and who also wrote the little guide Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, did a Master’s Class to help her members sort out a way to decide what is the most important things for their own homes.  (If you join the Read Aloud Revival membership site, you can watch the recording of this class and several others)

After watching the catch-up video of the first in the two class series, I hurriedly scratched down six words that are things we have been trying for in our house. I finally grasped that I wasn’t supposed to take someone else’s idea of what would be good for this house of boys (now 8, 9, and 13) and their author-editor-publisher-parents. I needed to write what would work for us. And I needed to start with what is currently working and see where that leads. So, that is what I did.

I suggest you try it also. (I’ll explain more about why I chose the words I chose in the next few posts).