A Library Card and a Willing Heart


A Library Card and a Willing Heart

It seems when a parent considers homeschooling their child, their first concern is books.

“What am I supposed to use?”

“How do I afford schoolbooks?” 

“I don’t have a teaching degree…how could I ever qualify to each my child?”

Looking back on my 27 years of homeschooling, I remember my own panic.  It didn’t seem like I would be legal or official or something if I didn’t “do it right”.  Now, I see that a library card and a willing heart is plenty to homeschool your child.  Yes, it is handy to have your own books, but it isn’t essential.  A teaching degree might be nice, but it might also get in the way—you want this school to be catered to your own child.  You love your child. That qualifies you much more than any teaching certificate.

For starters, focus on your child. What are his interests? What does he get enthusiastic about? If it is outer space, you have your science curriculum! There are plenty of library books and online videos and children’s space documentaries to get the information your student is craving.  How do you make it into school?  Real school, meaning real education and learning?

Here’s how I would do it!

Science topic:  Outer Space

English: research and write reports on the planets, asteroid belt, black holes, magnitude of the sun, etc. etc.

Art: make a model of the solar system, paint a beautiful watercolor cover for each of your planet reports, draw illustrations on your reports.

History: Study the space race, astronauts, photos from the Hubble, etc.

Computer:  Make a Power Point of your space studies for a final presentation  (you will learn Power Point as a sidelight!)  A YouTube video would be fun too!

Field trips: Cape Canaveral?

You get the idea!  Harness the power of your child’s interest!  They will LOVE school!  You will teach them to read and write and study and research without them even knowing it!

Add a Phonics program (if your child is learning to read) and a math program, and you’ll have a complete curriculum.  Next year, when your child is totally thrilled with homeschooling, you can add in the things you think he needs to know, such as US history, or Life Skills such as keyboarding.  On second thought, you probably already taught him keyboarding while writing his planet reports!

Now, you might ask, since I sell homeschool supplies, how I could suggest that a library card and a willing heart are all that is necessary.  Well, I do believe it.  I also love books, and find homeschooling is much easier with wonderful resources. I have my recommendations, and I am glad to share my opinion about what resources I love the most.  But please remember, that comes second.  Interest comes first!


May I recommend:

How do I choose Resources?

Singapore Math

Happy Phonics

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Homeschooling on the Cheap

Rachel in a puddle!

Rachel in a puddle!


I want to do homeschooling but I am afraid that it is going to cost a lot of money. When I start homeschooling am I going to have to go somewhere and buy expensive books?


I know it can seem like it will take a fortune to homeschool well . . . especially if you look at my store…hee hee! I just keep finding better and more fun learning products, and if you have the money for them, they can really enhance homeschool! But, you can do a wonderful job of educating your children without spending much.

A wise homeschool mom once told me that it only takes “a paper and pencil” to homeschool! I am sure she was right. I would add to that: “a paper and pencil plus a mother’s love”. I think that is the crucial ingredient, and no school teacher, however wonderful he or she may be, can ever replicate that!

Let’s see: paper, pencil, mother’s love . . . I’d add: a library card.

The first few years that I homeschooled, I bought a very few carefully selected resources, and nearly wore my library card out. I found a wagon and took it to the library so I could wheel it around and gather my books. I’m sure I was a sight, dragging my wagon, carrying a baby on one hip, while my a-bit-older children struggled to push a stroller with a wiggly toddler in it.  They could definitely see me coming and going!

I have since graduated to a luggage dolly (my Christmas present!) onto which I strap 3 apple boxes stacked on top of each other. That way I can stroll around the library gathering books and DVDs and have an easy way to get them out to the car. I come armed with a well thought out schedule so I know exactly what topics we will cover in science, history and literature for the next month. I check out books that will serve to reinforce our textbook studies (or even replace them if you do not have money for basic books yet). For example, if “electricity” is your science topic this week, you can find many good picture books, and harder text-type books, that give you a overview of the topic from the simplest explanations to challenging reading. You might even find some simple experiment books and a good DVD to make science exciting.

Not having enough resources is not the problem nowadays. If you have internet access in your home, you will be overwhelmed with all the information, lesson plans, visual aids, etc. that are available online. The problem I have found is there is too much information for me to easily sort through. If you don’t have internet access, libraries often do.

There are some necessary items, it is true, depending on the age of your children, such as math books, a phonics program, writing journals, etc. Ask for those for Christmas and birthdays, if you have grandparents that are willing. I also stock up at the August and September “Back to School” sales, where you can buy a pack of pencils for 10¢ and other amazing bargains. I buy enough paper and supplies to last the whole school year at great prices.

. . . paper, pencil, mother’s love, a library card . . . plus I ‘d add to that, a sense of fun.

Learning is delightful! Being with your kids is fun! This experience is an adventure you won’t want to miss! Don’t let budget concerns bog you down. You can do it on a shoestring. You’ll have a wonderful time together. You will become best friends with each other. You’ll pass on your values and be rewarded with seeing your children accept your morals and standards.

And, Mom, you will be delighted to see that learning is deliciously fun (just in case you missed out on that fact while you were in public school those many long years). I have learned more, become better educated and found more enjoyment in homeschooling than I ever did in school or college, and I was a good student who liked school. Homeschool really teaches you to love learning, to be hungry for learning and growing.

To your success!


May I recommend:

A Library Card and A Willing Heart

Small  girl with the book
Make-it-Yourself Beginning Readers

Love To Learn! Homeschool Handbook

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What Will You Trade Your Time For?

coinsWe all get a finite amount of time to live on this earth; our days are numbered. Imagine that the time given to you is a bag of gold coins. Just what will you trade your coins for? It will run out no matter how you spend it. When you’ve spent the last coin, just what will you have?

I recently read the statistics on the effect a working mom has on her family. They were sobering: a professional woman is more likely to get divorced, more likely to be disloyal to her husband, less likely to have children, and, if she does have kids, she are more likely to be unhappy about it. A study in Social Forces (Aug. 23, 2006), a research journal, found that even women with a “feminist” outlook are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Be cautious before you trade those gold coins of time to earn money. You have so much more influence and power right at home, in training and educating your own children! It is easier to buy children things, or to provide entertainment and classes for them, that it is to give them our time. Yet nothing is so valuable to them as our time!



Recently, after a morning of homeschooling and then the excitement of shopping for new clothes, my young daughter Louisa sat on the couch looking at her new clothes and feeling contemplative. Suddenly, she pronounced, “It is better than all the clothes I have, and cotton candy, to have you alone to myself!”

I am not sure how cotton candy fits in (as she has only had it once at a fair) but I guess it ranks high on her list of “desirables”! But I was blinking back tears as I remembered that nothing is as delicious to a child as a loving parent’s attention.

I love old stories! Read this tender, yearning glimpse of what a working mom feels like from a child’s perspective: “Mama’s Boy”.

Enjoy your time with your children!


May I recommend:

First, A Relationship

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Pink Blush Porcelain Tea Set

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A Child’s Self-Confidence: Handle with Care


Jennifer, a mom who reads my blog, wrote about what happened to her little boy:

My middle child went to kindergarten last year at what was supposed to the best public school in the best school district in Kansas, which is one of the top states in the country. He is a kinesthetic learner with incredible spatial skills, but is a slow learner when it comes to reading. Watching his classmates “get it” while he struggled, killed his self confidence. His teacher progressed through the curriculum according to plan, and my boy was left behind. Not only did he finish kindergarten not reading, but he did not believe himself to be capable of reading. His teacher never raised with us any concerns about his reading—I’m not certain whether she even realized that he was struggling, because he is not the type to ask for help. Here we are now, homeschooling, half-way through 1st grade, and he is just now becoming confident enough in his reading ability to read to someone besides me. He still insists that he can’t read, but he’s reading cereal boxes, and he can answer for me when his little brother asks, “What does that say?”!  Yes, he is behind where other kids with his same manufacturing date range might be, but he is a unique little person who is learning and growing every day and I am proud of him and the progress he has made!

My heart sinks when I read comments like hers, because I have seen this happen too many times. And usually to boys, as they tend to be very hands-on and reading and writing comes later for them.  Just the thought of a kindergarten boy struggling to grip that pencil correctly and manipulate it to form legible letters is distressing—for some little boys, it is just so difficult!  And the girls their age often manage it easily, which only magnifies their deficit in their young heart. What pains me about Jennifer’s story is what happens to that little person’s feelings about himself—that wonderful self—and his feelings of capability.  Too sad!

I can remember when I was just a little girl, probably about 4th grade.  Our school pictures were coming up and I just wanted so much to have the “right smile”.  Back to that “norm” idea.  As if there is a “right” smile. I practiced in front of the mirror, trying to smile a movie star smile.  Is a 9-year-old girl even capable of a movie star smile?  No. “Too much television”, would be my diagnosis now, as a mother.  Too much of the world having an influence.  But I didn’t parent myself, so having that “right” smile was pretty crucial to me back then!  I practiced in front of the mirror, touching my face so I could memorize what it felt like to have that perfect smile.  When picture day came, and it was my turn to smile for the camera, I felt my face and made sure it was the “right” smile before the photographer snapped the picture.  Back in those days, you got one pose only—probably the same these days for school pictures.  When I got my pictures back, arrrrrrgh! They were AWFUL!  My pasted “right” smile was a facial contortion.  Plus, ALL my other classmates had a permanent record in their full sheet class picture!

The ache in this memory is the fact that a 9-year-old girl would even have the notion come into her head that she needed to try to be pretty, to have to try harder-than-possible to be acceptable.  I am sad that as a little child I had somehow picked up early to worry about it!  It didn’t come from my mother, as she always had positive things to say about how beautiful we children were, and how we should be grateful that we even had a body that worked. So it must have come from the culture, the school environment, the early training out of ear shot of my mother.

One thing I have been surprised about in raising my homeschooled teenagers is that they never were afflicted with the self-depreciating attitude that children often display in the teen years (…my nose is too big, I’ll too tall, I’m too short, I’m too fat, I’m too busty, I’m not busty enough, I’m a wimp muscle-wise, I need to lift weights, etc.)

Actually I think it starts quite young, even back in kindergarten.  The teacher, wanting to make losing a tooth a fun and special experience for the children, inadvertently rewards those who lose a tooth by having them come up in front of the class, putting their name on the “Lost a Tooth” chart, taking their photo, giving them a special award, etc.  Seems like an innocent idea, but the seeds of peer comparison and self-depreciation are sown very early. I’ve heard more than one 5-year-old lament that they still had their baby teeth . . . as if it was a sin, or a reason to be sorry.

Children think they are fabulous—in the absence of negative peer review, and in the absence of being compared academically or skill-wise to classmates.  It is amazing to me to see the natural feelings of a growing child!  I used to worry a bit about it with when my first children came of age—to hear and watch them assess their bodies and make positive exclamations about how fabulous their bodies or their talents or their minds were!  It made me laugh nervously and feel embarrassed because in our culture it is not acceptable to mention how wonderful our body is!  And yet, viewing it from God’s perspective, it truly is amazing to see a child’s body transform into a teenage body, with all its resulting capacities.  Bigger muscles for boys means they can lift things and work like an adult and be truly useful to the family in that manner.  And it is natural for them to be excited and to make positive comments about what is happening to their body. “I’m so strong!  I lifted as many hay bales as Dad did!” Those type of remarks are often discouraged—we think they are un-Christian somehow, as if we are not being humble enough.  But truly, I think they spring from genuine awe and appreciation of the personal miracle that God has wrought in their lives.  And it follows that poise and confidence are the natural results of feeling secure and thinking well of oneself.

Self-depreciation is taught by our culture of critique as being appropriate.  Perhaps it sounds more humble, but it does a wicked work on self-esteem. When children repeatedly compare and criticize their body, their intelligence, their capabilities—it does irreparable damage. Better to gently teach your children to contain their expressions of delight in public, than to nullify their appreciation for the beautiful work of God in their growing minds and bodies.

One of my young teenage daughters used to lay on her bed and hold up her adult-looking leg for review.  “Look how perfect my leg is!”, she would exclaim.  It made me chuckle, as I am a product of this culture of self-depreciation, and it seems odd to delight in oneself.  But when I truly looked at her leg objectively, I was amazed too!  How God transforms a child into a beautiful adult is amazing!

I can guarantee you that my daughter wouldn’t have that attitude towards herself if she’d spent much time in the culture of the public school.  I know that for a fact.  I had been hospitalized and was forced to put my youngest at age 9 into school for a few months during this time.  The drastic change in her attitude towards herself was alarming to me, and to her siblings.  In just 3 months, she transformed and it was not for the better. One trait she quickly developed was “social awareness ” (gotta be cool!)  Long before she attended school, she had been given a soft, furry, white, full-length coat that was her very favorite!  She felt like a snow princess when she wore it.  It was beautiful! She came home from school, coat slung over her arm, on a very frigid winter day.  “Why aren’t you wearing your coat?”, I asked. Because it made her have “polar bear hips” she confessed.  She didn’t even have hips yet! Whoever put that cutesy little barb of criticism into her mind prevented her from wearing her very favorite coat that made her feel beautiful . . . ever again. Though she never would part with it. I finally took it out of her closet recently and packed it away, and the feelings rushed back to me. So sad! So wrong!

Moms, academic training is important, yes.  But a child’s confidence and recognition of their own self-worth is crucial to their happiness and well-being their whole life long!  Children are able to hear the truth, that they are a beloved child of God and hear His approval spoken quietly to their minds, UNLESS the negative voice of their peers and the practices of our society’s critique system is louder. Which it usually is.

It is a good time in history to homeschool . . . to protect our children’s faith, tenderness, and self-worth.  God times the growth of their body and mind perfectly in His wisdom. He loves them. He speaks approving words to their heart about their wonder and worth. Why shouldn’t everyone else?

A child’s self-confidence requires gentle, tender nurturing.  Handle with care!


May I recommend:

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Lonely, Lonely Child

Double Vision

Communal Comparison


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A Delicious Read, Indeed

I want to tell you about my favorite book: Laddie, A True Blue Story. It’s not very often that you find such a warm, family-value-oriented book. It is a treasure! The best part of it was reading it out-loud to my children. I found it taught just as much as a sermon . . . with my family chuckling along the way and begging for more. And there is lots more—416 pages of it. 

From the eyes of Little Sister (the youngest child living in a big family on a farm in the newly settled Midwest in the 1900’s), we get a tantalizing taste of strong family values and faith in God. . . full of adventures and scrapes—love stories too—with a kind and devoted mother, a protective wise father, and a loving older brother, Laddie, as superb role models that I want to follow!

Leon, a young brother, provides lots of humor, just being a boy. Little Sister, through whose eyes the story unfolds, finds school squelching to her free spirit, and it is hard not to commiserate with her as she explains her reasons for loathing the classroom. The mother and father are remarkable Christians in spite of the many challenges of taming a new land. Such a sweet story of wholesome, decent, loving family life!

Get it at your library, borrow it from a friend, get if from my bookstore . . . but read it! It will definitely enrich your life.  Read it aloud to your children.  It is as good as taking a vacation!


May I recommend:

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Best Character Building Stories!

Does Harry Potter, Twilight Help Reading?

Big Red

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The Baby IS the Lesson

One morning on my daily walk, I was fretting and stewing over what I could possibly do with my one-year-old during school time. I was feeling some despair with a new baby on its way. I couldn’t see any end to the disruption of babies in my home school for many years to come. I was praying and scheming at the same time: I could wait until the baby’s nap to teach school, I could rotate the children with baby-sitting chore away from our schoolroom, I could get a playpen . . . all solutions that didn’t feel right—babies needs their moms!

As I walked and pondered, suddenly the Lord introduced one sentence to my mind and revolutionized my mindset entirely! “The baby IS the lesson!” I thought I was trying to teach Math, but in reality I had been teaching, day by day, how an adult values the precious gift of children. My children, by watching how I deal with the frustration of a crying baby or keep a toddler happy and busy with some of his “own” pieces while we play a math game, are soaking up “the lesson”. Unfortunately, I had occasionally been teaching that the baby interrupts our lesson.

How to be a Christlike person is the most valuable lesson a child could ever learn! The lesson is learned moment by moment; watching a parent being patient, handling frustration with kindness, pressing on for the goal in spite of numerous interruptions, valuing each child’s needs regardless of inconvenience. That valuable insight–how Mother handles the baby is the real lesson–has dramatically changed how I view my home school. I am teaching foremost my values: godly character, kindness, respect for others, individuality, sacrifice and a host of other Christlike attributes. Teaching them reading, writing, math, etc. is very important to me but my perspective has been altered. “Mimic me, follow me and I will show you the way a Christlike person acts and what he values”. That is the message every parent relays to their children whether they are aware of it or not. Children try to copy everything anyway (our mannerisms, our daily activities, etc.). We must be certain that we are providing a correct pattern for them to copy, not only in our daily activities but in our attitude, our tone of voice, and our facial expression. We need to conduct our lives so that we can say “follow me”. If our children are to “buy” our values, what a tremendous responsibility we have to make sure we are living our best so the lesson is clear and well learned! What more could you ask for from your homeschool than to produce Christlike people?!

Teaching your children basically means getting your own personal life in order and striving daily to be the leader for them to follow. Of course, we fall short and they must look to Christ for the perfect being but they need to see daily how one acts, speaks, lives, solves problems. We are acting as a proxy, in a sense, for Christ. Since they can’t have his daily role model, then he has given his children parents to be an example, to point the way. Along with lesson preparations, we need to prepare ourselves by asking: is the pattern I live the way Christ would act? Can I say today that I have marked the path for my children to follow? Children learn from seeing their parent’s role model. Watching an adult make a simple mistake (such as being too punitive with a child) and go through the process of repenting is 100 times more effective than your devotional lesson on repentance. This means children must be intimately involved with you in your daily life. A few hours a day after school won’t do it.

dough-13726_640Children should be involved in the adult’s life rather than daily life rotating solely around the children. Research has shown that children who have grown up to be productive well-adjusted adults are those who have been drawn into the parent’s world; their daily activities, work, and interests; rather than having parents who centered their world on the child. When I began home schooling, I never could find the time to do the things I felt were important for my life; such as writing in my journal, corresponding with relatives, studying my scriptures, and more. Somehow, in my busy-ness of trying to teach the kids how to write in their journals, I was neglecting my own journal writing. Thankfully, we now have journal writing time in school daily, and we write letters to relatives together as a family on Sunday. Homeschool life should help parents do the daily necessities, rather than usurp the time needed for them. Home maintenance, chores, food preparation, gardening, food preservation, budgeting, clothing care (mending and sewing), planning family social relationships, caring for small children, record keeping, quilting, raising animals, etc. are all wonderful life skills that can be done together that enhance a child’s education!

The parent’s joyful task is to lead and guide the child into the real world–not set up a contrived pseudo-world to teach skills that the children would easily learn if they spent their time around adults who were striving to live good lives. What constitutes an adult trying to live a “good life”? Being a productive adult would constitute a full-time curriculum! Plant a garden, read good literature, serve the needy, be politically aware, keep a journal, vote for honest men, develop your talents, etc. The exciting part about leading a child into the real world is that they are self-motivated. The moment I sit down to play the piano, all my children want to play and want me to teach them to play something. No sooner than I begin typing on the computer, I have the whole family “needing” to type. My efforts at writing have, humorous to me, stimulated the production of “books” from my youngest children. Modeling is so much more effective than lecturing.

book-691489_1280Studies show that the biggest determining factor for a child’s success in reading in school is if they have seen a parent reading in the home on a regular basis. This is especially true for boys if the parent who reads is their father, rather than their mother. Somehow, the example says far more about the value of reading than endless hours in school reading groups.

In every area it takes instruction to teach skills to little people. Children need to master the basic academic skills (reading, writing, arithmetic), social manners, music competence, and a host of other abilities and that do take focused concentration and time from mother/teacher to accomplish. It isn’t realized just by living in a family. But shared family life practices and contributes to those skills. Having taught my little girl the numbers and the plus, minus and equal signs and how they worked, she jumped right into figuring out how many plates she needed to set the table using her new skills: (“We have 9 and the boys are gone to college so that is minus 3, so we need six”).

When we think of homeschool, sometimes we get tunnel vision, and think “academics”, “keeping up to speed” and other worrisome concerns that don’t really tell the whole story. Homeschool is the growing and nurturing of fine, upright people.

So, how we treat and value the baby really is the lesson.

Class never dismissed.

May I recommend:

Homeschool With a Baby

Demanding Toddler

Oball Rattle/Teether

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Fifteen Years of Research in the Homeschool “Lab”

man-216985_1280As a “research associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations”, some days my research seems more productive than others. My younger lab assistants continually challenge my theories. My able teen-age lab assistants are truly helpful and quick to point out where I can improve. Of course, research in the field (excursions to the science center, camping trips, park days, etc.) is always great fun. Preliminary “lab reports” from my 15 year experiment has given me the courage to stay in the laboratory and keep on experimenting.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

• Increase tolerance for noise, confusion, dirty walls, and unclean windows. The great “unmaker” is far superior to all of my attempts at organization. Patricia Clafford put it so well: “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”

• Make a conscious decision ask yourself over and over, “Does this really matter?” and only give energy to things that really do matter. I truly believe I have enough time to do what is most important.

• Catch your children doing right things. Nothing improves a child’s hearing more than praise.

• Remember—you are not having “school at home.” You are choosing a different way. Experiment with your options and your confidence will grow.

• “Trust your children!”

• Take time to pursue your own interests. Be a role model of a true homeschooler—discovering in your own areas of interest.

Have your own quiet time daily. Be strict about “Mom’s Time”. Daily fill up your own cup so you are more patient with those who are so demanding.

• Interruptions always happen—plan enough time for them.

• Make a “What NOT to do” list to help you in prioritizing or putting “FIRST THINGS FIRST”. No matter how hard you try, you never will get it all done.

• Ask: “What is most important during this season of my life?” Choosing between two good things is much needed skill in an era full of wonderful opportunities. One thing that helps me is to go to a quiet place and ask myself, “What is happening to me because of what I am choosing to spend my life on? Am I becoming a better person because of choosing this activity?”

• Do not compare yourself with others. Let go of self-condemnations that come with judging yourself by other’s standards. You are unique. Your home based education will be uniquely.

• Your individual worth is not dependent upon your performance or the performance of your children. Understanding this is key to allowing your children the freedom to teach themselves what they need to know.

These are some of the important things I have learned in my Homeschool Laboratory. I’m sure you could sit down and compose your own list.  We’re all still learning what works and what doesn’t work as well. So, put on that white lab coat and have a great day in your “Lab”!


by Cyndy and Mark Weiss of Richmond, Washington, homeschooling parents of 3



May I recommend:

Homeschooling Ideas that Work!

What Do You Want Mommy to Do?

Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD & DVD

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Natural Speller versus Has-to-Be-Taught

My children: Ammon, Julianna and Mark
Will the “natural speller” please stand up?

Having homeschooled 7 children, I eventually figured out that either kids come as “natural spellers” or they don’t. And if they don’t, you have to teach them to spell.

The natural speller can see the word in their head. You might see them writing it with their finger in the air when they are figuring out the spelling of a word. Spelling comes pretty easily to this child.

The “has-to-be-taught” speller is just as intelligent. In fact, spelling doesn’t have much to do with intelligence. As soon as the “has-to-be-taught” speller gets some memory clues or rules to go by, they can spell just as well as anyone. Of my 7 children, a few of them are natural spellers.

Ammon's journal

Ammon’s journal

For the natural spellers, it is pretty much a waste of time to give them spelling lists, spelling tests, workbooks, or spelling activities. They will get it eventually, no matter what you inflict upon them. They can see the word in their mind’s eye and the more times they see it, read it or write it, the easier it gets. For a natural speller, I have found the best exercise is to correct their daily journal writing, and help them analyze a misspelled word. Once it is pointed out, they can practice that word—write it a few times each day perhaps. A memory clue is big help, such as pointing out the word end in the word friend (a friend is a friend to the end). Once they can see the right spelling, they generally do great at self-correction in the future.

Here are a few spelling memory clues to get you thinking:

here, hear
hear–you hear with your ear. See the word ear in hear.
here and there are places. You can see here in there.

Separate the word into syllables: to-get-her
If you are going somewhere together, you have “to get her” first.

Separate the word into syllables: to-morrow
The meaning is “on the morrow, or the next day”. Remembering that helps you not put an extra “m” in the word.

How long will a friend stick with you?  to the end!  If you can see the word end in your friend, you spelled it correctly!

The main thing is to talk through the misspelled word with your child the first time you spot it. Just dissecting it is often enough to help a natural speller see and correct his mistake. When my son spelled rock as roc, I asked him to spell sock, clock, block, lock, etc. As he put the ck on the end of each word, he quickly recognized the pattern and fixed rock without another word from me.

You never know for sure which kids will be natural spellers, so I start all children off writing with a Spelling Dictionary by their side from about age 6 and up.  If they get in the habit of looking up words they are stumped on, instead of puzzling (and misspelling them), it seems to get them off to a better start.

homeschooling-how to spell it-1171From there, we advance to using How to Spell it, which is a unique dictionary in which children can look up misspelled words (rather than the other way around).  Words are spelled as they sound, with the correct spelling highlighted.

From day one of homeschool, I have my children keep a school journal.  This is an easy way to teach spelling, as they learn to spell right along with learning to write, and the spelling words are the words they use in their everyday conversation.
1171When it is time for some formal rules, I reach for Better Spelling in 30 Minutes a Day.  This book is great for older children who need some spelling help, or as a guidebook for you, as a teacher, to get the rules down so you can teach better. Workbook contains exercises that allow you to identify weak spelling areas and practice to improve them, tricks for spelling those commonly misspelled words, proofreading practice so you can learn to spot an error, and an answer key in the back of the book so you can check your answers as you go. Of course, you don’t have to spend 30 minutes a day, but I’m certain this book will improve your spelling even if you only spend a few minutes!

Good spelling is just about as important as brushed hair or a washed face. It is often the first impression we will make. In a day when email or texting is a common form of communication, spelling matters. Believe me, I have seen my share of misspelled job applications—and they are not very impressive. It’s worth it to teach our kids to spell!


May I recommend:

Spelling Those Tricky Words

Spelling Clues

Teach Any Child to Spell

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