Teaching Reading Fluency, by Genevieve

Learning to read is such a complex and individual process that at times it feels like magic.

I went to kindergarten in 1971. We played outside. We played in centers. We did crafts and learned about the five senses. My first grade teacher was brand spankin’ new out of college. She divided the room into reading groups; the Blue Birds, Red Birds, and Yellow Birds. I was in the Yellow Birds, the lowest group.

I might even have been one of the lowest members of the lowest group. We did worksheets and read from the reader. I still didn’t get it. At some point during that year, I went to three days of private testing. The report came back: Dyslexia.

In May, my teacher explained that I needed to go to summer school and, even then, might need to repeat first grade in the fall. She told my mother, “You have to understand, just because you have one gifted child doesn’t mean the other one will be as well.”

I remember having to leave my best friend Blake to walk to the school every afternoon that summer. I had a session with the special education teacher. After that summer, I did go on to second grade, and I wasn’t in the lowest group either. By third grade I was in the highest group. By fifth grade I was in the gifted program. From that point on, reading has been second only to breathing in my life.

What in the world did that special education teacher do that summer? What magic did he work that changed my educational fortune forever?

He spent the entire summer having me read out loud to him.  He didn’t teach me any phonics. He didn’t have me do worksheets or learn spelling rules. I just read, day after hot summer day. And by the time fall arrived, I was fluent.

I started teaching kindergarten during the “Whole Language” movement. We had a grant from The University of Texas to implement “Language to Literacy.”
Phonics was no longer a required part of the curriculum, but we were still free to supplement with it if we chose.

Part of the mystery of reading is that some children really do pick it up from merely having a print-rich environment and being exposed to great literature. Others are more analytical and need the process broken down into sequential steps.

I’ve taught both kind of kids. I’ve given birth to both kind of kids. And here is what I know: both kinds get to a point where they CAN read but are not yet fluent.

It is at this point that they often say that they don’t like reading. They understand how the process works, but almost every word is laborious. It is a tragedy to me, that some people spend their entire lives in this stage and never get to the fun part, the magical part.

It is pretty obvious that a child who isn’t fluent needs more practice reading. I often give my kids a reading hour, in which they settle into a comfy spot with a cup of tea and an interesting book. This has its place, particularly if the book is a little below their reading level. This really doesn’t work with emergent readers. The most simple books are still a challenge.

The problem with having them read to the dog while I cook dinner is that when they come to a word they don’t know, they skip over it or substitute a word that means something completely different. This results in a book that makes no sense. I’m asking them to do the hard work of sounding out words without getting the payoff of a coherent story.

So I’m sure you have guessed that I’m going to tell you to have your child read out loud to you each day. And you are right. That is what I am going to say. I think this is a critical step on the road to reading fluency.

I’m a busy mom. Sometimes I have to cook dinner or drive a different kid to lessons. Sometimes I ask other adults to have my emergent reader read a book to them. Sometimes visitors are so excited about the new reader that they request to be read to. I’ve noticed a few mistakes that they make.

1. Asking the child to read for too long. If these sessions are daily, they do not need to be long. I keep a sticky note in each book. When I see my child lagging and getting tired, I tell her that we will read a little more tomorrow.

2. Expecting the child to track their place without help. I always use my finger or a pencil to track which word or part of the word that the child is on. Tracking will come in time, but if I do it for them, it is one less thing they have to focus on when they are trying to extract meaning from the text.

3. Turning the session into a phonics lesson. If the child is stuck on a word, now is not the time to ask, “What does this e at the end of the word do?” You just broke the fluency of the story. Now is the time to just supply the word and make a mental note to review the phonics rule at a later time.

4. Allowing the child to continue reading after saying the wrong word. I often hear reading specialists advising parents not to correct emergent readers at this point. I could not disagree more. A child who is taught that one word is just the same as another and either one works just as well will have a very hard time being able to read and write with precision in the upper grades.

One last thing that I do because young children have such short attention spans is recap what we have read if I think they have lost the gist of the story.

If we only read part of a book, the next day, I will read the part that they read the day before and have them pick up from there, but I will also reread a page they just read if I think they got lost before we go on to the next page.

This sounds complicated, but really it isn’t. I’ve included a short video of my kindergartener reading to me. She falls in the middle between my kids who seem to pick of reading from the air around them, and my kids who need a little extra time to get the hang of it.

One thing I’m sure of – if I’m diligent, she will soon join the ranks of voracious readers. To me, that is pure magic.


Genevieveis a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .

Homeschool Wisdom

Curriculum Junkie, by Lynne

I know you’re out there.  In fact, I know several of you in real life (I’m looking at you specifically, Lisa.).  You’re the ones who can’t get enough of poring over the shiny books with their beautifully illustrated covers.  You can’t wait to crack that spine and examine the wonder within.  The smell of freshly cut paper pages fills your nostrils as you run your finger lovingly down the table of contents.

I’m one of you.  I, too, suffer from the compulsion to buy the cool curriculum books. It’s a disease, and I’m pretty sure no one has found the cure.

You’ve probably succumbed at some point to the inexorable siren call of a homeschooling conference or curriculum fair –  YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE AND TOUCH ALL THE BOOKS!  Browsing the Rainbow Resource Catalog or scoping out the best deals on Amazon is also satisfying.  Box Day* is almost as good as a vendor hall.


The problem lies in the fact that there is a certain amount of guilt involved in purchasing and hoarding all the beautiful books.  Because, let’s be honest, there’s no way in the world you’re ever going to be able to use all of these books in your homeschool.  There’s just not enough time.  Well, *I* would be willing to do school for 12 hours a day, but the students are not down with that plan.

Every year when I’m lesson planning, I pull out all the books I purchased for each subject and then proceed to alternate between laughter and tears.  I laugh at myself for ever thinking we were going to get to use all these things, and then I cry because we’re never going to get to use all these things.  Why, Universe?  Why do you let so many amazing books exist and then not provide enough time to read them all?


Then I remember the whole “depth is more important than breadth” thing about classical education.  So I pick the books that I think will provide the most meaning in our lessons. The rest of them get held, petted, sniffed, and then gently returned to the shelf until their fate is decided at a later date. It’s a sad process, but a necessary one.

Someday, Books, someday . . .

* Box Day is that glorious day when the UPS or FedEx guy shows up at your door with your curriculum order.

Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past 4.5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at

How We Make it Work

Overcome the Slump, by Georgiana

The signs are obvious: wiggles and squiggles, wandering gazes, attempts to cut out early or not do school at all.

And the kids are restless too.

It happens every spring. If you’ve been homeschooling for any length of time, you recognize signs of Spring – Spring Slump, when even scrubbing showers and organizing the garage look more appealing than working through one more word problem.

The question is, what can we do about it? Browsing the shiny new catalogs that flood the mailbox with promises of classical education being anything other than what it is—hard work—only fuel the discontent that hits after months of carefully adhering to a rigorous academic schedule. Let’s face it, the Spring Slump can happen even if we’ve not quite met our own high standards and are doing our best to eke out one more day.
A few adjustments in the days and weeks that inch along until summer can make all the difference in attitudes…and results!

* Change of scenery. The easiest way to quash the Spring Slump is to get out of your schoolroom, office, or dining room. Weather permitting, it’s time to take the learning outside, to the library, or to the coffee shop. There’s something about changing your surroundings that helps kick start your motivation. Funny thing is, with other people around, my kids suddenly behave like angels. Go figure.

*Alternative learning methods. I rarely advocate substituting videos for good old-fashioned books, but a carefully selected documentary is better than poking my eyes out with a sharp pencil when school isn’t going well. There are myriad ways to learn besides books and videos. How about games, puzzles and, dare I say, crafts? The fun learning is what I usually axe in the daily quest to “finish the list,” but ironically those are the activities my kids often glean the most from to solidify information.


*Field trips. Don’t groan! As basic as this suggestion is, kids have the opportunity to casually pick up more knowledge when an activity doesn’t scream, “learning, learning!” Trips that tie into what you’re already studying are good—museums, an observatory, national parks—but how about  a trip to foster your child’s particular interest? A bakery for your budding baker, a seamstress’ shop for a child who loves to sew. Not only will they learn about something they already enjoy, but it may plant the seeds for future mentorship opportunities.

*Kid takeover! Let’s face it, kids love to be in charge, especially when they can be in charge of one another. Each child can pick a subject to lead. If they put in the time to prepare and master the material so they can teach, they will benefit. It’s also a good lesson in courtesy and being an attentive student.

*Kid swap. This one is not for the faint of heart, and frankly I’ve been too chicken to try. Trade kids with another homeschool family for a day. I can almost guarantee kids will be more focused and work harder for someone else. Plus it gives children the important opportunity to learn from other adults. The bonus for you is getting a free peek at other curricula!

If all else fails, it might be time to take a short break. I’m not suggesting entire weeks off school—perish the thought!—or even days. Surprising the kids by allowing them to sleep in for a few mornings or spending time snuggling in the afternoons might be just enough of a break to help you power through until summertime, when you and your children can gleefully toss out the schoolbooks in favor of brain-candy novels and trips to the pool.

How will you take advantage of the flexibility homeschooling offers and recreate your day?


Georgiana– Georgiana resides in the beautiful mountains of Arizona with her super-generous husband, and three talented daughters. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and now has the privilege of homeschooling by day and wrestling with the keyboard by night. She’s the author of Table for One and A Daughter’s Redemption, and is exceedingly thankful for her own happily ever after.

Student Creative Writing, Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: A Poem by Andrew


by Andrew, age 11

A leaf falls from the tree,
Turning it barren,
Swept away by the wind
And then by the snow, pinned.

When the snow melts,
The leaf is found
by a curious cat
and is furiously ripped


Andrew has been homeschooled since first grade.  He enjoys learning about history and music. He’s an avid fan of Rick Riordan books.  He also loves most animals, especially goats.  He takes horseback riding lessons and piano lessons.

Education is a Life

Masterly Inactivity for the Homeschooling Mother, or, Why We Do Not School Year ‘Round, by Lynn S.

I must begin by saying that it is of utmost importance for each home-educating family to find their own personal groove. Not the groove of the Super Home Educators in the next town or the online family whom you envy, with their picture-perfect days!

I have found that taking regular breaks from our schooling is necessary for my own family. Today I shall talk to you about why that is important from my perspective, as the home-educating mother to two daughters.

For me, home educating is a tough gig. It requires me to be on form most days. Facilitating the education of my girls can be many things: marking Latin lessons, working through maths difficulties, reading aloud, discussing poetry, putting up with on-the-go science projects that lurk in my fridge / the bathroom / youngest child’s wardrobe.

On top of this workload, my responsibilities also include the day to day running of my home and caring for those who live there. This is no small task, and as an introvert whose perfect day would include a walk through the woods, followed by an afternoon reading, knitting, and watching old Hollywood movies whilst lying on the sofa eating bon bons, I find this life that I love quite exhausting at times.

Those who are familiar with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education will most likely know the phrase ‘Masterly Inactivity’: the idea that the mother employs ‘a wise passiveness’ or ‘masterly inactivity’ in the raising of her children:

“We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavours become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education”

Charlotte Mason’s series Home Education Vol. 3, p. 27

I have begun to discover that “wise and purposeful letting alone” is often the best part of my own education as a home-educating mother. The free time that I have during our school holidays gives me the opportunity to think and reflect on how our home learning is progressing. Changes that need to be made, books to be read, ideas to discuss; these can all be mulled over as I peacefully knit or prepare dinner in a slightly less rushed fashion.

I am not forcing these connections; I may or may not read a book about educational theory. I may or may not do some written planning. But this time gives my brain the chance it needs to catch up, so to speak, with all that has gone on in the last several weeks of our home learning. To process what my children have done, who they are, and what they need.

Holidays are a much needed piece of my life in this season. As I write, I am currently enjoying the October half-term holiday; its change of pace will allow me to enter the rest of the term more refreshed as we head toward Advent…possibly my most favourite part of our homeschool year but also one of the busiest seasons of the year.

Schooling year ’round works so well for many, many families, just as taking breaks works for others. The key is in deciding what will work best for your own.


Lynn S is an English mother of two gorgeous girlies (who obviously take after their mother!) She discovered the ideas of Charlotte Mason when her now-twelve-year-old was just four months old, and hasn’t looked back since. She enjoys reading, knitting, spinning yarn, nature study, and water colour painting. She is also the author of Exploring Nature With Children: A complete, year-long curriculum.

Education is a Life

Parents are Teachers: From Classroom to Homeschool, by Brit

Every so often we like to hold a Throwback Thursday and republish a piece we thought was great.  This article originally ran on June 2, 2014. 

There are two sentiments I have heard many times over when people learn we homeschool our children. Either they say, “Well, you can homeschool because you are a teacher,” if they know I used to teach, or they will exclaim, “My children would never listen to me to learn anything.” Both statements make me groan internally while trying to smile sweetly on the outside, explaining that no, my credential really doesn’t help me educate my children, and yes, your children can learn from you.

When we made the decision to homeschool, our eldest was only a year old. I had just retired from elementary teaching, was teaching very part-time at the local community college, and was expecting our second child. Though my husband, also a public school teacher, was always supportive of homeschooling, he even expressed concerns that our children would not learn from us but would need a “stranger,” someone outside the family, to teach them.

If one thinks about it, we are our children’s first educators. From reading them stories, to encouraging their first words and steps, to redirecting them when they try to play with unsafe or forbidden objects, we are teaching them. We teach them social norms from the time they are old enough to yell loudly in a restaurant. We teach them kindness when we help them apologize for stealing a toy from their siblings. We teach them virtue and faith, letters and numbers, colors and shapes from the time they are born.

Homeschooling is a natural extension of that teaching. Once they know their letters and numbers, then we show them how numbers can combine to make bigger numbers and how letters can combine to make words. We show them how blue, red, and yellow are very special colors and can be mixed to make other colors. Suddenly, numbers become algebra and words become novels and essays.


It is interesting that after our daughter was born the sentiment, “You can homeschool because you are a teacher,” was no longer used. Most everyone outside our immediate family and friends assumed we would send her to school due to her having Down syndrome. Instantly our credentials, Master’s degrees, and classroom experience, which were the reason we were qualified to homeschool our sons, were not good enough to homeschool our daughter. Without a special education credential, we were no longer qualified. For us, her Down syndrome has only solidified our belief in homeschooling being the best option for her. Where else will she have a completely individualized education? Where else will she have teachers who love her as their own child? Her education may look different from that of her brothers in curriculum choices, content, and scope. But the journey we take will be no different than the journey we take with her brothers – progressing naturally as we teach her letters and numbers, colors and shapes, virtue and faith.

All this is not to say that it is always rainbow and unicorns in our home. We have struggles like every one else. In all honesty, there have been days where I doubt if I can do this for the long haul. There have been a few times we have had to sit our boys down individually and ask if they want to go to school or if they are willing to buckle down and work hard. We deal with sibling fights and teacher burn-out. I have second-guessed curriculum choices; started, stopped, and restarted subjects; and even dabbled in unschooling (we definitely do not have unschooly children). But at the end of the day, I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach my own at home. I tell my boys often that homeschooling is a privilege. There are times I forget that being able to stay home with them is also a privilege. I know as I lead them towards a life of virtue and faith, ultimately God is leading me to a life of greater virtue and faith.


As my children get older (our eldest is finishing seventh grade and I honestly have no idea how that happened), fear tries to creep in. It can be a scary venture to take full responsibility for the education of one’s children. If they go to school, whether that be public or private, there are teachers and principals to blame when things don’t go well. When my children graduate from our homeschool, it will be my husband and I that are judged. Did we do well? That will be measured by whether our children need remedial classes at the community college, whether they are admitted to a four-year university, or whether they even go to college. What I try to tell myself is that I must do my job faithfully; what my children do with that is up to them. For if a parent can take pride in a job well done when one child is successful in life, that same parent must take full blame for another child who is not.

As I type this, my husband is sitting to my left teaching our eldest about LCDs and GCFs. He, the eldest, is not a fan of math. Once he hit pre-algebra, I handed the reins over to his dad. I needed a break from teaching math to a child who would much rather do anything else. The beauty of homeschooling a non-math kid is that we can tailor his education to help him be successful. We are not bound to only one textbook and only one way. We are not bound to Common Core or the latest educational fad. We are free to meet him where he is and help him get to where he needs to be. This is true for all our children, including our daughter.


Parents are not only their children’s first educators, they truly are able to be their best teachers. Just because a child turns 3, 4, or 5 does not mean their education must be handed over to an official teacher. Believe me, I am very thankful for my husband, my cousin, and all the other fantastic teachers in our nation’s schools. All children deserve the best education they can receive. But I am also extremely thankful for the ability to continue the natural inclination to teach my children from birth as they continue to grow and develop. It may be a crazy life, but it is a beautiful one I would not trade, even on the bad days.


Brit was born and raised in southern California. She and her husband met at UC San Diego; he was taking a class and she happened to be the teaching assistant. You could say it was love at first sight. Brit and John are now living this beautiful, crazy life with their three sons and one daughter, still in sunny California. They made the decision to homeschool when their eldest was a baby after realizing how much afterschooling they would do if they sent him to school. Brit describes their homeschooling as eclectic, literature-rich, Catholic, and classical-wanna-be.


Elementary Astronomy My Way, by Cheryl

My plan last year was to spend a semester on Astronomy and a semester on Biology. I planned so well that we had way too much to finish in one year. So we did Astronomy only, and we loved it!

My kids were 6 (first grade) and 8 (fourth grade) when we started. Our main text was Real Science for Kids Elementary Astronomy. We added several books from home and a few we picked up at the library. We also did a lapbook I found on


Our extra books included The Kingfisher Encyclopedia of Questions and Answers 1: Earth and Space Science, The Usborne Science Encyclopedia and Janice VanCleave’s Solar System science experiments,

The lapbook is Knowledge Box’s Astronomy Basics Lapbook, which I downloaded as a PDF from Currclick. It had some basic information, but we used it as a fun review after studying a topic.

We started each new topic with the text book and the lab activity, which took our two science days that week. The next week, we read from Usborne one day and Kingfisher another. The last week, we read any other books I had and did the lapbook section.

We usually covered the same information 3-4 times this way, but each book added something a little different. Plus, repeated exposure leads to better recall.

When it was time for the Super Blood Moon Eclipse in September of this year, the kids recalled the information we’d learned, and we expanded that knowledge with topics we had not covered including apogee and perigee. I loved seeing how excited the kids were about the eclipse and everything they knew about it! It led to even greater excitement about studying it in-depth. That’s what we want, right? Feed them enough information on a topic that they get more interested and want to learn more.

After the reading, labs, and lapbook we did a few other fun things. We have an inexpensive telescope that we pulled outside multiple times. We were not very successful at using it, but we did find craters on the moon one night!

The science museum was a huge aid in our studies as well. Our planetarium has some great programming, and the space exploration section is still a favorite of my kids.

I know my kids have a solid base on which to build their astronomy knowledge, so I’m eager to move into more advanced topics the next time we hit astronomy in the science cycle. It was thorough, easy, and most importantly – FUN!

Bonus: We watched some episodes of our favorite space and time traveling Doctor. (Okay, maybe it isn’t REAL astronomy, but it makes astronomy even more exciting!)




Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: The Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne, by Miranda

Nathaniel Hawthorne


Nathaniel Hawthorne was just one of early America’s great writers. He wrote many classic books over the years and published one of the first mass-produced books in the United States.

Nathaniel Hawthorn, Jr. was born on July 4, 1804, to Nathaniel Hawthorn and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. They lived in Salem, Massachusetts, at the time, where their ancestor, John Hawthorn, had once lived. John was the sole judge in the tragic Salem witch trials. Later in life, Nathaniel added an “e” to the end of his last name to keep the relation to John a secret.

They soon moved to Raymond, Maine, near Sebago Lake in the summer of 1816. Nathaniel loved living on the farm, but at age 17 he was sent back to Salem for school. He missed his family and sent them a handmade newspaper, The Spectator, that included essays, news, poems, and much more.

Nathaniel almost did not attend college. His parents could not afford it, and he did not have the desire to go. But a rich uncle from his mother’s side wanted Nathaniel to go to school and could afford to pay for the education. Nathaniel was sent to Bowdoin College in 1821. He learned a lot and ended up joining Phi Beta Kappa, a liberal arts and science fraternity, in 1824.

After college Nathaniel went to Boston and became the editor of the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge. He stayed with a friend while he was working. In 1828 he published his first book, Fanshawe, which he later suppressed because he did not feel it was good enough. Nathaniel wrote many short stories but none of them brought any publicity to his writing abilities. In 1837, Horatio Bridge collected all of Nathaniel’s short stories into one volume, called Twice-Told Tales, and published it, making him a locally known name.

A year after Twice-Told Tales was published, Nathaniel became engaged to Sophia Peabody. To save money to get married, Hawthorne got a new job at a custom house as a weigher and gauger. Three years later he moved to Brook Farm, a utopian community based on the idea of equal labor.  While he did not believe in the utopian ideas, he worked there in order to gain more money. Nathaniel’s job was to scoop manure from a hill called “the Gold Mine.” While his time at Brook Farm was unpleasant, it did prove useful later when Nathaniel used his experiences to help write The Blithedale Romance. He left after less than a year and then married Sophia Peabody.

After marriage, Nathaniel and Sophia moved to The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. There they had their first child, a girl named Una, in 1844. Nathaniel wrote most of Mosses from an Old Manse while there. Two years after Una was born they moved back to Salem where Nathaniel worked as a surveyor. Shortly after the move their son Julian was born. While in Salem, Nathaniel had a hard time writing. His job was lost after the presidential election of 1848, but soon he was re-employed as the corresponding secretary of the Salem Lyceum.

In 1850 Hawthorne finally got back into writing, and The Scarlet Letter was published. It was extremely popular and 2,500 copies were bought in the first ten days. The Scarlet Letter was one of the first mass-produced books in America.

In 1850 Nathaniel and his family moved to the Berkshires near Lenox, Massachusetts. The two years that they lived there, Nathaniel wrote three books: The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. The House of the Seven Gables was very popular and almost as famous as The Scarlet Letter. The Blithedale Romance took inspiration from many places and events during Hawthorne’s life.  It was also the only book that Nathaniel wrote in first person. He worked on A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys for six years before it was finally published in 1851. It was a collection of short stories that contained rewritten myths and legends. While at the Berkshires, Hawthorne also wrote The Life of Franklin Pierce for Franklin Pierce himself. He helped Pierce get into office and in 1853 was rewarded for his work.

After he published the Tanglewood Tales, he became the United States consul in Liverpool, England.  While his time at the Berkshires was productive, Nathaniel did not like it very much and was glad to move to the Wayside in 1852. The Wayside, located in Concord, was originally called the Hillside and was owned by Amos Bronson Alcott, a fellow writer.

After Pierce’s term was over in 1857, Nathaniel and his family toured the rest of England and Italy. They did this for three years and then returned to the Wayside in 1860. During his seven years in Europe, Hawthorne had a hard time writing. When they finally returned to America he got back into it and published The Marble Faun.

In 1862 Nathaniel went to Washington D.C. with William D. Ticknor, one of his publishers. They met many important people while there, including Abraham Lincoln. Hawthorne wrote about his adventure in 1862 in a book called Chiefly About War Matters. At this point Nathaniel knew that his days were drawing to a close.

Hawthorne tried to work on new romances but never got to finish them because of stomach pain and his failing health. He decided to go on a vacation with Franklin Pierce to the White Mountains. Nathaniel died in his sleep on the trip in 1864. Franklin sent Sophia Hawthorne a telegram to inform her of her husband’s death. Nathaniel was 60 years old.

Miranda Elise–Miranda is 15 years old, is one of three sisters and has been homeschooled since the third grade.  She is an avid photographer, loves to cook, and helps run the sound booth at church.  In addition to learning at home, Miranda also takes courses through a local co-op once a week.  She is looking forward to graduating in 2017, and is considering going into video production.

Education is a Life

All In, by Genevieve


I’m a great one for going big or going home. I don’t do things half way.

I remember when I told my sister we were going to try for baby number four when we were forty and baby number three was already eight years old. She started singing, “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them..”


I’m not so great at folding. I’m all in.


The trouble is that people change. Children change even more rapidly. I like being goal-oriented because I can get things done, but life with children is a process, or rather a series of processes and short term goals.

When I wrote The Universe Provides, friends asked,”But how do you know when it is a kid’s big idea? Which goals are really worth going all out for?”

I don’t think the goal matters so long as you are working with your child to model how you look at the problem critically and take step after step to get what you want.

What if you change your mind?

What if they change?

No learning is ever wasted. Every success builds on the next, no matter if those successes are in sports


or art or academics or scouts


or music


or business.


Now is my time for reflection. Babies one and two are launched. Baby number three has one foot out the door.

I’m so thankful that I didn’t fold and stop there. I’m thankful for the music lessons that didn’t result in music degrees.


I’m thankful for the weekly sewing lessons that probably won’t result in a fashion marketing degree.



I’m thankful for the hours at sports practice which clearly will not yield a full athletic scholarship.

Every challenge accepted, every goal they set and meet builds upon the next, and what they learn carries over to every area of their lives and pays huge dividends.

What can your child accomplish today? Can he bake his first cake, read her first novel by herself, raise his SAT scores, win her first race, sew his first outfit?

It may seem small, but in the end, once the kids are grown and gone, it is everything.


Today, I’m all in.

How about you?